A Fly in the Ointment

The Chinese court official Ts’ai Lun (often written Cai Lun) is credited with the invention of paper in 105 A.D., although he and his countrymen were almost certainly experimenting for some time before his announcement of their success to the emperor. The manufacturing process did not change much for hundreds of years, until the invention of suitable machinery in the nineteenth century, and is still used to some extent to produce hand-made paper today. Continue reading

‘Power and Belief: The Reformation at 500’ now online

The Great Bible (1540)

The Great Bible (1540)

Following the Long Room display ‘Power and Belief: The Reformation at 500’ in February 2017, we are delighted to launch the online version of the work, in conjunction with our partner Google Cultural Institute. The exhibition is one of a series of events taking place in Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and Martin Luther’s 95 Theses.

The exhibition features the illustrated title page of The Great Bible (1540) which shows, under the eyes of God, Henry enthroned distributing God’s word to Cranmer (on his left) and Cromwell (on his right). Below this, Cranmer and Cromwell, hand the Bible to a priest and a nobleman. Below that again is a rabble of ordinary (though well-dressed) people shouting ‘Long live the King’ and ‘God save the King’. Strikingly, the Bible seems not to have made its way into their hands – none of these lesser individuals holds ‘Verbum Dei’.

Enchiridion oder eyn Handbuchlein … (1524)

Enchiridion oder eyn Handbuchlein … (1524)

Visitors to the site can examine in great detail a selection of Reformation works held in the Library including the only known surviving copy of the Maler edition of ‘Enchiridion oder eyn Handbuchlein …’ (1524).

The exhibition is presented by the Library in conjunction with The School of English and The School of Histories and Humanities with thanks to our colleagues in Digital Resources & Images Services and the Department of Conservation & Preservation.

Power and Belief: The Reformation at 500

A rare volume from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s confiscated library is now on show in the Library of Trinity College Dublin as part of a new exhibition, ‘Power and Belief: The Reformation at 500’.

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Hus, J. ‘Epistolae quaedam piissimae …’ Press B.5.24

‘Epistolae quaedam piissimae …’ (1537) by the Czech reformer Jan Hus was once housed in the Library of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. The work was last referenced in John Strype’s ‘Memorials of Cranmer’ (1694) as “… in the possession of a Reverend Friend of mine near Canterbury”.  Cranmer was burned as a heretic in 1556 and his books were confiscated by the authorities. The main collection was later absorbed into the library of Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel.

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John Milton and his hand in our holdings

Among the collections in our Library sits a bound volume of tracts (Press B.4.16) by John Milton (1608-1674) with an interesting history. The title-page of the first tract in the volume, ‘Of reformation touching church-discipline in England …’ is complete with a dedication in Milton’s hand to Patrick Young (1584-1652).

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Milton’s title-page dedication to Patrick Young and the inscription ‘Stamford 1693’

The inscription can be reconstructed as –

‘Ad doctissim[um] virum Patri[cium] Junium Joann[es] Miltonius hæc / sua, unum in f[asci]culum conjecta / mittit, paucis h[u]/jusmodi lectori[bus]/ contentus.’/

‘To the most learned man Patrick Young John Milton sends these his things, gathered together in one little volume, satisfying himself with but few readers of this kind.’*

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“The ancient odd fish of the College”

Do you remember Dr Barrett from my post about Anne Plumptre’s Narrative of a residence in Ireland? The idea for that post arose when I saw his note that the book was “too silly & too ill mannered for a public library” but when I was researching it, the more I read about Dr Barrett, the more I felt he deserved a post of his own.

