Posts tagged: Cambridge collectors

‘Shelf Lives’ round-up

By , 15 June 2012 7:04 pm

Shelf Lives logoAs the ‘Shelf Lives’ exhibition draws to a close (Sat 16 June is the last day), here’s a round-up of more posts on the theme of collecting on related blogs …

In her post ‘Patience Rewarded’, Dominique Ruhlman writes about Sir William Wynne (1729-1815), master of Trinity Hall, who gave 252 volumes to the college library in the space of just nine years, starting in 1804.

On the MusiCB3 blog, Margaret Jones looks at Frederick Booth, who bequeathed his collection of around 3,500 scores to the University, along with some 3,000 LPs. The scores include works by Prokofiev, Stockhausen, Berio, and Poulenc, along with a liberal selection of twentieth-century British music.

Finally, Clemens Gresser’s post features Hedli Anderson (1907–1990), a singer of cabaret and political songs primarily in the 1930s and 1940s, who premiered the works of many composers and poets of the time. Anderson collected songs that were either written for her or were part of her library as a professional singer, and these are now held at the University Library.

Whose ‘Shelf Life’ is it anyway?

By , 10 June 2012 11:54 am

One book, three collectors: Kathleen Butler, A.N.L. Munby, Gilbert de Botton

A book can have many lives, passing from one collector to another over the course of centuries, and in each collection it finds new meaning. When I was choosing what to include in the case in the ‘Shelf Lives’ exhibition on ‘The Design of Friendship: The Montaigne Library of Gilbert de Botton’, I came across a copy of Charles Sorel’s La bibliothèque françoise (1664) with a very interesting collecting genealogy. Not only had it belonged to Gilbert de Botton, but two other ‘Cambridge collectors’ had also at one time owned this book: Kathleen ‘Blazing’ Butler, the flame-haired mistress of Girton College, whose collection of Italian books came to the Library in 1951 (classmark CCA–E.17), and the bibliographer A.N.L. ‘Tim’ Munby, whose collection of auction catalogues, booksellers’ catalogues and proposals and specimens is now the University Library’s Munby collection, and after whom the Munby Rare Books Room is named.

Sorel’s La bibliothèque françoise is an important early work of French bibliography and guide to French literature. His selections are usually grouped by category (e.g. ‘Des livres de philosophie’, ‘Des voyages’, ‘Des romans comiques’), but a whole chapter is devoted to Montaigne (‘un grand Autheur & … un Homme de rare merite’).

Keep reading …

More Music Collectors…

By , 7 May 2012 8:50 am

Shelf Lives logoA previous post on this blog, titled Music collectors’ ‘Shelf Lives’, alerted you to the fact that MusiCB3, the blog of the Music Collections at the University of Cambridge, would dedicate some posts to ‘Music Collectors’ whilst ‘Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books’ was on display (so until 16 Jun 2012).

The latest installment in this series is on Richard Pendlebury, and explains the connection of Pendlebury to the Faculty of Music’s library.

If you would like to read previous posts in this series, or want to keep track of future posts on music collectors, please go to, or bookmark

Cambridge collectors: The last of his kind: George Parker Bidder

By , 1 May 2012 1:54 pm

Bidder bookplateThe University Library’s exhibition ‘Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books’ runs for another six weeks until 16 June 2012.

Dawn Moutrey continues our theme of Cambridge collectors with a recent post on George Parker Bidder (1863–1953), whose collection of some sixty books on subjects including physiology, natural history, zoology and calculus is held at the Whipple Library. Bidder’s obituary in Nature described him as ‘the last of his kind—that of the great amateur biologists of the past century’.

Read the full post on the ‘Whipple Library Books Blog’ …

Cambridge collectors: Origins of the Whipple

By , 28 February 2012 12:17 pm

Whipple collection spine labelDawn Moutrey continues our theme of Cambridge collectors with a post on the origin of the Whipple Library in the collection of Robert Stewart Whipple.

‘Donations to libraries come in all sizes, from a single book donated by the author, to large collections which make you get out a tape measure to make sure you have the space. They all have a place in the history and development of a collection, and even a subject field.  The donation in 1944 by Robert Stewart Whipple (1871–1953) of his scientific instruments and books to the University has been viewed as “… an essential element in the establishment of the history of science as an academic discipline in Cambridge”’.

