Category Archives: Cataloging

Lottery puffs and uncontrolled vocabularies

It seems to me that I had heard dribs and drabs about the surprisingly long history of lotteries before starting work with the CLIR project.  I had not, however, come across the term “lottery puffs.”  The phrase came to my attention while reviewing the work of one of my peers (as per our workflow).  David had cataloged a broadside of a décret by the Convention nationale, the verso of which is a sheet of lottery ticket proofs for the Loterie de piété (Case oversize FRC 10427 no. 8).  Not long ago, I cataloged a similar broadside: Avis aux tuteurs, administrateurs et parens des pupilles et interdits (Case oversize FRC 27593) which has tickets for the Loterie royale printed on the verso.

Case oversize FRC 27593, recto and verso

The tickets themselves look like this:

Ticket proofs for the Loterie royale de France (Case oversize FRC 27593, verso)

All French Revolution Collection (FRC) materials are given a genre/form designation in the bibliographic record.  (In the online catalog, if you switch to “Staff (MARC) View,” these are found in the 655 field.)   Such designations must be drawn from controlled vocabularies; we most frequently use the Art & Architecture Thesaurus and Genre Terms: A Thesaurus for Use in Rare Book and Special Collections Cataloguing.  Most FRC materials are simply “pamphlets,” but there are also plenty of “satires,” “comedies,” “broadsides,” “librettos” (recently changed, midstream, from “libretti”), and — in the case of these two broadsides-plus-lottery-proofs — “lottery puffs.”

Strictly speaking, however, they are not puffs.  Puffs are bits of puffery — hyperbolic handbills, particularly suitable for lotteries and nostrums.  For a lovely introduction, see Gill Short’s blog post on lottery puffs in the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera at the Bodleian Library.  The Newberry, too, has a collection of such early 19th-century, English lottery puffs.

So why categorize our exemplars as “lottery puffs” and not “lottery tickets?”  Because a controlled vocabulary is a strict mistress.  “Lottery puffs” appears in AAT, and no other term comes close.  Better close than nothing at all — proving once again that cataloging is a fascinating, frustrating mix of science and art.

Sertor’s Conclave dell’anno 1774 revisited

The cataloging workflow works in mysterious ways.

Earlier this year, when Benedict XVI’s resignation triggered a papal conclave, I took the opportunity to write a post about Gaetano Sertor’s Conclave dell’anno 1774, two copies of which I had recently cataloged.  That very week, elsewhere in Collection Services, a manuscript of the libretto (Case MS V 461 .7743) landed on someone else’s desk.  The flurry of research by Alan and Jessica revealed nuances about the work’s history and publication that were necessary to distinguish its incarnations in our collection, which actually number five: the manuscript, an authentic edition, two counterfeit editions, and a French edition.

In the Bibliografia universale del teatro drammatico italiano, Salvioli and Salvioli attribute the work not to Sertor — who went to prison for its content — but to Prince Sigismondo Chigi.  They also go into detail about the distinguishing characteristics of the counterfeit editions.  The pictures below show our three Italian editions: Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775 (BLC 14); Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775c (BLC136); Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775b.  The French edition (F 46 .655 v. 23 no. 16), cataloged in January, is in our collection of Dutch pamphlets, also cataloged as part of the CLIR project.

Second counterfeit: Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775 (BLC 14); first counterfeit: Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775c (BLC136); authentic edition: Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775b

 

In contemporary wrappers. Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775 (BLC 14), Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775c (BLC136), Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775b.

Les temps sont bien changés! Heresy, satire, and immolation

While there were an enormous number of duplicates within the French Revolution Collection (FRC), there also quite a few duplicates with items either unrelated to FRC or cataloged before the advent of the CLIR project.  For those, we are not only adding holdings records, we are also recataloging to bring the bibliographic records up to CLIR standard.

The Newberry already holds a copies of the anticlerical satire Relation véritable et remarquable du grand voyage du pape en paradis and its continuation, Relation véritable et remarquable du grand voyage du pape en enfer, by Joseph Fiévée.  These send-ups lambaste Pope Pius VI personally and decry the church as a whole.  At the pearly gates, for example, Saint Peter doesn’t recognize his successor, who he finds too richly dressed, and when Pius tries to enter the gate he’s too overfed to fit; the removal of some masonry is suggested as a remedy.

Case FRC 18623 and 18624

Most  charming — and, of course, useful — about these pamphlets are the manuscript annotations on one of the duplicates of Paradis.

