Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Art of Old Ream Wrappers, Unwrapped

by Stephen J. Gertz

Packing paper in bales
Reproduced from an engraving by Jan Luyken (1647-1712)

One of the little known yet  fascinating aspects of papermaking occurred after the paper was manufactured, when the finished sheets were collected and pressed into quires (25 folded sheets), the quires collected and pressed into a ream (20 quires), and the reams, wrapped in cheap paper and tied-up with cord, collected into bales of ten to fourteen reams (depending upon the size and weight of the paper) each for shipment to the end customer, printers. Paper was expensive; it needed to be carefully packaged, particularly for export.

Abraham Janssen, Puymoyen mill, Angoumois, France
c. late 16th century.
Note reams tied-up.
"Foolscap" was the standard size sheet of the era.
"I.M." is likely the master papermaker, Jean Morineau.

Maastricht collection, No. 4

The paper used to wrap the reams was typically printed with an identifying manufacturer's mark, which generally stated the name of the maker, the quality of the paper, often specific mill, etc. The design of the printmark was sometimes identical to the maker's watermark. The earliest used woodcut engravings, the later copper- and steel-engraved illustrations. Great care and pride were invested in the creation of ream wrapper marks. They are the wine labels of the world of old paper.

Adriaan Rogge, Zaanland, Holland
Copper engraving by Jan Stam, c. 1790
The lion represents the Republic of Holland,
the seven arrows its seven provinces

Collection of Henk Voorn

Most marks of French paper makers are in red, and  Dutch and Swiss ream wrappers are printed in either red or black. The paper itself can be white or blue. The artists are almost always unknown. There has been some question about whether the marks were printed by commercial printers or by the paper makers themselves. The evidence leans toward commercial printers. It cost the papermaker nothing; the printer was paid in paper.

Pierre Dexmier, Angoulême, France
c. 1695-1700
The lion and unicorn in the Amsterdam armorial
device designate sale to England and Scotland
through a Dutch paper merchant.

Amsterdam collection, No. 46

"The paper mill label or ream wrapper has become a collector's item, as well as an item of historical significance. The pictorial art depicted on the labels has provided historians with a view of both the interior and the exterior of these extinct mills, including employees at work, equipment and the basic layout of the mill and its surrounding lands" (Tracy Putzel-Bischoff, Ream Wrappers at the American Antiquarian Society).

John Savels, Gardiner, Maine, USA

 Collection of Henry Morris.

Isaac van der Putte, Amsterdam
c. 1720.
Ready-wrapped reams are clearly illustrated.
Haarlem Collection No. 50.

"It is difficult to state whether ream-covers should be considered rare. Some public archives boast important collections, but it is not easy to build a private collection since they are seldom offered for sale. Some types of prints or certain names of papermakers, are often met with. Of other ream-covers only a single copy is known, and of course there may have been thousands of different types which have completely disappeared. It requires great patience and ingenuity to assemble a more or less representative collection. The number of important collections in this field is very small, and a private collection of more than twenty-five European ream-covers is an exception" (Voorn, p. 25).

Jan Kool & Company, Zaanland, Holland
The Bonsem Mill, c. 1800

Zaanland Museum

"We may collect ream-covers simply out of curiosity, or because they are rare and sometimes interesting relics of the past.. but the chief reason would probably be artistic or historical interest...As rare specimens of folk art, ream-covers are worthy of our attention" (Voorn, p. 27). Collectors of Americana should find those from the U.S. of keen interest.

Isaac Flagg, Exeter, New Hampshire, USA
Drawing by M. Colbath, engraved by H.E. Baldwin c.1833
Established in 1777, the first paper mill in New Hampshire

Collection of Henry  Morris.

An interesting tangent: It is common to find within an old book some variance in paper quality; a thin leaf amongst thicker and finer paper, etc. (though this is often unnoticed or ignored by dealers, curators, and collectors). Why this is so becomes clear when a common practice while collecting the quires into reams for shipment is understood.

