Horace on His Head: An Error in the St. Ignatius College Library

Many bibliophiles would agree that there is nothing quite like cracking open a new book and marveling over its perfectly printed pages. Printing, however, is a process overseen by humans. It is bound to encounter error every now and again. In some instances, printing errors can be quite profitable. An 1885 edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with the word “saw” swapped with “was” could earn a collector up to $18,600! Sometimes, though, the value of a printing error cannot simply be measured monetarily. Take the obvious one recently discovered in our 1767 copy of The Works of Horace in English Verse:

The Works of Horace - Loyola University Chicago Copy

This copy is currently held in the Special Collections of the Elizabeth M. Cudahy Memorial Library.

Classicists are most assuredly familiar with Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the Roman lyric poet known to anglophones as Horace. His ancient works were frequently translated into English throughout the eighteenth century, and several poetical and prose interpretations found new homes in the nineteenth-century library at St. Ignatius College. Samuel Johnson celebrated the transliterating prowess of Rev. Philip Francis in particular as the finest of his generation. He said succinctly, “The lyrical part of Horace never can be perfectly translated;…Francis has done it the best.” Chicago’s Jesuit educators must have concurred to some degree. In the coming week, we will be featuring not one, but two editions of Francis’s work noted in Loyola University Chicago’s first library catalogue. The subject of the present posting, though, is a blank verse version of Horace by William Duncombe.

William Duncombe

Portrait of William Duncombe by Joseph Highmore (1721)

Courtesy of the British Library

Courtesy of the British Library

Duncombe’s first recorded translation of Horace dates back to 1715, but it was not until 1757 that he began releasing his most comprehensive English collection. The 1767 publication in our possession is a second edition of this vernacular compilation. The publishing information reveals that Duncombe did not undertake this update alone. He called upon the assistance of his only son, John Duncombe, a notable British author in his own right.

While the new four-volume set advertised having “Many Imitations, now first published,” its most distinct aesthetic additions were illustrations for each title page. We have amassed samples of the second volume from several other institutions such as the British Library (left) and the University of Michigan (below). Notice anything? Their opening images are right-side up! This demonstrates that our copy’s printing error – the upside down image – was not ubiquitous to the run of the publication. It is likely that Fleet Street printers caught their initial mistake early enough to properly reposition the image’s engraving for subsequent reproductions. However, this did not seem to prevent already erroneous editions from escaping into the market, giving Loyola University Chicago a true literary treasure.

The Works of Horace - University of Michigan Copy

Courtesy of the University of Michigan

It is also compelling to consider that English-speaking consumers had a second new translation of Horace to choose from in 1767. Christopher Smart completed his own four-volume series that year which he specifically targeted to students. Like Duncombe, Smart was well experienced in translating Horace. He penned a prose compilation in 1756 that classicist Allen R. Benham claimed was the most widely used translation of Horace in that era. Still, Benham harshly criticized this work as “frankly a ‘pony’ or ‘trot,’ a help to school boys struggling with their Horace.” Was Smart’s 1767 revision just as juvenile? Dr. Leah Orr argues not. She attests that Smart was similarly dissatisfied with his earlier interpretation and attempted to both improve upon his original work and Christianize Horace’s Latin text in his later publication. Nevertheless, St. Ignatius College’s librarians opted to order Duncombe’s translation rather than Smart’s. Perhaps the former offered a greater quality and aesthetic appeal that Jesuit educators were seeking at the time.

– Michael J. Albani, Provenance Project Coordinator

Upcoming Conference Opportunities

Conferences offer a fantastic way to share your scholarship and to keep up-to-date with the work of others who share your interests.  There are two upcoming conferences sure to be of interest to followers of the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project.  Below is a description of each conference, the deadline for submitting a paper proposal, and the date of the conference.  Members of the Provenance Project team will be at both and look forward to seeing you there!

JaR

Second Annual Jesuit Research Student Symposium

The Jesuit Archives: Central United States, Saint Louis University College of Arts and Sciences, Saint Louis University Department of History, and Saint Louis University Libraries will host a joint research symposium 10-11 November 2015 to explore the history of Jesuits and race.

Undergraduate and Graduate students from all disciplines are warmly invited to submit a proposal for a twenty-minute presentation.

