Friday 26 April 2013

Sarum Missal

The Library's extremely fine fourteenth-century Sarum Missal was bought from William Clayton in 1712 for £1-01-0. It is believed to date from the reign of Richard II, and there is some evidence that it was commissioned for a royal chapel.

Read more on the website...

Thursday 25 April 2013

Delights for the eyes and the mind

These beautifully hand-coloured engravings are taken from Les delices des yeux et de l'esprit, ou collection generale des differentes especes de coquillages que la mer renferme by Georg Wolfgang Knorr (1705-1761), engraver and naturalist, who was born and spent all his life in Nuremberg, where this six-volume work was published in 1768.

You can see more of this delightful work on the Biodiversity Heritage Library's Flickr set here.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

...said the gynaecologist to the Bishop

Visitors to the Library's Reading Room may not be aware that there are more books contained there than initially meet the eye, for in the corner by the donations box is a specially designed cabinet known as Bishop Fraser's chest, containing a collection of papers relating to James Fraser (1818-1885), Second Bishop of Manchester.

The Fraser Collection includes twelve volumes of notes and sermons, invitations, notices of meetings, four scrapbooks detailing his activity as Bishop of Manchester, and reports of Fraser's work in the field of education. These were acquired in 1895 and a special locked bookcase was made for them, where they have been housed ever since. Eagle-eyed visitors may notice that the right-hand side of the bookcase has been reduced by 1 1/2" to compensate for the uneven floor level.

We have just been given a quantity of additional material relating to Bishop Fraser, generously donated by Bishop Nigel McCulloch, the recently retired Eleventh Bishop of Manchester. This includes letters, printed notices, books of reports and a Bible presented to Fraser on the occasion of his marriage by notable Manchester medic and eminent gynaecologist Thomas Radford. Given that James Fraser was the ripe old age of sixty-two on his wedding day, possibly Radford, in his wisdom, thought that Bible reading might be the safest form of entertainment.

Also included in the collection is this slightly eccentric letter to Fraser from William Thompson, the Archbishop of York. Although it may look to the untrained eye as if Thompson may have been having trouble with his caps lock, he was in fact likely to have been typing on one of the earliest commercially produced typewriters, which wrote only in capital letters.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Eighteenth-century birds


These two beautifully illustrated eighteenth-century ornithological works came off the shelves recently and we took the opportunity to photograph some of their exquisite hand-coloured plates.

The images above and immediately below are from Peter Ascanius's Icones Rerum Naturalium, or Figures enluminées d'histoire naturelle, printed and published by Claude Philibert in Copenhagen, 1767. Ascanius (1723-1803) was a Norwegian biologist and mineralogist and Fellow of the Royal Society who studied under Carl Linnaeus.

The remainder of the images are from Elementa Ornithologica by Jacob Christian Schaeffer (1718-1790), printed by Emanuel Adam Weiss in Regensburg in 1774. Schaeffer was a German scientist and theologian who opened his own natural history museum, visited by Goethe in 1786 on his way to Italy. He was a member of many learned societies and had a very broad scientific interest, encompassing not only natural history but also electricity, colours, and optics. He became famous for the manufacture of prisms and lenses, and also invented an early washing machine, as well as publishing the results of his extensive investigations into paper manufacture.

Friday 12 April 2013

Walker's Croft Burial Ground

The redevelopment of Manchester Victoria has meant that bodies from the former Walker's Croft burial ground are being exhumed and re-buried in Southern Cemetery.

Walker's Croft was in use from 1815-1832, and many of those buried there were victims of the cholera epidemic of 1832. The records of all the burials at Walker's Croft are available to search on the family history website Ancestry, which can be accessed at your local public library. Although the burial records are held at Manchester Cathedral, these are not searchable by name.

The Strange Case of the Belgian Tarts

When in 1885, a French antiquary in Louvain noticed some curious writing on the paper being used by a baker to wrap his tarts, he bought the lot and took them home to examine them. The trail led him back to Manchester in a most surprising way... Read more on the 101 Treasures page.

