Gott Chelsea Fever?

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine Vol. 43 1816

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine Vol. 43 1816

With the excitement of Chelsea Flower Show this week we thought it timely to give you a glimpse of the fabulous Gott collection housed in the Special Collections at Leeds Central Library.

The Gott bequest is a collection of 600 early English gardening books and periodicals including works published in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Originally belonging to Alderman Beryl Gott, of the local textile manufacturing family and deposited in the Central Library on her death in 1941. Includes herbals, books on garden design, fine examples of hand coloured botanical illustrations, plus Curtis’s Botanical Magazine dating from 1787 and can be accessed through our Information and Research Library on the second floor.

Last year was the Centenary of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, to celebrate thousands of people voted for the Plant of the Centenary from a shortlist of 10 – one for each decade the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has been held.

Saxifraga chosen for the first decade 1913-1922 Curtis’s Botanical Magazine Vol. 48 1821

Saxifraga chosen for the first decade 1913-1922
Curtis’s Botanical Magazine Vol. 48 1821

1913 – 1922: Saxifraga ‘Tumbling Waters’
1923 – 1932: Pieris formosa var. forrestii
1933 – 1942: Lupinus Russell hybrids
1943 – 1952: Rhododendron yakushimanum
1953 – 1962: Rosa Iceberg (‘Korbin’)
1963 – 1972: Cornus ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’
1973 – 1982: Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’
1983 – 1992: Heuchera villosa ‘Palace Purple’
1993 – 2002: Geranium Rozanne (‘Gerwat’)
2003 – 2012: Streptocarpus ‘Harlequin Blue’

Looking through the Curtis’s Botantical Magazines it seemed fitting to show similar plants to the winners to give you a preview of some of the beautiful hand coloured botanical illustrations hidden within.

Lupinus, chosen for the decade 1933 – 1942, Aderman Beryl Gott died in 1941

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine Vols. 5-6 1792-93

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine Vols. 5-6 1792-93

Geranium, chosen for the penultimate decade 1993 – 2002 the overall winner crowned the plant of the centenary

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine Vols. 33-34 1811

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine Vols. 33-34 1811

wildflowersFor more heritage illustrations and information on British wild flowers see ‘British Wild Flowers’, Mrs Loudon
As wildflowers are becoming the choice for urban planting schemes as well as the meadow revival because of their bee friendly nature, I found a beautiful illustration of poppies in British Wild Flowers. They are certainly popping up all over the place this time of year a real treat and something to look out for.

This collection is a source of inspiration for any horticulturalist or gardener and definitely worth a trip to the Leeds Central Library to browse and study. Within this blog we have barely scratched the surface of the rich information and illustrations that form this unique and loved special collection.

Making a Mark – Leeds Libraries Style

In 2010 a certain Internet search engine estimated the number of books in the world to be around 129,864,880. I’m guessing in the years since that figure has grown somewhat. So how do we show which ones belong to Leeds Libraries? Well we brand them.
Today it’s a pretty bland process, our name, phone number and web address is printed on the date label and a barcode has allowed us to move on from the days of individual book tabs and brown cardboard library tickets. This wasn’t always the case thought, over the years we have displayed various images and methods to show which books belong to the library and today we will show you a few.
First we have a couple of items we showcased in a previous post ‘The Genera and Species of British Butterflies by H. Noel Humphreys (1959)’. Written 25 years before the Municipal Buildings opened; we made sure that if you used our copy you knew it belonged to us. Every colour plate displays an embossed stamp showing the name of Leeds Public Libraries around the City crest. Whomever wielded the embossing machine was not concerned with avoiding the colour images either as the stamp dissects the butterflies wing.
In European Butterflies and Moths by W.F Kirby (1898) each of the 61 colour plates is stamped with a small but obvious Leeds Reference Library mark. Why did we permanently mark these beautifully coloured plates? Possibly to discourage theft of the image, hand coloured plates were considered an asset to the book and the stamps would deter people from carefully cutting out the page to use as a print or sell on. The mass produced books of today don’t carry the same level of value for their printed images so the practice is now obsolete.
Vegetable Kingdom - bookplate
As early as 1917 is was decided that Leeds should have a specialist Commercial, Science & Technical library covering business and science based subjects as part of its Central Library services. Initially opened in 1918 in the Art Gallery News Room it moved in 1956 d to the modernised Tiled Hall. By the 1990s information became more readily available through CD Rom and online subscriptions and so the library was amalgamated into the second floor Reference Library, however during its tenure on the ground floor it had its own green bookplate to show clearly which department the items belonged to.
Vegetable Kingdom - stamp
There are two stamps shown above belonging to the same item. The top stamp in red shows the City of Leeds Free Public Libraries 1899 acquisition of Daniel Oliver’s 1893 Vegetable Kingdom. With the help of the Local & Family History library on the second floor we have deciphered the lower accession stamp as follows; we believe the 10/55 note shows the items movement into the newly formed Commercial, Science and Technical Library in October 1955 ahead of the, department’s official reopening the following year. CT is the shorted code used within the Leeds Library service to represent the Commercial & Technical library as it was commonly known. The 59070 is the bibliographic identification number and the BSQ number is the shelf mark, we think the BSQ prefix stands for Basement Stack Quarto to show the location and size of the volume.

