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A touch of class

Two of our regular visiting researchers, Professor Andrew Pettegree (a Long Room Hub Fellow) and Arthur der Weduwen, both from the University of St. Andrews School of History, have been living in the reading room for the past fortnight, working their way through about 2,500 pamphlets in the Fagel Collection and identifying, with a hit-rate of 12-13%, unique copies for the Universal Short Title Catalogue, of which Andrew is director.
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A fruitful enterprise

Elizabeth Blachrie was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, early in the eighteenth century but eloped with her doctor cousin, Alexander Blackwell, to London amidst doubts as to the veracity of his medical qualifications. Here, Alexander worked for a printing firm for a short time before setting up his own print shop. However, as he had not served an apprenticeship, he was fined heavily for breaking the trade rules and ended up in a debtors’ prison. In order to make ends meet, Elizabeth came up with the idea of creating a new herbal – a description of plants and their medicinal uses – to include more exotic, unfamiliar plants as well as those found in Britain.

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Shhh! The Secret Wonder of Down Under

Dating from 1626 the title page of ‘Iovrnael vande Nassausche vloot …’ is illustrated with what appears to be an underwhelming map of the world. The work is an account of Admiral Jacques L’Hermite’s voyage to the East Indies, which left Texel in April 1623 before reaching the Bay of Nassau, charting its environs including the Hermite Islands. However its importance to the history of exploration cannot be underestimated as it is the first printed map to show the discovery of the Australian coast. In an effort to give prominence to the new land, this oval map is an early example of a South Atlantic centered representation of the world. Labelled ‘t Land Eendracht, it portrays Dirk Hartog’s landing at Shark Bay in 1616 and is attributed to either L’Hermite’s navigator, Johann van Walbeck, or the publisher Hessel Gerritsz.

Title page from Iovrnael vande Nassausche vloot
Iovrnael vande Nassausche vloot … (Amsterdam, 1626) Shelfmark: Fag.B.9.2

Hartog sailed from Holland as master of the ship Eendracht in January 1616 for the East Indies. Blown off course, the ship arrived at the Cape of Good Hope before taking a southerly route across the Indian Ocean and landing on the west coast of Australia. Hartog’s discovery led to the fabled land mass Terra Australis Incognita (unknown land in the South) being referred to on Dutch maps as ‘t Land van de Eendracht or Eendracht’s Land for the next 150 years. Subsequent and more detailed discoveries by the British would rename the territory Australia.

The map illustrating Hartog’s landing was printed ten years after his voyage. Accounts of the expedition did not materialise in print until 1635 in ‘Journael gehouden door …’ by Seyger van Rechteren. The large time lag can be explained by a reluctance of the East India Company (VOC) to reveal any new discoveries or lucrative trade routes.t'Land Eendracht In the 1620s the VOC was on its way to becoming the largest global trading business until its decline in the mid-17th century. So guarded in fact were the Dutch that very few references to Australia appeared on maps before the 1640s, making this 1626 publication all the more exciting.


The Cuala Press Archive

Catalogue of the Cuala Press.
Catalogue of the Cuala Press, November 1908. From the Cuala Press Archive.

The Cuala Press Archive was presented to Trinity College Library by Michael and Anne Yeats in 1986. The Cuala Press, initially operating as the Dun Emer Press, was run by Elizabeth Yeats from 1902 until her death in 1940.  The press grew out of Dun Emer Industries, founded by Elizabeth and Lily Yeats and Evelyn Gleeson in Dundrum in 1902 with the aim of employing Irish women in the making of beautiful things, and contributing to the training and education of working class girls. Elizabeth Yeats was in charge of the press, while Lily Yeats organised the embroidery workshop. In 1908, following a split with Evelyn Gleeson, the Yeats sisters left Dun Emer Industries and continued their work as Cuala Industries. The name of the press was accordingly changed from the Dun Emer Press to the Cuala Press. Elizabeth Yeats ran the press until her death in 1940, whereupon William Butler Yeats’ wife George took over along with Mollie Gill and another assistant. The press stopped printing books in 1946, but continued to create cards and prints. Seventy seven books were published by the Cuala Press between 1908 and 1946, starting with ‘Poetry and Ireland’ by W.B. Yeats and Lionel Johnson, and ending with Elizabeth Rivers’ ‘Stranger in Aran’. From 1969 the Cuala Press began printing books again, under the direction of W.B. and George Yeats’ children, Michael and Anne, who later presented the archive to Trinity. The archive, though fragmentary, contains useful material such as minute books of directors’ meetings, cash books, letters, business papers, some original drawings for prints and sample books. We also have the printing press itself, metal type and printer’s blocks.

A general descriptive listing of the archive is available in the Early Printed Books Reading Room at OL P 016.0941 CUA.

In the US, Boston College University Libraries also holds an archive of materials relating to the Cuala Press. The Cuala Press Printed Materials Archive consists of materials built up by Mollie Gill, one of Elizabeth Yeats’ assistants at the Cuala Press. In 2008-2009 Boston College University Libraries’ Burns Library mounted an exhibition using materials from the archive, ‘Sixty Years of the Cuala Press: A Collaboration of the Yeats Family and Mollie Gill‘. A slideshow of images from the exhibition is available at