Catalogues and Corrections

Friday n° 48, September 13th, 2019

Editorial note: There will be no blog post on 20 September 2019 as I will be attending the biannual meeting of the members of the working group Early Modernity within the German Historian’s Association. See you on September 27th!

A miss is as good as a mile

Feels good to be in time again. How my latest results make me feel is something I’m not as sure about though. A few weeks ago, I wondered here on this blog about Thomas Gale’s books not selling so well. And on the basis of those sales catalogues which I had at hand I determined that most likely Roger Henry Gale (1710-1768), his grandson, sold parts of his father’s and grandfather’s libraries to the London bookseller Thomas II Osborne (c.1704–1767) around 1758/59. Well, I nearly hit it. I was so close. So very close, but… not close enough, as it turned out.

More sales catalogues!

For in the meantime I managed to find more sales catalogues, and as always when I find something like that I wonder why I didn’t search the way I found it by straight from the beginning. I do not know, and I’m afraid I can’t help it. But that is what’s research is like: Think of something, find new sources, correct yourself and think again. So that’s what I’m going to do with the rest of this post.

For among the catalogues which I found where three Osborne catalogues forming a series running from 1756 through 1758. Looking at their titles it becomes instantly clear that these were the sources I was looking for:

So the good news is, I guessed right, and the books really were sold to Thomas Osborne. Bad news is, this did not happen in 1758/59 but already in 1755 (it can’t have been in 1756 as catalogue nr. 1 advertises the begin of the sale for 1 January 1756), three years earlier. Well, at least I got the general picture right. But what about the details, now that I have got three thick volumes (more than 400 pages each) with additional information at hand?

A broader picture

Unfortunately the catalogues are framed in a way which makes it impossible for me to assess which of these books once belonged to the Gale family library, much less which of them would likely have belonged to either Thomas Gale or his son Roger Gale, because Osborne jumbled all the libraries of the people on his title pages up in one big lot (and probably even more, since each title page says something about “others”). So the libraries of at least ten persons were taken together to form a massive collection, advertised to contain more than 200.000 volumes. It was so large that Osborne and Shipton from the start projected its sale to last at least two years:

Which will begin to be sold (the lowest Prices printed in the Catalogue, without any Abatement, for Ready Money only) at T. Osborne’s and J. Shipton’s in Gray’s-Inn, This Day, and for the Conveniency of the Nobility and Genrry who live at a Distance (this Collection being so very numerous) will continue daily selling for two Years, viz. to the First of January 1758.[1]

Osborne & Shipton: A Catalogue of the Libraries of the following Eminent and Learned Persons, vol. 1, 1756, title page.

I must confess that I have no idea why the sale was organized in this way. The most likely explanation would be that they sold the collection as they themselves had bought it. But this only relocates the problem as it would mean that they bought it from someone who had assembled it before; and who would assemble two hundred thousand books? This is a figure sufficient for stocking a present-day medium-sized public library, let alone an early 18th century library. The sheer handling of the physical objects must have presented the booksellers with quite a challenge, as these were literally several tons of books to store. How many ox-carts or freight barges would have been necessary to transport them?  Well, apart from these rather fascinating questions to which I have absolutely no answers (but really would like to know more), the mass of books also was too much to be organized the way they normally were, which would have been thematically. This was only done for the folios, which would generate most of the proceeds; all the rest was just sorted by size, and all books of each size alphabetically within each of the catalogues.

So as before, the only books which I may assign to have been part of the Gale library with certainty are, as before, those which are listed in the catalogues as carrying manuscript notes by either Thomas or Roger Gale. These were, by the way, not as many as I would have expected; here’s the list.

Books annotated by Thomas and Roger Gale in the library sale

Volume I, 1756

None. Yes, that’s right, not a single one.

Volume II, 1757

Here we go. That’s a bit of a list.