Isaac Newton: The Last Magician

BBC2 is showing an hour-long programme about Isaac Newton tonight (Isaac Newton: The Last Magician, Friday 12th April, 9-10pm). We are proud to own several works by Isaac Newton, including a first edition Principia Mathematica of 1687, which has been featured in our 101 Treasures series. In 1705 the Library purchased a second work, Opticks: or, A treatise of the reflexions, refractions, inflexions and colours of light: Also two treatises of the species and magnitude of curvilinear figures (London: Printed for Sam. Smith, and Benj. Walford, printers to the Royal Society, at the Printer's Arms in St. Paul's Church yard, 1704). At a cost of ten shillings, this was more expensive than the Principia, which had been remaindered at 7s 6d.

Whereas the Principia would defeat even a serious scientist, the Opticks is much more accessible and easier to understand. It was a work that was based on Newton’s experiments and analyses the fundamental nature of light. In it Newton demonstrated that 'pure' light (such as the light attributed to the sun) is not fundamentally white or colourless but that light is composed of different spectral hues and that all colours, including white, are formed by various mixtures of these hues. Newton named the seven colours of the spectrum for the first time as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

The purchase of Opticks is recorded in the Accessions Register, and as well as the price of ten shillings, shows that the book was bought directly from Sam Smith and Benjamin Walford, the publishers of the work.

In addition to the first edition of 1704, we also have the Latin translation of 1706 as well as a range of other works including some of Newton’s more curious non-scientific works, notably his writings on chronology.

Thursday 11 April 2013

Living without working

This radical manifesto addressed to "the Electors and Non-Electors of the Borough of Oldham" was produced by Thomas Micklethwaite, who proposed to stand for election for Oldham in the General Election of 1852.

Micklethwaite, the proprietor of the Wakefield Journal, was a frequent participator in local debates. In addition to advocating the abolition of taxation, all private property, and the extinction of the National Debt, he also planned to introduce a four-hour working day: "four hours, in my opinion, being amply sufficient for any man to labour in one day". He was against the Army and Navy, and suggested instead that each individual should be the owner of their own rifle and sword "for his own protection, and for the defence of our glorious, common Fatherland".

Nor was this all. Impressively, Micklethwaite claimed to have "discovered a plan whereby any number of persons may live without working, and be fed, clothed and educated without costing themselves or any one else any living thing whatsoever". There was a caveat to this great proposal however: "This plan I am prepared, if elected, to introduce into the Borough of Oldham". A sad reflection, perhaps, of the empty promises of politicians since time immemorial. As he appears never to have actually stood for election, his cunning plan has been sadly lost, not just to the electors of Oldham, but to us all.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

M-m-m-m-m-m-m-my Pomona...

Pomona Gardens was one of the most important pleasure gardens in nineteenth-century Manchester. Pomona was opened in 1845 by William and Joseph Beardsley who leased land in Stretford from Sir Thomas Joseph de Trafford. The site was immediately south of the Cornbrook and east of the river Irwell, about one and half miles from the centre of Manchester, but was close to Hulme, one of Manchester's most populous townships.

The new gardens were small but were within easy walking distance of Manchester, and were advertised a place to ‘enjoy all the pleasures of a rural fete, without the expense of a railway trip’. In the absence of other attractions, much was made of the air, ‘free from the impurities of the Manchester atmosphere’. Though lacking a zoo, Pomona had attractions such attractions as a shooting gallery, billiard room and camera obscura as well as flying swings, archery ground, bowling green and a hedge maze.

Following the purchase of the gardens by James Reilly in 1868, Pomona developed into a new form of covered entertainment. The Royal Pomona Palace, as Reilly called it, at some 216 feet long and 220 feet wide, and 60 feet high, was largest such hall in the country, capable of accommodating at least 20,000 people. Pomona was transformed into a place where political rallies were held, but also to a place  where young people met and chatted, drank and danced largely without apparent adult supervision.

To the Jennison family, owners of the rival Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Pomona was the zoo's main competitor. They were relieved when Pomona collapsed in the 1880s, falling victim to increasing urbanisation, and by the 1880s the site was surrounded by factories. In 1883 it was decided that four of the docks of the proposed Manchester Ship Canal would be built on Pomona Gardens and although it struggled on the Gardens finally closed its doors in 1888.

