Friday 26 July 2013

The German Tango

Whilst looking for something else (the usual story), we came across this striking image by the Dutch cartoonist Louis Raemaekers (1869-1956). During World War One, Raemaekers produced a series of fiercely anti-German political cartoons which were picked up for distribution by the British government in a series of propaganda pamphlets.

The Germans attempted to have Raemaekers arrested (the Netherlands were neutral during the War), and the Kaiser put a bounty on his head. In the face of a series of threats, Raemaekers relocated to England where his cartoons were syndicated across the world.

The German Tango ('From East to West and West to East I Dance with Thee'), depicts a young woman with braided hair wearing the Imperial Crown of Germany dancing with a skeleton. The idea is that in a fit of racial pride, death has been welcomed as an ally. Once begun, there is no stopping the dance, which goes on for ever across the world.

'To the ends of the earth...'

This week's 101 Treasures page looks at the Genoa Quadruplex Psalter, famous not only for being the first multilingual version of the Psalms but also the first printed reference to Christopher Columbus, whose expeditions to the New World were perceived as the fulfilment of Biblical prophecy. Read more on the website.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Book now for our Hidden Treasures special event!

Hidden Treasures Special Event: Friday 23 and Saturday 24 August 2013

Chetham's Library is proud to be taking part in this year's Hidden Treasures initiative run by Collections Trust and the Independent newspaper. Over August Bank Holiday weekend 2013, over 70 museums and galleries nationwide will be offering a unique opportunity to see collections not usually on public display.

Join Librarian Michael Powell behind the scenes to take a closer look at the Library's collection of printed material, including single-sheet ballads and broadsides. There will also be a chance to work with letterpress printer Graham Moss on the seventeenth-century common press, learning about early printing techniques and helping to reprint a ballad written in celebration of a visit to Chetham's in the early nineteenth century.

The free workshop is suitable for all ages, although you would probably need to be over about eight years old to get the most from the afternoon. Access is via a short flight of stairs and is regrettably unsuitable for wheelchair users.

There are two bookable sessions from 2pm-4pm each day, with 20 places available on each. To book, please email the Librarian or phone us during office hours on 0161 834 7961

Get into the groove

Phase Two of the Reading Room works has now been completed and we are well on the way to being able to replace the floorboards. The long grooves made by Jamie and his chainsaw have been filled with four carbon fibre plates, and then sealed and filled with resin which has hardened overnight to strengthen and reinforce the beam. Thirteen large tubs of resin, each containing 7.5 litres, were used to complete the job. Before the resin hardened, Jamie placed a penny in the top of the beam, showing the date of the work, although historians of the future please note that he didn't have a 2013 coin so had to use one from last year.

Friday 19 July 2013

A visit to Turton Tower

A big thank you to Steph Murfin, Curator of Applied Art with Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, who kindly showed us round Turton Tower this morning. Turton Tower was owned by Humphrey Chetham, and has a good collection of paintings, some of which are on loan from Chetham's. Steph and Michael worked together to identify some of the works on display, and we were able to see the chained library from St Anne's church, formerly known as Turton Chapel, which is one of five left by Humphrey Chetham in his will. 

All the paintings at Turton and indeed here at Chetham's are of course available to view on the wonderful Your Paintings website which catalogues all the publicly owned oil paintings in the UK. Turton Tower is open Wed-Sun and Bank Holiday Mondays from 12.30-4.45. It is beautifully situated in the peaceful wooded hills above Bolton and is well worth a visit.

Thursday 18 July 2013

Never mind the Bollands

In 1607 Heribert Rosweyde conceived an extraordinary project that would not only take the rest of his life, but another three hundred and fifty years' work by numerous scholars - and still not be possible to complete. Have a closer look at the Acta Sanctorum, the incredible work of the Bollandists, on the 101 Treasures page this week.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

More pictures of the Reading Room work

Here's another picture of Jamie from TRAC Structural Ltd who is working on the medieval beam in the Reading Room. The noise, dust and smoke from the chainsaw is quite a change from the usual calm and cerebral atmosphere!

The image below shows the view from the Audit Room, underneath where Jamie is working. The extent of the damage can clearly be seen, along with the horsehair and plaster which has been used in previous botched repair jobs.

A chainsaw in the Reading Room!

