“The Butcher’s Bill”: Using the Schoenberg Database to Reverse-Engineer Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript Books from Constituent Fragments
- Manuscript Studies: A Journal of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 1, Number 2, Fall 2016
- pp. 235-262
- Additional Information
The Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts can be used not only to track the provenance of individual manuscripts, but also to uncover larger patterns in multiple provenance strings of manuscripts. For example, does an individual auction sale or bookseller’s catalogue have any discernable influence on the acquisitions made by a collector or institution? Or is the publication of a collection or exhibition catalogue preceded or followed by any discernable pattern of acquisition activity? This paper explores patterns of acquisition, exhibition and sale associated with the collections of William Bragge (1823-1884) of Sheffield and Dr. T. Shadford Walker (1834-1885) of Liverpool. Bragge was the largest single exhibitor in the Burlington Fine Arts Club exhibition in 1874. The sale of his library less than two years later at Sotheby’s in June 1876 was only identified as the property of “a gentleman of consummate taste and judgment,” but full reports in The Times revealed his identity to those not already in the know. Not surprisingly the London antiquarian booksellers, Bernard Quaritch, were a major buyer at the sale; its Catalogue 31 published in the fall of 1876 after the sale contains numerous items acquired there. Quaritch was also apparently bidding on behalf of the British Museum and of Dr. Walker of Liverpool. In October of the same year Walker was a major contributor to the Liverpool Fine Arts Club exhibition of illuminated manuscripts and every one of the 18 manuscripts exhibited by Walker had been purchased at the Bragge sale earlier that year.