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The Collation

"Wherein True Bliss is Buried": A Tragi-Comedy for the Prince of Poland, Brussels 1624

In the fall of 1960 an auction catalog was delivered to the Acquisitions Department of the Folger Shakespeare Library in which the following small typewritten notice was enclosed:

 "We understand that you are particularly interested in this sale, and, since the catalogue was rather late coming in from the printer, and surface mails so slow, we enclose a further copy via airmail, in order that you will not miss it."

The typewritten note from Sotheby’s

The auction catalog was from Sotheby’s and it listed 544 lots of “valuable printed books, fine bindings, autograph letters, literary mss. and historical documents” originating from more than five different properties, to be sold on November 8–9, 1960. The public auction opened on the first day with the sale of 113 lots from the property of the Marquess of Downshire. 1 

  1. It is not entirely clear to which Marquess of Downshire the books then belonged. The sixth Marquess, Arthur Wills John Wellington Trumbull Blundell Hill (1871–1918), had died some 42 years before, and the seventh Marquess, Arthur Wills Percy Wellington Blundell Trumbull Hill (1894–1989), was still alive. Did he need money, or did he just want to clear up the library?
  2. A handwritten note sitting in the Folger copy of the auction catalog indicates that the Folger intended to go up to a maximum bid of £200 for Sanford’s Grammer; the hammer came to £180.
  3. According to a handwritten note in pencil in the Folger’s copy of the auction catalog, “HWE” paid £650 for the lot. On May 18th 1961, the “French pamphlets unbound, as selected by Miss Pitcher,” were ordered by the Folger’s Acquisitions Department for the amount of £1,500. It is not entirely clear whether all items from the original lot were bought, whether some items were left out, or whether other items were added to the collection. The description of lot 72 in the auction catalog only mentions a dozen of individual titles, which are followed by the phrase “and other 16th and 17th century French pamphlets.”
  4. See for instance the lottery book which I discussed in a former Collation Post.
  5. My translation. The German translation of the original reads: “Nach dem Essen bereiteten die Jesuitenpatres eine Tragikomödie über die Glückseligkeiten dieser Welt vor, um sie am heutigen Tag vorzutragen, da sie hofften, S. Hoheit der Kronprinz würde sie mit seiner Anwesenheit beehren.” Cf. Die Reise des Kronprinzen Władyslaw Wasa in die Länder Westeuropas in den Jahren 1624/1625. München 1988, p. 112. This publication does not clearly indicates whether the original diary was written in Polish or in Latin.
  6. In the 1690s, Jesuit theater plays performed in the Flemish Jesuit Province, the so-called provincia Flandro-Belgica, consisted of five acts, and the chorus also disappeared. See: Goran Proot, Het schooltoneel van de jezuïeten in de Provincia Flandro-Belgica tijdens het ancien régime (1575–1773). Antwerp 2008, vol. 1, chapter 6, esp. pp. 209, graph 5–20.


[…] blogs out there. This month, we begin with a visit to The Collation, featuring Goran Proot’s ‘Wherein True Bliss is Buried’ a study of a Broadside advertising a tragicomedy performed by a Jesuit theatre in Brussels in […]

History Carnival #126 – October 2013. « The View East — October 1, 2013


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