Peter Duering, Basle, Switzerland
Double ream wrapper, 1638

Amsterdam collection, No. 41

To provide extra protection for the finest quality papers, cheaper papers were placed on the top and on the bottom of the ream. It was typical for a printer to simply grab a sheet from a ream without being too fussy about whether it was the finer or lesser quality paper.  Having just picked up this factoid two weeks ago, I now see it in practice with just about every pre-19th century book I handle. You will, too.

Peter Smidt van Gelder, Zaanland, Holland
c. 1810
This mark possesses the initials of the mill's original
owner, Maarten Schouten. Van Gelder, the most
famous name in papermaking, is still in existence,
and is currently Holland's largest paper manufacturer
Haarlem collection No. 3

Ream wrappers are amongst the most ephemeral of book ephemera. They were routinely thrown away; there was no reason for the printer to save them after opening a ream. Yet these pieces of paper, at the time of their creation destined to be scrunched up into a ball and filed in a wastepaper basket, or used for scrap, provide all that we look for in a collectible book beyond its content: history, artistry, typography, and binding. Ream wrappers remain a key chronicle of old papermaking and the paper trade.

Essential print references:

VOORN, Henk. Old Ream Wrappers. An Essay on Early Ream Wrappers of Antiquarian Interest. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1969. Limited to 375 copies on hand-made paper.

WEEKS, Lyman Horace. A History of Paper-Manufacturing in the United States, 1690-1916. New York: Lockwood Trade Journal Co., 1916.


Ream Wrappers at the American Antiquarian Society.

Inventory of American Antiquarian Society Collection of Ream Wrappers.


Images reproduced from Voorn.

With thanks to Charlene Matthews for the lead.

From Here to Timbuktu and Ubiquitous Books

by Linda Hedrick

Image courtesy of the Timbuktu Manuscripts Project

Timbuktu! The mere name conjures up images of an exotic, remote location in the middle of the desert.  The smell of spices, the chatter of foreign tongues, caravans traveling to and fro, all these thoughts create a romantic mystique. The city is legendary in the Western mind, yet the reality of it remains hidden to us.

Traders headed for Timbuktu.  Artist unknown.

Timbuktu has a long history as a trading center. it was a natural convergence point linking African peoples with Arab, Berber, and Jewish traders in North Africa, and through them indirectly with European traders. 

A cache of stored manuscripts.

And at its peak it was it was known as a city of books.  

Manuscripts showing mathematics and astronomy.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Home to a prestigious university thought to be one of the first in the world,  Timbuktu functioned as a center of Islamic learning, attracting scholars from Alexandria, and Baghdad, and Mecca. Books and manuscripts were valuable merchandise, and scholars collected them for their libraries from the lively book trade.   These private libraries, some no more than a row of shelved books, are now part of the sixty libraries thought to be in existence today.

Nasir al-Din Abu al-Abbas Ahman ibn al-Hajj al-Amin al-Tawathi
al-Ghalawi Kashf al-Ghummah fi Nafa al-Ummah
"The Important Stars Among the Multitude of the Heavens"
Copied in 1733.

These libraries form a collection of approximately 700,000 manuscripts.  Some scholars believe there are still 300,000 to 700,000 more in the territory.  Many of these valuable manuscripts were handed down as family secrets for generations.  Although teaching was done within the three mosques that once comprised the university, many scholars taught in their own homes, using their own libraries.

A copy of the Koran from the 12th century.
According to notes from the text, it was bought
for a Moroccan king with gold.
Photo by Candace Felt/New York Times

There are basically three types of manuscripts extant:  purchased manuscripts from North Africa, the Middle East, and Andalusia; copies of manuscripts reproduced in Timbuktu; and original manuscripts composed in Timbuktu.  Most of the manuscripts are written in Arabic, but some in local languages using Arabic script.  Many manuscripts include marginal notations that are valuable as insights to a scholar’s thinking.

