Item of Interest: Biography of a Book

We are excited to introduce a new series of monthly blog posts, each of which will focus on a particular “Item of Interest” within Lambeth Palace Library. From a closer examination of books and manuscripts in our collections to glimpses into the work that is carried out by our staff, we hope these posts will offer an intriguing insight into our world renowned library.

To get us started this month, Jessica Hudson (Sion Project Cataloguer) is exploring the provenance of an item in the Sion College Collection.

Biography of a Book:

“Where words fail, music speaks”, so said Hans Christian Andersen, but the copy of Antiquae musicae auctores septem (G81.1/M47) found among the works in the Sion College Collection, speaks volumes about its ownership history. Through the inscriptions and marginal notes that it bears on its pages, it tells of the hands that it passed through, the traded paths that it followed and reveals the voice and thoughts of its former owners.

As a printed work it charts the history of ancient Greek music through eminent writers of ancient times (such as Aristoxenus), drawn together and edited by the Danish scholar Marcus Meibom (1630-1711). Meibom was best known as an historian of music and he was also, incidentally, a Librarian. Antiquae musicae examines musical theory with mathematical precision and is not only regarded as Meibom’s most significant work, but one that stands as a pioneer in its field and a milestone in musical scholarship. It was printed in 1652 by Louis Elzevir at his workshop in Amsterdam and the title page includes the principal printer’s device used by Elzevir which depicts Minerve with the motto, “Ne extra oleas” (“nothing but the olive”). Bound in vellum with gently yapped edges, it is a fine volume and an interesting addition to the library. As an artefact however, it has yet more to tell.

A potted account of the book’s movements over the course of its history can be found on the front flyleaf, where there is an inscription which reads:

Image 1J W Callcott. Bought of Mr. Faulder Bond St. out of the collection of Dr. Shepherd, Canon of Windsor

With a little research it has been possible to flesh out the named characters, lending an interesting tale of provenance which reminds us that the history of a book extends beyond its composition, printing and binding and rolls through time, being shaped by its owners and readers.

The first name that appears is that of John Wall Callcott who was born on 20th November 1766 in Kensington.  He was elder brother to the renowned artist Sir Augustus Wall Callcott (20 February 1779 – 25 November 1844), after whom the engraved portrait of John (see below) was created. During his early schooling John Callcott learned Greek and Latin and was evidently still proficient in later years, as attested by the Antiquae musicae auctores septem which includes parallel Greek and Latin text. Indeed some of the extensive marginalia found in the book is likely to come from Callcott as he digested, interpreted and commented on the work. Although a promising student of the classics, Callcott’s true passion lay with music, an interest derived from listening to the organ being played during regular visits to Kensington parish Church where his father Thomas had found employment as a brick layer. From around 1778 Callcott received musical instruction from Henry Whitney, the church organist, and would later become a pupil of Haydn (1732 –1809). From here he developed his skills and would grow to become a composer of some renown. During his adult life Callcott was celebrated principally for the award-winning glees that he composed (such as Drink to me only with thine eyes) and for his extensive knowledge of musical theory, becoming a highly regarded teacher and scholar of music (lecturing for example at the Royal Academy of Music). This facet makes his link to the book more poignant, as he may well have gained greater insight into musical theory from reading this very volume, applying his knowledge when he later produced his own much praised work Musical Grammar in 1806. Beyond the book, there is a further Lambeth connection with Callcott, as he was appointed organist to the Asylum for Female Orphans in Lambeth in 1789.

Sadly Callcott suffered a nervous breakdown in 1808 from which recovered, only to relapse in 1813. He was committed to the Fishponds Asylum, where he would spend his final years. Callcott died on 15th May 1821 and was buried in Kensington churchyard.

Image 2John Wall Callcott by Frederick Christian Lewis Sr, after original by Sir Augustus Wall Callcott. (Image courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery).

