Intricate scenes painted on book edges depicting landscapes, flowers and buildings are the subject of a new exhibition in the Library of Trinity College Dublin.
The exhibition features highlights from the Library’s Bollmann Collection which includes fore-edge paintings executed over 250 years. They were painted on books printed between 1639 and 1895, with a wide variety of subjects – landscapes, mansions, religious buildings, boats, coats of arms, and flowers. Many of the books in the collection are in decorative bindings and the most beautiful of these will be on view in the exhibition alongside the fore-edge paintings.
Entitled “Bound to please: the Elsbeth and Bettina Bollmann Collection of fore-edge paintings and bindings”, the exhibition in the Long Room of the Old Library will run until the end of November and forms part of the Book Of Kells exhibition.
The unusual art of painting on the flat fore-edges of books goes back many centuries but the more subtle art of creating a hidden picture which is only visible when the leaves of the book are fanned appeared in England in the middle of the 17th century. There are three 17th-century fore-edge paintings in the Bollmann Collection, one of them probably executed in 1652 and the other two dated 1685 and 1688.
The art of fore-edge painting was taken up by the firm of Edwards of Halifax in the late 18th century and is often associated with that family. Founded by William Edwards in Halifax, Yorkshire, William was joined in his business by his sons, two of whom opened their own premises in London.
Apart from fore-edge paintings, the Edwards are known for their Etruscan-style bindings, described as such because motifs typical of Etruscan vases were used to decorate them, and for illustrated vellum bindings, on which a drawing on the cover is covered with a thin layer of transparent vellum to protect it. Both of these designs by the Edwards family are represented by several books in the Bollmann Collection. These stunning bindings are among those forming part of this exhibition.
Most fore-edge paintings are not dated and some of them were added to books many years after the books were published. Double fore-edge paintings and triple edge paintings, which are not commonly found, are believed to date from the early 20th century. Books with these paintings are among the highlights of this exhibition.
Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist, commented:
“The Bollmann Collection of fore-edge paintings and bindings is the largest collection of fine bindings acquired by the Library of Trinity College Dublin since the early 19th century. Most of the volumes are decorated with fore-edge paintings and many of them are in fine bindings, making this the most important collection of bindings to be acquired by the Library in over 200 years, since the Quin Collection was received in 1805.
“We are most grateful to Bettina Bollmann for making this donation of exquisite fore-edge paintings and bindings to the Library’s precious Research Collections. We are delighted to showcase highlights in this physical exhibition as well as an online exhibition and videos.”
The books on display in the Trinity exhibition form part of a collection of 52 books which was donated to the Library in 2022 by Bettina Bollmann, who had joined her mother Elsbeth over several decades in assembling the collection.
Most of the volumes are decorated with fore-edge paintings and many of them are in fine bindings, making this the most important collection of bindings to be acquired by the Library in over 200 years, since the Quin Collection was received in 1805.
Pictured in the main image are Principal Librarian, Early Printed Books & Special Collections, Dr Lydia Ferguson and exhibition curator, donor, Bettina Bollmann.
Are you a member of staff who would like to know more about the climate emergency but don’t know where to start?
We’ve teamed up with Dr. Clare Kelly in The School of Psychology to bring you a monthly book club to showcase some of the best readings on the climate and biodiversity crisis.
The Book Club is open to all staff (professional, research, academic) and takes place in the North Training Room in The Library (former Berkeley Library), the second Friday of every month (12:00-14:00).
These are moderated events, where Trinity staff can ask questions and engage in discussions about the book with the Trinity staff community. There is no need to register and all staff are welcome.
October’s Book Club
Our first book club takes place on Friday, 13th October in the North training room in the Library (former Berkeley Library).
This month’s pick is: Generation Dread : Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis by Britt Wray.
Check the availability of Generation Dread in The Library
Due to ongoing construction works, there will be periods of noise during weekday office hours from Wednesday 9 to Friday 18 August in the Ussher Library – we apologise for any disruption caused. Due to the nature of the works these are likely to be quite loud and constant this week; next week should be more intermittent.
Students wishing to use reading rooms with less distraction may wish to temporarily move to the Lecky Library, former Berkeley Library, or indeed the Hamilton Library at the East End of College.
Applications for student shelvers are now being accepted for the coming academic year 2023/24.