Certificate of emancipation for a female slave.
Drawn in the manner prescribed by Islamic law, this certificate
gives a detailed physical description of the woman being freed.

Subjects addressed by the manuscripts cover a wide variety of subjects, from religious texts, theology, philosophy, and poems, to legal documents, Islamic law, math, science, and music.

al-Hajj Umar ibn Said al Futi
Rimah Hizb al-Rahim 'ala Nuhuri Hizb al-Rahim
"The Spear of the Merciful Against the Throat of the Reviled"
Copied 1858.

There are three major mosques extant today – Djingareyber, Sankoré and Sidi Yahya – and all of them are on UNESCO’s world heritage list.  Begun in 2008, the Timbuktu Manuscripts Project serves to catalogue and conserve the manuscripts, as part of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme and a NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) Cultural Project.

Ismaël Diadié Haïdara with collected family manuscripts.
Photo by Candace Felt/New York Times

The Library of Congress began digitizing Arabic manuscripts from Timbuktu, working with scholars, manuscript owners, and government officials of Mali.  In 2004, the LOC began a cooperative project with the Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library on the WWW, making it easier for scholars to have access to these important manuscripts.  The Mamma Haidara library is the result of generations of book collecting by the Haidara family, and contains more than 5,000 manuscripts dating from the 16th century.

Ahmad ibn Sulayman al-Rasmuki
Kashf al-Hijab li-Asfiya'el-Ahbab an Ajnihat al-Righab fi Marifat al-Hisab
"Explanations of the Problems in Arithmetic with Examples"
Commentary by 18th century scholar explains a work by a medieval
mathematician.  This text was used extensively by students.

Although the booktrade has long ceased in Timbuktu, it is the sister city of Hay-on-Wye in Wales, underscoring its book legacy.  This video, The Hidden Treasures of Timbuktu, offers a glimpse of the people, the city, and the manuscripts:

Sayyid Ahad ibn Amar al-Raqadi al-TUmbukti al-Kunti
Shifa' al-Asqam al-Aridah fi al-Zahir wa-el-Batin min al-Ajsam
"Curing Diseases and Defect Both Apparent and Hidden"

For centuries the name Timbuktu has been a metaphor for the exotic.  Now it is a metaphor for ancient learning and the manuscripts thereof.

All images, unless otherwise noted, are from the Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library, Mali.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sex, Drugs, and Vintage Ink Blotters?

by Stephen J. Gertz

Abbott's ABD Malt, c. 1925.
6 1/4 x 3 1/2 inches.

They are quaint reminders of a bygone era, a time when pens were dipped into an inkwell and, later, fitted with a cartridge or bladder "fountain" filled with ink. Writing was challenging; the ink could easily smear before it dried and it often left blotches on the paper. The excess ink required frequent blotting to prevent a mess; hence the necessity of ink blotters; heavy, highly absorbent papers.

Ink blotters had been around since the fifteenth century, the papers used by themselves or affixed by clips to a wooden block curved along its bottom to allow for rocking motion across the inked document, a more efficient and tidy manner than a flat block allowed. Used with a block, each was approximately 6 x 3 inches.

Abbott Laboratories Ltd. Montreal., c. 1930.
6 1/4" x 3 1/2 inches.

Schering (Canada) Limited. Montreal, c. 1925.
 3/4 x 3 3/4 inches.

By the early twentieth century it became clear that these simple, blank blotting papers provided an excellent medium for advertising all manner of product and service; blotters were found in offices and homes, used daily and often by millions. Ink blotters provided advertisers with a huge potential audience at little cost for maximum exposure. By the 1920s-1930s promotional ink blotters were ubiquitous. 

Merck & Co. Inc. Rahway, N. J., c. 1925.
7 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches.

Swan-Myers Co. Montreal, c. 1930.
5 3/4 x 3 3/4 inches.

Schering (Canada) Ltd. Montreal, c. 1920s.
6 1/4 x 4 inches.
Bottoms Up!