Here's some footage of Jamie from TRAC Structural Ltd sawing into one of the medieval beams ready to strengthen it with carbon fibre. To our knowledge this is the third time in the building's history that there has been any work on this beam. The first time was in the 1650s when three large iron pins were inserted to support it. The second was in the inter war period when steel plates were bolted to the sides of the beam.

Monday 15 July 2013

A visit from Jeremy Deller

Of course, everybody knows that Chetham's is the library of cool when it comes to music, but it turns out that we are no less hip when it comes to art. 
On Friday we received a visit from this year's representative at the Venice Biennale, Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, together with his colleagues Lesley Young and James Hutchinson.
They were looking at the Library's collection of ballads for a forthcoming touring exhibition which begins in October right here at Manchester Art Gallery and is a broad look at the industrial revolution and how it still affects us today in the visual landscape, working practices, music and culture.
We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon working with Jeremy and his team, however please do not be put off if you have not yet achieved such a high level of fame - we are still welcoming ordinary readers.

Friday 12 July 2013

An orchard on Shudehill

This week's 101 Treasures page features William Hulme's 1753 plan of his home near Shudehill and the land immediately around it. It is an amazing glimpse into a small town before the arrival of mills and chimneys and shuttles and noise, and even features a beautiful small orchard where there now stands shops, carparks, hotels and a bus station. You can read more about this forgotten world on the blog.

The Chetham coat of arms

We have been asked for information about Humphrey Chetham's coat of arms and thought it might be of interest to our readers...

Humphrey Chetham was a member of the Crumpsall branch of the Chetham family, who were minor gentry and were not entitled to bear arms. When he became High Sheriff in 1635, Humphrey Chetham required a coat of arms, which he secured from the Cheshire Herald and genealogist Randle Holme. Unfortunately these turned out to belong to another branch of the family, the Chethams of Nuthurst, a minor difficulty which was resolved by the payment of a small fine.

It was at the same time as this that Humphrey Chetham standardised the spelling of his name, deciding on the use of two h's and one long e. He had previously spelt it in a variety of different ways, as was common in the seventeenth century. After this, all papers and official documents use the modern spelling.

For those interested in heraldry, the Chetham arms are described as follows: 'Quarterly 1 and 4 argent, a griffin segreant gules, within a bordure, sable, bezantee. 2 Argent a chevron between three cramp-irons, gules. 3 Gules a cross double-crossed, or'.

Thursday 11 July 2013

A new world of words

In addition to the recent gift of John Reed's diaries, the library has also been given books from Reed's personal collection, including some early printed books. Amongst these are several dictionaries, two of which we found particularly interesting.

The first is the sixth (1706) edition of a work first published in 1658 by Edward Phillips, who was a nephew of the poet John Milton. The book was given the ambitious title The New World of English Words or a Universal English Dictionary. Unfortunately, the work was not in fact entirely 'new' - Phillips had shamelessly plundered much of it from Thomas Blount's 1656 Glossographia or A Dictionary Interpreting All Such Hard Words... Blount was furious and in 1673 published A World of Errors Discovered in the New World of Words...

The oldest dictionary in Reed's collection is the Lexicon Tetraglotton (1660) a dictionary in four languages with 'another volume of the choicest proverbs' which declares on the title page that it was produced by the 'Labours and Lucubrations' of James Howell.

Howell (1594?-1666) is described as a 'historian and political writer'. For much of his career he aspired to a position of influence and assured income and to this end tried to present himself as a moderate to both Royalists and Roundheads, though with a singular lack of success. He wrote and published a variety of material to support himself financially and finally achieved the position of 'Historiographer Royal' to Charles II for the last few years of his life.

Howell's Dictionary is divided into several sections of varying usefulness. Certainly nobody should have to manage without his list of 'Reproachfull, reviling, infamous or opprobrious Terms', although 'The Degrees or differences of Ages and Persons' makes unsettling reading, being as it is rather specific in defining the Seven Ages of Man. Some members of Library staff were concerned to read that 'manhood or virility' lasts only from age forty two to fifty six, closely followed by 'old age' from fifty six to sixty eight and the crushing news that retirement may be largely taken up with 'decrepitness, or doting old age, till death'.

We shall be posting a few choice proverbs from the Lexicon Tetraglotton on Twitter so keep an eye open for them!