Il n’y a pas cent ans qu’en France un pamphlet de ce genre eût fait brûler solemnellement son auteur. Le siècle passé foutait[?] plusieurs exemples de gens grilles à bien meilleur compte. Témoins entre autres Geoffroy Vallés et Simon Marin, que au fond, n’etoient que des fous, des illuminés déraisonnants de la meilleure foi du monde, et plus dignés du Petites-maisons que du feu. Les temps sont bien changés!

Only one hundred years ago in France a pamphlet like this would have had the author burned at the stake.  The past century has spat out many examples of people grilled for better reasons.  Take for example, among others, Geoffroy Vallée and Simon Marin, who at bottom were nothing but madmen,  raving lunatics of the best faith in the world, and better suited to asylums than to fire.  The times certainly have changed!

 

Case FRC 18624

 

not-so-revolutionary diagnostics

For your consideration: a handbill (Case FRC 27552) describing the medical training and expertise of physician Antoine-François Maillet.

Case FRC 27552

Dr. Maillet lists a copious repertoire of maladies he is capable of treating and, at the end, invites prospective patients to send him urine samples for diagnosis.  It would seem he was peripatetic (or perhaps just prudent), since the printed text leaves his domicile blank.  In the Newberry’s copy, “Il est logé chez” is completed in manuscript with “Bonnet a Riom”– presumably Saint-Bonnet-près-Riom.

Case FRC 27552

Uroscopy, a diagnostic method practiced since antiquity, was still in use at the turn of the 20th century, as this doctor’s test case shows.  For every 500 pamphlets in FRC with the Library of Congress Subject Heading of, say, “Taxation–France–Early Works to 1800,” there will  be one with completely novel subject matter.  This pamphlet was the first “Urine–Diagnostic use–France–Early works to 1800 ” that I’ve come across in two years.  It is rivaled in novelty only, perhaps, by the subject heading  “Uterus–Religious aspects–Drama–Early works to 1800 ” that came up for two oratorios in the Howard Mayer Brown Libretto Collection.

Sauts des mariés and fêtes baladoires: customs arcane and illicit

With the French Revolution Collection (FRC) all but cataloged in full, our primary task now is to deal with the hundreds of duplicates set aside over the course of the three year CLIR project.  In the end it was decided that the integrity of the collection was worth preserving, so all duplicates will be retained.

For bibliographic records pre-dating the project, we’ll be recataloging, but CLIR records require merely adding holdings records in Voyager.  The latter is a simple matter, potentially tedious but quick enough to allow for a satisfyingly high level of productivity.   This alacrity makes it easy to simply skim the titles, but occasionally — as with the monkey and nun that (metaphorically) leaped from the pages of a Saint-Sulpice volume last year — a an unusual word or two demand attention.  For Case folio FRC 27535, my eye was caught by (literally) jumping newlyweds:

Ruling of the Cour de Parlement that prohibits all persons, of whatever quality and condition they may be, to require newlyweds, resident in the parish of Verruyes, to jump, on the day of Pentecost or any other day, over any hole; and that equally prohibits any newlyweds from presenting themselves to make the jump [...]

Case folio FRC 27535 (duplicate of Case folio FRC suppl. 93 no. 48)

As the 1786 arrêt goes on to describe it, the hole is to be at least half full of water, of a depth of about 12 feet or more, and if the newlyweds fail to make the jump they must each pay a fine of 60 sols.   One can’t help but agree with the court  that the custom “can do nothing but result in very great impropriety … regarding both the danger incurred by jumping … and the fear that may precipitate paying  the fine.”

Case folio FRC 27535 (duplicate of Case folio FRC suppl. 93 no. 48)

The ruling also notes that the saut des mariés can be considered nothing but a “fête baladoire” which are already outlawed.   One such decree (conveniently available online via the French national library’s Gallica bibliothèque numérique) sheds light on what fêtes baladoires might entail, describing in some detail the disruptive hijinks in a particular area.