Pickle Pidgeon Anyone

Today we delve back into the Central Library Stacks to bring you a recipe taken from English Housewifry Exemplified by Elizabeth Moxon, 1764.

The first page of the book tells us that the following are available.

In above four hundred and fifty receipts,
Giving directions in most parts of cookery;
And how to prepare various sorts of
Made-wines &c


With cuts for the orderly placing the dishes and courses; also bills of fare for every month in the year’ and an alphabetical index to the whole.

The book lauded itself as:

A book necessary for mistresses of families, higher and lower women servants, and confined to things useful, substantial and splendid, and calculated for the preservation of health, and upon the measures of frugality, being the result of thirty years practice and experience.

For those of you wishing to live a more frugal lifestyle we bring you recipe 117. How to Pickle a Pidgeon, do let us know how it turns out.

Take your Pidgeons and bone them, you must begin at the Neck when you bone them, and turn the Skin downwards, when they are boned season them with Nutmeg, Pepper and Salt, and sew up both the Ends, and boil them in Water and White Wine Vinegar, a few bay Leaves, and a little whole Pepper and Salt; when they are enough take them out of the Pickle, and boil it down with a little more Salt, when it is cold put in the Pidgeons, and keep them for use.

If pickled pidgeon is not your thing then do not fear this volume also contains:

An appendix containing, upwards of sixty receipts, of the most valuable kind, communicated to the Publisher by several Gentlewomen in the Neighbourhood, distinguished by their extraordinary skill in housewifry.
The returns of spiritual comfort and grief, in a devout soul.
Represented by the Intercourse of Letters to the Right Honourable Lady Letice, Countess of Falkland, in her Life Time.
Publish’d for the Benefit and Ease of all of labour under Spiritual Afflictions.

Anyone who loves to correct spelling and grammar on the Internet can on this occasion resist the urge as we have replicated everything as it appears in the original text. If you really can’t help yourself then please send all correspondence to Elizabeth Moxon, circa 1764

Leeds Library and Information Services – Special Collections

Beautiful Bindings – A Record of the Black Prince

Welcome to our new feature series ‘Beautiful Bindings’ where we dig out treasures from the library stacks to show you just how elaborate the art of book binding has been throughout the years.
Black Prince cover1
Black Prince, calais
Today’s item is A Record of the Black Prince by Noel Henry Humphreys, 1849. The intricate book cover has been created using decoratively sculptured papier mâché that is then covered in plaster and pressed into a metal mould. This Victorian method replicated older Medieval Gothic carved wooden covers at a fraction of the price. Though a more cost effective approach to achieving a similar look, large print runs were required to earn back the costs of creating the mould.
The title of the volume sits upon a carved ribbon surrounding a centrepiece based upon Edward’s tomb in Canterbury and further embellishments are shown in addition to the Prince’s coat-of-arms.

Black Prince, battle of
The title page shows the item was printed in London and describes the book as follows: “A Record of the Black Prince. Being a selection of such passages in his life as have been most quaintly and strikingly narrated by chronicles of the period, embellished with highly wrought miniatures and borderings selected from various illuminated MSS., referring to events connected with English history.”
Inside the record are 6 original illuminated chromolithographs created by Noel Humphreys, a graphic artist and author whose travels through Europe and particularly Italy influenced his style.
Black Prince, sea fight
So how do we keep such precious binding safe? The volume is stored in a fabric lined canvas covered box within the Library stacks. Don’t let that put you off visiting and asking to view the item at the Information & Research Library on the 2nd floor of Leeds Central Library.
black prince leodis
Image of The Black Prince statue in Leeds City Square from Leodis the Leeds Libraries & Information Service photographic archive of Leeds.
Noel Henry Humphreys information taken from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, a free resource for anyone with a Leeds Library card, it can be accessed from Leeds Libraries & Information Service Online Resources.