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Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize 2022: results announced

Tabitha Tuckett22 July 2022

We are delighted to announce the winner and finalists of this year’s Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize 2022.

The prize is open to students at London-based universities, and this year applicants included students from Birkbeck, Royal Holloway, SOAS, the Royal College Of Art and UCL.

A wide range of wonderful collections was submitted, but the panel had the difficult job of choosing a winner. Four applicants were shortlisted for the finals and presented their collections live to a panel of judges that included representatives of the Bibliographical Society, the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association and the University Of London’s Senate House Library.

collection of books & pamphlets

Items from ‘Swizzle And Serve’, the winning collection of Hannah Swan

Winner and finalists

The prize was awarded to Hannah Swan, studying for a PGDip in Archives And Records Management, for her collection entitled Swizzle and Serve: Party-Planning Books and Ephemera. She will have the opportunity to apply for the UK’s national collecting prize for students later this year.

Domenico Pino, studying for a PhD in History Of Art, was awarded an honourable mention by the judges for his collection of 19th-century Neapolitan books and prints entitled Bibliotheca Neapolitana.

shelf of books

Items from finalist Jessie Maier’s collection ‘The reclamation of Arab narratives in science fiction and graphic novels’

The other finalists were Jessie Maier, an MA student in Middle Eastern Studies, for her collection of graphic novels and science-fiction material entitled The reclamation of Arab narratives in science fiction and graphic novels and Małgorzata Dawidek, a PhD student in Fine Arts and Intermedia, for her collection of works on art, health and illness entitled Body Stories, with a particular emphasis on Polish publications.

All the finalists met with Anthony Davis and were given advice and contacts to support their future collecting. We’re delighted that Małgorzata, after being shortlisted, was awarded a grant from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in recognition of her contribution to the dissemination of Polish culture by presenting her collection.

open book in front of books on shelves

Items from ‘Body Stories’, the collection of finalist Małgorzata.

See the shortlisted students’ collections: 27 July and 10 August

All four candidates will be presenting their collections to the public in our UCL Rare-Books Club series over the next few weeks. Domenico and Małgorzata will present in person at the UCL Bloomsbury campus in London on Wednesday 27 July: book your place on Eventbrite and drop in any time between 12.30pm and 2pm. Hannah and Jessie will present online on Wednesday 10 August 1.05-2pm: booking opens soon on the UCL Rare-Books Club Eventbrite page.

Collectors of the future

We hope you’ll be able to come along to these events to support the finalists, but we’d also like to thank all the applicants and wish them good luck and many years of joy in their future collecting. Our thanks also go to the judges for generously giving their time and, most of all, to the benefactor of the award, Anthony Davis, for helping nurture the collectors of the future with his encouragement, expertise and enthusiasm.

Eighteenth-Century Digitisation At UCL

Tabitha Tuckett24 June 2022

This post was written by Caroline Kimbell, UCL Library Services

Allow me to introduce myself and ECCO: I’m Interim Head of Commercial Licensing and Digitisation, which involves working with publishers to identify rare books and archives for online publication, earning royalty income for the libraries, acquiring preservation images, free or discounted access to online resources and, after a suitable contractual period, allowing us to re-use digital content in any way.  In a previous career in publishing, I worked on developing “ECCO” – Gale’s Eighteenth-Century Collections Online.

Working out how many books were published in the 18th century, in the English language or in English-speaking countries has been an ambition of the library world since 1977, and the current answer according to the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) is 351,689 held across 2,000 libraries.

You may imagine that this epic project was completed years ago, and that everything listed by ESTC would be available in ECCO or elsewhere? Not so.

For a few years now, a “final” tranche of digitisation has been in preparation to supplement ECCO’s current 180,000 titles. The “long list” for this third tranche currently stands at 78,000 titles. UCL is not an 18th century library, and when I arrived, I imagined that we would have little eligible material. I was wrong. We will be contributing about 320 items totalling around 66,000 pages, of which 59 have been accredited by ESTC as brand new entries – in other words, unique, first-time discoveries.

Many of these new finds are in UCL core subjects and include books on the volcanos of Sicily, agricultural enclosure, the structure of human teeth, works by Joseph Priestly and a Compleat History of Drugs from 1737. One among UCL’s thousands of eligible titles, inexplicably absent from Penguin Classics, “Human ordure, botanically considered” (1757), is already on ECCO but surely worth a mention?

