Preservation book repairs – carrying out in-situ treatments in the Long Room

By Sarah Timmins, Preservation Assistant

Tool roll at the ready


As Preservation Assistants, we help address some of the challenges and problems affecting the books of the Long Room in the Old Library. The collection of some 220,000 Early Printed Books range from the dawn of the printing press in the 1450s and incunabula, to the end of the Victorian era.  A systematic preservation project, beginning in 2004 as ‘Save the Treasures’, is ongoing today.  The focus of the project is on the cleaning of the books, and the recording of data for use by the Preservation & Conservation Department. We note key information about each book: where and when it was printed, the materials from which it is made, features of the bindings, and so on.  We also carry out a condition report, and note any stabilising treatments we carry out in situ. 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.

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).


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.’*

Continue reading

We got visitors!

The Department was delighted to host the Masters Students from the Literature and Publishing Group (NUIG) on their recent trip to Dublin. Led by Dr. Rebecca Barr the group also visited the Royal Irish Academy and Marsh’s Library. It was interesting to learn from Dr. Barr that the taught course includes a module on book history and early modern print and manuscript cultures. As well as the working though the modules the students are also responsible for the publication of the annual edition of ROPES: review of postgraduate studies. Busy people! The trip to the library included a tour of the Old Library by Anne- Marie Diffley (Visitors Services) and a presentation by Shane Mawe on the role of the Library with a display drawn from the collections.


A Day Spent In Dublin

Now in its ninth year, Culture Night will see 38 regions, towns and cities on the island of Ireland showcase exciting historical and cultural events. This year sees events planned in the Old Library and Long Room Hub. Devoting time to exploring Dublin is nothing new, as outlined in this humorous poem from 1747.

A day spent in Dublin, 1746-7 Shelfmark: Press A.7.20 no. 7

A day spent in Dublin, 1746-7, Shelfmark: Press A.7.20 no. 7


The annotations reveal the main protagonist as Lady Margaret Barrymore and the poem cheerfully describes her day, beginning with a hearty breakfast before a journey to town – taking in some culture along the way. We will return to Lady Margaret and her husband Thomas Crosbie, M.P. for Dingle and former High Sheriff of Kerry, in a future blog post.

The annotations also help to identify other individuals omitted by the anonymous composer. Reference is made to 18th century socialite Eleanor Palmer (Ambrose) and Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th earl of Chesterfield, the latter of whom Samuel Johnson describes as ‘a wit among lords and a lord among wits.’ In 1746 Chesterfield returned to England leaving Ambrose in search of a husband. In 1751 she married Mayo politician Roger Palmer and lived out her years in Henry Street until her death in 1818.

Other characters are not as easy to identify. ‘Or a new Manuscript of Maurice’ may well refer to a letter from Barrymore’s relation Sir Maurice Crosbie, whose correspondence is among the The Crosbie Papers in the National Library of Ireland and here in Trinity.

Does the line ‘My chair to Church, and next to Bindon’ refer to a work by Francis Bindon or actually to the portrait artist and architect himself?

Easier however is the reference to David Garrick, ‘Garrick sure’s the Prince of Players’. Garrick spent the early part of 1746 in Dublin managing and acting in Smock Alley with Thomas Sheridan and it was here, famously, that he first played the role of Hamlet.

Please get in touch if you can identify any of the other characters referred to in this work. Who for instance are Hogan and Grogan? Who or where was Rice’s?

The Bookplate Society Tour of Dublin 2014

Originating in Germany and usually placed inside the front cover, a bookplate is a printed label used to indicate ownership of a title. Specimens can range from simple printed names to elaborate heraldic engravings and as such can attract enthusiasts for their workmanship, rarity or perhaps just the connection with a famous former owner.

The Department was pleased to host thirteen members of The Bookplate Society on their recent visit to Dublin. Initially greeted by Anne-Marie Diffley who guided them through the Long Room, members then viewed a selection of bookplates from our holdings in the Henry Jones Room.

A highlight of the display was a scrapbook of Trinity prize bookplates compiled by Thomas Sadleir (1882-1957), former assistant librarian at the King’s Inns library. Trinity introduced these bookplates on volumes given as prizes in 1732. Other examples on show to our visitors included the bookplates of Dermot Robert Wyndham Bourke (1851–1927), John Kells Ingram (1823-1927), Oliver St John Gogarty (1878–1957) and Count Daniel Charles O’Connell (1745–1833), uncle of political leader Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847).

Gilbert Nicholson of Balrath Bookplate

Gilbert Nicholson of Balrath Bookplate

Bookplates can amass their own individual history such as that of Gilbert Nicholson of Balrath, Co. Meath (1620-1709) which was inserted in Horace’s Works published after his death in 1737. The design of the plate may be attributed to William Jackson (fl. 1698-1714), and the bookplate is dated 1669 to commemorate the year in which Nicholson acquired the Balrath property. Its provenance doesn’t end there as it further extends into the 19th century with the addition of John Armytage Nicholson’s (1798-1872) signature.

For our readers keen to learn more about bookplates, we have a selection of printed resources on open access available for consultation in our reading room.