Each year the Library employs a number of student shelvers who work 10-12 hours per week at the Libraries on Campus and in the Trinity Centre at St James’s Hospital. The primary role of student shelvers is to sort books and return them to the shelves each morning before the Library opens.
A full job description and short-listing criteria are available on the application website. Please ensure you read these in detail before completing the form on the website.
The closing date for receipt of applications is 12 noon on Monday 7th August 2023.
Please Note: Interviews for these positions are likely to take place at the end of September 2023. Shortlisted candidates will be notified by e-mail of their interview time at least one week in advance of the interview date.
If you have any questions please contact Maria Kelly, Reading Room Maintenance Executive: kellyM10@tcd.ie
Botanical catalogues, lavish celestial atlases and unique pamphlets from the early modern period are among 30,000 titles being conserved and digitally catalogued in an ambitious collaboration to register the entirety of the 18th-century Fagel Collection, which fills a mile of shelving space in the Old Library of Trinity College Dublin.
50% of the collection has now been catalogued opening up this unique heritage library to 21st-century research. The achievements of the international Unlocking the Fagel Collection Project (2020-2023) was celebrated yesterday evening [Wed, June 21st] with the opening of an exhibition in the Library of Trinity College Dublin by Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ireland, Adriaan Palm and a conference in the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. KB Board of Director – responsible for Sustainable Access and Heritage, Geertrui Verbraak and the Librarian & College Archivist, Helen Shenton joined the Ambassador with opening words.
The project is a collaboration between the Library of Trinity College Dublin and the KB National Library of the Netherlands. It is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was launched following the State Visit of the King and Queen of the Netherlands to Ireland in 2019.
All 30,000 books, pamphlets, and maps in the collection are being digitally recorded in the Trinity Library catalogue. It is a flagship project of the Virtual Trinity Library programme, which is opening up the unique and distinct collections of the College through conservation, cataloguing, digitisation, research and public engagement. Additionally, the Dutch titles are being recorded in the Short-Title Catalogue Netherlands (STCN), the Dutch national bibliography.
The Fagel Collection is one of the jewels in the Library’s collections and is regarded as one of the most important private libraries in early modern Europe. The collection was amassed by five generations of the Fagel family – many of whom held high public office in the Netherlands. It was purchased as a whole for Trinity College Dublin in 1802 and is officially recorded as one of the treasures of the College.
In an era when printed material was the foremost basis of power and information, the Fagel collection, assembled contemporaneously by five generations of bibliophiles, is a treasure trove of material detailing global politics, trade, law, exploration and knowledge management in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The exhibition, entitled “Unlocking the Fagel Collection”, forms part of the Book of Kells visitor experience, and comprises 20 items chosen to give a flavour of the wonderful range and diversity of printed material contained within the vast collection. Highlights of the exhibition include a beautifully illustrated and hand-coloured botanical reference book; poetry and song publications wrapped in decorated papers; and unique volumes of rare pamphlets and ephemeral publications.
Librarian & College Archivist, Helen Shenton, noted that:
“This project is a flagship and exemplar in the ambitious Virtual Trinity Library programme. With the support of the Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands, we are well on the way to virtually reconstructing and reuniting this pan-European Library with sister collections in the Netherlands and in the wider region. Now over two centuries since arriving in Dublin, this historically significant collection is being made available for 21st-century research.”
Head of Research Collections, Laura Shanahan, commented:
“On its arrival to Trinity the Fagel Collection increased the Library’s holdings by 40%, and vastly expanded its subject content beyond largely theological material to all areas of scholarly interest. The Fagel collection also touches on every corner of the globe, opening up the realm of understanding beyond Ireland and Western Europe to the whole world. The collection’s importance for research now, and for understanding the political and social movements of Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, simply cannot be overstated. We are so proud that finally this collection is beginning to realise its full potential.”
A three-day conference organised by the Library will hear research updates from some of the 30 scholars who are currently working on the Fagel Collection. The event which is free and open to the public is hosted by the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Institute, the research partner of the Fagel project. Topics include how astronomy and the astral sciences are represented in the collection; document illuminated publications in the Fagel library, and present research on the Fagel family as international propaganda masters.
Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute, Eve Patten said:
“Trinity’s Fagel Collection opens up lines of enquiry into everything from the cultures of empire to climate change. We are delighted to host a conference that will bring so many international experts closer to this unique resource.”
