Glasgow Incunabula Project update (29/3/11)

The latest ten books to be fully described and indexed on the project website are:

Front cover of limp vellum case binding

Limp vellum case binding (Sp Coll Hunterian Bx.2.22)

The copy of Caesar’s commentary on the Gallic wars survives in an early 16th century limp vellum case binding; it has a flap at the fore-edge designed to be secured to a piece of vellum on the front cover with an alum thonged tie.

This book, along with the Statius, is now part of our Hunterian collection. Confusingly, however, these two volumes have no connection with William Hunter. They were actually presented to the Hunterian Library in March, 1852, by a Miss Marjory Ettles of Stirling, along with several other books. They came from the library of her late brother-in-law, Dr Ebenezer Brown (d.1828), M.D., Inspector General of Hospitals, a former student at the University of Glasgow.

So when is a Hunterian collection book not a William Hunter book? If these books were acquired by the library today and added to the Hunterian Collection, we would make the distinction from Hunter’s original bequest clear by designating them in the shelfmark as “Hunterian Add.” 19th century librarians were less concerned about documenting provenance information clearly than we are today, but at least Marjory Ettles’ donation was recorded in the manuscripts of the Hunterian Museum records, so we can be sure that these definitely are later interlopers to Hunter’s collection. Although various manuscript lists of books from Hunter’s bequest do exist, we actually do not have a complete inventory of all the books that were in his library, or that arrived in Glasgow in 1807. So, occasionally, there are cases when we cannot be one hundred percent sure that a Hunterian item actually belonged to William Hunter … another potential area for research here!



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  1. Glasgow Incunabula Project update (19/9/13) « University of Glasgow Library

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