Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Provenance Research Queries

Hi everyone, and a happy new year to you as well!

2013 has arrived, bristling with resolutions and good intentions, and for me, I am determined to begin the new year by trying to answer some of the mysteries of the Cwm Library that the project has turned up in the first year and a half.

First on the list is identifying this particular example of blind tooling:

This 'SI' tooling has been found on some 14 volumes in the Cwm collection at Hereford Cathedral, tooled in the centre of both the front and the back covers. All the volumes with this provenance were printed between 1603 and 1622, in Lyon, Antwerp, Cologne and Munich, and all were bound in brown calf leather in the seventeenth century. More information about each volume can be found by searching the Hereford Cathedral Library Catalogue.

It is likely that it stands for 'Societa[ti]s Iesu' (the Latin form of the Society of Jesus), but it could also represent a motto or phrase that has fallen into disuse, or is not immediately obvious. I am spending the next few weeks looking into as many other rare books collections as possible to try and establish what this could mean for the Cwm library collection - is this a standard mark for Jesuit library books? Is this unique to the Cwm collection? What does it stand for? What can be learnt about binding practices? Where might these volumes have been bound?

Any suggestions or possibilities gratefully received - watch this space!

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