Sunday, 2 April 2017

Henry Huth (1815–1878): An Addendum

In my previous post I mentioned that I had not yet tried to verify my hunch that the so-called Haddaway Bible (of which I show another detail above) had belonged to Henry Huth, rather than being added to their library by his son, Alfred.

I suggested that a good clue would be whether or not a bible listed in the catalogue of Henry's books published in 1880, as being bound in BR[own] M[orocco], could be identified with the Haddaway Bible, which is known to have been lot 645 in the sale of the Huth Library at Sotheby's, 15 November 1911, and following days. If the Haddaway Bible, when sold in 1911, did NOT have a brown morocco binding, then it is almost certainly not the one described in the 1880 catalogue, and my hypothesis would be proved incorrect.

On reading that blog, Bill Stoneman very kindly consulted a copy of the 1911 catalogue and sent me a scan of the relevant pages:
As can be seen, the last word on page 180 and the first on p.181 described the binding as "brown morocco".

It is also notable that the early 13th-century manuscript is incorrectly dated "XIVth Century", just as the manuscript had been in the 1880 catalogue. It therefore seems that we now have proof that the Haddaway Bible did indeed belong to Henry Huth.

But Bill then went further and made a remarkable discovery. Next to the Huth auction catalogue on the shelves at the Houghton Library is a finely bound copy of the 1880 catalogue, with (i) the Huth leather book-label on the upper pastedown,
(ii) an inserted original photograph of Alfred Huth,
and (iii) annotations in the main text:

These enhancements demonstrate that this was Alfred Huth's own copy of the catalogue of his father's library.

The marginal annotations next to each catalogue entry consist of a price, an initial letter (such as "E", "L", "Q", and "S"), and a two-digit number.

The price is doubtless the purchase price (or possible a probate valuation?), the initial letters must indicate the source (since "Q" is unlikely to stand for anything other than Quaritch), and the final two digits are presumably the year: on the pages shown above they range from [18]56 to [18]76. If "Q" is Quaritch, "E" is probably F.S. Ellis, "S" is probably Sotheby's, and "L" is doubtless Joseph Lilly: according to the ODNB entry on Henry Huth, "Joseph Lilly ... exercised a good deal of influence on his purchases over the years and was generally his agent".

The Haddaway Bible was therefore bought by Henry Huth in 1856 for £18 18s from Joseph Lilly. Lilly may have sold it from stock for 18 Guineas, or perhaps he bought it at auction on behalf of Huth for £18, to which he added 5% commission.

The next step in tracing the provenance of the Haddaway Bible will therefore be to trawl auction and Lilly catalogues for 1856. For the latter, David Pearson's Provenance Research in Book History: A Handbook, tells us "The best collection will be found in the Bodleian Library, which hold about 180 Lilly catalogues, 1827-70 ... many of these were previously Sir Thomas Phillipps's copies".

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