Proposal abstracts should be no more than 250 words, and are due to the selection committee by 3 August 2015. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. David P. Miros, Jesuit Archives, at dmiros@jesuits.org, or Dr. Silvana R. Siddali, History Department, at siddalis@slu.edu. More information, the symposium flyer, and abstract submission form are available here.

Encounters Between Jesuits and Protestants in the Americas

The 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation (1517) and the shifting Christian landscape of the Americas today provide an opportunity to reflect on the historical relationship between Protestants and Jesuits in the Americas. This international conference at Boston College on June 14-18, 2017 is partnered with two other conferences—at the Ricci Institute in Macau (November 9-11, 2016) and at the Jesuit Historical Institute in Nairobi, Kenya (June 28–July 1, 2016)—in an effort to better understand the historical encounters between Jesuits and Protestants around the globe.

The Jesuits, one of the most influential missionary orders, have been at the center of a flourishing body of scholarly literature. The relationship between the Society of Jesus and Protestants in the Americas, however, has not been sufficiently studied. Did Jesuits and Protestants interact in the American setting, and how? Did the encounter with Protestantism and the Reformation affect the Jesuit approach to Native American peoples? In the Americas, the ambitious colonies of expansive European empires confronted each other through colliding religious visions, programs, and propaganda. The image of the Jesuit, so prominent in European confessional conflict, similarly inspired Catholics and provoked Protestants throughout the Americas. The patterns set by the Reformations have continued during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Following the restoration of the Society of Jesus in the nineteenth century, its members participated in missionary and educational projects throughout North America and the heavily Protestant United States. In the late twentieth century, Evangelical and Pentecostal missionaries have led a sweeping Protestant revival throughout Catholic Latin America, changing a religious landscape that had endured for half a millennium. Supported by the monarchies of Spain and Portugal, the Jesuits were instrumental in bringing Catholicism, and with it, European art, sciences, and culture to the Americas. Protestant and Jesuit interactions in the Americas are part of a larger study of comparative European colonialism as Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, and English empires staked claims to the Americas within a one-hundred-year period. Europeans did not intend to separate Christianity from military might, political savviness, and economic necessity (or extravagance).

How did Calvinists, Jesuits, and Puritans approach the conversion of indigenous peoples? Did Protestant models of evangelization draw on Jesuit practices or vice versa? Do inter-religious relationships in the twenty-first century reflect the conflicts of the past 500 years? The questions to be asked of Jesuit and Protestant encounters in the Americas from the sixteenth century to the present are many; the answers, however, are few. To participate in this discussion, email a short (200-250 words) abstract of a proposed paper to the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies (iajs@bc.edu) before 31 May 2016, and if accepted, the full paper before 31 December 2016. Please indicate “2017 Symposium” in the subject line. The abstract and conference presentation should be in standard academic English. Selected papers will be published either in a dedicated volume or in the Journal of Jesuit Studies (Brill).  For more information, follow the link here.

Independence Day

Collection of Loyola Special Collections and University Archives.

Collection of Loyola Special Collections and University Archives.

In order to understand the members of the nineteenth-century St Ignatius College community, we have to appreciate their hybrid identities. Some, such as Pierre Jean De-Smet, literally straddled two worlds. He made multiple trips across the Atlantic on fundraising missions to support his pioneering work spreading the gospel to Native Peoples of the Rocky Mountains. Most Jesuits were born elsewhere, but had no chance to return to the lands of their nativity. Most students were the children of immigrants and reminded of the Old World in the homes in which they grew up. Chicago Catholics declared their submission to the Pope nearly five thousand miles away. But they also joined organizations like the Lincoln Law Club, pictured above, where they demonstrated their allegiance to their nation.

18762196843_f7ddb894da_mJesuit libraries abundantly reveal this double consciousness of nineteenth-century Roman Catholics. Their shelves are filled with works of European theology and philosophy. But the History and Literature sections had a strong number of imprints related to the United States. Over the next few days we will be highlighting some of these publications, works like Benson Lossing’s two-volume The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution; or, Illustrations, by Pen and Pencil, of the History, Biography, Scenery, Relics, and Traditions of the War for Independence (1855) and James Parton’s Life of Andrew Jackson (1860). Through these works, students at St Ignatius College learned about what it meant to be an American citizen. How they negotiated and ultimately reconciled these competing demands likely varied from person to person, but helpfully reminds us of the complex position in which they found themselves.

