As a collector of anything to do with writing and examples of printing, I was trying to update the catalogue of my collection and came across this little book, which I wondered may be of some interest. It measures 14cm h by 9½cm w and consists of 93 pages. It was bound in a 15th C manuscript bearing the signature ‘Katherine’. The stamp in the top right hand area is my personal library stamp, put there by an over-enthusiastic member of the BL who came to view and part catalogue my collection.
When I took the book to the British Library in 1973, they said that they had one in George III’s Library and that there was mention of one in the Bodleian. At the time, they said that the signature ‘Katherine’ was probably that of Katherine Neville, Countess of Northumberland. A current search of the Bodleian Libraries only shows one lent to them for an exhibition, most likely from the BL, and a reference to it. I can find no other trace on the Internet. The BL copy is ‘ Imperfect: cropped at foot and fore-edge affecting signatures, text and marginal notes’, whereas mine is complete and uncropped.
I still have the binding that is now a wishy-washy piece of vellum with no trace of the signature, having been in a flooded ‘secure’ bank vault with other documents, including, what has been confirmed as the last document hand-signed by Henry VIII in 1547, now in the MOWRC collection. Let this be a warning to anyone considering depositing valuable documents in such a place.
Alan Cole; Hon Consultant, Museum of Writing Research Collection