Unlocking the Fagel Collection Project Manager, Ann-Marie Hansen,added:
“With half of this unique collection now digitally catalogued and fully discoverable the monumental efforts to ‘unlock’ the Fagel Collection are already delivering rich research impact. We have recorded over two-thousand editions that had never before been described. Additionally, we now know that 15% of the titles in the collection are the only known surviving copies of those publications.
“The Fagel Collection is attracting the attention of researchers locally and internationally and new scholarship is changing what we know, not only about the Fagel Collection, but also about what was printed in the 18th century. And we haven’t finished yet! The next stage is to complete the cataloguing, engage with digitisation and continuing to explore the full potential of the Fagel Collection for further research.”
Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ireland, Adriaan Palm, who will launch the exhibition this evening, said:
“The partnership between Trinity, the National Library of the Netherlands, and the Dutch and Irish governments signals a Europe-wide dedication to the preservation of and access to our shared cultural heritage. The ‘Unlocking the Fagel Collection project’ is one of the finest examples of research and public engagement projects today, and we are very glad to be able to celebrate this major milestone in providing complete access to the pan-European collection.”
The Library of Trinity is collaborating with the KB National Library of the Netherlands, to register all publications in the Fagel Collection in the catalogue of the Library of Trinity College and in the Short-Title Catalogue, Netherlands, the Dutch pre-1800 national bibliography. The project is also working in conjunction with the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute to facilitate researchers to engage in the collection. The project ‘Unlocking the Fagel Collection’ is made possible by the support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Fagel Collection will form a key component of the Library’s Virtual Trinity Library, which allows digital access to the unique and distinct collections of the Library. The Library has long term aims to digitally reunite the Fagel collection with related library, archive, museum and private collections around the world, using the latest enhanced technologies.
More about the Fagel Collection:
The Fagel collection at the Library of Trinity College Dublin is one of the most important and largest still extant Dutch private libraries from the eighteenth century. The library was assembled as a working library by several generations of the Fagel family, of whom successive members held high offices in the Dutch Republic throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The collection of books, pamphlets and maps was purchased as a whole for Trinity College Dublin in 1802. The material ranges in date from 1478 to 1799 with the greater volume of material published in the 18th century and relates to all parts of the world, but with a particular emphasis on Europe and areas outside Europe where the Dutch had trading or colonial interests. Many items in the library are private printings, in that they were not made available to the public at large, and are consequently very rare.
We are pleased to advise you that the current phase of essential works in the Ussher Library basement has been completed ahead of schedule and that the building will reopen to staff and students at 09:30 on Tuesday 6th June.
Readers will once again have direct access to book collections and can use Kinsella Hall for late evening and overnight study. Extended opening will cease in the Hamilton Library from Tuesday 6th June, marking a return to normal summer opening hours. See our opening hours page for further details.
The next phase of essential works in the Ussher Library basement will commence on Tuesday 6th June for a period of approximately 16 weeks. This is to enable the construction of the Interim Research Collections Study Centre to ensure continuity of services as the Old Library Redevelopment Project progresses.
The Ussher Library will remain open throughout the construction phase, but we do anticipate some intermittent noise disruption. Alternative quiet study spaces will be available in the Berkeley, Lecky and Hamilton libraries. There will be no direct impact on Kinsella Hall as noisy works will not take place during evening and overnight periods.
All materials held in the Ussher Library will be accessible to readers throughout the construction works.
Readers will be kept up-to-date on developments via the Library website, physical signage and social media channels.
We apologise for any inconvenience the works may cause.
There have been serious issues with leaks and damp in the 1937 Reading Room for some time. The Library has been working with Estates and Facilities to put together a programme of works to address these issues and ensure the long-term viability of the building. This will require the closure of the main reading room area from next Monday 22nd May for the coming months, and temporary closures of adjacent spaces, particularly in the early and late phases of the project. It is anticipated that the main reading room will fully reopen in September 2023 – an exact date will be communicated later in the summer when Estates & Facilities are in a position to confirm the project end point.