Arrest de la cour du Parlement défend les fêtes baladoires, les attroupements et assemblées illicites ... (Bibliotheque nationale de France)

The decree pertains to assemblies

that could be regarded as fêtes baladoires (licentious festivals), during marrages and baptisms; that the inhabitants tumultuously gather together armed with rifles and pistols, having rockets and firecrackers, and lighting fires in different places around the parishes; that around the days of carnival the boys of the parishes go out looking for girls in the places where they are assembled, with drums, fifes, and horns, traversing during the night all the quarters of their villages leading around masked and disguised girls, and going from village to village; that the inhabitants of Couilly assembled in a cabaret where they wrote and composed defamatory libels that they had distributed; that during carnival they had an inhabitant of Couilly mount an ass [...] carrying and representing his effigy, which they burned, extorting from this inhabitant the sum of 60 livres, and then they assembled in the cabarets where they made a tumult and drank all night [...]

The high spirits — particularly the libel and effigy-burning — sound much like the 1791 case of the carementran in Crest that cropped up almost exactly a year ago.  Somehow these crop up on our work flow just after Ash Wednesday.  Go figure.

 

Embroidered bindings from Barcelona

Because most of the libretti in the Howard Mayer Brown Libretto Collection (BLC) are housed in archival envelopes, the process of cataloging feels a bit like unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning.  Every  item has the potential to be a treasure.

Recently there were three in a row that were unusually thick and that grated strangely against their housing — what could these be?  They were the first of seven libretti in jewel-like bindings: boards covered in silk embroidered with metallic thread, ribbon, and sequins.

The first three jewels: Case ML50.2.A78 P53 1763 (BLC 439), Case ML50.2.P67 S33 1761 (BLC 440), Case ML50.2.M67 G65 1765 (BLC 441).

All of the works were published in Barcelona by Francisco Genéras. Although library collocation numbers on the inside front covers indicate that they came from the same library, no further evidence of provenance is immediately apparent.

Case ML50.2.A78 P53 1763 (BLC 439). Embroidered binding, detail.

Case ML50.2.M67 G65 1765 (BLC 441) — Carlo Goldoni’s Mondo della luna — was a particular treat since, in addition to the interesting binding, it offered up one of my favorite clusters of subject headings:

  • Credulity–Drama[/Humor]–Early works to 1800.
  • Marriage–Drama[/Humor]–Early works to 1800.
  • Extraterrestrial beings–Drama[/Humor]–Early works to 1800.

Case ML50.2.M67 G65 1765 (BLC 441). Embroidered binding, detail.

 

The Wit of French Pamphlets

One thing that has kept me amused throughout this cataloging project has been collecting humorous, entertaining, or witty quotations. As the project ends its final stages, I decided to look back at the lines I felt were worth saving. Sometimes, (as Shawn discussed in her previous post), the item in question has some witty marginalia. More often, whatever it is that caused me to write it down was simply a part of the original document.

Perhaps my favorite example of a manuscript annotation comes from a pamphlet in the French Revolution Collection, the Relation véritable et remarquable du grand voyage du pape en paradis. This pamphlet was part of a vehemently anti-religious series aping Dante’s Divine comedy. The anonymous commentator stated “Il n’y a pas cent ans qu’en France un pamphlet de ce genie eut fait bruler solemnellement son auteur” (Not even 100 years ago a pamphlet of this style would have caused its author to be solemnly burned). The manuscript continues for a while, contemplating how times have changed.

Most of the comments are found in otherwise completely serious pamphlets. The Voyage du comte de Haga, en France is a mostly serious rendition of Gustav III of Sweden’s travels in France under the pseudonym Count Haga. The preface however, simply reads: “Un livre sans préface est une femme de condition sans rouge. Ce principe posé, je dois en crayonner une : la voici.(A book without a preface is like a noblewomen without rouge. This principal stated, I must write one: here it is).

In some pamphlets, I chose to record both a claim and the reader’s counterclaim as they attempted to argue with the author of the pamphlet. For example, in the anti-Jacobin pamphlet Les paradoxes, ou Cinquième dialogue des morts de la révolution, the author of the pamphlet states regarding Charlotte Corday,  Si au lieu d’assassiner Marat au lit de la mort, elle eut enfoncé son coteau dans le cœur de Robespierre, elle n’en eut pas moins commis un crime, mais ce crime eut sauvé 30 mille Français. Robespierre seroit au Panthéon, mais nous aurions 30 mille citoyens de plus.” (If instead of murdering Marat on his deathbed, she [Corday] had planted her knife in the heart of Robespierre, she would have not committed any less of a crime, but this crime would have saved the life of 30 thousand French people. Robespierre would be in the Panthéon, but we would have 30 thousand more citizens). Some former owner took issue with this, adding in their own hand “Le chiffre est peut-être un peu exagère ; n’importe, dans ce nombre il y avait bien quelques partisans du l’ancien régime … ” (The number is perhaps somewhat exagerrated : certainly this number includes some partisans of the Ancien Regime …)

