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11-Jun-2017 09:41

Sir Wollaston Franks inclined to the opinion that the engraver of this interesting series might be John Sturt, inasmuch as the plate of Prince William, No. 2 (which as already mentioned is not a book plate) is found in other impressions bearing his signature, though from this particular impression the signature has been erased. 1, the plate of the Amicable Society (which again is not a book plate) is also in the style of Sturt, and seems likely to be by his hand. 544, with the arms of Lord Balmerino, occurs in the middle of a large document engraved in Anderson's " Selectus diplomatum et numis- matum Scotias thesaurus," published in 1739, a work on w^hich Sturt is known to have been engaged. Accordingly the earliest specimen in this collection is that of Sir Thomas Tresame, which bears the date 1585. From that year downwards hardly any English plate of real importance is missing. But of book plates, as his interest in them grew, he could look forward to fonning a realh^ comprehensive and all but complete collection ; and from the side of heraldry, genealogy, and family history, on which subjects he was an authority of the first rank, the study very strongly appealed to him. Joseph Jackson Howard, Maltravers Herald Extraordinary, the Hon. Leicester Warren, afterwards Lord de Tabley, had begun collecting book plates in England earlier than Sir Wollaston. Albert Way, the Marchese d'Azeglio, John Henderson, and Felix Slade. When his bequest became the property of the Trustees, this portion had yet to be weeded of duplicates, brought into one main series, studied, sorted, numbered, catalogued, and arranged for mounting, before it could be made available for the use of students. Gambler Howe, who has completed it after nearly five years' labour ; so that before the close of the current year the entire Franks collection of English book plates will be mounted and accessible for study in the Print Room, in some sixty albums containing from six to seven hundred plates each; and the catalogue will witliin the same period be completed iv Trtface. The very high prices commanded, for instance, hy fine mediaeval works of art and curiosity rendered it difficult for a collector of his comparatively moderate, although comfortable, means to compete for them in the open market on any but rare occasions. But Sir Wollaston amassed his English collection from all manner of miscellaneous sources, and continued actively increasing it till within a few months of his death ; and in his hands the work of acquisition and identifica- tion had far outstripped that of sorting and arrangement. The pursuit had the further advantage that it was one relatively inexpensive compared with other kinds of collecting to which he was devoted. {The last plate with the motto added over the Crest.) 23 Abbott, J. It consisted chiefly of the Eoziere and Bilco collections, purchased by Sir Wollaston Franks en bloc ; and both these had been methodically arranged and mounted by their former owners. Sir Wollaston Franks in the first instance took up the collecting of hook plates as a sort of light supplement to his other and gi'aver antiquarian lahours.

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Sir Wollaston Franks was never able to secure an impression of the earliest book plate known to have been produced in England, viz., that engraved on wood in 1574 to be placed in the volumes presented to the University of Cambridge by Sir Nicholas Bacon. Sir Wollaston notes as an additional piece of evidence that among the subscribers to Sturt's miniature Prayer-Book (engraved from 188 silver plates) were several members of the Sussex family of Borrer, from a later member of which the Brighton bookseller thought that he had acquired the volume. Gam])ier Howe that the workshop in which the series was produced may possibly have been that of John Senex, who had a bookseller's establishment at the " Globe," in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street.