For pharmaceutical companies, advertising via ink blotters allowed for an end-run around laws prohibiting advertising in standard media for prescription drugs, i.e. extracts of digitalis, phenobarbitol; pharmaceutical salesmen calling on doctors handed them out to promote their company's product. And they were widely distributed to heavily promote over-the-counter nostrums to the general public.

Mistol. USA,  1925.
6 1/4" x 4 inches.

Rogerson Coal Co. Toronto, c. 1920s.
6 x 3 1/2 inches.
Joy Coke - A High Grade Fuel.

Swan-Myers Co. Indianapolis. Montreal/Toronto Distributor, c. 1920s.
6" x 3 1/2 inches.

And, no surprise, sex was used to move the merchandise - even a commodity as bland as sand. This Mr. Sandman brought dreams guaranteed to keep a man awake and busy with his fountain pen, defying him to blot these sweet dreams out of his memory.

"My [illegible] Shadow."

"I'm Putting on the Finishing Touch."
c. 1940s.

"Of course you have to use your imagination."
c. 1940s.

Need insurance and bonding? Gance & Wonger insure that wangers will not wilt. A customer service call girl awaits your claim.

"There must be something wrong with my line."
c. 1940s.

Of course, after all the sex and drugs, you may require something to blot out the cost of excess. The following product provides gland treatment for sexual neurasthenia, aka the doused-fire down below, the withered stones, the weathered seed, and subsequent winter of our discontent. Trust Homovir to restore Man Virility.

Anglo-French Drug Co., Montreal, c. 1920
3 x 5 3/4 inches.
"Gland Treatment regulating nerve and essential power."

Ink blotters are about as ephemeral as ephemera gets. Never meant to be saved, they were frequently used and tossed out, literally throw-aways given away by the advertiser for promotional purposes. That any have survived is something of a miracle, more so than the advertising cookbooks we've previously written about on Booktryst.

Vintage ink blotters are a fun, inexpensive entry-point for collectors that capture an era in writing long gone within the context of American pop-culture of the early-mid twentieth century, graphically interesting and fascinating slices of history.

Images of drug ink blotters courtesy of David Mason Books.

Images of 40s pin-up ink blotters courtesy of Esnarf.com.

All blotters pictured are currently offered for sale by the above dealers.

Notorious Writer's Prison On Exhibit At French National Library

By Nancy Mattoon

The Most Iconic Painting Of Revolutionary France,
Liberty Leading The People by Eugene Delacroix. (1830)
(Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)

On November 9, 2010 the National Library of France opened a major new exhibit on Paris's most notorious prison, The Bastille. A jail may not be the first subject that springs to mind as the basis for a national library exhibit, but if any slammer can be called "the writer's prison," it is the Bastille. By chance and by design, the French Kings who had the power to imprison anyone, for any reason--or for no reason at all--wound up jailing some of France's most famous, and most infamous, 18th century writers.

A Portrait Of Voltaire At Age 24,
Catherine Lusurier d'après Nicolas de Largillière, c. 1778.
(Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)

The Bastille's most well known literary inmate was the historian and philosopher Voltaire. Like many who were unceremoniously dumped in the Bastille, he was imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. And like many writers before and after, Voltaire's alleged "crime" was insulting a member of France's royal family. In 1717 Voltaire was accused of penning a satirical verse mocking Philippe D'Orleans, Regent of the Kingdom. He cooled his heels in a cell for nearly a year, until the real author of the poem was unmasked.

The Bastille was not an equal opportunity prison. Well-to-do prisoners were allowed to furnish their own cells, making them homey and comfortable. Voltaire must have had a desk brought in on the double. A writer to the core, he made use of his unexpected vacation from the distractions of everyday life to pen his first play, Oedipe. Upon his release, the play was produced, became a hit, and Voltaire's career as a writer had begun.