Some of the comments seem like jabs by the publisher to the author, or vice versa. In a note on a playbook for the Grand-bailliage, the editor states “On m’a fourni une très-grande quantité de notes sur les personnages de cette comédie ;  mais je ne suis pas méchant ; & je crois que le public les trouve déjà assez notés” (I was furnished with a very large quantity of notes on the characters in this comedy, but I am not mean, and I believe that the public will find them sufficiently noted already.)

Given the political nature of the French Revolution Collection, there is no shortage of amusing political rhetoric. The title of Case FRC 20391 is “Essai sur quelques changemens qu’on pourroit faire dès-a-présent dans les loix criminelles de France, par un honnête homme qui, depuis qu’il connoît ces loix, n’est pas bien sûr de n’être pas pendu un jour.” (Essai on several changes that can be made up to the present in the criminal laws of France, by an honest man who, since he knew the laws, isn’t completely sure of not being hanged someday)

Sometimes these political sentiments take the form of aphorisms, such as La Pique’s “comme il ne faut pas prendre médecine tous les matins, il ne faut pas non plus d’insurrection tous les jours” (Just as one mustn’t take medicine every morning, one must also not raise insurrection every day, Case FRC 20639) or Faure’s “Sommes-nous les représentans du peuple souverain, ou sommes-nous les représentans souverains du peuple ? ” (Are we the representatives of the sovereign people, or are we the sovereign representatives of the people? Case FRC 18502).

Frequently, the humor is unintentional and derives from the similarities between the author’s rhetoric and the more apoplectic political pundits of the modern age: “C’est mal à propos qu’on donne le nom de citoyens à ces hommes qui, n’ayant rien à perdre, sont disposés à tous les crimes. Les véritables citoyens sont ceux qui ont des posessions, les autres ne sont que des prolétaires ou faiseurs d’enfans, et ceux-ci n’auroient jamais dû être armés, ni voter, que comme en Angleterre. Méprisables soutiens de la licence, clubistes forcenés, Jacobins, que l’amour de la domination aveugle, vous ne serez que trop convaincus de cette dur vérité.” (It is inappropriate to give the name citizen to these men who, having nothing to lose, are disposed towards all crimes. The true citizens are those who have possessions, the others are nothing but proles or baby-makers, and these must never be armed, nor vote, as in England. Despicable supporters of licentiousness, enraged partisans, Jacobins, blinded by the love of domination, you will never be too convinced of this hard truth. Case FRC 14135)

Most of the intentionally humorous comments are not so vitriolic, they use humor as a tool to support their political views or ridicule their enemies. Case FRC 16897 states “On dit: que les jacobins sont des conspirateurs! On dit: ils soutenaient Robespierre. Calomnie atroce! Méchanceté noire! N’est-il pas evident que si nous étions pour Robespierre, le 9 thermidor à huit heurs du soir, nous étions contre lui, le 10 à la meme heure!” (They say that the Jacobins are conspirators. They say, they supported Robespierre. Atrocious slander! Black wickedness! Is it not evident that we supported Robespierre on 9 Thermidor at 8 at night, and we were against him on the tenth at the same time!)

The French pamphlets at the Newberry might not be the world’s greatest source of comedy, but they do serve to contradict the misconception that important historical events are necessarily accompanied by dusty prose or a lack of humor.

Giovanni Battista Andreini’s ‘La centaura’

Throughout the project to catalog all of the Howard Mayer Brown Libretto Collection I have become more and more interested in the dramas and festival pieces from the 16th and 17th centuries that are scattered throughout this collection.  One of my more recent finds is Giovanni Battista Andreini‘s La centaura (BLC 788 – Case PQ4562.A7 C46 1622).  Andreini (1576-1654) was an Italian actor, dramatist and poet, and son of the famous commedia dell’arte players Isabella and Francesco Andreini.  Anderini himself became a prominent figure in of the commedia dell’arte and by 1604 Andreini had formed his own troupe, Compagnia dei Fedeli, who were a resident company at the Gongzaga court in Mantua.  Andreini and his troupe performed in Paris beginning in 1613, through an invitation from the royal family, and were again in residence in 1622 when La centaura was premiered.

