While I’m away… here’s a pretty binding.

Nineteenth-century binding with interesting leaf pattern

Short post again this time, I’m afraid! While I take a little holiday, I’ll leave you with a nice early nineteenth-century binding from Calke Abbey. The contents of the book are certainly not as interesting as the outside…

The binding is of a smooth calf leather to which, rather unusually, the binder has added some leaves during the mottling process to produce these delicate outlines.

Can anyone help me identify what plants these leaves may have come from?


Bookplates (2): Charles Pinfold (1709-1788) and Calke Abbey Library

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.

This week, the bookplate of Charles Pinfold, a governor of Barbados in the mid-eighteenth century, which I found in an edition of Suetonius’ works printed in Leeuwarden (Netherlands) in 1714-15. The two volumes were at Calke Abbey by the nineteenth-century, when a small die-sinker style shield bookplate was pasted underneath Pinfold’s armorial plate.

Title page of Suetonius' works (1714-15)

Title page of the 2-vol. works of Suetonius, printed in Leeuwarden (Friesland, The Netherlands). This image is from the copy held at Universidad Complutense de Madrid via Hathi Trust Digital Library.

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Wear & tear… (1)

old_booksA number of factors play a role in causing damage to books. From insects to UV-light, from dust to smoke, from handling or bad shelving, to simply suboptimal manufacturing processes. In this strand of posts, I’ll be sharing images of what this damage looks like.

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Waxing lyrical at Calke…

Mme Tussaud's wax works exhibition catalogue (ca. 1890)

“How could you be so stupid?” King Alfred looking sheepish after burning those cakes…

Phew, it’s been hectic since I lasted posted an entry in August (yes, I know…) – I’ve been kept rather busy with Kedleston’s Pleasure Grounds and have only recently started another round of book cataloguing. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been storing up some interesting nuggets for you!

So, are you ready to continue exploring the world behind the spines? This time, we’re off to Calke once more for a visit to Madame Tussaud’s wonderful wax works exhibition. Continue reading

Mystery Items (2)


What can the intrepid cataloguer do when she comes across mysterious fragments of books? This time, some leaves from the collection at Calke Abbey …
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A cruise to the North Cape

Lithograph (colour) showing Tromso

A few weeks ago, I touched upon the travels of Richard Fynderne Harpur Crewe (1880-1921), the only son of the last baronet at Calke Abbey. In this post, we’ll explore a cruise to the North Cape he appears to have taken in ca. 1913. Continue reading

Calke Abbey: Children’s books

This time, some images from the School Room at Calke Abbey in winter. By now, the house has reopened of course and all the tissue has disappeared to display the books in all their glory.

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