John Bellingham Inglis

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Library - books

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John Bellingham Inglis was born in London on the 14th of February 1780. His father, a partner in the firm of Inglis, Ellice and Co., merchants, Mark Lane, London, was a Director of the East India Company, and was at one time its Chairman. In consequence of the failure of his father young Inglis set up in business on his own account in the wine trade, but this not proving successful, he retired after a short time on the money rescued from the wreck of the fortune of his father, who died soon after his failure. He resided for many years in St. John's Wood, but afterwards removed to Hampstead Heath. He died at 13 Albion Road, N.W., on the 9th of December 1870.

Mr. Inglis, who was a good classical scholar, an excellent linguist, and a man of considerable literary ability, commenced collecting books at a very early age, and soon formed a very valuable and important library, which was especially rich in works from the presses of the early English[Pg 350] printers. Unlike some possessors of libraries, he read the books which he had collected; and the Duke of Sussex, at one of his literary dinners at Kensington Palace, is reported to have said: 'Gentlemen, you are all very learned about titles, editions, and printers, but none of you seem to have read anything of the books except Mr. Inglis here.' In 1832 he translated into English, for the first time, the Philobiblon of Richard de Bury, and presented it to Thomas Rodd, the bookseller, who published it. He also made translations of several other mediæval printed books and manuscripts, which have never been published. A biographical notice of him appears in The Bookworm of December 1870, by J.P. Berjeau, the editor of that periodical. A portion of Inglis's books was sold anonymously by Sotheby on June 9th, 1826, and seven following days. The title-page of the catalogue reads: 'Catalogue of a singularly curious and valuable selection from the Library of a Gentleman, including three extraordinary specimens of Block Printing; Books printed in the Fifteenth Century; Books printed on vellum; Fine copies of Works from the Presses of Caxton, Machlinia, Wynkyn de Worde, Pynson, Julyan Notary, Verard, etc.; an extensive Collection of Old English Poetry; Romances; Historical and Theological Tracts; early Voyages and Travels; curious Treatises on Witches and Witchcraft; some of the earliest[Pg 351] Dictionaries and Vocabularies in the English Language, etc. Likewise several Manuscripts on vellum, most beautifully illuminated, etc.' The number of lots in this sale was sixteen hundred and sixty-five, and the sum realised three thousand three hundred and thirty-three pounds, nine shillings and sixpence. The prices obtained for the books were extremely low. The three block-books:—the first edition of the Speculum Humanæ Salvationis, Historia Sancti Johannis Evangelistæ ejusque Visiones Apocalypticæ, and the Biblia Pauperum fetched but ninety-five pounds, eleven shillings; forty-seven pounds, five shillings, and thirty-six pounds, fifteen shillings respectively; while no more than four hundred and thirty-one pounds, fifteen shillings and sixpence could be obtained for the thirteen Caxtons in the sale—about thirty-three pounds each. The following are a few of the other notable books in this fine collection, and the prices they fetched: Les Faits de Maistre Alain Chartier, imprimez a Paris par Pierre le Caron pour Anthoine Verard, printed on vellum, with capital letters painted in gold and colours, fifty-six pounds, fourteen shillings; Le Recueil des Histoires Troiennes, imprime a Paris par Anthoine Verard, presentation copy to Charles VIII., printed on vellum, ornamented with eighty-three miniatures, twenty-seven pounds; Vincent, Les cinq volumes du Miroir Hystorial,[Pg 352] imprime a Paris par Anthoine Verard, 1495-96, forty-six pounds, four shillings; Speculum Christiani, printed by Machlinia, sixteen pounds, sixteen shillings; Promptorius Puerorum, printed by Pynson in 1499, thirty-eight pounds, seventeen shillings; The Floure of the Commandments of God, Wynkyn de Worde, 1521, thirteen pounds, thirteen shillings; The Catechisme, set furth by ... Johne, Archbischop of Sanct Androus, etc. Prentit at Sanct Androus, 1552, sixteen pounds, five shillings and sixpence; Mary of Nemmegen, printed at Antwerp by Jan Van Doesborgh in 1518 or 1519, the only copy known, twenty-four pounds; Painter, The Palace of Pleasure, London, Thomas Marshe, 1575, a very fine copy, twenty-three pounds; and Shakespeare's Sonnets, London, 1609, forty pounds, nineteen shillings. Perhaps the finest of the manuscripts were a beautifully illuminated copy on vellum of the Liber de Proprietatibus Rerum, Anglice, by Bartholomæus de Glanvilla, written towards the end of the fourteenth century, which fetched fifty-one pounds, nine shillings; and Boccaccio's Tragedies of the Falle of Unfortunate Princes, translated into English verse, written on vellum in England in the early part of the fifteenth century, and richly illuminated. Thirty pounds, nine shillings was all that was obtained for this fine manuscript. After Inglis's death, his son, Dr. C. Inglis, sold such books as he could not[Pg 353] find room for. They were disposed of by Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge on the 31st of July 1871, and five following days, and realised two thousand seven hundred and sixty-six pounds, thirteen shillings and sixpence. Among the fifteen hundred and eighty-eight lots in the sale were a few rare books and some fine papyri. A third sale of the books in this splendid library, by order of Dr. C. Inglis, took place on June 11th, 1900, and three following days, by the same auctioneers. In this sale there were eight hundred and forty-nine lots, for which the sum of seven thousand five hundred and nineteen pounds, twelve shillings and sixpence was obtained. Although no Caxtons were to be found among the books, there were many rare and interesting examples from the presses of Machlinia, Pynson, Wynkyn de Worde, Julian Notary and other early English printers. The foreign printers were also well represented, and the collection contained several beautiful Books of Hours, both printed and in manuscript. Some very high prices were obtained for the more important books, as the following list of a few of the most notable will show:—Speculum Humanæ Salvationis, printed by G. Zainer at Augsburg in 1471, eighty-four pounds; Turrecremata, Meditationes, Romæ, 1473, one hundred pounds; the first edition of the Philobiblon of Richard de Bury, Coloniæ, 1473, eighty pounds; Rolle de[Pg 354] Hampole super Job, attributed to the Oxford press of Rood and Hunt, about 1481-86, three hundred pounds; Chronicle of England, printed by Machlinia about 1484, one hundred and seventy-five pounds; Heures de lusaige de Romme, with cuts printed in various colours, Paris, Jehan du Pré, 1490, two hundred and seventy-two pounds; First Letter of Columbus (Latin) 1493, Vespuccius, Mundus Novus, 1502, and other rare tracts in one volume, two hundred and thirty pounds; Verardus in Laudem Fernandi Hispaniarum Regis, etc., containing the letter of Columbus to King Ferdinand on his discovery of America, 1494, ninety pounds; Vitas Patrum, printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1495, fifty pounds; Hoefken van Devotien, Antwerpen, 1496, one hundred and one pounds; Postilla Epistolarum et Evangeliorum Dominicalium, printed by Julian Notary in 1509, fifty pounds; Mirrour of Oure Ladye, R. Fawkes, 1530, forty-nine pounds; Heures de Rome, with illustrations by Geoffroy Tory, Paris, 1525, one hundred and forty-four pounds; and Spenser's Faerie Queene, Foure Hymnes, Prothalamion, etc., all first editions, 1590-96, one hundred and seventy pounds.[Pg 355]

The Project Gutenberg ebook of English Book Collectors by William Younger Fletcher FSA

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