A further inscription on the title page of volume I tells us that it was in 1797 that Calcott purchased Antiquae musicae from “Mr. Faulder, bookseller in Bond Street”. The bookdealer has been identified as Robert Faulder (1747/48-1815). Robert was both a bookbinder and bookseller operating from New Bond Street in the late 18th century (his premises included 42 New Bond St from 1780-1811 and numbers 48 and 46 New Bond St in 1811). Faulder began trading in 1780, having completed his apprenticeship with James Robson (1733 – 1806). He was freed from his apprenticeship in 1779 while working for the Merchant Taylors’ Company. One of Faulder’s premises is depicted in a satirical cartoon entitled “Sandwich Carrots”, which was produced in 1796 by the engraver James Gillray (1756-1815). Looking beyond the somewhat salacious figures in the scene, you can see his shop front filled with numerous volumes (though the titles on display are added for comedy value, rather than being an accurate reflection of Faulder’s stock). The male character purportedly represents the notorious 5th Earl of Sandwich and strangely forms a connection with the last link in our provenance chain through his father the 4th Earl of Sandwich who was the patron of the earliest owner recorded in the inscription.

Image 3Sandwich-Carrots! – dainty Sandwich-Carrots, engraved by James Gillray (1756-1815)

In 1797 (the year that Callcott purchased the book) Faulder had run into a little hot water when the satirist John Williams (known by the pseudonym of Anthony Pasquin) sued him for libel (a further 42 publishers were to be tried following Faulder’s hearing). The case surrounded the sale of copies of a poetical work produced by William Gifford, The Baviad. Williams claimed that the volume defamed him and many across the land. The case was heard by Lord Kenyon, who dismissed the charges leaving Faulder free to continue on with his business. The proceedings were published in 1811 around the time of Williams’ death of typhus which he had contracted in America where he had fled following the failed court case.

Dr Anthony Shepherd (born 1721) is the final intriguing character recorded who touches the life of our book. He was educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge graduating in 1744 and continued his education at Christ’s College where he gained his MA in 1747. He would rise to become Plumian Professor of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge in 1760 and was appointed as George III’s Master of Mechanics in 1763. He had a great taste for music and it is possible that the more extensive notes which are found in the margins of the book are those of Shepherd. However, his musical abilities apparently never outshone his talent for astronomy.

Image 4Anthony Shepherd (1721?–1796), Plumian Professor of Astronomy (1760–1796), by Gerard van der Puyl (1750–1824). (Image courtesy of The Old Schools, University of Cambridge).

As a clergyman Shepherd held a series of livings including Canon of Windsor (1777-1796) and Rector of Eastling, Kent (1782-1796). However, he always resided in Cambridge, attending to his duties at the University. There are several documents held within Lambeth’s archives which are linked to Shepherd’s clerical career, including his ordination papers (FP XLII f. 14).

Despite his evidently sharp mind, the daughter of Dr Charles Burney rather unkindly described Shepherd as “dullness itself”. Although a little colour is added to his character through his association with Captain Cook who named the Shepherd islands after his friend in 1774. Shepherd died the year before Faulder’s brush with the law, but it is through him that we have an interesting connection between the church, music and the volume now in the Sion Collection – neatly rounding off our story.

References:

Gifford, William (1811). The Baviad and Maeviad. 8th edition. London: John Murray: https://archive.org/stream/baviadandmaevia01pasqgoog#page/n157/mode/2upp , pp. 129-179.

Husk, G. & Grove G. (n.d.). A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Callcott, John. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Dictionary_of_Music_and_Musicians/Callcott,_John

John Wall Callcott. Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911. http://www.theodora.com/encyclopedia/c/john_wall_callcott.html

John Williams (satirist) (2017). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Williams_(satirist)

Library of Congress (n.n.) Sandwich-Carrots! – dainty Sandwich-Carrots. Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2001695088/

Olleson, P. (2004). Callcott, John Wall (1766-1821). In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, pp. 543-544. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Oxford University (n.d.). British Book Trade Indexhttp://bbti.bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Taub, Liba (2004). Shepherd, Anthony (1721?–1796). In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, pp. 240-241. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The Gentleman’s Magazine (1796). Volume LXVI, pt. 2. London.

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