Check out the June 2015 issue of Catholic Library World

CLW June 2015 coverWant to learn more about the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project in particular and the digital future of Jesuit Studies in general?  Check out the June 2015 (Vol 85, No 4) issue of the Catholic Library World, the peer-reviewed journal of the Catholic Library Association.  In this issue there are six articles by Loyola faculty and students on the various digital projects launched in conjunction with the 2014 exhibition, Crossings and Dwellings: Restored Jesuits, Women Religious, American Experience, 1814-2014.  They tackle a range of different types of historical sources – maps, letters, books, and material artifacts — and use a range of open source digital platforms for making these objects and scholarship about them more accessible to scholarly and popular audiences.  Articles include:

  • Kyle Roberts, “Digital Future of Jesuit Studies”
  • Edward Englestad, “De Smet’s Map: How Digital Tools Unlocked a Hidden Story”
  • Michael Polowski, “Visualizing De Smet’s Correspondence”
  • Jessica Hagen, “Jesuit Libraries Project: Digital Approaches to Analyzing a Historical Library Catalog”
  • Evan Thompson, “Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project”
  • Hope Shannon, “New Media at the Museum”

Each author shares her or his experience with the opportunities and challenges of doing a digital project on a different type of analog historical source and some of the lessons learned.  You might find some inspiration to create your own project!

What Lies Inside

1867 Baltimore printed flyer for the Association in Honor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

1867 Baltimore printed flyer for the Association in Honor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Source: Jesuit Archives: Central United States. Rare Book Collection, Bin A.

This June, part of the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project team is researching in St. Louis at the Jesuit Archives, Central United States in search of clues about the origins of books in the c.1878 St Ignatius College Library.  The Missouri Province, whose records are in the Jesuit Archives, oversaw the Chicago Jesuits until their separation into a distinct province in the 1920s.

Many of the rare books that belonged to Jesuits in the St Louis-area houses and schools are now in the collections of St. Louis University.  There are, however, a small number of rare books that are still held by the Jesuit Archives.  Most of them relate directly to the rules and structure of the Society of Jesus.  Others belonged to specific Jesuits.

The things found tucked inside these books can be just as exciting as the books themselves.  Mid-nineteenth-century Catholic ephemera does not often survive.  Two fantastic pieces, however, have been found inside works in the Archives.  The first (above) is a small flyer for the Association in Honor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, a devotional society founded in Issoudun, France in 1854. The flyer was printed in Baltimore and is dated Christmas Day, 1867.  It was tucked inside an 1839 copy of the Rules of the Society of Jesus published in Washington, DC.  The other is a card with an image of St. Catherine.  The crude engraving of St Catherine, a popular Fourth-Century Saint, suggests an early date, while the orange-colored frame might have been designed to have a variety of different saints’ images inserted into it.  While it is easy to speculate that a Jesuit in Baltimore could have had the locally-printed Rules and Sacred Heart card, it is less clear from where the St. Catherine card came. It is tucked inside an undated reprint of the 1607 edition of the Rules of the Society of Jesus. The book does, however, have the embossed stamp of St. Stanislaus Seminary, which was the primary novitiate for the Missouri Province in the mid-nineteenth century and was located just outside St. Louis.

Printed card with image of St. Catherine. Undated, but likely mid-nineteenth century.

Printed card with image of St. Catherine. Undated, but likely mid-nineteenth century. Source: Jesuit Archives: Central United States. Rare Book Collection, Bin C. 

Have you found anything interesting tucked inside an old book? Share your experience in the comments!

Summer Reading I

The latest issue of the Journal of Jesuit Studies has arrived just in time for the end of the spring semester.  Aficionados of Jesuit print culture are in for a treat: the whole issue is dedicated to fascinating new scholarship on Jesuit libraries.  Editor Kathleen M. Comerford takes a global approach and has sought out articles on regions whose book and library culture have received less study over the past few decades: the Orinoco Delta, Japan, Ethiopia, Beirut, Canada, and Croatia.

