Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2021 Issue

A Butterfly Found in a Very Old Book

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The colorful butterfly pressed in the book (image taken from Trinity Hall video).

Jenni Lecky-Thompson, Head of Library Services at Cambridge University's Trinity Hall, made an unexpected discovery within the pages of a very old book. She found a butterfly. It had been pressed within a book about insects, Insectorum sive Minimorum Animalium Theatrum (the theater of insects or small animals), published in 1634. It is unknown when the butterfly was pressed in the book. It could have been anytime between the date of publication and when it was given to the library in the 1990s. We suspect it goes back a long time but no one is certain.

 

The book, like the butterfly, has a long history, one which is a bit convoluted. The book was started by Conrad Gessner, but was unfinished when he died in 1565. His papers, including the manuscript for this book, was purchased by his assistant, Thomas Penny. Penny then acquired the notes of Edward Wotten and began combining the two texts. However, he too died, in 1589, with the book uncompleted. It then passed to his friend, Thomas Moffet, who enlarged and completed the book. Unfortunately, negotiations for its publication fell through and the book remained unpublished when Moffet died in 1604. The manuscript remained with the Moffet family for many years until finally sold to French physician Théodore Turquet de Mayerne. He finally succeeded in having the book published in 1634. Gessner, Wotten, Penny, and Moffet are all credited on the title page. Despite it taking almost a century to be published, it is still the first English book about insects.

 

We can't tell you much about the history of this particular copy. It was published in 1634 and we next pick it up sometime in the twentieth century. That is when it came into the possession of Lawrence Strangman. He was an undergraduate at Trinity Hall from 1925-1928. The Trinity Hall website tells us, “He was a passionate book collector who put together an eclectic collection of antiquarian books. His interests were wide-ranging, taking in early books on natural history, travel, 19th century English novels, the classics, twentieth century humour, private press books and much more besides.” Among that eclectic mix you will notice early books on natural history, so this book fit in his collection. Strangman died in 1980. His collection was later given to Trinity Hall by his family, presented by his niece, Geraldine Essayan, in 1996 in his memory.

 

As to when this butterfly was pressed in the book, no one knows, but we think it unlikely Strangman did it. He was an antiquarian book collector, and that is not something most collectors would do with their books. Collectors are preservationists, but of books, not of foreign objects which might affect the books. Indeed, it would seem that this book probably went from being used as a source of scientific knowledge to a collectible object long ago, measured in centuries. The butterfly was impressed in the pages that depict its species, a sign that it was placed inside to illustrate the text rather than to randomly preserve a butterfly. My guess is the butterfly was placed in this old book by someone interested in butterflies rather than old books, and that would appear more likely to be an early owner than a later one.

 

As can be seen in the picture, the colorful butterfly has been pressed in alongside of the black and white woodcut of what appears to be the same species. Ms. Lecky-Thompson identified the butterfly as likely being a small tortoiseshell. This species is found throughout most of Europe and Asia.


Posted On: 2021-04-01 22:00
User Name: mairin

Ah! Delicious information: It intersects nicely with my research interests & personal 'themes.'
By my lights, it merits attention that the history of this particular book is associated with Dr Mayerne, physician to the royal Stuarts and (especially) to one of its most glamorous and amusing kinswomen: the red-haired Lady Mary ('Mall') Villiers, later Stuart, Duchess of Richmond & Lennox (pseud., 'Ephelia'); her code name during the English Troubles (she was an intelligencer for Charles II) was "Butterfly", dating from a famous prank of hers in the royal gardens -- 'Mall' Villiers was famous for practical jokes and court intrigue. We do know that Mayerne was often Lady Mary's attending physician (she had a long history of miscarriage); and he certainly would have known her pet-name. So maybe a connection here, maybe not. Why not try to sort it out? // My library includes a two-volume copy of Moffet's "Theatre of Insects", also a large folio edition (2 vols.) of Frohawk's sumptuous "Natural History of British Butterflies": shall scout around for additional images of this "small tortoiseshell" butterfly species & related information. // One of my associates on the 'Ephelia' matter, Dr John B. Heppner (U. of Florida-Gainesville / McGuire Center for Lepidoptera) is a respected moth-&-butterfly expert: shall share this interesting news piece with him. All that we do is collaborative (my mantra).