Alas, the wit that made Voltaire a prime suspect in the previous poetical crime had not been dulled by his stretch in a cell. His clever remark at the expense of a nobleman once more ended with a dreaded lettre de cachet, the all-purpose arrest warrant of Kings. Prisoners had no trial, no judge, no jury. It was straight to the Bastille. Most inmates never even knew what had earned them a few months--or years--at His Majesty's pleasure. This time Voltaire only left the Bastille with a promise to exit the green, green grass of home forever, and begin a new life as an English expat.

An Etching Of the Bastille From:
Goudemetz, H.
Historical Epochs of The French Revolution
London: R. Crutwell, 1796.

(Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)

Voltaire was far from the only literary luminary to vacation in the Bastille. While the prison's accommodations varied greatly depending on the inmate's wealth, one could never accuse the Bastille's wardens of sexism. Both men and women were relocated to this temporary home-away-from-home. No one took greater advantage of the co-ed quarters of the Bastille than famed memoirist, Madame de Staal de Launay. In 1718 she landed in a cell as part of a plot to depose Philippe d'Orleans. During her two years in stir, she carried on a legendary love affair with fellow prisoner, the chevalier de Menil. As detailed in her memoirs, their status as prisoners proved less of an impediment to their trysts than the unwanted attentions she received from her jailer, the chevalier de Maisonrouge.

The Only Accurate Portrait of The Marquis De Sade,
Drawn By Charles-Amedee-Philippe van Loo in 1760.

(Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)

The most notorious writer to serve time in the Bastille was the patron saint of pornographers, the Marquis de Sade. The Marquis was what we would today term a "recidivist" spending 32 of his 74 years in various prisons and insane asylums. Ten of those years were whiled away in the Bastille. De Sade's last stretch in the prison was his most infamous. In 1784 he was transferred to the Bastille from his previous quarters in the dungeons of the prison at Vincennes. He remained in the Bastille for five years, during which he wrote his most famous work Les 120 Journées de Sodome. Having to make do with the writing materials at hand--and fearful that his scandalous writings might be confiscated by prison authorities--the manuscript was written on a continuous scroll, which was then hidden in his cell.

The Original Manuscript Of
Les 120 Journées de Sodome.
(Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)

By 1789 the rumblings of the French revolution had begun. On July 2 of that year, De Sade noticed a crowd gathering beneath his cell, and began shouting, "They are killing the prisoners in here." A small riot ensued, and De Sade's jailers packed the trouble maker off to new digs in a nearby insane asylum. (Left behind was his precious manuscript, so carefully squirreled away. Though De Sade wept "tears of blood," believing his magnum opus to be lost forever, the scroll was in fact recovered from his cell. It remained unpublished, however, until 1904.)

Less than two weeks later the Bastille was stormed and looted. While some claim the prison was targeted as a symbol of injustice, censorship, and despotism, the motive of the revolutionaries was probably more practical. Large amounts of gunpowder and weapons were housed in the prison. When the cell doors were unlocked for the last time on July 14, 1789, only seven prisoners remained: four forgers, two lunatics, and a young "sexually deviant" nobleman.

An Anonymous Etching Of The Man In The Iron Mask, c.1789.
(Image Courtesy of La Bibliotheque Nationale de France.)

Voltaire, Madame de Staal de Launay, and the Marquis de Sade were merely the best known of the Bastille's literary inmates. Others included François de La Rochefoucauld, Rene Auguste Constantin de Renneville, and Louis Pierre Manuel. And many writers made wonderful fictional use of the prison's unique setting. Alexandre Dumas wrote The Man In The Iron Mask, one volume of The Three Musketeers, based on tales of a mysterious real-life masked prisoner in the Bastille. And Dickens's Tale of Two Cities revolves around the eighteen-year imprisonment there of Dr. Alexandre Manette. The Bastille also figures in works as diverse as The Scarlet Pimpernel, A Little Princess, and Les Miserables.

The French National Library's exhibit, La Bastille, or Living In Hell continues in Paris through February of 2011. Whether or not you can visit the show in person, it serves as a reminder that the written word can be a dangerous thing. Given the choice of losing their liberty or putting down their pens, writers over the centuries, and throughout the world, have chosen to live in chains. We owe it to them to protect freedom of expression and freedom of the press whenever, and wherever, they are threatened.