Comerford identifies several overarching themes that tie the essays together, and which raise important questions about Jesuit libraries in other times and places.  First, she reminds us that libraries need to be considered first and foremost as a component of Jesuit missionary activity, providing materials that will be shared with their target audiences and which will also be resources (and relief!) for Jesuit missionaries.  Second, while the Constitutions of the Society often spell out the necessity of forming a library in a new field, they rarely specified which books had to be contained within it. As a result books in Jesuit libraries often comes from a variety of sources, by a range of means, and for a diversity of reasons.  Third, and only tantalizingly touched upon, is the way in which Jesuits confronted modernity and modernization through their libraries.  Finally, Comerford stresses the importance of placing Jesuit libraries, in particular, and print culture, in general, within the Society’s global context.

Three articles look at Jesuit missionary book culture in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  The work of José del Rey Fajardo, SJ on seventeenth-century Jesuit missions to the Orinoco Delta reminds us of the preconditions — linguistic diversity, illiteracy — which needed to be addressed before a library could even be useful.  In Fajardo’s telling, the libraries in these regions were more of a resource for highly-trained European Jesuits who felt isolated in the field.  Yoshimi Orii explores the complex ways in which Jesuits translated European books for Japanese audiences.  Books can also become proxies for people and faith reveals Kristen Windmuller-Luna in a fascinating essay on Ethiopian missions.  There Jesuits encountered the exact opposite of the Orinoco Delta: a longstanding culture of the book.  But efforts to erase doctrinal error led Jesuits to efface beloved works of the Ethiopian Orthodoxy, only to find their own libraries – and even themselves — erased not long after.

Two articles situate Jesuit libraries in the twentieth century.  Through his study of the Oriental Library of the Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut, Rafael Herzstein reveals the way in which libraries were shaped in reflection to the context in which they were located.  His focus on scholarly magazines published under the aegis of the library remind us of the way in which writing, translating, and printing have long been part of the Jesuit missionary enterprise, even as their preferred formats have changed over time.  Gordon Rixon, SJ shows how the provenance of books collected from the relatively late library of Regis College in Toronto (founded 1930) illustrate the long history of Jesuit-Native American interaction, although he does not explicitly reveal if they were collected for that reason or (as it sounds) if the library collected everything that was sent to it from Canada’s Jesuit houses.  Intention and chance are opposing but omnipresent realities of library growth.  The real treasure in his essay is a fantastic reproduction, description, and analysis of a visual mnemonic for a pedagogical plan designed by Nicholas Point for one of the Native reductions in Canada.  It is a rich document that will be incorporated into my teaching this fall semester.

Finally, Marica Šapro-Ficović and Željko Vegh’s article on Croatian Jesuit libraries takes a longue durée approach, spanning the pre- and post-suppression order.  Particularly valuable in their account is the attention paid to the way in which Jesuits shaped their library collections in relation to local circumstances.   Rather than all having identical collections, Jesuits built libraries that responded to local needs and opportunities.

Check out this excellent new issue of the Journal and share with us what you’re looking forward to reading in the coming months!

 

 

Multi-vocal History

This past November, Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project (JLPP) Director, Dr. Kyle Roberts, received an e-mail from Carolyn Sharp, a descendent of John Gordon Morrison, the Union soldier who looted a copy of the Lives of the Popes from the house of Rev. James A. Harrold, a Virginia minister went over to the Confederate side during the American Civil War.  The book, one of the original books in St. Ignatius College Library, was written up on this blog last spring and now resides in Loyola University Chicago Special Collections.

The descendent shared with Roberts information about the relatives who found and transcribed Morrison’s diaries and a theory about how the book might have made its way from Morrison to the Jesuits in Chicago:

“It does not surprise me that the book ended up in Jesuit hands.  The family has a history of friendship with priests, including Jesuits.  I suspect the book would have been a gift to one such who was in New York, perhaps in Brooklyn, but maybe also upstate as John G. lived in Troy, NY before moving downstate, and that the gift recipient would have made his way with the book to Chicago.”

She also shared information about other family members who had been educated at Jesuit schools.  This connection provides another invaluable information as we seek to solve the puzzle of the history of this book.

E-mails and correspondences like these highlight an important part of JLPP.  Team members embrace a concept popular in public history circles called “shared authority,” or doing history alongside and with the communities involved. The term shared authority gained ground among oral historians, most notably Michael Frisch, who in his research worked with people and their histories. Thus, shared authority pushes against the “master narratives” or histories about “great men,” as it focuses on the experiences and voices of every day people.

JLPP team members rely on experiences, insights, and narratives  from various communities to best capture the provenance for each book in the original St. Ignatius catalog.  In gathering this information the team hopes to write histories of these books that incorporate the voices of all those who have been touched by them.