La centaura BLC 788

Andreini’s dramas are known for pushing the boundaries of traditional theatrical practices, and many of his works used music as important component.  La centura  amply demonstrates these qualities as it is divided into three acts, each of which is a different dramatic genre (Act 1-comedy, Act 2-pastorale, Act 3-tragedy) and  contains “substantial provision[s] for musical performance, including a sung prologue, finale, eight choruses and scenes sung in stile recitativo.” (New Grove dict. of music and musicians I, p. 625)

Cataloging this work was interesting because at first it was not clear whether it should be classified as an opera or drama (i.e. Italian literature) as is the case with many works from this time period that blur the line between play and opera. It was obvious from indications in the text that, indeed, there were portions of the work that were intended to be sung, as in the case of the prologue and choruses (as can be seen in the images below), but after a bit of research into Andreini and his works it was clear this work is a play.

La centaura prologue

La centaura - chorus

 

BLC beyond opera

The Howard Mayer Brown Libretto Collection (BLC) reflects Prof. Brown’s capacious interest in the ways that theater and music intersected.  The collection comprises not just opera libretti and playbills but a great many plays, collections of poetry, and other literary material of the early modern era that in some way inhabited the realm of musical performance.  Since this “other” material falls outside of the cataloging templates we’ve established for the CLIR project, it can be slightly less straightforward to catalog.  These moments of pause frequently become (at least for me) downright detours, as the workflow renders up some title ripped from the music-historical headlines.   Take for example these two volumes.

BLC 694 (Case PQ4617.C15 B59 1553) and BLC 649 (Case DG738.21 .R67 1589)

The item on the right is an account of the intermedi performed for the wedding of Ferdinando I, grand-duke of Tuscany, and Christine of Lorraine in 1589.  These intermedi were lavish spectacles in music and dance and are considered important precursors to opera.

Descrizione dell'apparato e degl'intermedi fatti per la commedia rappresentata in Firenze nelle nozze de' serenissimi Don Ferdinando Medici, e Madama Cristina de Loreno, gran duchi di Toscana. Case DG738.21 .R67 1589 (BLC 649)

For music historians, the 1589 wedding was a signal event, due in no small part to the detailed descriptions not just of the stage machinery and costumes but the performers, the instruments, and the composers.  From the description of the fifth intermedio, pictured below:

…cominciarono a sonare gli strumenti, ch’elle avevan condotti seco, che erano viole, e lire arciviolate, e Anfitrite, sonando sopra alla nicchia un liuto, cominciò soavamente a cantare …

(they began to play the instruments that they had brought with them, which were violas and arch-lyres, and Anfitrite, playing a lute from a niche above, began to suavely sing)

The text goes on to attribute the madrigals to Ottavio Rinuccini and the music to Cristofano (Malvezzi).

From the fifth intermedio, p. 56. Case DG738.21 .R67 1589 (BLC 649)

Perusing a book of such import–from the collection of a towering scholar, to boot–would be a treat for anyone with an interest in early music.

The other item pictured above, labeled “Ecloghe di Calmo,” has a more esoteric appeal.  The volume actually consists of three titles bound together, all by the16th-century Venetian actor, playwright, and poet Andrea Calmo. This was the volume I’ve been waiting to cross my desk (I knew it was in the BLC), for the work of Calmo figures prominently in the Venetian singing tradition which is the subject of my dissertation.

Le bizzarre, faconde, et ingeniose rime pescatorie. Case PQ4617.C15 B59 1553 no. 1 (BLC 694a)

 

 

 

 

Two "Epitaphii de molimenti antighi" (epitaphs from old monuments), p. 72. Case PQ4617.C15 B59 1553 no. 1 (BLC 694a)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calmo calls his poems “rime pescatorie” — pescatorian (fisherman) rhymes — and notes that they are “in antiqua materna lingua,” which is to say, Venetian.  These comic verses, along with his letters, provided much of the material for the emerging commedia dell’arte character of Pantalone, the Venetian magnifico.  The two comic epitaphs in this image — “Zangarin Zazzareta Buranelo” and “Cuffeto Bon Haver, zentil brigae” — are alluded to in a comic, quasi-theatrical song called an “aria giustiniana” first published in 1566.