Ladies Astronomy from 1738

Fig.1: The Ladies Astronomy And Chronology by Jasper Charlton (1738) UCL Special Collections GRAVES 15.c.6

Among female authors it is splendid to find An Essay on Combustion 1794 by Mrs Elizabeth Fulhame, “the first solo woman researcher in chemistry”, Mary Wollstonecraft on the French Revolution, the prolific Mary de la Rivière, or even a 4-part Ladies Astronomy from 1738, in which the Sun smiles approachably for female readers (fig.1)

We will also be contributing new-to-ESTC editions by major authors – Swift, Defoe, Pope, Beckford – astonishingly still coming to light in 2022. Our 1787 Mohawk language Book of Common Prayer is already online, but when it comes to travel and the exotic, we have real delights – such as new-to-ESTC, “Four letters concerning the growth of grape vines in the Island of Bermudas” from 1741 (worth a try), and a rare 1746 London edition of sci-fi novel A journey to the world under-ground by Norwegian satirist Ludwig Holberg (as in Grieg’s tribute Suite) for anyone who had ever wondered what a Baroque Dr Who monster might look like (fig.2).

A journey to the world under-ground by Nicholas Klimius

Fig.2: A Journey To The World Underground by Nicholas Klimius [i.e. Ludwig von Holberg], translated by John Lumby (1742) UCL Special Collections STRONG ROOM E 224 H61

Many of the concerns reflected in these works are mundane: parliamentary bills about pot-holes which have slipped all digital nets and a newly discovered Act from 1762  “for preventing annoyances” – still to take effect.  Alongside the irritations of urban life, we find pleasures and pastimes – A walk from St. James’s to Convent-Garden from 1717 and proto-Puzzler magazine “The British Oracle” from 1769 (“enigmas, paradoxes, rebusses, queries, epigrams & repartees”) both new to ESTC. Then there’s a 1779 edition of Hoyle’s Games: “whist, quadrille, piquet, chefs, back-gammon, draughts, cricket, tennis, quinze, hazard, lansquenet, and billiards”, or back outdoors “A dissertation on oriental gardening”, books on gunnery and the shoeing of horses along with plays from the Theatres Royal, poems and society gossip.

Unfortunately, data-combing our 18th century holdings against ESTC and the online landscape has revealed a backlog of wrinkles which are being addressed, in part by our wonderful placement student Ollie Nelmes: only 61% of our 18th century holdings were recorded on ESTC, but this project gives us a fantastic opportunity to refresh the collections, improve and enhance their discoverability and step forward as a rich repository of 18th century rare, and in some cases, unique books.

 

Students Duke and Eric Reflect on their BA Education Studies Placement with the Outreach Team

Vicky A Price23 March 2022

We have been fortunate to host two students on a 50 hour placement from the IOE’s BA in Education Studies, and as their time comes to a close with us, they have written a blog to share their experiences.  Both students spent time learning about the Special Collections department before immersing themselves in the delivery of an Outreach project at UCL Academy – an after school club called Illustrate! which explores the use of illustration in our collection of rare books, archives and manuscripts.

Eric Xu

As part of the IOE’s Education Studies Placement Module, my course mate Duke and I have been working with Vicky Price as part of UCL Special Collections’ outreach team on the after-school workshop: Illustrate. I had a keen interest not only in working with students in a visual art focused workshop, but also in the collection itself after seeing items from the Orwell Collection around UCL’s campus. Our placement began in early January when we met with Vicky for the first time online. As the weeks went by, Duke and I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with the people and places of Special collections, and learning about the processes of archiving, cataloguing, digitisation and of course the outreach of the collection.

Our work on Illustrate began promptly in the first weeks, reviewing the past workshop deliveries, and taking inspiration from curated catalogues of the collection. Trying to come up with original ideas of how to integrate collection items into fun and fruitful activities for the students was definitely a challenge, but Duke and I were able to come up with and produce resources for sessions which we were keen to deliver ourselves. Creating these lesson plans and resources was a much more multifaceted task than I had anticipated, the considerations of how students react to your information and questions greatly influences and informs the direction of the class, and having Vicky help us with leading the direction of these disseminations was very helpful and eye-opening. Similarly with the resources and activities, I found that oftentimes I had to give the activity a go myself to determine the difficulty and viability of it for the class, which meant a lot of the times that I had to adjust or even change the resource entirely. Ultimately, the final product of the workshops we delivered were much different and more refined than the initial plans that Duke and I had drawn up.

Working with the students at UCL Academy was also an experience that has reshaped my perspective on professionalism in schools. There were many hurdles we had to hop, both expected and unexpected, including uncertainty with the number of students coming into the workshop. The students that did consistently come every week were lovely to work with, not only were they respectful and interested to learn, but they were also amazing at drawing. Trying to keep every student up to pace with one another and engaging all of them in the content was another struggle that Duke and I faced, and we realised that sometimes it’s impossible to have everyone interested or fully committed in participating, but again with Vicky’s assistance, the workshops still ran successfully.

Overall, the experience for me was an amazing and insightful experience into the organisational operation of UCL Special Collections, the preparation of workshops and resources as well as the teaching of students. I would highly recommend anyone interested to get involved, and I’m very grateful to have worked with Vicky and UCL Special Collections as part of my placement.

