Friday, 18 May 2007

The American Dering Family Bookplates and N. Hurd

Thomas Dering (1720-1785), a Boston merchant, was the son of Henry E. Dering (1684-1750), from Boston, and his wife Elizabeth Packer, daughter of Thomas Packer, of Portsmouth - a merchant, physician, judge and member of the King's Council.
His grandfather was Henry Dering I (1639 - 1717), born England, in co. Dorsetshire, and immigrated to America circa 1660, living at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, married 2ndly, in 1676, Elizabeth Mitchelson, daughter of Edward Mitchelson.

Thomas Dering married in 1756 Mary Sylvester (1725–1794), born at Southold, Long Island, daughter of Brinley Sylvester, of Shelter Island, and granddaughter of Nathaniel Sylvester[1].
Dering was a patriot, a supporter of the Declaration of Independence, member of the convention that approved New York's first state constitution and a member of the Congress of the independent United States of America.
Nathaniel Hurd (1730-1777) engraved a bookplate for Thomas Dering - dated 1749 – which was thought as being the first signed and dated bookplate made by an American artist, both by Charles Dexter Allen[2] (Allen #219), who also considered it very rare, already in 1895, and by W. Hamilton[3].

However, Thomas Dering used two other bookplates. One, bearing a crest on a circular ring with the date «17___» (Allen #220), which according to Dexter Allen «resembles the work of Hurd somewhat». Hollis French, S. B. – the authority on N. Hurd – in turn, considered it as «…very crude, but it is decidedly in Hurd’s early manner, though unsigned»[4].

The other bookplate (below), somewhat bigger, is an armorial pictorial with supporters, also signed by N. Hurd, not referred by Allen in his standard reference work, but described by Hollis French who said it was believed to be older then the dated plate.
Seemingly, this bookplate is extremely rare, Hollis referring only one specimen acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of New York [5].

Thomas’ son Henry Packer Dering, of Sag Harbor (1763-1822) - a collector of customs, postmaster and military storekeeper in Sag Harbor, Long Island, used his father’s bookplate, signed and dated by Hurd, after having it altered to fill in his name: Henry P. Dering [6].
This, most probably, occurred after his father’s death in 1785. The bookplate must have been unknown to Charles Dexter Allen since he did not include it in his list of early American bookplates [7].

The original N. Hurd dated plate was yet to be used by another member of the Dering Family in the first quarter of the XIX c., a grandson of Thomas Dering!

Nicoll Havens Dering [8] (1794-1867) from Utica, Oneida Co., New York, the son of General Sylvester Dering (1759-1820), the elder brother of Henry P. Dering, and Esther Sarah Havens, also used the Hurd plate of his grandfather Thomas with the name altered: Nicoll H. Dering (Allen #218).

But again, it seems Nicoll H. Dering used another bookplate also not listed by Dexter Allen. According to Hollis French it is the same Thomas Dering plate, in the third state, with date, name and signature erased. The new name was re-engraved in modern lettering [9] (not show).

The specimen shown (above) though has a motto added – Sola Nobilitas Virtus – with the name inscribed below, looking as a modern engraving copying the old Hurd’s plate.
It was referred by Holis French as being in the bookplate collection of the «American Antiquarian Society» [10].
Henry Packer Dering had at least a son - Henry Thomas (Tom) Dering (1796-1854) who, in 1842, was appointed collector of the customs for the district and inspector of the revenue for the port of Sag Harbor, in the State of New York, and several daughters. It is not clear why the plate came into the hands of his cousin Nicoll H. Dering.
Little is known about the arms in these bookplates and the right to use them.
Nathaniel Hurd (1730-1777) was an engraver and silversmith [11] who worked in gold and silver for a chosen clientele. Allen considered Hurd the best American early engraver and dedicated him an extensive entry in his reference book and publishing a list of bookplates signed by the artist and another of plates attributed to him but unsigned [12].
Hurd, a patriot in the American Revolution, was portrayed by John Singleton Copley [13] in informal clothes in a painting which is now at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
His engraving tools, according to Allen and were left by will to his nephew John Mason Furnass (1763 - 1804), a painter and engraver of Boston, Mass., who also made bookplates, namely for Eli Forbes [14].
Anyway, three generations of Derings used the same N. Hurd plate as a bookplate apart from other bookplates not listed by Allen but referred by French Hollis.
All these bookplates are exceptional or very rare specimens and very seldom found in known bookplate collections.
Apparently, one of Thomas Dering’s dated bookplate existed in the collections of Richard B. Coutant, sold at an auction in 1859 [15] and in the famous Bailley Bookplate Collection, now at the New York Metropolitan Museum fo Art [16].