  • p. 9: [Folio] “16590 Idem [=Beda Historia Ecclesiastica, cui accessere Leges Anglo-Saxonicae, Saxonice & Latine], cum Additionibus MSS. a Decano Gale, 1l 18s ib. 1643”
  • p. 12: [Folio] “16702 Balei Scriptorum Britanniae Centuriae ix. cum Observationib. MSS. a D. Galeo, 1l 1s Basil. 1559”
  • p. 14: [Folio] “16747 [Burton’s] Commentary on Antoninus’ Itinerary, with MSS. Additions by Roger Gale, Esq; 10s 6d 1658”
  • p. 16: [Folio] “16822 [Camdeni] Britannia, cum Additionib. Margine Mss. in Margine a T. Gale, 1l 1s Lond.”
  • p. 31: [Folio] “17237 Dictionarium Graeco Latinum, a Budaeo & aliis, 4 tom. interfoliat. cum Addit. MSS. a Th. Galeo, 3l 3s Basil. 1565”
  • p. 42: [Folio] “17564 Gesneri Bibliotheca universalis, 2 tom. interfoliat. cum multis Notis MSS. per Th. Gale, 1l 1s Tiguri 1574”
  • p. 43: [Folio] “17593 Gordon’s (Alexander) Itinerarium Septentrionale: or, Journey thro’ Scotland, with the Supplement and Cuts, large Paper, with marginal MSS. Observations by Roger Gale, Esq; neatly bound, 2l 2s 1726”
  • p. 46: [Folio] “17673 Herodoti Hist. Gr. & Lat. a Sylburgio, cum multis Observationibus per Th. Gale, 2l 2s Francof. 1608”
  • p. 47: [Folio] “17723 Idem [=Hesychii Lexicon, Gr.], cum multis Additionib. MSS. in margine, a Heinsio & T. Gale, 1l 1s Venet. 15[1]4”
  • p. 53: [Folio] “17898 Jamblichus de Mysteriis Liber ex Edit. Tho. Gale, cum Indice Mss. 5s Oxon. 1678”
  • p. 58: [Folio] “17994 Idem [=Luciani Opera], Gr. cum Notis MSS. in margine, 5l 5s. Fuit Liber hic Henrici Stephani & hac sunt Notae ejus manus literae. Teste T. Gale.”
  • p. 64: [Folio] “18179 Idem [=Matthaei Paris Historia Angliae, a Watts], cum MSS. Additionib. per T. Gale, 1l 11s 6d Lond. 1684”
  • p. 77: [Folio] “18555 Idem [=Platonis Opera Omnia], cum variis Observationib. Mss. in Margine per T. Gale, 2l 2s [Basil.] 1534”
  • p. 83: [Folio] “18748 Philipot’s Survey of Kent, with MSS. Additions by Roger Gale, Esq; very fair, 2l 2s 1659”
  • p. 88: [Folio] “18876 [Scriptores] Rerum Anglicarum post Bedam, cum multis Additionibus MSS. per Th. Galeum, 1l 11s 6d Francof. 1601”
  • p. 89: [Folio] “18907 [Stephani (Rob)] Glossaria ad utriusque Linguae, cum MSS. Observationib. Th. Gale, 3l 3s 1573”
  • p. 89: [Folio] “18914 Idem [=Suidae Lexicon], Gr. cum Observationibus MSS. per Th. Gale, 2l 2s Basil. 1544”
  • p. 91: [Folio] “18983 Septuaginta ex Auctoritate Sixti V, Pont. Max. editum, cum variis Lectionibus Mss. a Tho. Gale, 5l 5s Romae 1587”
  • p. 101: [Folio] “19292 Thoresby’s Topography of the ancient Town and Parish of Leeds in Yorkshire, with cuts, and a great number of MSS. Additions by Roger Gale, Esq; 1l 5s 1715”
  • p. 105: [Folio] “19405 Vincent’s Discoverie of Errours in the first Edition of the Catalogue of Nobility, published by Raph. Brooke, with a great Number of MSS. Additions by Mr. William Burton, the Leicestershire Antiquary, which appears by the Testimony of Roger Gale, Esq; 15s 1622”
  • pp. 3-4: [Quarto Litera A] “88 Antonini Iter Britanniarum cum comment. per Th. Gale & quam plurimis Additionibus MSS. per R. Gale, 1l 1s ibid. [=London] 1709”
  • p. 61: [Quarto Litera G] “1849 [Goadvirini] Idem [=de Praesulibus Angliae Comment.], cum multis Emendationibus, MS. in margine a Tho. Gale, 7s 6d”
  • p. 101: [Octavo Letter G] “3781 The same [=Grand Question concerning Bishops Right to Votes in Parliament in Capital Cases] with Manuscript Observations and Additions, by Dean Gale, 3s 6d”
  • p. 147: [Octavo Letter L] “Life of Bp. Kennet, with a MSS. Copy of a letter to Roger Gale, Esq; from Browne Willis, relating to Mr. Tho. Hearne, 2s 6d 1730”

Volume III, 1758

The leftovers, please.

  • p. 58: [Folio] “2133 Account of what past [sic] in Parliament concerning Dr. Sacheverel – Tryal of Dr. Sacheverel – Bishops of Salisbury, Oxford, Lincoln, and Norwich’s Speeches – Report of the Committee of the House of Commons relating to the Mine Adventure, with other Tracts, the whole interspers’d with a great Number of MSS. Notes by R. Gale, Esq; 12 s”
  • p. 197: [Octavo] “8402 Rawlinson’s English Topographer, interleav’d with a great number of Manuscript Additions by Roger Gale, Esq; 2 vol. very fair, 1l 1s 1720”

So these three volumes contain 26 titles with annotations by either Thomas or Roger Gale, which in total add up to the sum of 42 £ 14 Shilling; quite a bit of money in the 1750s. But, and that was a surprise, obviously these prices were not too high, or at least not as much too high as I originally thought. In the 1760 catalogue which I started from in my last post on this subject, this list dwindles down to 9 volumes, totalling 17 £ 11 Shilling.