Read the full post on the ‘Whipple Library Books Blog’ …

Our posts on Cambridge collectors accompany the University Library’s major exhibition ‘Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books’, which runs until 16 June 2012.

‘Shelf Lives’: Does size matter?

By , 10 February 2012 1:09 pm

Letter written in 1868 by Charles DickensDominique Ruhlmann of Trinity Hall Library continues the ‘Shelf Lives’ theme with her feature on a letter of advice from Charles Dickens to his son Henry Fielding Dickens (‘My Dear Harry’), at the start of his son’s time as an undergraduate at Trinity Hall in October 1868.

‘Does a donation have to be large and impressive to be important? The answer is most emphatically “No”! One of our star items is a single sheet of paper measuring no more than 18 x 22.7 cm. It is a modest piece of nineteenth-century writing paper with no “bling” about it – but it still has the wow factor because it is a letter from Charles Dickens!’

Read the full post on ‘The Old Library at Trinity Hall’ blog …

Cambridge collectors: The Steward Collection

By , 7 February 2012 1:29 pm

Embossed stamp of J. H. Steward Ltd.

Our theme of Cambridge collectors, accompanying the current exhibition ‘Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books’, continues with a post by Dawn Moutrey of the Whipple Library on the Steward Collection, which came to the library in the 1970s when the Whipple Museum purchased a number of scientific instruments from the Steward family.

‘The J.H. Steward company was established in London in 1852 and became J.H. Steward Ltd. in 1913. It produced instruments for optical measuring, observation, military use, drawing and surveying. The 100-odd books we have in this collection cover physics, optics, scientific instruments, astronomy, lubrication, meteorology and gemmology (James Henry Steward, who established the company, was also a jeweller).’

Read the full post on the ‘Whipple Library Books Blog’ …

Cambridge collectors: Samuel Savage Lewis

By , 26 January 2012 3:14 pm
Portrait of Samuel Savage Lewis

Portrait of Samuel Savage Lewis, by C.H. Brock, given to Corpus Christi College by Lewis's widow

Gill Cannell’s piece on the Parker Library blog about the Corpus Christi College Fellow and Librarian Samuel Savage Lewis (1836–1891) continues our theme of Cambridge collectors, accompanying the current exhibition ‘Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books’.

‘He was an antiquary and a collector, mainly of classical coins, gems and seals. He had a reputation as a kindly eccentric and was generally known as ‘Satan Lewis’ on account of his straggly black beard and unconventional dress.’ Read the full post on the Parker Library blog …

Features on other Corpus collectors are planned, as well as more information on Archbishop Matthew Parker (1504–1575), the first collector in the ‘Shelf Lives’ exhibition. See the most recent post on the Parker Library blog by Suzanne Paul.

Music collectors’ ‘Shelf Lives’

By , 25 January 2012 1:34 pm

Shelf Lives logoDuring the six months of the current University Library exhibition ‘Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books’ (18 Jan–16 Jun 2012) we’ll be linking up with other blogs and libraries to shed light on Cambridge collectors not featured in the display.

First up is a post on music collectors on the MusiCB3 blog, announcing exhibitions on  F.T. Arnold, F.A. Booth and Richard Pendlebury.

Read the full post at

Shelf Lives

By , 18 January 2012 9:56 am
Samuel Sandars, one of the collectors who features in the exhibition

Samuel Sandars, one of the collectors who features in the exhibition

The ‘mission’ of the University Library’s exhibition centre has always been to offer the public a chance to see some of its most beautiful, precious and fascinating books and manuscripts.  The Library’s current exhibition ‘Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books’ chooses to focus not on a particular subject but on the people themselves by whose generosity the Library’s holdings have been enriched; the collectors whose passions (and, perhaps, obsessions) led them to gather together personal libraries covering any and every subject imaginable.

The ten exhibition curators were each given just a single case in which to select the highlights of an individual collector’s library.  This has created a display that ranges from the eighth century to the twentieth, and from Cambridge to Beijing via Madras, Chicago and the First World War trenches. As well as the collectors who gave them to the Library, other previous owners of items displayed include Charlemagne, Elizabeth I, Napoleon and Haydn.  Items in the cases include manuscripts, printed books, silver and velvet bindings, paper money and even a pair of slippers.

Keep reading …