Rare and unbound

Hence all you vain delights. A Glee. Composed … for Sir Watkin Williams Wynn. [London], [1780?] ©CUL

One of the less well known sides of the Pendlebury Library collections is undoubtedly its rare books room. A few years ago, a temporary lecturer accidentally put a rare book on a reading list but since then things have gone quite again.

Although the collection is used regularly, I would imagine most of our readers are not really aware of rare books and music being available as a resource at the Faculty. So what is in the rare books room? Rare books and music, obviously, following the old definition of pre-1851 published material, as well as 19th-century sheet music, fragile items, manuscript copies, archival material and miscellanea. About two-thirds of the collection has been allocated XR shelf marks and is available on Newton and LibrarySearch.

Some of the records are short and lack information on publishers, but the card catalogues are also still available. The content of the other third of the collection, however, is less accessible. Emphasis lies on English music and English editions, but what exactly is in it? For unbound music, we can now show you (and have). As a result of conservation work, a hand list was made of anything boxed up as “unbound” and this list is now available on the library webpages.

The content of these boxes is really quite fascinating: it ranges from quite valuable early printed editions, to a wide variety of items including a loose leave advert for pianofortes, pastels and archival documentation on Charles Cudworth, former librarian at the Pendlebury. Although not much detail is given on the list – it was drawn up for conservation, not cataloguing purposes – it contains author and title information (either short or descriptive). For some titles, individual parts have each been given an entry (as they are kept in their individual conservation folders).

Archive box 1, for example, has two references to Mozart – Grand Quintetto. One refers to the second violin, the other to the second viola part of an incomplete set of the quintet. Other entries, on the other hand, are more strightforward and if you happen to be interested in English music in general and glees in particular, it is certainly worth having a look. They are particularly well represented in the Pendlebury rare music collections in general, and the unbound boxed music is no exception.


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