We were fortunate to be helped by Mr. Matt Thomas a descendant of Sarah Dering, sister of Thomas Dering, who confirmed that according to Family correspondence (1898) the majority of the few plates then in existence belonged to members of the Dering family.

We would like to thank Mr. Matt Thomas for the information provided and for permission to reproduce the Dering bookplates which he most kindly provided.

[1] Nathaniel Sylvester (d. 1680) was a sugar merchant born in England who immigrated to America to Newport and being afterwards the founder of the town of Shelter Island (circa 1652). He married Grissell Brinley, daughter of Thomas Brinley, keeper of the accounts for both Charles I and Charles II. The Sylvesters are said to have been Royalists fleeing from Cromwell’s rule in England (source

[2] American Bookplate: A Guide to their Study (with a Bibliography by E. N. Hewins) Reprint of the 1895 ed. New York : Hacker Art Books, 1968; the bookplate is also discussed by Downs, Joseph, A Quillwork Hatchment, in «The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin», Vol. 33, No. 12 (Dec., 1938), pp. 267-268.

[3] In Dated Book-Plates (Ex Libris) With A Treatise On Their Origin And Development, 1st ed. London : A. & C. Black, 1895

[4] The Bookplates of Nathaniel Hurd (1730-1777), in «Year Book 1940-41», The American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers», Washington DC, 1942, p. 31

[5] Ibidem, p. 31

[6] Hollis French, ibidem, p.32; see, also Lewis Jaffe’s Blog

[7] According to Hollis French, writing in 1939, Charles Dexter Allen only listed 28 bookplates signed by Hurd and 14 attributed to him, but the number amounts to 55 bookplates not counting the varieties or states, ibidem, p.20.

[8] I wonder if the portrait of a Nicoll Dering by Daniel Huntington donated to the The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the first decade of the last century by Sylvester Dering (II) was of our bearer?

[9] See, Hollis French, ibidem, p. 32-33

[10] Ibidem, pp.33

[11] French, Hollis (foreword by Kathryn C. Buhler) Jacob Hurd and His Sons Nathaniel & Benjamin: Silversmiths 1702-1781, 1st ed.,Boston, MA, The Walpole Society, 1939; reprint, Da Capo Press, New York, 1972; Patricia E. Kane, Nathaniel Hurd: The Life of a Colonial Silversmith and Engraver, «Porticus», 20, (2001):8-17

[12] ibidem, pp. 104-116

[13] See post by J. L. Bell at his Blog Boston 1755

[14] See also, article by David Bosse, 'To Promote Useful Knowledge': "An Accurate Map of the Four New England States" by John Norman and John Coles, in «Imago Mundi», Vol. 52, 2000 (2000), pp. 143-157

[15] [Catalogue] The extensive collection of bookplates formed by the late dr. Richard b. Coutant, sale no. 1859 - october 10th 1924, at The Anderson Galleries, The Anderson Galleries, New York, 1924

[16] Ivins, Jr., William M., The Baillie Collection of Bookplates, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Vol. 15, No. 11 (Nov., 1920), pp. 246-248 see. (

Monday, 14 May 2007

Chippendale Bookplates

William Abbott (1733-1826), Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge

Edmund Horrex

James Haughton, Esq.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

The Library of the Duke of Aumale

Henri d’Orléans, duc d’Aumale (1822-1897)

The son of Louis-Philippe d’Orléans, king of the French, the duke of Aumale was a distinguished bibliophile having formed an amazing collection of rare books which became one of the best private libraries of the XIXth century.

