Bookplates (3): William A. H. Bass, Bart. (1879-1952)


In provenance research – the study of evidence of previous ownership of items – bookplates and other ex-libri can be a great resource. Taking into account that these plates could sometimes be recycled or added considerable time after a book had entered a collection, the identification of the individuals behind the bookplates can nevertheless be really rewarding. This is especially the case when plates turn up unexpectedly in unrelated collections or when we know for certain that the owner’s collection was dispersed.IMG_0830This copy of Daniel Lysons’ description of Derbyshire (Magna Britannia v. 5) extended to six volumes (1817) – now at Kedleston – contains the bookplate of Sir William A.H. Bass, 2nd Bt. (1879-1952), whose family made its fortune with the Bass brewery in Burton on Trent (Staffordshire). The plate was designed by Charles William Sherborn (1831-1912).

William Bass was a well-known racehorse owner and huntsman. His father had established a stud at Byrkley and was master of the Meynell hunt.

The set, containing an annotated auction catalogue entry, was bought in the sale of Byrkley Lodge Library on 9-10 July 1913 for £78 15s, probably by Alfred Curzon, 4th Baron Scarsdale (d. 1916), who was a keen purchaser of local history works. The auction of 536 lots, containing mostly late 19th and early 20th century items, seems to have been part of an effort to sell the whole estate.

There are no indications of earlier ownership in the set and it fits oddly in a collection dominated by books on hunting, runs of magazines and novels. The few social and institutional history volumes in the auction list were all published in the first half of the 19th century and may therefore represent items handed down in the family.


  • Book-prices record, London, v. 27 (1913), via
  • COPAC:
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