"THYS BOKE IS MYNE"
on exhibit November 13, 2002 through March 1, 2003
Sir Edward Dering (1598-1644)
a most compleate gentleman
Sir Edward Dering was "a
most compleate gentleman in all respects, and an excellent Antiquarye"
according to Sir William Dugdale. He was certainly one of the most important
collectors of the 17th century. His library included English and Continental
books in many languages and disciplines from both Protestant and Catholic
presses. Dering obtained a warrant from the Privy Council in 1627 that
permitted him access to public records without the customary fee. Country
history and genealogy were among his special interests, going to great
lengths to reconstruct a family lineage that, he argued, preceded the
battle of Hastings. Dering wasn't above "improving" documents
he found in public repositories to make a point regarding his ancestry
and coat of arms, or helping himself to manuscripts in Dover Castle, where
he was an unhappy Lieutenant for six years. In the cause of advancing
Dering's scholarship, it seems more than one public records office unknowingly
became a lending institution. John Pym, a pamphleteer, classified Dering's
accomplishments as "both innate and acquired."*
A Collection of Speeches
(1642) may be more important for its binding and association value than
its contents. Though the M.P. from Kent in the early years of the Long
Parliament, Dering was not a particularly gifted statesman. But Dering
preserved his speeches in this handsome vellum binding with a galloping
Kentish horse on the cover surrounded by fleurs-de-lis and gilt decoration.
* Nati H. Krivatsy and Laetitia Yeandle, "Sir Edward Dering"
in Private Libraries in Renaissance England
. Vol. 1. Robert J. Fehrenbach,
gen ed., E.S. Leedham-Green, U.K. ed. (Binghamton, NY: Medieval &
Renaissance Texts & Studies; Marlborough, England: Adam Matthew Publications,
Frontis portrait in
Dering, Collection of Speeches, 1642. (D1104)
of Rodolphus Hospinianus entry, V.b. 297 ©
Sir Edward Dering, Bart. Catalogue of his books, compiled
ca. 1640 - ca.1642
What we know
of Dering's 2,000+ volume library comes from an incomplete manuscript
catalogue of 18 leaves, his Booke of Expences for the years 1617,
1619-1628, and a pocket-book of brief entries covering the years 1637-1639.
The opening from Dering's manuscript catalogue points to the entry at
the bottom of the page for Rodolphus Hospinianus...1587, with
the shelfmark (11. 9) and price (5s.) carefully recorded. The Folger
acquired the catalogue in the sale of Sir Thomas Phillipps' (1792-1872)
manuscripts at Sotheby's in 1965.
Archbishop William King
John Nalson. The Project
of Peace, or Unity of Faith and Government. London, Jonathan Edwin,
Image: Title page signature and pastedown with King's shelf marks in N113
William King (1650-1729) amassed one of the finest private libraries in
the history of Ireland. "The folly of books," as he called his
passion, resulted in a library of over 7,100 volumes.
The Project of Peace bears King's signature on the title page,
a rare example since King did not normally sign his books. He usually
identified his books with an elaborate system of shelf marks. Z:285, an
early shelfmark, was replaced by his more familiar box and item number
notation: Bx 16 No 263. The Cashel Cathedral Library shelfmark follows,
Q.2 28, giving us the complete history of the book's shelf marks before
it became N113 at the Folger, proving a book is where you find it.
and his Bibliotheca Mortlacensis
John Dee (1527-1608), renowned scientist, astrologer, and mathematician,
had the largest library in Elizabethan England, with nearly 4,000 titles.
He was an inspired interpreter of human knowledge and argued that the
power of numbers lay behind our understanding of a range of subjects,
including architecture, optics, music, astronomy and navigation. His interests
were encyclopedic, and included a taste for alchemy, the occult, and magic.
Queen Elizabeth I's coronation day in January 1559 was chosen by Dee on
astrological grounds, and at his height he was "the reincarnation
of Merlin at the Tudor court."*
* William H. Sherman, John Dee: the politics of reading
and writing in the English Renaissance (Amherst: U. of Massachusetts P,
Portrait of Dee
holding a compass from Meric Casaubon, A true and faithful relation,
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This page updated March 10, 2003