  • p. 12: “338 Herodotus, Gr. & Lat. cum multis addition. MSS. in margin. a T. Gale, 1l 11s 6d Francof. 1608”
  • p. 27: “735 Camdeni Britannia, cum addition. MSS. in margine a Tho. Gale, 1l 1s Lond. 1607”
  • p. 27: “736 [Camdeni] Anglica Normannica, &c. cum multis addition. MSS. a Roger Gale, 1l 1s Francof. 1602”
  • p. 27: “732 Matthaei Westmonast. Flores Histor. cum multis addition. MSS. in margine a Viri Erud. Gale, 1l 11s 6d Francof. 1601”
  • p. 42: “1272 Vetus Testamentum juxta Septuaginta, Gr. cum multis additionib. MSS. a Tho. Gale, 5l 5s Rom. 1587”
  • p. 51: “1570 Budaei & al. Dictionarium, Gr. & Lat. inferfol. in 4 vol. cum multis addition. MSS. per Gale, 3l 3s ib. [=Basel] 1565”
  • p. 51: “1593 Idem [= Gesneri Bibliotheca Universalis], 2 vol. interfol. cum multis addition. MSS. per Tho. Gale, 1l 1s”
  • p. 52: “1621 Suidae Lexicon, Gr. cum multis addition. MSS. in margine a Gale, 2l 2s Basil. apud. Froben. 1544”
  • p. 186: “6374 Rawlinson’s English Topographer, 2 vol. with MSS. Additions [by] Mr. [Roger, TW] Gale, interleaved, 1l 1s”

Actually, it comes even down to seven volumes, as two – set in bold in the above – were not even on the original list. Without these two, it’s seven volumes left over in 1760, estimated for 14 £ 18 Shilling and sixpence in total. Which means, that in two years two thirds of the books had been sold, and also that two thirds of the originally estimated proceeds had been realized.

Some things change, some don’t

This in turn means that the observation I made in my first post – that those volumes which were still on the list in 1760 were not selling so well, and only after 1762 disappear from Osborne’s catalogues – still holds, and may even be extended to 1758, which is when they were left over after termination of the ‘original’ sale. What might a bit trickier now is to come to a sound conclusion from this pattern of sales. On the whole, it’s still safe to say that books annotated by Roger Gale sold better than those annotated by Thomas Gale; which comes as no big surprise, as they were newer and leaning more towards general interest than Thomas Gale’s Greek classics and specialised philological literature.  It’s no longer valid to say that they did not sell so well altogether, as two thirds of them did, and I would assume that to be a rate quite good. So I no longer that sure that the decisive factor for this sales pattern is that Thomas Gale was comparatively forgotten by the time it happened; it be due as much to changing patterns of scholarly interest. Perhaps there were just not enough philologists frequenting Thomas Osborne’s shop at the time. Yet even if it may not be the sole decisive factor, I would still like to maintain that it is one among the decisive factors determining which of these books sold well – and which rather not.


[1] Thomas Osborne & J. Shipton: A Catalogue of the Libraries of the following Eminent and Learned Persons, deceased, viz. the Rev. Dr. Thomas Gale, Dean of York, and Editor of the Hist. Angl. Scriptores; Roger Gale, Esq; the great Antiquarian, and Commissioner of the Customs; the Learned Mr. Henry Wotton, Editor of St. Clementis Epistolae; Dr. Francis Dickens, Regius Professor of the Civil Law in the University of Cambridge; Counsellor Stukeley of the Temple; Counsellor Owen of Lincolns-Inn; Mr. Reynell, an Eminent Apothecary; and several Others. Vol. I. Containing near Two Hundred Thousand Volumes of the most scarce and valuable Books in all Languages, Arts and Sciences; great Numbers on large Paper, Morocco Leather, and other rich Bindings. […] Which will begin to be sold (the lowest Prices printed in the Catalogue, without any Abatement, for Ready Money only) at T. Osborne’s and J. Shipton’s in Gray’s-Inn, This Day, and for the Conveniency of the Nobility and Genrry who live at a Distance (this Collection being so very numerous) will continue daily selling for two Years, viz. to the First of January 1758. Catalogues may be had at all the Chief Cities and Noted Towns in Europe, and at the Place of Sale; where may be had Money for any Library or Parcel of Books, Prints or Manuscripts. [N.B.] There are some Manuscript Sermons to be disposed of, recommended by an eminent and dignified Divine. N. B. The Books contained in the Two Volumes of the Catalogue for the last Year, which remain unsold, stand in their Order for the Conveniency of those Gentlemen who have not seen the Catalogue, or sent their Orders. London, 1756, title page. Digitzed via Google Books.


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