We have few artefacts and mementos of Pomona but have recently acquired a trade token and a railway handbill for the Annual Horse Show of 1882. The horse show, a new venture for the north of England, was introduced by Reilly in 1874 and was extraordinarily popular, receiving over a hundred thousand visitors in its first year.

With thanks to Terry Wyke of Manchester Metropolitan University.

The magic of Belle Vue

In recent months we have had four masters students from Manchester University working on the Belle Vue collection as part of their placement. Find out what they've been up to at this event in Gorton Monastery on April 28th. For more information visit the Monastery website.

Friday 5 April 2013

John Reed at Oxford

John Reed (whose diaries we have recently acquired) was at Magdalen College in the early 1950s where he was a diligent if rather anxious student. He enjoyed all the usual activities of an Oxford undergraduate, rowing, cycling, eating crumpets and talking into the night and falling in love with a fellow student, though Brideshead it was not!

He was very fortunate to be allocated as his tutor the renowned writer C.S.Lewis. The first mention of his tutor is on Saturday 19 January 1950:

"Lewis seems rather hard upon grammatical inaccuracy and loose thinking; I do not know what his reactn to most of what I have written may be. Out on bicycle to M&S to buy bread and tarts."

Lewis was regarded as an exceptional teacher by many of his pupils, including Kenneth Tynan, who revered him. By contrast, the poet John Betjeman considered him unfriendly, demanding, and uninspiring, blaming him for his rustication from Oxford.

Reed is clearly captivated by Lewis from the start, and is very keen to make a good impression, although he is frequently shocked by what he describes as his tutor's "strong tendency to use seamy analogies and forthright terms".

February saw Reed attending discussions in Lewis's rooms. In his diary he notes that "half a dozen undergrads and the Cannon stay for a cool pint from the corner cupboard. During quaffing time the conversation comes back to morality again and the Cannon... remarks surely the average undergraduate does keep a woman in his room - or only refrains from doing so for fear of the proctors. Lewis is less hopeful. 'There's a great deal of fornication goes on in the university', he says, 'and homosexuality too!'"

In June, poor Reed became most uncomfortable when, during conversation about Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, Lewis “quite unnecessarily tells me how last night he was reading Shakespeare's sonnets - 'one has always at the back of the mind whether these sonnets were written about buggery...'"

By the end of his first year, however, Reed had succeeded in impressing his tutor. He writes:
I quote Lewis's words about me as I jotted them down soon afterwards 'I shd like to praise Mr Reed's work almost as highly as I can. I am almost afraid to do so because I have known so many - well not so many - but several - who have started so well but then dropped off....So I shd like to praise his work as highly as I can with the reminder that it will not keep itself up of its own accord'. I find it hard to express how elated this high praise makes me. All that self discontent which I have nursed most of the term falls from me. I am confident, capable'.

Throughout the following two years John Reed's work continued to 'keep itself up', and he left Oxford in 1952 with a Congratulatory First in English.

Thursday 4 April 2013

How manifold are thy works!

We have recently acquired this beautiful panoramic representation of the 104th Psalm illustrated by Susan Maria ffarington of Leyland in Lancashire. 

The work measures 10cm by over three and half metres when fully extended, and is concertina-folded into small oblong octavo cloth boards. Each opening illustrates a verse from the psalm and is reproduced below.

Susan Maria was the last surviving member of the main ffarington family line, and lived in Shaw Hall in Leyland. The ffaringtons had close ties with the Earls of Derby, who once owned the buildings now housing Chetham's Library.

Published in London by Vincent Brooks Day and Son c. 1860-70

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Reminiscences of MOSI

We are very pleased to make available a pdf of Richard Hills' new work The North Western Museum of Science and Industry: Some Reminiscences. This is only available through Chetham's website, and we are grateful to Richard Hills for allowing us to publish it here.

In recent years we have been given a large collection of articles, papers, photographs, slides and reports made by Richard Hills, the founding director of MOSI. In addition, we hold several other important collections on the industrial archaeology of the region, including material given by the Manchester Region Industrial Archaeology Society, Bernard and Jill Champness, and the Mullineux photographic archive. Read more about the collections here, or visit our Digital Resources page to find out more about the various pdfs available.

The photograph above shows Lord and Lady Rhodes, with Richard Hills second right, at the opening of the temporary home of the museum on Grosvenor Street.