Lost, Burned and Recovered: Tracing the Provenance History of a Copy of Caxton’s Golden Legend in the John Rylands Library

Date

2022-09-24

Advisors

Journal Title

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ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

On 29 June 1865, a fire at Sotheby’s in London destroyed extensive libraries prior to their sales. Among them was Important and Valuable Library of the Late George Offor, Esq, including a copy of William Caxton’s Golden Legend (1483). This article demonstrates that this copy, hitherto believed to be lost, managed to survive the fire and now is Incunable Collection R4591 in the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester. Further evidence confirms that before it was put on sale in 1865, Offor used it as ‘a hospital copy’ in order to ‘sophisticate’ other copies of the Golden Legend. This article also argues that prior to Offor’s ownership the copy was in the hands of a publisher and bookseller William Pickering, and he too removed several leaves from it and repurposed them. By filling the gap in the provenance history of this copy now in Manchester, this article throws further light on the thriving antiquarian book trade in the nineteenth century.

Description

The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.

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Citation

Kato, T. (2022) Lost, Burned and Recovered: Tracing the Provenance History of a Copy of Caxton’s Golden Legend in the John Rylands Library. The Library, 23 (3), pp. 323-345

Rights

Research Institute

Institute of English