As a digital initiative, the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project seeks to reach audiences inside and outside Chicago’s and Loyola’s boundaries, and in so doing, the project enters a dialogue with other digital initiatives throughout the world. Yet, do digital initiatives allow for each potential stakeholder to enter into the conversation? As a project team member, enrolled in Loyola’s Public History graduate program, I often think about the communities excluded from the conversation. For example, does everyone associated with Jesuit communities or the global Catholic mission have access to digital resources? And, how digitally literate are individuals in the aforementioned communities? More simply, what does it mean for the project if users in communities the team wants to reach do not have access to technology, and more importantly, social media? Are there ways for the project to reach people without access to social media or social media literacy?

JLPP functions on a participatory level. It allows students, faculty, public historians, independent scholars, antiquarians, alumni, and the broader public to learn about and discuss these books’ histories. And, more than that the histories related to Jesuit education in Chicago, the global Catholic mission, libraries, the organization of knowledge…the list goes on! The e-mail Roberts received in November reinforces the role participation and shared authority play in the project’s development. No matter the task, it is necessary for team members to think about how to share the histories at hand and make them accessible to our multiple audiences. Moreover, it is equally important to include and highlight user experiences and histories in the project itself, so as to preserve the multi-vocal histories related to the library’s original catalog.

– Samantha Smith, Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project Social Media Coordinator

Report from the road: New York City, 2015

A modern struggle for anyone in the humanities is  justifying the importance of their research. The rapid progress of the hard sciences has left fields like History in a precarious position. This comes from the (misguided) opinion that everything that can be known about the past has already been discovered and all other work in it is purely academic. Some would argue, History does not cure cancer, grow the economy, or build satellites. Short of discovering the lost city of Atlantis, History does not need more students.

During the annual conference for the American Historical Association (AHA) and American Catholic Historical Association (ACHA) this past January, this idea was shown to be simply wrong. Shortly after the start of the new year, the project team of Dr. Roberts, Evan, and Zac traveled to Times Square, New York City for AHA and ACHA’s annual conference. Hundreds of historians and people interested in history gathered together from around the world to share their work.

Some of those people came to our presentation on the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project. The panel helped reinforce our confidence in the project’s legitimacy and importance to the field. In particular, legendary Jesuit historians John Padberg of Saint Louis University, and John O’Malley of Georgetown University offered praiseworthy comments and questions about collaboration with other like projects. While we have given this presentation previously, the opportunity to do so before such accomplished and decorated historians made it seem as though our project was contributing something very valuable to the larger historical community.

Much of our work requires long hours alone with original library books and computers. Often when we are collaborating with others, its through the means of social media. The conference provided an exciting opportunity to bring the fruits of our endeavors to the larger academic community on a personal level.

As we move towards finishing gathering and photographing the remainder of the original books from St Ignatius College, the experience of presenting our research in a global city surrounded by a community of scholars was gratifying — a much-welcomed bridge between us and the larger academic world.

– Zachary Davis and Evan Thompson, JLPP Intern

“More Properly Rudeman”: Great Stories Behind Our Great Charters

Amongst all the potential categories Jesuit scholars could have chosen when organizing St. Ignatius College’s first library catalogue, they considered the subject of legislation important enough to include within their six final subdivisions. In such a category, there are certainly some paramount pieces that historians would expect to see, perhaps none more than the revolutionary 1215 English charter best known as the Magna Carta. Well, the catalogue does not disappoint. It includes not one copy of the Manga Carta, but two. Moreover, each reprinting of this landmark legislation carries with it a unique story along with enigmatic elements for we modern historians to unravel.

The oldest copy of the Magna Carta in the first library catalogue is entitled Magna Carta in F and was published in 1529 by an English printer named Robert Redman. Historians of print are most assuredly familiar with Richard Pynson, one of the most pivotal figures in fifteenth and sixteenth century English book making. Well, it was in Redman that Pynson found not only a virulent rival, but also an unlikely successor.