Happy thanks to Michael Stillman for an interesting, responsibly assembled article,

Maureen E. Mulvihill,
Collector & RBH Guest Writer.
____


Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Alken (Henry), after. Salmon Fishing; Fishing in a Punt; Pike Fishing, three works, 1820. £600 to £800.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Early Images of Angling.- Hollar (Wenceslaus) Angling; River Fishing; and Salmon Fishing, after Francis Barlow, 3 engravings, [c. 1671]. £500 to £700.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Rolfe (Henry Leonidas). <i>Studies of Fresh Water Fish,</i> 1851. £500 to £700.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Morland (George), After. A Party Angling; The Anglers' Repast, a pair, mezzotints, 1789. £400 to £600.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Pollard (James), After. Bottom Fishing; Anglers Packing Up, etchings with aquatint, 1831. £400 to £600.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Angling's Age of Romance.- Sayer (Robert, publisher) & J. Bennett. The Angelic Angler, mezzotint, 1781; and another. £300 to £400.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Fishing Satire.- London.- Roberts (Piercy). Patience at Paddington or angling in the Junction Canal, etching after Woodward, 1807; together with Woodward's 'Angling at Sadler's Wells', and another, 1794. £300 to £400.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Fishing Satire - Cats Fishing.- Seymour (Robert). Waltonizing or - Green-land Fisherman, [c. 1830s]; together with 3 lithographs of cats fishing, [c. 1830s]. £300 to £400.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Fishing Portraits.- Zoffany (Johan), After. Master James Sayer, at the age of 13, mezzotint by Richard Houston, 1772. £300 to £400.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Wilkinson (Norman). Come to Britain for Fishing, lithographic poster, [c. 1947]. £300 to £400.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Scottish Fishing.- Heath (William). Sporting in the Scottish Isles no. III. Salmon Fishing, 1835; and another. £150 to £200.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Simpson (Joseph). The Border Angler, drypoint, [c. 1927]. £150 to £200.
  • <b><center>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 31</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 31:</b><br>Aristoteles, <i>Logica vetus,</i> Manuscript, around 1250. Est: € 60,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 31:</b><br>Luca Pacioli, <i>Divina proportione,</i> 1509. Est: € 80,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 31:</b><br>Asger Jorn, Fin de Copenhague, 1957. Est: € 10,000
    <b><center>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 31</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 31:</b><br>Gospel of Mark, Manuscript, around 1180. Est: € 30,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 31:</b><br>J. de Theramo, <i>Consolatio peccatorum,</i> 1481. Est: € 25,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 31:</b><br>G. Braques & G. Apollinaire, <i>Si je mourais là-bas,</i> 1962. Est: € 6,000
    <b><center>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 31</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 31:</b><br>Latin Choral manuscript, around 1500. Est: € 25,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 31:</b><br>P. J. Redouté, <i>Choix des plus belles fleurs,</i> 1827-33. Est: € 25,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 31:</b><br>Sonia Delaunay, <i>27 tableaux vivants,</i> 1969. Est: € 3,000
    <b><center>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 31</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 31:</b><br>Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1450-70. Est: € 30,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 31:</b><br>L. Moholy-Nagy, Bauhaus postcard, 1923. Est: € 5,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 31:</b><br>K. Price & Ch. Bukowski, <i>Heat wave,</i> 1995. Est: € 2,500
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and<br>Works on Paper<br>Thursday 27th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum, May 27:</b> Purchas (Samuel). <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes. In Five Books...,</i> 5 vol. including vol. 5: <i>Purchas His Pilgrimage,</i> first edition, Narcissus Luttrell's copy, 1625-26. £30,000 to £40,000.