Aumale’s Library and vast fortune was based on the inheritance from the last of the Condés – Prince Louis-Henri-Joseph, duke of Bourbon (1756-1830) who died without children in rather mysterious circumstances.
The princes of Condé possessed a very rich Library, which included a superb collection of manuscripts, confiscated by the Revolution in 1792, on account of the then prince of Condé, Louis-Joseph (1736-1818) anti-revolutionary activities in exile. Chantilly’s precious collections was sent to the Louvre, the estate was ravaged the château and other buildings were sold and partially demolished.
Fortunately, the library and other collections were partially returned to the prince in 1815, after the Restoration of Louis XVIII. The prince of Condé son, Louis-Joseph, duke of Bourbon, saw his heir and son – the duke of Enghien, being executed by order of Napoleon at the instigation of the infamous Talleyrand at Vincennes in 1804 and decided to leave his vast fortune to his grand-nephew and godson the young duke of Aumale.
After a brief career in the Army, having fought in Algeria, the duke had to leave France with his family after the Revolution of 1848 which put an end to the Orléans July Monarchy. They went to England where they lived from 1848 to 1870, and it was then that he started building his collection through acquisitions all over Europe and at the important auction sales of books that luckily for him took place in the second half of the century. Illuminated manuscripts, including precious XVth century Book of Hours, and incunabula merited his particular attention (see, an on-line presentation of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, which belongs to the duke of Aumale collection).
After his return to France, the duke had the château and park (designed by André Le Notre, by command of Louis II de Bourbon-Condé (1621-1686) - the Grand Condé) rebuilt, and in order to properly house his Library ordered architect Honoré Daumet to build a Cabinet des Livres, which still today can be visited and admired.
Contrary to the usual destiny of private Libraries formed by wealthy bibliophiles, we owe to the duke of Aumale having prevented this by donating his Library and the château de Chantilly to the Institut de France. The year after the duke’s death the Condé Museum was open to the public (see, Bibliothèque du château de Chantilly).
to Bibliothèques privées, bibliothèques de collectionneurs at the Google Group – Forum Livres Anciens (in French)
Short biography at the Académie Française website
Château de Chantilly (in English)

Friday, 4 May 2007

Sir Samuel Wilson

Sir Samuel Wilson (1832-1895), Hughenden Manor
«From the Earl of Beaconfiled's Library»

Born at Ballycloughan, County Antrim, Ireland, son of Samuel Wilson, farmer and landowner, and his wife Mary, née Singley. In 1861, in Melbourne, he married Jean, daughter of William Campbell.

In 1852 immigrated with is brothers to Victoria, Australia where he lived working in mines and then in sheep farming. After having built a considerable fortune he retired to England in 1881, having leased
Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, former country house of prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. His son Lieut.-colonel Gordon Chesney Wilson married Lady Sarah Isabella Churchill, sister of Lord Randolph Churchill and a daughter, Maud Wilson, married the 14th Earl of Huntingdon.

Sir Samuel was M.P. Portsmouth in 1886-92.

Sources: see, detailed biography at
Australian Dictionary of Biography with bibliography and
Hughenden Manor gardens

Oliver Garnett, Hughenden Manor, National Trust Guidebooks.

Matthias Corvinus Library

The Library of Mathias Corvino, King of Hungary (1443-1490)

Matthias Corvino (1443-1490), crowned King of Hungary in 1458 upon the death of Ladislaus V and in 1469 king of Bohemia and ruler of Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia. Second son of the legendary Hungarian national hero János Hunyadi (c.1385-1456), leader of the resistance against the Turks, regent of Hungary after the disastrous Battle of Varna, and the victor of the Turks at the battle of Belgrade in 1458, which postponed the Turkish menace over central Europe for seven decades.
Apart from his military successes and conquests, Matthias formed one of the best Humanist Libraries of XVth. Century Europe, second only in number of volumes, to the Vatican Library. Many reputed scholars were called to Buda from Naples, Florence and other Italian cities.
His second marriage, in 1476, to Princess Beatrice of Aragon (1457-1508) daughter of Ferdinand King of Naples, who also had an important library, was a landmark in the development of the king’s library. She was to marry secondly, Wladyslaw / Ulaszlo II (b.1456), who succeeded as king of Hungary (1490-1516).
For a detailed account of the origins and development of this fabulous library see, the
Bibliotheca Corviniana Digitalis Website (in Hungarian and Italian) – an ambitious international project aiming to digitally rebuilt the former King Mathias Corvino Library.
For a scholarly analysis on the history of the Bibliotheca Corviniana see also, Csaba Csapodi’s paper at:
Bibliotheca Corviniana: The library of Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, Shannon: Irish University Press (1969)
In 2002-2003 a major exhibition took place at the Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, at Modena, Italy, with a catalogue that includes important papers on the subject, see,
NEL SEGNO DEL CORVO, libri e miniature della biblioteca di Mattia Corvino re d’Ungheria (1443-1490), Modena, Biblioteca Estense Universitária, 15 novembre 2002 - 15 febbraio 2003, Modena, Il Bulino edizioni d’arte, 2002 (in .pdf).