Mark of Richard Pynson

Mark of Richard Pynson

According to most sources, Redman followed directly in Pynson’s footsteps working to loosen his monopolistic grip on legal printing. While Pynson originally published an edition of the Magna Carta in 1508, Redman released his own version in 1525. This is, in all likelihood, the version available in Loyola’s library (with only a few additions). Considering its modest dimensions of 14 cm and subtitle of “Necessarye for all yong studiers of the lawe,” it is perfectly reasonable to infer that this book was meant to be used as an academic supplement. It is also reasonable to assert that this supplement was relatively successful since it would prove to not be Redman’s last foray into printing. He went on to earn the exacerbated ire of Pynson, the latter calling Redman, “more properly Rudeman, because among a thousand men you will not easily find one more unskillful.” Despite Pynson’s obvious indignation, Redman progressed smoothly in his profession. After the old printing master died, Redman assumed control of his Fleet Street offices and machinery. It is indeed from Fleet Street where our Magna Carta in F originates, a product of a bitter competition won, in the end, by Redman.

In addition to its interesting history, our Magna Carta in F also includes a feature not left by the publisher:

Unidentified Magna Carta in F Inscription

Unidentified Magna Carta in F Inscription

This unidentified inscription continues to confound us here at the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project. If any fellow historians out there could decipher it or provide some insight into its meaning, it would go far in adding to the great story of this great charter.

Speaking of great stories, the second Magna Carta featured in the first library catalogue dates back 1602. This version’s most prominent feature is its calfskin binding emblazoned with the initials R.B.

Magna Carta Book Cover

Magna Carta Book Cover

It is quite a remarkable coincidence that with another Magna Carta comes another set of initials beginning with R. As seen above, Richard Pynson monographed all his publications with an R.P. symbol. Redman followed suit using an R.R. symbol in the exact same style. However, since this 1602 text was printed by Englishman Thomas Wright, it is highly unlikely that the R.B. relates to the book’s publication information. According to a source uncovered by Dr. Robert Bucholz (whose own initials are also remarkably coincidental), Wright acquired a patent on common law books in 1589 and it is possible that this edition, much like Redman’s, was intended as an academic supplement. At 15 cm, it is certainly adequately sized for easy transportation, and it is also notable for the presence of underlinings and frequent annotations. So, who exactly was R.B.? Perhaps he was a lawyer or law student who once held this treasured tome in his private collection. At this stage of research, though, that answer is difficult to concretely ascertain. What is clear is that whoever R.B. was, he took great pleasure in this great book now held securely by Loyola University Chicago.

– Michael J. Albani, Provenance Project Coordinator. Featuring the much appreciated input of Dr. Robert Bucholz.

Confounding Crests

A year has passed since we began undertaking our detective work on the original books from the St Ignatius College library. Over that time we have been able to share some fascinating discoveries with you. In the third volume of Ranke’s Lives of the Popes we encountered an inscription from a Union soldier who decided to take some souvenirs from the home of a fleeing Confederate minister (and whose story we have been able to reconstruct thanks to the help of our readers!) In a 1471 edition of Pliny we discovered evidence of previous ownership by the Duke of Sussex, sixth son of George III, a collector and notorious spendthrift. Yet rarely have we written about our failures. Perhaps “failure” is too strong a word. Sometimes our efforts come up against dead ends, and there is little that can seemingly be done about it …

This was such a situation just this past month when I discovered this bookplate inside the cover of the first volume of James Stuart’s Three Years in North America (Edinburgh, 1833):

The bookplate that eludes identification!

The bookplate that eludes identification!

I decided the way to track down the previous owner might be through the heraldic crest.  After preliminary research, I thought it to be the crest of the Devonshire family from England as it matched one of their symbols. When I contacted the estate’s archivist, however, he confirmed for me that the bookplate did not belong to the Devonshire family. I spoke with him for a while and discovered that there were a hundred ways to decide whether a crest did not belong to a family, but there are very few ways to confirm who it does belong to. These crests can differ in very subtle ways such as the positioning of the animals, the number of antlers, and a thousand other ways. With the number of royal families, they would run out of the noble animals pretty fast if they were unable to differentiate in that way. I suppose this is why very few families adopt a gopher as their symbol.

After further research, I found that anyone could have put this crest into our book as the U.S. did not care to police the use of family crests or symbols. Anyone could have adopted these three stags as their personal symbol when they owned the book. Ultimately, I spent a good ten hours with this book, and came up with few results. The experience, though, was still important. I found out more than I could ever need to know concerning family crests and learned something new about the history of families in the U.S. So even though the search itself was fruitless, that does not mean it was worthless.

– Evan Thompson, JLPP Intern