    <b>Forum, May 27:</b> Neapolitan School (circa 1714-1734). Napoli, [Bird's-eye panoramic view of the Port of Naples], tempera on canvas, [c. 1714-1735]. £30,000 to £40,000.
    <b>Forum, May 27:</b> An outstanding archive of printed and manuscript material of the 18th and early 19th centuries relating to Privateers, Bristol merchants and shipping, c.1750-1830 [the majority 18th century]. £25,000 to £35,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and<br>Works on Paper<br>Thursday 27th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum, May 27:</b> Australia.- New South Wales convict artist.- Browne (Richard). Memora, watercolour and bodycolour, [c. 1817-1820]. £25,000 to £35,000.
    <b>Forum, May 27:</b> Franco (Pierre). <i>Petit traité, contenant une des parties principales de chirurgie, laquelle les chirurgiens hernieres exercent…,</i> first edition, Lyon, Antoine Vincent, [1556]. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Forum, May 27:</b> Shakespeare Head Press.- Shakespeare (William). <i>The Works...,</i> 10 vol., one of 12 sets on vellum, Stratford-on-Avon, 1904-06. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and<br>Works on Paper<br>Thursday 27th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum, May 27:</b> Hemingway (Ernest). <i>in our time,</i> number 90 of 170 copies on Rives paper, Paris, Printed at the Three Mountains Press and for sale at Shakespeare and Company, 1924. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum, May 27:</b> Kieffer (René, binder).- Louys (Pierre). <i>Aphrodite.</i> Moeurs Antiques, one of 4 copies, original watercolours by Malassis & Giraldon, magnificent mosaic binding, 1910. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum, May 27:</b> DNA.- Watson (James D.) Autograph fair copy of 6 paragraphs from the chapter "Manner Appropriate for a Nobel Prize", 2004. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and<br>Works on Paper<br>Thursday 27th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum, May 27:</b> Darwin (Charles). Autograph Letter signed to William Lonsdale, "My dear Lonsdale I return Mr Whewell's address the word rules should be changed into customs I think". £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum, May 27:</b> Qu'ran Scroll, purported to have once been displayed above Shah Jahan's Peacock Throne, extending to over 16 metres, India [probably Delhi], [first quarter 17th century]. £3,000 to £5,000.
    <b>Forum, May 27:</b> Faden (William). Battle of Brandywine in which the Rebels were defeated, September the 11th, 1777 by the Army under the Command of General Sr. William Howe, engraving, 1778. £3,000 to £5,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Westvaco–Inspirations for Printers,</i> 3 volumes, 1938-61. $200 to $300.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Proef van Letteren, <i>Welk gegooten worden in de Nieuwe Haerlemsche Lettergietery,</i> 1768. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Paul Klee, <i>Bauhaus Ausstellung Juli – Sept.,</i> Weimar, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Michel Seuphor & Jozef Peeters, <i>Het Overzicht Nos.</i> 22-23-24, Antwerp, 1922. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Wolfrum & Co., <i>Modern Graphik, Serie I…,</i> complete portfolio, 1909. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Gravure et Fonderie deC. Derriey: Specimen-Album,</i> Paris, 1862. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Science: Books and Manuscripts<br>15-25 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Mary Anning. Autograph letter signed, to William Buckland, 24 November 1834. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Bolyai. <i>Scientiam spatii absolute veram exhibens,</i> Maros Vásárhelyi, 1832-1833, 2 volumes, half calf. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Vesalius.<br><i>De humani corporis fabrica,</i> Basel, 1555, modern crushed burgundy morocco. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Science: Books and Manuscripts<br>15-25 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Copernicus.<br><i>De revolutionibus orbium coelestium,</i> Nuremberg, 1543, later boards, Rostock duplicate. £70,000 to £100,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Payan-Dumoulin. Profusely illustrated manuscript of fossils, France, c.1875-1979. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Albert Einstein. Autograph letter signed, to his son Albert, 4 November [1915]. £10,000 to £15,000.

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