We've recently been given a copy of 'Shanty-O! A Nautical Fantasy', performed by the Chetham's Hospital Boy's Choir. Written by choirmaster Gerald Littlewood and produced in 1958, we reckon this represents one of the campest record sleeves we've ever seen.

From a historical point of view this is an interesting addition to the archives, because it demonstrates the musical strengths of the school several years before it became a specialist music school in 1969. Gerald Littlewood was the one-time arts and crafts master who is credited with strengthening the school's musical reputation in the 1950s and 60s through teaching the boys to make their own instruments and forging links with Manchester Cathedral and the Free Trade Hall.

For your listening pleasure, we are thrilled to make available an MP3 file of the performance here on this very blog. And so Ladies and Gentlemen, may we present to you: A Nautical Fantasy.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Preachee and Floggy too!

The Manchester International Festival production of Shelley's epic political poem The Masque of Anarchy begins on Friday, performed by Maxine Peake. The poem was written in response to the Peterloo Massacre which took place on 16 August 1819, perhaps the most scandalous episode in Manchester's history.

One of our most recent acquisitions relates directly to the Peterloo Massacre and is a satirical etching by George Cruikshank entitled 'Preachee and Floggy too! Or hot & cold, with the same breath-exemplified in the clerical magistrate!' The hand-coloured etching comments on the behaviour of clerical magistrates, and in particular one Charles Wicksted Ethelston, who was responsible for the reading of the Riot Act at the gathering at St Peter's Fields.

In nineteenth-century Manchester, magistrates played a significant part in law enforcement, and were given the power to call upon the militia to deal with perceived social unrest. Magistrates came from established landowning families and were known for their intolerance of reform. A number of magistrates were clergy, including Ethelston. Cruikshank's etching portrays him delivering a sermon at the Collegiate Church on the left hand side, and sitting in his magistrate's chair on the right.

For more on Peterloo, see our 101 Treasures page, and for a SaveList of some of the Library's holdings on the subject, click here.

Thursday 4 July 2013

James Taylor Staton

James Taylor Staton by Philipp Hoyoll from the collection of Bolton Library and Museums Services on the BBC Your Paintings website

One of the few Chetham's old boys we know much about is James Taylor Staton (1817-75),  a pupil at Chetham’s Hospital from 1826 until 1831, where he acted in the capacity of servant to the House Governor or Head Teacher.

On leaving school he was apprenticed to Robert Holden, printer of Bolton, but then set up his own business as a printer, publisher and editor. He went into partnership with the Tillotson family and it was from his office that the Bolton Evening News, one of the most important of regional newspapers, originated.

Staton was a popular journalist and humourist. His main achievement, The Bowton Loominary, tumfowt telegraph, un Lankishire lookin-glass, was brought out between 1853 to 1864 (it became the Lankishire Loominary in 1862). Staton used the dialect journal as a campaigning weapon, dealing with industrial subjects and satirising the Bolton politicians and factory owners. In addition he wrote a long dialect account of the Luddite attack on the Westhoughton factory in 1812 called 'Luddites un Blackfaces' which he serialised in the paper.

Like other dialect writers Staton used a stock character he called 'Bobby Shuttle' of 'Turn Fowt' (Tonge Fold, Bolton). 'Bobby' had predictable adventures, including a trip to the Great Exhibition and a visit to the Grand Review in Yetton Park. For these he was accompanied and kept in check by his wife Sayroh.

Staton’s Loominary was one of the more unusual casualties of the US Civil War. The Union blockade of the confederate ports, which resulted in the Lancashire cotton famine, meant that people could simply not afford to buy a dialect newspaper of purely local interest. Following its closure Staton was taken on by Tillotsons as a sub-editor of the Bolton Evening News and editor of the Farnworth Journal, before he took up a post with the publisher John Heywood in Manchester. At Heywoods he brought out a series of comic recitations, many of which were collected in Rays fro th' loominary, a selection of comic Lancashire tales adapted for public reading or reciting.

In addition to the large collection of Staton's work at Bolton Archives and Local Studies, a good representation of Staton's work is held here at Chetham's, which forms part of a larger collection of dialect material including Waugh, Brierley, Laycock and John Collier, aka Tim Bobbin. We are always interested in adding to our collection and would be very interested to hear from anybody with relevant material.