The text of this volume is sadly pristine (oh, for some revealing marginalia!), the only trace of a previous owner being this tidy monogram:

Title page verso. Case PQ4617.C15 B59 1553 no. 1 (BLC 694a)

A Stranger in a strange language

Cataloging in a language I know nothing about has been an interesting experience. In addition to having no formal training in Dutch, I came to this with no knowledge of Dutch history outside of their contributions to the field of horticulture (thanks to a graduate school class that took place at the Chicago Botanic Garden). From a purely quantitative perspective, that means that cataloging these Dutch pamphlets, as similar as they are content-wise to the French Revolution Collection, is significantly more time consuming.

C.G. Allen’s Manual of European languages for librarians has been an invaluable resource. Less because of the vocabulary featured therein, but for its explanation of how Dutch orthography has changed over the centuries. The Dutch language underwent a major spelling reform in the 19th century.  Since only the first few items cataloged post-date those reforms, looking up unknown words (i.e., most of them) in a modern dictionary would be nigh impossible without the background presented there.

Of course, things have improved – I have now cataloged 16 volumes of Dutch pamphlets, and no-longer have to look up every every word. Being a Germanic language, there are enough similarities for me to muddle through, and the wholesale borrowing of many words from Latin and French (sometimes even retaining their traditional Latin declensions, much to the consternation of second-language Dutch learners everywhere, I’m sure) makes figuring out the meaning behind things much easier for those of us with formal training in both French and Latin.

Sometimes, a pamphlet comes along where the title is so glaringly similar to English (if you squint) that your humble cataloger immediately becomes wary of false friends. In the case of today’s special pamphlet, that fear was unjustified, but a closer look was still necessary.

F 46 .655 v. 36 no. 2 title page

The pamphlet in question is titled Groot A/B/C boek (Call no.  F 46 .655 v. 36 no. 2). For those readers not fluent with Dutch, yes, the title literally translates to “Great ABC book”.  So far so good. Unfortunately, this pamphlet is not actually an alphabet book, as the name would imply. To the author’s credit, the alphabet is present. The first page of the pamphlet presents the alphabet in six different typefaces: upper and lower case fraktur-style typefaces, upper and lower case italic typefaces, and upper and lower case roman typefaces. The author then helpfully points out the five vowels and gives a brief explanation of each before giving up on this whole “alphabet book” conceit entirely. The final ten pages of this pamphlet are, of course, political satire.  Not only that, but they consist entirely of parodies of religious writings: the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and a “sermon” on Bentink LXII, 5  (a reference to Willem Bentinck, a diplomat in the court of the stadtholder William IV.

F 46 .655 v. 36 no. 2 alphabet

F 46 .655 v. 36 no. 2 - the alphabet

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working on so many 18th century pamphlets, it’s that no topic is to obscure to be turned into a political satire. Of course, it seems like the author of this one ran out of ideas on how to turn an alphabet book without any illustrations into a political satire pretty quickly, so went for the easy controversy by creating a religiously-themed satire, drawing parallels between supporters of the house of Orange-Nassau and the devoutly religious (and thus, implicitly criticizing the supporters who viewed the superiority of the stadtholders as obvious, gospel truth). The pamphlet even goes so far as to utilize the then-archaic blackletter typeface for the entire text.

F 46 .655 v. 36 no. 2 Het Willem onze

F 46 .655 v. 36 no. 2 - Het Willem onze

This pamphlet wasn’t complete without false friends – the parody of the Lord’s Prayer is entitled “Het Willem onze”, which my francophone brain immediately interpreted as “William XI” as opposed to the true Dutch meaning “Our William”, a parody of the “Our Father” (Cf. the German cognate Vaterunser , both from the Latin Pater noster). This has been one of the recurring difficulties for me in working with Dutch – not the English cognates, which almost universally mean exactly what they first appear to mean, but the numerous French cognates with completely different meanings. The most distracting has been the Dutch en, meaning “and” (and thus the Latin abbreviation etc. is commonly changed to enz.), which I continuously misinterpret as the French preposition.

Cataloging these materials in Dutch has definitely been a learning experience – not only from a linguistic perspective, but a historical one too. It also throws into sharp relief the amount of information available on the French Revolution – finding similar information on contemporary events in the Netherlands has been far more difficult, and the vast majority of sources are in Dutch as well.

For fans of unusual satire, this collection of Dutch pamphlets is really strong: later volumes (currently being cataloged) include a number of satires that take the form of auction catalogs and household inventories in addition to the more standard satirical poetry and drama. Keep an eye on this space for more exciting developments.