Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2021 Issue

Overdue Library Book Returned... 300 Years Later

Canon Keith Farrow with the book (Sheffield Cathedral photo).

It took a while...

 

A package showed up in the mail at the Sheffield Cathedral in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, recently. Inside was a book. It was being returned to the cathedral library, which surprised Vice-Dean Canon Keith Farrow who opened the package. It surprised him because the Sheffield Cathedral library closed 200 years ago. That is quite late to be returning a book.

 

The book is The Faith and Practice of a Church of England-Man, a seventh edition dated 1704. Canon Farrow doubts that it is worth very much money. A seventh edition of a not-rare book is generally not worth much, even if it is 300 years old. A handwritten inscription said, “This Book belongs to ye Lending Library in Sheffield Church 1709.” The Vice-Dean said no one knows where in the cathedral the lending library was located, although it did have a reputation in the cathedral's history. Some of its books are still held there, though most were dispersed centuries ago. At the time, it was still a parish church, it not being made a cathedral until 1914.

 

Canon Farrow revealed the explanation for the late return. He said it came from a lady in Wales, whose Godmother had recently died. It was among her belongings. In her will, she said that the book should be returned to Sheffield Cathedral.

 

This doesn't totally explain its history. It is safe to say that this woman, no matter how old she was when she died, is not the one who borrowed it in 1709. It apparently was passed down in the family, which must have been several generations, so it isn't clear why someone didn't return it sooner. Canon Farrow said that he promised the woman he would not charge a late fee, but maybe regretted that generosity later. He joked that someone had mentioned they could use a new roof.

 

While this age in America would have dated the overdue book back to before the United States even existed, it is not that old for England. A cross was placed at the church site in the 9th century, and the original church dates to the 12th century. It burned down in 1266, but was rebuilt in 1280. There have been changes and rebuilds over the centuries since. Old has a different meaning in England than in America.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
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    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
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    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
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    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
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    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
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    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000
  • ALDE, May 28: KIPLING (RUDYARD). Le Livre de la Jungle. – Le IIe livre de la Jungle. Paris, Sagittaire, Simon Kra, 1924-1925. €3,000 to €4,000.
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    ALDE, May 28: MILTON (JOHN). Paradis perdu. Quatrième chant. S.l., Les Bibliophiles de l'Automobile-Club de France, 1974. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LEBEDEV (VLADIMIR). Russian Placards - Placard Russe 1917-1922. Saint-Petersbourg, Sterletz, 1923. €1,000 to €1,200.
    ALDE, May 28: MARDRUS (JOSEPH-CHARLES). Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris, F.-L. Schmied, 1927. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: TABLEAUX DE PARIS. Paris, Émile-Paul Frères, 1927. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LA FONTAINE (JEAN DE). Les Fables illustrées par Paul Jouve. S.l. [Lausanne], Gonin & Cie, 1929. €4,000 to €5,000.
    ALDE, May 28: SARTRE (JEAN-PAUL). Vingt-deux dessins sur le thème du désir. Paris, Fernand Mourlot, 1961. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: [BRAQUE (GEORGES)]. 13 mai 1962. Alès, PAB, 1962. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MIRÓ (JOAN). Je travaille comme un jardinier. Avant-propos d'Yvon Taillandier. Paris, Société intenationale d'art XXe siècle, 1963. €1,000 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MAGNAN (JEAN-MARIE). Taureaux. Paris, Michèle Trinckvel, 1965. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: PICASSO (PABLO). Dans l'atelier de Picasso. 1960. €15,000 to €20,000.
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    Modern First Editions
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  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
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    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
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    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
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    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.

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