Guide to the Research Collections
|Section -- I -- GENERAL MATERIALS|
|15 -- RARE BOOK DIVISION|
|Association Collections (Billings *KG)|
This class contains over 4,300 items. Notable subclasses include the following.
The Beadle Dime Novel collection was given to the library in 1922 by Dr. Frank P. O'Brien.20
It includes nearly 70 of the famous original yellow-back novels which began to appear in 1850. Seventeen of the first 25 titles of this series are in the collection, including a first edition of Edward Ellis's celebrated Seth Jones, a story of the New York wilderness in 1785. The 1,400 items in the original collection were supplemented in 1963 by C. V. Clare's gift of some 900 examples of the Diamond Dick Weekly and the Wild West Weekly, later series inspired by the Beadle Dime novels.
The greater part of this collection, purchased by the Lenox Library in 1894, was added to the general collections. The Rare Book Division houses in *KGB rare and valuable books with pencilled annotations by Bancroft that are not duplicated in the general collections; books from the collection with few or unimportant notations are mainly in *KF. Bancroft's sets of his History of the United States, annotated and revised for later editions, are housed in the Manuscripts and Archives Division.
The Bunyan collection, which is discussed in chapter 24 of this Guide, is particularly notable for its remarkable sequence of editions of Pilgrim's Progress, beginning with the first. The more valuable of these are shelved in this subclass.21
The library's collections as a whole in this area are described in the section of chapter 20 of this Guide dealing with literary forgeries. The important feature of this collection is false inscriptions attributed to authors or historical personages. There are also a number of fraudulent imprints, including a Columbus letter to Santangel (1497/1882) and several of the Thomas J. Wise nineteenth-century pamphlets.
Of related interest, although not located in this classmark, are genuine association copies. Among a great many notable examples in the Rare Book Division are Ben Jonson's copy of Thomas Scott's An Experimentall Discoverie of Spanish Practises (1623-24): Milton's copy of Benedetto Varchi's Sonetti (1555); George Washington's copy of Voltaire's Letters (1770); Martha Washington's collection of 35 pamphlets eulogizing her husband; Wordsworth's copy of Milton's Paradise Lost (1678); and the discoverer Sir Ferdinando Gorges's copy of Hakluyt's Principal Navigations (1598-1600).
The Autograph and Provenance File of the Rare Book Division provides an alphabetical listing of names which appear as signatures or in inscriptions in the holdings of the division and the Spencer Collection. Many early accessions which predate the file are not included; important signatures are usually indicated in the division's dictionary catalog.
This subclass consists of 40 of the more valuable works selected from the Spingarn gift of
The principal features of this collection, which numbers about 700 items, are many early editions of Washington's Farewell Address and some 285 eulogies and funeral orations.22 There are several books from Washington's personal library. Related to biographical material in the general collections is the large and unusual representation in the Rare Book Division of Mason L. Weems's curious biography of Washington, most of them collected by Paul Leicester Ford.23 This collection includes one of the 3 located copies of the fifth edition, published in Augusta, Georgia in 1806, the first to contain the famous story of the hatchet and the cherry tree.24 The most important single item relating to Washington is the original manuscript of his Farewell Address in the Manuscripts and Archives Division.25