 

A piece of grid lined paper featuring a number by number drawing task to outline an never-ending staircase like those of Escher's work.

Drawing activity designed by Eric and Duke based on the sketch from the Penrose Papers (below).

Grid lined paper with hand drawn illustration of a set of never ending stairs that continue in a loop, similar to Escher's work.

A sketch of a ‘continuous staircase’, much like the work of Escher, taken from the Penrose Papers at UCL Special Collections.

Duke Li

This term, the placement module from BA Education Studies offered us an opportunity to be involved in the outreach team of UCL Special Collections and the project “Illustrate”. To be specific, the aim of the project was to give the knowledge of special collections items to an audience with a non-academic background. It was really great to bring out activities to the after-school club and have interactions with students on the topic of special collections.

Our experiences started with the introduction of the UCL Special Collections team. Before that, I didn’t know that the UCL Special Collection team involved so many departments. For instance, we took several visits to the UCL Science Library and “hidden rooms” in the IOE building in order to see parts of the collection. It is always exciting to see those rare collection items – archives, rare books, and manuscripts – especially in a storage space that adds a mystery to it. As the placement went by, we got to know how to search items in the Special Collections catalogue, learn about the digitalization of the special collections items, and the process of getting access to items in the reading room. We also had a chance to take a look at an exhibition of the collection. From my perspective, those activities helped me to get a better idea of how the UCL Special Collections team work and cooperates with each other, and the experiences that I got turned out to be helpful when conducting the “Illustrate” project in the later weeks.

As well as intaking this knowledge, we also managed to bring out two sessions to the students on topics related to the collection items. The “Illustrate” project was an after-school class for the students, but the participants all engaged and learned from the discussion and the drawing activities in their own ways. Most of them were really active and willing to interact with us. It’s really delightful when giving out sessions and making students involved in the class. Though the teaching experience was wonderful, we do have several aspects to reflect on.

1. The teaching experiences
In the first session, we designed the whole activity on the work of Escher and his impossible world. We also set questions to ask the students. However, since we didn’t notice the difficulty and the linkage between questions, some of the students may have felt it hard to follow these ideas. From this, we concluded that the questions should be more carefully designed to express less in-depth, but easy-to-follow ideas, or else the knowledge of the collection items can not be promoted. Luckily, the final outcomes of the drawing activities turned out to be a big success, due to the creativity of the students. They have their own designs and thoughts.

2. The external factors
We also encounter some problems with the project as a whole. Since the project was an afterschool class in the school, schools may pay less attention to our project than the school’s wider teaching and learning activity. This may be the reason that most of the time, we did not have a lot of participants for our sessions. Also, we experienced once that the school was closed due to a problem with their water supply, but we only find out that when we arrived there, so these factors may have affected the teaching quality as well as the experience of teaching and learning.

To conclude, the whole placement experience is really great, we got the chance to know the UCL Special Collection team and how a team like this operates. The teaching experience with students was always nice since they were all really engaged. Also, we were really interested by the idea of the outreach team’s work when we were trying to make linkage between the non-academic audience and the special collection items that deserve to be noticed by more people. It was a really nice experience and I learned and reflected a lot.

The New Curators Project 2022 is Open for Applications!

Vicky A Price15 December 2021

The deadline to apply has been extended till midnight on March 4th!

The New Curators Project is an annual programme run by UCL Special Collections and Newham Heritage Month. It offers 10 young adults in East London the chance to develop the skills and experience needed to start a career in the cultural heritage sector.

Apply now!

Three young adults stand in front of pop-up banners in a library. They are smiling and look proud.

Three participants from 2021’s The New Curators Project stand in front of the exhibition they created in East Ham Library.

What is Cultural Heritage?

The cultural heritage field is an area of work focused on preserving history and culture and making it available to the general public. Among other things, it includes:

  • Museums.
  • Arts organisations and charities.
  • Libraries and Archives.
  • Historic Buildings and heritage sites.
  • Archaeology.

What will the project entail? 

Successful applicants will receive training from industry experts in key areas such as: 

  • Carrying out historical research. 
  • Using archives. 
  • Creating an exhibition.  
  • Running events. 
  • Communications in the cultural heritage sector. 

Participants will gain real work experience by creating an exhibition for Newham Heritage Month using historical material from UCL Special Collections, the Archives and Local Studies Library in Stratford and beyond.

The programme also offers employment support such as advice on applying for jobs, writing applications and being interviewed.

Participants will receive a £200 bursary, paid in instalments, to support their attendance.

Who can apply?

Applications are open to people who:

  • Are aged 18 to 24 at the time of making their application.
  • Are living, studying or working in Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
  • Are not a university graduate or currently studying at university.
  • Have less than 6 months paid experience in the cultural heritage sector.