Friday, November 26, 2010

First Edition of The Star Spangled Banner Estimated at $200,000-$300,000

by Stephen J. Gertz

One of only eleven extant copies of the first printed edition of the combined lyrics and music of The Star-Spangled Banner, the United States national anthem,  will be auctioned at Christies-New York on December  3, 2010. It is estimated to sell for between $200,000 - $300,000.

This, the original sheet music, is the only copy in private hands. It was found within an album of sheet music bound c. 1820. It was originally sold by Carr's Music Store in Baltimore via catalog.

During the War of 1812, inspired by a shipboard vigil on the night of September 13-14, 1814 when a British naval flotilla bombarded Fort McHenry for hours, prefatory to a planned full-scale assault, Francis Scott Key, a young lawyer and amateur poet, along with a colleague, had gone on board a British ship under a flag of truce to secure the release of an American held as a prisoner, physician  William Beanes.

To ensure that  military intelligence on the impending attack by the British would not be passed to the Americans, Key was also detained. With a sweeping view of the dramatic scene from the ship upon which he was held, Key anxiously watched as the British cannonade, incendiary bomb, and rocket salvos were fired onto the American fort.

During the shelling, the large United States stars and stripes flag waving from Fort McHenry's ramparts was clearly visible but when the bombardment ceased, the flag was obscured. Francis Scott Key's spirits sank;  had the fort surrendered?

Later edition.

At dawn, however, when the smoke from the bombardment had cleared, the flag was again visible; the fort had withstood the assault. Key's patriotism was stirred and his anxiety relieved by the sight of Old Glory.

 He wrote the first draft of the anthem on the back of a letter while still aboard ship. The final version, containing four eight-line stanzas, was completed in the next few days upon Key's return to Baltimore.

The music is not Key's. The melody of The Star-Spangled Banner is that of a popular British drinking tune, The Anacreontic Song, one already known, with varying lyrics, to Americans. And as difficult to sing then as now.

The Star-Spangled Banner was officially adopted for use by the U.S. Navy in 1889. On March 3, 1931 it was proclaimed the national anthem by a resolution of Congress.

On August 17, 1969 Jimi Hendrix performed an electric guitar screaming feedback rendition at Woodstock. Establishment critics went ballistic, their rockets aglare and eyes seeing red.

On July 25, 1990, comedienne Rosanne Barr had the bombs bursting in air with her explosively off-key and out of tune performance at the beginning of a baseball game. Afterward, President George H.W. Bush declared her vinnegar tone-deaf version ending with a crotch-grab flourish, "disgusting." You be the judge. I be stuffing my ears.

KEY, Francis Scott. The Star Spangled Banner. A Pariotic [sic] Song. Baltimore: Printed and Sold at Carr's Music Store, 36 Baltimore Street, n.d. [Sept. - Nov. 1814]. Quarto (13 x 9 1/2 in; 338 x 245 mm). Two pages printed from engraved plates.

Image courtesy of Christies.

The Writer Who Acquitted a King

by Linda Hedrick

Elizabeth Mackintosh, aka Gordon Daviot,
aka Josephine Tey

She’s a mystery.  She’s also a writer of mysteries.  She’s known as a mystery writer read by people who don’t like mysteries.  Significantly, she solved a five-hundred-year-old mystery.

Few people have heard of Elizabeth Mackintosh, even those familiar with her work. Playwright and author, she died in 1952 at the age of fifty-five.  Born and raised in Iverness, Scotland, Mackintosh was trained as a physical training instructress, and taught for eight years at various schools in Scotland and England.  When her mother died she quit to stay and take care of her invalid father.  She started to write while tending him and began to sell some stories.  She also began to seriously study playwriting and theater.

Her most successful play was Richard of Bordeaux, which she wrote using the pen name Gordon Daviot.  It was first performed in 1932, and was so successful that it established her name as a dramatist, and made a name for the young leading actor and director, John Gielgud.

