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The Collation

"What manner o' thing is your crocodile?": July edition

Okay, folks, it’s time for another crocodile mystery. It’s pretty obvious, I think, what genre of thing this is (though do go ahead and identify it anyway), so let’s take this to the next level: what specifics can you supply about this particular example?

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Don’t forget that, as always, if you click on the image a larger version will open up in a new window; clicking on that image should enlarge it further, if need be.

Looking forward to your answers—and maybe even learning something from them!


Parts of it – the motto and ribbon – are from the order of the Garter; but the Garter crest usually has a cross in the center, not an animal; and the crown surmounting it is an addition. It looks like it’s embossed on the front cover of a bound book, but whose? Is the crown a clue?

William Ingram — July 2, 2012

I believe it’s the coronet of a Marquess who was a member of the Order of the Garter.

John Overholt — July 2, 2012

Thanks to the amazing British Armorial Bindings site, I was able to search for Marquesses who were in the Order of the Garter, and found that the stamp belongs to: Leveson-Gower, George Granville, 1st Duke of Sutherland (1758 – 1833).

John Overholt — July 2, 2012

And John gets it in record time! I suppose there are more details that could be ferreted out: which book is this? who is this guy, anyway? But, really, bravo! (My follow-up post will talk a bit about armorial bindings and provenance research, so keep picking away at this one, if you’d like, or raise other questions that you’d like to have answered!)

Sarah Werner — July 2, 2012

I see John has already got the answer; I avoided looking at the comments until I had had a go myself.

I did it the hard way—an armorial binding, obviously; the Garter ribbon, plus the Marquess’s coronet (three strawberry leaves and two pearls visible) narrowed it down to a Knight of the Garter who was also a Marquess. The animal encircled by the ribbon appears to be an armorial crest, due to the presence of the stylised “wreath” on which it is standing.

Searching the convenient Wikipedia gave me a set of 40 or so families. Fairbairn’s Book of Crests (digitised by the Internet Archive at reveals that the crest of the Marquess of Stafford is a “Wolf passant Argent, chained and collared Or”.

The book could therefore belong to Granville Leveson-Gower, (1721–1803) installed as a Knight of the Garter in 1771, and created 1st Marquess of Stafford in 1786, or to his son George Granville Leveson-Gower (1758–1833), who succeeded to the Marquessate on his father’s death in 1803, was installed as a Knight of the Garter in 1806, and subsequently received the higher title of Duke of Sutherland six months before his death in 1833.

The son is possibly the more likely of the two as he was fabulously wealthy, which would date the book to 1806–1833, but this is just speculation.

Philip Allfrey — July 3, 2012