As this project is a part of Newham Heritage Month, there are 5 places available to individuals who live, work or study in the borough of Newham. The remaining 5 places are available to those who live, work or study in Tower Hamlets, Hackney or Waltham Forest.

When and where is it happening?

Workshops will be on Tuesday evenings from 6pm to 8pm, beginning on 8th March 2022 and ending 28th June 2022. They will take place face to face (Covid-19 restrictions allowing) in an accessible building in Canning Town, with some additional online calls.

Do applicants need to have any specific A Levels or GCSEs?

Absolutely not. We want to recruit participants who have a passion for local history, regardless of their qualifications.

How do I apply?

You can apply online via our online form. If you have difficulty using the form, please send us an email and we can find an alternative way for you to apply.

The deadline for applications has been extended till 4 March 2022.

A student looks for resources in a library. Shelves laden with colourful books line the edges of the photograph as she reads a book.

Part of The New Curators Project will entail carrying out research to create an exhibition.

Delivered in partnership with Newham Heritage Month.  We are delighted to report that this year’s New Curators Project is supported by Foundation for Future London.

Exploring Women Owners of UCL’s pre-1750 Rare Books

Erika Delbecque16 August 2021

This guest blog post was written by Dr Steph Carter, who spent six months volunteering at UCL Special Collections as part of the Liberating the Collections project

The initial phase of the ‘Liberating the Collections’ project at UCL Special Collections has begun to highlight under-represented and marginalised voices in the collections. One area of research has been women owners, contributing not only to the existing narrative of pre-1750 books in the UCL Special Collections but also to the growing scholarly interest in early modern women book owners.

Working primarily with the UCL library catalogue, 5000 provenance statements were examined for evidence of women owners and straightaway provided ample data to pursue research on the lives of these former book owners. However, research into women book owners brought to the fore the intensely acute disparity that is so common between men and women when it comes to historical documentation and searching for biographical details. Biographies of identifiable women tend to be tied into the biographies of their fathers, husbands or brothers, typically comprising little more detail than a wedding date and how many children were born. An added complication is the repeated use of the same first name through successive generations of a single family.

[Seder berakho] (Amsterdam, [1687 or 1688]), front endpaper [STRONG ROOM MOCATTA 1687 B2]

A Hebrew text from the 1680s includes the inscription ‘Rebecca Mocatta’ on the front endpaper. This is undoubtedly part of the surviving Mocatta Library, the majority of the collection having been destroyed by bombing in 1940. The Mocatta family were established in London by 1671 with the merchant and diamond broker Moses Mocatta. At his death in 1693, Moses identified a niece called Rebecca; his son Abraham later had a daughter also named Rebecca. Rebecca also continued to be an important female family name in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the book remained in the Mocatta family collection until at least the early 19th century as there are manuscript notes on the front flyleaves detailing information about births in the family between 1797 and 1809.

John Harington, Orlando furioso in English heroical verse (London, 1591), title-page [STRONG ROOM OGDEN B 2]

Of course, even with a family name it is not always possible to identify the correct lineage. The Countess of Warwick, Mary Rich (1624-1678), is a known author and book owner. She was addicted to plays and romances in her youth, so it is not ridiculous to assume that she is the author of the inscription ‘Mary Rich’ on the title-page of Sir John Harington’s 1591 translation of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso – the Italian poem that is a source for Much Ado About Nothing.

However, another ascription, ‘Margarit Riche’, is also present on the title-page and an inscription on p. [186] of the main text refers to a note on the marriage of Robert and Elizabeth Riche in 1616.

John Harington, Orlando furioso in English heroical verse (London, 1591), title-page [STRONG ROOM OGDEN B 2  

These details do not match with the genealogy of the Earls of Warwick, suggesting that this book may have been owned by a completely separate family and passed down through female members of that family.

Despite the limitations of researching and identifying women book owners, the Mocatta and Rich examples contribute to a growing narrative of what the editors of Women’s Bookscapes in Early Modern England describe as ‘the myriad ways in which women bought, borrowed, accessed, wrote in, made, recorded, cited, and circulated books’ (p. 4). Such research on women book owners will also contribute to a broader engagement with the UCL Special Collections.

Dr Steph Carter, Associate Researcher, Newcastle University

References

Orbell, J. (2004) ‘Mocatta family (per.1671-1957), bullion dealers and brokers’, Dictionary of National Biography Online. Available at: oxforddnb.com [Accessed on 27 July 2021].
Cambers, A. Godly Reading: Print, Manuscript and Puritanism in England, 1580-1720 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 48-50.
Knight, L. and White, M. ‘The Bookscape’ in: Knight, L., White, M. and Sauer, E. (eds.) Women’s Bookscapes in Early Modern Britain. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018, pp. 1-18.