Her interests informed her writing.  An amateur psychologist, she studied people and tried to ferret out their personal mysteries – who they really were and what they kept hidden from the world. She prided herself on reading faces and facial expressions and even studied their penmanship.  All of these skills she aptly applied to her most famous mystery, Daughter of Time, which she wrote under the nom de plume Josephine Tey.

Richard III
Artist unknown, Late 15th Century
National Portrait Gallery, London

The protagonist of five of her mysteries (and a minor character in another) is Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard.  In Daughter of Time, Inspector Grant is laid up in a hospital.  Like Tey herself, Grant studies faces.  Given a portrait of Richard III, he finds him to be quite honorable, but ill at ease.  He is horrified to find out the man’s villainous reputation, and sets out to prove his initial instincts correct.  From his hospital bed, with the help of friends and a young researcher, he comes to the conclusion that Richard III was not the heinous murderer he was thought to be, and offers another answer as to who killed the princes in the tower, Richard III’s nephews.

Earliest known portrait of Richard III, 1520s
Society of Antiquaries

Without revealing the entire book, some of the salient facts presented by Tey are compelling.  For one thing, Richard was never formally accused of either kidnapping nor murdering his nephews.  One would think this would be an issue at a time when his reign was being challenged.  Secondly, their mother, Elizabeth Woodville, remained on good terms with Richard, which makes her the bigger monster if she had thought him guilty of the murders of her sons.  Finally, there wasn’t any political advantage to get rid of them.  They were more in the way of Henry Tudor (Henry II).

Frontispage of 1st Quarto
Shakespeare's Richard III

That history is written by the victors has never been more true than in the case of Richard III.  Sir Thomas More was the author of the unfinished History of King Richard the Third (1513), and he served Henry VIII, son of Henry Tudor who vanquished Richard.  To say that he toed the party line is an understatement.  Also, More was eight years old when Richard died, so what he wrote was hearsay with a Tudor bent.  Shakespeare has been known to tweak historical facts for the sake of his art, and unfortunately his play, Richard III, has been taken all these centuries to be a history rather than a tragedy.  However, his play may be the reason that Richard III has remained in popular memory, whereas other British monarchs have not been of much interest.   One also has to consider that at the time of these writings history was not even a genre of its own – it was considered a subset of literature, so historical accuracy was not necessarily a focus or consideration.

Sir Thomas More, 1527, by Hans Holbein the Younger
National Portrait Gallery, London

A recurring theme in Tey’s work is injustice, and in Daughter of Time she successfully demonstrates that once an idea becomes a part of culture it is hard to correct even with contrary evidence.  Her keen detection, centuries after the fact, has been so impressive that the various Richard III societies that have sprung up internationally have made her their poster child. This book was called by American crime writer and literary critic Dorothy B. Hughes “not only one of the most important mysteries of the year, but of all years of mystery.”

True First Edition

And Elizabeth Mackintosh remained a mystery until the day she died. John Gielgud wrote, "Her sudden death...was a great surprise and shock to all her friends in London. I learned afterward that she had known herself to be mortally ill for nearly a year, and had resolutely avoided seeing anyone she knew. This gallant behaviour was typical of her and curiously touching, if a little inhuman, too.”

If you are interested in the mystery of history, Daughter of Time is the mystery for you. Think CSI without the gadgets; only a sharp mind as a tool. A bit inhuman, perhaps, but remaining aloof from humanity while investigating it is the fictional detective’s stock in trade. Recall Sherlock Holmes and  Hercule Poirot. And then remember that Josephine Tey, née Elizabeth Mackintosh, the mysterious mystery writer, was not a detective in a novel. She was the real thing.

TEY, Josephine [pseud. of Elizabeth Mackintosh]. Daughter of Time. London: Peter Davies, 1951. True first edition. Octavo. 221 pp. Red cloth, dust jacket. 
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