Saturday, 1 April 2017

Henry Huth (1815–1878)

Henry Huth (1815–1878)
I have recently been doing some work on a bible that is often usually referred to by the names of its former owners as the Huth-Hornby-Cockerell-Haddaway Bible, or simply the Haddaway Bible, from which this image comes:

The outlines of its provenance are well known, and get repeated when leaves appear on the market, most recently at Christie's, December 2015, lot 5. Sometimes the first owner is recorded as Henry Huth (1815–1878), and sometimes as his son, Alfred Henry Huth (1850–1910), also a bibliophile, who added to his father's collection. The manuscript was broken-up in 1981 so some evidence on flyleaves may have been lost forever, but I thought it worth seeing if there is any evidence that the book did indeed belong to the father before the son.

Alfred saw through to publication in 1880 his father's library catalogue, in five volumes, which had been completed in 1876, but was still in the process of being proof-read when Henry died in 1878.

It seems to me that there is only one entry among the Latin bibles that could plausibly be the Haddaway Bible:

The Haddaway Bible is 13th-, rather than 14th-century, and it had historiated initials to most, but not all of the books, but such inaccuracies are common in catalogues of this kind, and the description is therefore a reasonably good fit. In particular it is notable that the Genesis initial is described as depicting the "Creation and Fall of Man", as 13th-century bibles typically either show just Creation scenes, or the Creation and God Resting on the Seventh Day, or the Creation and the Crucifixion, but we know from the frontispiece image of the 1981 Christie's sale catalogue that the Haddaway Bible had seven circular compartments representing the Creation and Creation of Eve, followed by God Instructing Adam and Eve, The Fall, The Expulsion from Paradise, Eve Spinning and Adam Digging, and Cain Killing Abel:
[click to enlarge]
Whether or not this is the bible described in the 1880 catalogue (I have yet to check the 1911 auction description to see whether the book was then bound in "BR[own] M[orocco]" -- if not, then we can probably say that the description above does not refer to the Haddaway Bible), I was prompted to write this post by the preface to the catalogue, from which I learned how well travelled, and how accomplished a linguist, Henry Huth was. It tells us that:
"Henry Huth was born in the year 1815, and being destined by his father to enter the Indian Civil Service, was sent for preparation to Mr. Rusden's school at Leith Hill, in Surrey, where he soon became a favourite pupil. Here he learned Latin, Greek, and French (Spanish was his mother-tongue); and had also got well on with Hindustani, Persian, and Arabic ... 1833 he was sent abroad, first to the United States, then Mexico, France, and Germany ..."
It continues:
"There were only two rules which my father particularly observed : Firstly, that every book he bought should be in a language he could read — a rule which was relaxed only in a few instances of volumes of extraordinary interest ; and, secondly, that every book should be in as fine and perfect a condition as obtainable — illuminated manuscripts especially he never bought if imperfect."
The ODNB explains the surprising (to me) fact that Spanish was his mother-tongue:
"Huth, Henry (1815–1878), book collector, was the third son of (John) Frederick Andrew Huth (1777–1864), a German banker who in 1809 settled in London from Corunna, Spain, and his wife, Manuela Felipa Mayfren (1785–1856), daughter of Barbara Kastner and ward of the duke of Veragua."
From the ODNB we also learn more about his travels and another of his languages:
"After spending three years in Germany, first at Hamburg for commercial reasons and then at Magdeburg to perfect his German, he went in 1839 to the USA and Mexico, and returned to England in 1843"
Henry seems to have been a more interesting man than I had previously realised, and I am therefore tempted to find out more about him and his library. I wonder, for example, whether it is possible to distinguish between Henry and Alfred by the variant bookplates that appear in the books?:

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