Provenance, Part 2

intro-provenance2This is a continuation of my previous post on the importance of provenance in the antiquarian book trade. As another recent example of our encounters with notable provenance, the BWB ARC department recently acquired a copy of Herodiani Histor. Lib. VIII [Herodian’s History of the Roman Empire after the Death of Marcus] dated 1581. Despite its age, Herodian’s History is regarded as only a minor contribution to the literary canon of Latin histories.

Of greater interest is the signature of one Gui Drummond and a couple ancillary notations. These suggest the book belonged to William Drummond of Hawthornden, a major Scottish Poet; his poem Cypresse Grove being his most celebrated literary offering. In order to properly valuate this title his signature needed to be authenticated. Mr. Drummond was an early alumnus of the University of Edinburgh, who also currently have the largest repository of Drummond’s manuscripts and related materials. This made them an ideal resource for verification.


After sending a brief email and photograph to Joseph Marshall, the university’s special collections librarian, he was able to quickly make the determination that the signature and provenance indeed belong to William Drummond. After a few more exchanges, this tome is now a permanent resident in the University of Edinburgh’s Special Collections library.

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Ryan Van Plew-Cid is a Rare Book Specialist at Better World Books, one of the founding members of BWB’s Antiquarian, Rare and Collectible department, and a San Diego native.

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