While the project is underway, alternative study spaces will be available on campus to ensure that our postgraduate students will always have somewhere comfortable to work, both during the day and overnight:
Monday 22nd May – Sunday 11th June
The Berkeley and Lecky libraries will be available from 09:30 to 17:00 (note: the Ussher Library will be closed during this time for essential works but you can request books held in the Ussher by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The HamiltonLibrary will be available on a 24/7 basis (here is a video to show you how to get there)
Monday 12th June to the end of the summer
The Berkeley, Lecky and Ussher libraries will be available from 09:30-17:00
Kinsella Hall (floors 1-3 of the Ussher Library), will be available on a 24/7 basis
While the kitchen, toilets, PC room, group study area, side corridors and lockers will need to be closed occasionally for short periods of time (usually just a day or two), they will remain generally accessible throughout the summer on a 24/7 basis. Postgraduate students will be given as much advanced notice as possible about these temporary closures.
Addressing leaks and damp in the 1937 Reading Room is an important health and safety measure that will improve the experience for those who rely on the various facilities within the building. But as with any historical protected structure, renovation works will be challenging. Estates and Facilities have advised that timelines, especially with regard to temporary closures of specific spaces, may be subject to change. The Library website and social media platforms will be used to keep the postgraduate community up to date on developments.
Paw prints, burn marks and a mysterious code … Ireland’s only copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio has all the hall marks of a book that was much used and much loved.
The highly-regarded volume is the centrepiece of a new exhibition in the Library of Trinity College Dublin entitled ‘Shakespeare the Irishman’ marking 400 years since the Bard’s complete works were first published. Both a physical exhibition and online version of the Library exhibition were launched last night in the Old Library [Thurs, April 13th] by Trinity alumna and author Anne Enright.
The first collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays was published in 1623, seven years after his death. Without it, half of his plays would have been lost. Surviving copies of the First Folio are among the most highly-sought after books in the world.
Trinity’s copy was acquired at the auction of the library of the late academic Arthur Browne after his death in 1805. Since then the First Folio has been one of the most cherished items in the Library’s collections.
Helen Shenton, Librarian & College Archivist, commented:
“This exhibition is part of the global celebrations of ‘the book that gave us Shakespeare’ – without the publication of the First Folio we would have lost half of Shakespeare’s plays. It is important to Trinity and Ireland because we have the only copy of the First Folio on the island. It is the highlight of the extensive Shakespearean material in our Library collections. It’s fantastic that it can be seen in the exhibition here in the Old Library and in its digitised form through the Virtual Trinity Library.”
Andy Murphy, Professor of English and curator of the exhibition, commented:
“This exhibition tells the story of Trinity’s copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, one of the jewels in the crown of the Library’s collection. While in good condition, it’s clear that it was a much beloved and read volume. Evidence of burn marks, drink stains, paw prints, and mysterious symbols, which have yet to be deciphered, tell us that this is a book that has been used and abused, but always cherished.
“In Ireland, Shakespeare’s plays have always been deeply intertwined with politics. The exhibition explores how his plays were adopted and adapted in Ireland focusing on his centrality to 18th century ascendancy colonial culture; his influence on 19th century Irish nationalists such as Wolfe Tone, James Connolly, and Patrick Pearse and the translation of some of his work into the Irish language in the 20th century.”
The exhibition marks the launch of the Trinity Centre for the Book a new research centre hosted in the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute in collaboration with the Library, which will co-ordinate and share research on the rich cultural and social importance of books of all types.
Mark Faulkner, Ussher Assistant Professor in Medieval Literature and Director of the Trinity Centre for the Book, commented:
“As this exhibition demonstrates, Trinity’s Library has an outstanding collection of Shakespearean material; and this excellence is mirrored in its holdings of medieval manuscripts, early printed books and the archives of authors, politicians, thinkers and many others. The new Trinity Centre for the Book will harness these outstanding collections and the university’s significant concentration of experts across its three faculties and the Library to further our understanding of one of society’s most important technologies – the book.”