The First Polyglot Bible – now on display

Ximénes' coat of arms

Ximénes’ coat of arms

The Complutensian Polyglot Bible (Shelfmark: was produced at the university in Alcalá de Henares, called in Latin Complutum, meaning ‘place where two rivers meet’. It is also known as the Spanish Polyglot or Ximénes’ Polyglot as the university was founded by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez (or Ximénes) de Cisneros and the work was financed and supervised by him. The title page of each volume bears his coat of arms. Continue reading

Words and Music

Concert programmes are often regarded as ephemeral publications, intended to guide the listener through a particular performance and to be discarded afterwards. However, there is a growing realisation that concert programmes can contain valuable evidence of concert activity, performance trends and the reception of musical repertoire.  In recent years a database of concert programme collections in the UK and Ireland has been developed: the Concert Programmes Project.

The ‘In Tune’ exhibition includes several word-books from performances in 18th century Dublin, the most famous of which is the word-book published by George Faulkner in 1742 for the first performance of Handel’s Messiah. Also included is a book published in 1741 containing libretti for vocal repertoire regularly performed by the Philharmonic Society, Dublin, often in aid of Mercer’s Hospital. This item, acquired in the 1890s by Ebenezer Prout, complements the Mercer’s Hospital collection of manuscript and printed part-books (one of which is also on display).

George Frideric Handel: Messiah word-book (Dublin: George Faulkner, 1742)  Shelfmark: OLS 198.t.70 no.8

George Frideric Handel: Messiah word-book (Dublin: George Faulkner, 1742)
Shelfmark: OLS L-6-605 no.8

Te Deum, Jubilate, anthems, odes ... (Dublin, 1741) Shelfmark: 109.u.151

Te Deum, Jubilate, anthems, odes oratorios and serenatas … (Dublin, 1741) Shelfmark: 109.u.151


Perhaps the most interesting item in this group is the word-book published for the performance of ‘The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus’ at Dublin Castle on 6 February 1711. This birthday ode in honour of Queen Anne, composed by John Sigismond Cousser, is one of a series of such works by Cousser and several of his successors as Master of the State Music.

John Sigismond Cousser: The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus (Dublin, 1711) Shelfmark: P.hh.16 no.1

John Sigismond Cousser: The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus (Dublin, 1711) Shelfmark: P.hh.16 no.1

In almost all cases the music for these odes is lost, so the word-books, several of which are preserved in TCD’s collections, provide the only remaining evidence of their content. Uniquely, the music for the 1711 ode does survive (in the collection of the Bodleian Library, Oxford), so this single work could still be performed.

In Tune, sponsored by KBC Bank, runs until 1 April 2014.The exhibition is also available online. Full details of the accompanying lecture and concert series are available here.

-Roy Stanley, Music Librarian.

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.


Cold Case: The Return of ‘The Body in the Library’

The recent rise in popularity in Irish crime fiction is an interesting development in the history of Irish publishing. The concept of mainstream book-stores devoting sections solely to Irish crime fiction reflects the increased recognition of this genre among the book-buying public. However, it would be foolish to think that Irish crime fiction has only invented itself in the recent past.

The roots of Irish crime fiction may lie in the works of early Gothic fiction writers such as Melmoth spinesJoseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873) and Charles Robert Maturin (1780-1824).  Maturin’s ‘Melmoth the wanderer’ (1820) proved an instant success gaining praise from, among others, Honoré de Balzac who wrote ‘Melmoth réconcilié’ as a sequel in 1835.

As owner and editor of ‘The Dublin University Magazine’, Le Fanu serialised his work ‘Wylder’s hand’ from June 1863 – February 1864. The plot incorporates much of what today would be associated with crime fiction – a dishonest lawyer, morally bankrupt characters and a genuine murder mystery.

As with their modern counterparts, female authors were prominent in the early years of Irish crime fiction. Authors included L.T. Meade (1844?–1914), Kathleen O’Meara (1839-1888), and later, with her Tipperary connections, the English writer Dorothy L. Sayers (1893–1957), whose Lord Peter Wimsey series contributed so much to the golden age of detective fiction and was heavily influenced by Le Fanu.Wylder's hand DUM Later still, Eilís Dillon (1920-1994) and Sheila Pim (1909-1995), with her series of gardening mysteries would add handsomely to the genre in the 20th century.

In early 2009 a major Long Room exhibition ’The Body in the Library – The Great Detectives 1841-1941’ focused on the genre of crime and detective fiction. The Library has the ideal opportunity now to display some of the original exhibits in the Berkeley Library foyer as a tie-in with Trinity’s Irish Crime Fiction Festival. The festival takes place on 22nd -23rd November and is organised in conjunction with Glucksman Ireland House, New York University.  It includes talks, book signings and screenings. The line-up of participants includes 17 leading Irish and Irish-American crime novelists.

In keeping with the Irish and Irish-American theme, the Berkeley exhibition displays works by Matthias McDonnell Bodkin (1849–1933), Freeman Wills Crofts (1879-1957), Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) and Nicholas Blake [pseudonym of Cecil Day-Lewis] (1904-1972). Images of the 57 titles shown as part of the original exhibition in 2009 can be viewed from our digital collections portal using the search term ‘Body in the Library’.