From Dublin University Magazine, Sept. 1841

From Dublin University Magazine, Sept. 1841

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Bedlam in Belgium

‘Documents et particularités historiques …’ Shelfmark: Gall.6.i.39

Bibliophile Renier Hubert Ghislain Chalon was born in Mons, Belgium in 1802. A keen numismatist, his interests clearly extended beyond books and coins as he was also the instigator of the Fortsas Bibliohoax, one of the greatest pranks in the world of book-dealing. His hoax was a thing of beauty. Continue reading

A gift we Kant refuse

At the beginning of term, a student, Catherine Costello, presented us with a copy of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of pure reason, translated by J. M. D. Meiklejohn and published in London in 1887. Although we are always happy to consider donations when they are offered, we are not always in a position to take them. However, the connection with Trinity meant that there was no hesitation over accepting this one. Continue reading

I remember that summer in Dublin

frontisAnne Plumptre was a writer of fiction and non-fiction, both with considerable political content, and a translator of drama, correspondence, travel writing and more. She was born in Norwich in 1760 and died there in 1818 but spent much time in London and three years in Napoleonic France. Her A Narrative of a three years’ residence in France … 1802–5 (1810) is a political enquiry into the views of Napoleon held by the French people, particularly those outside Paris. Plumptre came to the conclusion that he was not a monster but generally popular within France and was being misrepresented in Britain. She refuted with detailed descriptions many of the claims made by contemporary writers and advocated making peace with Napoleon, a view which was not popular at home. Continue reading

The Kelmscott Chaucer

It is difficult to choose a favourite item in Trinity College Library’s collections but one of mine is the Kelmscott Chaucer, shelfmark Press B KEL 1896 2. It is not particularly colourful – red and black are the only inks used, and the former only sparingly – but despite the unpromising binding of Trinity’s copy it is a beautiful book. How can you not admire the sheer amount of work involved in designing and creating it?

first opening

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Unsung collaborators: four early music printers

Items in the current Long Room exhibition ‘In Tune’ demonstrate the skills and innovative techniques of several pioneering music printers.

The earliest printed item is the Erfurt Enchiridion (1524), the first published collection of Lutheran hymns. The printer Matthes Maler is thought to have produced his edition using proofs stolen from a rival Erfurt printer, Johannes Loersfeld. Maler’s publication is less handsome than Loersfeld’s, but he earns full marks for (literally) seizing a promising business opportunity!

Shelf mark: C.pp.37 no. 6

Shelf mark: C.pp.37 no. 6

 Shelf mark: Press B.2.22

Shelf mark: Press B.2.22

Like  Maler’s Enchiridion, John Merbecke’s Booke of Common Praier noted (1550) is block-printed, but in two stages. Richard Grafton, appointed royal printer by Edward VI,first printed the staves and rubrics in red, and then passed the sheets through the press a second time to add the text and musical notes in black.

Shelf mark OLS 192.n.40 nos. 1-6

Shelf mark OLS 192.n.40 nos. 1-6

Thomas Vautrollier, a Huguenot refugee engaged by William Byrd and Thomas Tallis to print their motet anthology Cantiones quae ab argumento sacrae vocantur (1575), worked with movable type, a method of music printing developed by continental pioneers such as Petrucci and Attaignant but little used in England up to this point. Dedicated to Elizabeth I (who had recently granted the two composers a monopoly in part-music printing in England), the publication was prepared with great care but was a commercial failure as it sold too few copies to offset costs.

John Dowland’s First Booke of Songes or Ayres was first published in 1597 by Peter Short. Short’s use of movable type is considerably less skilful than Vautrollier’s,

Shelf mark: Press B.7.21

Shelf mark: Press B.7.21

but the publication is notable for its innovative typographical layout. Each song can be performed by a solo voice with lute accompaniment (printed on the left-hand page), but is also set for four voices, with the three lower voice parts printed on the right-hand page in an arrangement designed to allow the singers to read from a single copy while seated around a table (hence the term ‘table-book’ to describe this format).- Roy Stanley, Music Librarian

In Tune, sponsored by KBC Bank, runs until April 2014.The exhibition is also available online.  Full details of the accompanying lecture and concert series are available here.

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