Tag Archives: Keynes Bequest

Isaac Newton’s dog-ears

Keynes.Ec.7.3.26 Lexicon Hebraicum et Chaldaicum - title page

The title page of Keynes.Ec.7.3.26

Bookplate on inside front board of Keynes.Ec.7.3.26

Bookplate on inside front board of Keynes.Ec.7.3.26

Among the highlights of the Keynes Bequest are two volumes from Sir Isaac Newton’s library, with a fascinating history behind them. This copy of Johann Buxtorf’s third edition of Lexicon Hebraicum et Chaldaicum (Basel: Ludwig König, 1621) features an armorial bookplate with motto ‘Philosophemur’ and ‘Case G. F.4. Barnsley’ in ink underneath the bookplate. On the rear fly-leaf is the shelfmark ‘F2_27’. The ‘Philosophemur’ bookplate belonged to Dr James Musgrave, who was Rector of Chinnor, near Oxford. After he died in 1778 the library was removed to Barnsley Park, Gloucestershire, the home of his son, where the books were re-catalogued and re-classified with ‘Barnsley’ shelfmarks. Musgrave’s books had been previously owned by his predecessor at Chinnor, Charles Huggins, who received them from his father, John Huggins, Warden of the Fleet Prison. John Huggins had bought the collection from the estate of his late neighbour, Isaac Newton, for £300.

Signature of Isaac Newton

Signature of Isaac Newton

Newton’s library was preserved almost intact until 1920, when more than half of the items were auctioned off and dispersed. Before securing one of the most important collections of Newton’s manuscripts in the world, which he acquired during and after a sale at Sotheby’s in 1936, John Maynard Keynes purchased two of Newton’s books from the Guildford bookseller Thomas Thorp in March 1921. This Latin-Hebrew dictionary is signed on the front and rear fly-leaves: ‘Isaac Newton’, who also noted the price on the rear fly-leaf: ‘Pret: 4s: 8d’.

Newton highlighting the word 'Lutum' in Keynes.Ec.7.3.26

Newton highlighting the word ‘Lutum’ in Keynes.Ec.7.3.26

Newton had the habit of ‘dog-earing’ his books, turning back the corner of leaves to note a reference, the corner of the leaf pointing to the exact word he wished to highlight. Eight pages (pp. 11, 18, 29, 45, 164, 247, 593 and 636) are turned back in this way in this dictionary. For more information, see John Harrison, The Library of Isaac Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978). Some of the information in this post is drawn from the SCOLAR blog of Cardiff University.

IJ

Munby Cataloguing Project (Rare Books)

Title page

The title page of Keynes.D.1.9

In June 2013 King’s College held a conference to mark the centenary of the birth of A.N.L. (Tim) Munby, Librarian at King’s from 1947 to 1974. The conference was a great success, with a distinguished panel of speakers from the world of bibliography and the history of books, and over 120 registered participants. As a follow-up to the conference, and as a permanent tribute to Tim Munby, King’s College inaugurated a fund in his name—The Munby Centenary Fund.  Donations to the fund support projects initiated by Munby, or related closely to his interests and achievements.

Spine detail

The gold tooling on the book’s spine.

The initial objective is to complete the online cataloguing of all of the books in the collection of John Maynard Keynes and generous donations have already made it possible to hire Dr Iman Javadi as ‘Munby Project Cataloguer (Rare Books)’ to begin this work. Iman joined the library team in November 2014, and has so far catalogued over 200 books.

Tim Munby began his career at King’s as the first cataloguer of Keynes’s collection, although cataloguing in those days was very different. Catalogue cards often included little more than author, title and imprint details.

Index card2

Tim Munby’s original catalogue card.

Front pastedown1

Inside front pastedown showing Keynes’s bookplate.

These days catalogue records for rare books typically include a wealth of copy-specific information such as binding descriptions, provenance information and information relating to former owners and detailed physical descriptions of the book as an object. This change not only reflects changes in research interests in bibliography, but also assists librarians in collection management, and the availability of these descriptions online improves access to the collections.

The newly created online record for this  item can be viewed here: MARC record (opens a .docx file)

Further updates about the project will be posted on this blog.

JC