Travels with More’s Utopia: Provenance Discovery through Marginalia and Annotations

By Robin Smith.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Presents the transcription and study of marginalia and 20 pages of handwritten notes in a 1597 edition of Thomas More’s Utopia from the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection at The Ohio State University. Undertaken in hopes of adding to the known provenance of the book, the project confirms one owner and reveals two more. The notes, on ten leaves inserted during rebinding sometime in the 18th century, comprise a family history of the Robertsons of Strouan beginning during the reign of James I and continuing with their descendants, the Robinsons of Rokeby in Yorkshire and Mountmorris, Kent. The writer identifies himself within the notes as Morris Robinson, 3rd Baron Rokeby, who recorded this information in March of 1797. A bookplate and added signatures also indicate that the book was once owned by scientist Michael Faraday and by David James Blaikley, the inventor of the valve system used in modern brass instruments.

Keywords: Provenance, Transcription, More’s Utopia

International Journal of the Book, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.1-22. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.348MB).

Robin Smith

Graduate Student, School of Library and Information Science, Kent State University, Hilliard, Ohio, USA

Robin Smith completed her Master of Library and Information Science degree at Kent State University in May 2009. She began this transcription of material from More’s Utopia after working with the book in a Rare Books Librarianship class taught by Dr. Geoffrey Smith, Head of Rare Books and Manuscripts at The Ohio State University Libraries. She completed a practicum with Dr. Smith, in which she created a Web presentation describing some of her findings. Ms. Smith plans to pursue coursework in book history and hopes to continue to work with rare books and manuscripts.

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