More about the Trinity Centre for the Book:
The Trinity Centre for the Book, hosted in Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute, in collaboration with the Library, aspires to make Trinity a globally recognised centre for the study, understanding and sharing of the book. The centre will capitalise on Trinity’s outstanding Library collections that span thousands of years, from the Egyptian Books of the Dead to the Library’s rapid response collecting initiative ‘Living in Lockdown’ – a hybrid collection of physical works and born digital submissions. It will also harness the university’s significant concentration of expertise, with more than 150 researchers publishing over 1,000 works on book history over the last ten years. The centre will examine all aspects of the history of the book to broaden our understanding of its rich cultural and social importance. This will include the key role it has played in communicating knowledge and lived experience for millennia, to recent developments in non-alphabetic forms of communication such as emojis and the emergence of AI-driven content generation engines such as ChatGPT. See more here
More about Trinity’s First Folio:
The First Folio is one of the most highly-regarded books in the world. Trinity holds the only copy of the book on the island of Ireland. It formerly belonged to Arthur Browne, who was born in New England into a family with strong Irish connections. He studied at Trinity and settled in Dublin. Browne was a distinguished lawyer and an academic at Trinity, where he was both Prof of Law and Prof of Greek. At the time Trinity had its own seat in the Irish parliament and Browne was MP for Trinity from 1783 until parliament was dissolved in 1800. Trinity’s copy of the volume, while in good condition, includes evidence of its having been well used by readers over the decades with evidence of burn marks; drink stains; paw prints; and annotations. The most intriguing aspect of Trinity’s copy is a page that includes a set of inscriptions on one of its blank pages. These are yet to be deciphered, but are most likely shorthand symbols. Trinity purchased the book at the sale of Browne’s books in the wake of his death in 1805 paying £26 11s 6d for the volume.
On Tuesday 11 April the Library launched a Study Space Campaign to address the issue of ‘desk-hogging’ (i.e., the practice of leaving books and personal belongings unattended for long periods of time at Library study spaces, thus preventing others from using those spaces). A dedicated team of stewards are freeing up study spaces that have been left unoccupied for more than 60 minutes. Belongings are moved in boxes to designated storage areas on the same floor.
The Library Study Space Campaign relies on the cooperation of all readers. We ask that you support the Steward Team to ensure that everybody has a fair chance of finding a suitable study space during this stressful pre-exam period. You can assist us by not leaving personal belongings (especially laptops, phones, USB drives or other valuables) unattended for any length of time, and by sticking to the 60 minute break rule.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at: email@example.com.
The Library of Trinity College Dublin is the only library on the island of Ireland that enjoys UK Legal Deposit status which entitles it to receive a copy of every item published in Ireland and the UK. It has enjoyed this status since 1801, enabling the Library to build an unparalleled record of our intellectual and cultural heritage for the benefit of students, researchers and visitors from near and far.
In 2013 these powers were extended from printed publications to include non-print (electronic) legal deposit, allowing readers to access websites, e-books, and online journals, creating an unprecedented collection of digital and online publishing which captures contemporary living. The commitment to electronic legal deposit has also provided access to the UK Web Archive, which holds millions of websites and over 100 curated collections including Brexit and the global Covid-19 pandemic, to name but a few.
Ranging from the most contemporary electronic collections to 19th century print collections, the impact of both print and non-print legal deposit for the island of Ireland has been significant.
In 2016, marking the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, the Library of Trinity College Dublin collaborated with the Bodleian Library and British Library to archive websites from both the Irish and UK web domains as they reflected on this pivotal moment in modern Irish history in the 1916 Web Archiving Project.
The Library of Trinity College Dublin has one of the most significant collections of Northern Irish publications published on the island of Ireland, including books, pamphlets and local history, especially relevant as we mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement also this week.
By the 1930s, the number of newly published books banned in Ireland each year was between 100-150, denying the Irish public the right to important Irish and international literature. Under Legal Deposit, the Library of Trinity College Dublin continued to receive these books and was able to provide access, albeit under very restricted conditions.
Legal Deposit enabled the collection of books by women authors from the 19th century onwards, both from Ireland and the UK. This helped to counteract collection bias and improved representation.
Commenting on its significance, Librarian & College Archivist, Helen Shenton said:
“Today, the Library of Trinity College Dublin together with our five legal deposit libraries in the UK, celebrate 10-years of digital collecting, which has enabled the creation of a seventh, transnational digital library for the benefit of all. It is also an opportunity to look back on the significant impact Legal Deposit has had over centuries, building an unparalleled record of our intellectual and cultural heritage.”
About Legal Deposit Libraries
There are six legal deposit libraries across in Ireland and the UK. They are:
The legal deposit libraries work together to ensure the long-term preservation of Irish and UK publications. They ensure that publications are held securely and that they can be discovered and accessed by readers. For further details on the 10th anniversary celebrations on digital collecting see British Library announcement.