Two Hundred Years of USC's Libraries

19th Century: Starting a College Library | Some Antebellum Treasures | Intellectual Ambitions | A Working Library | The Later 19th Century

20th Century: The Earlier 20th Century | The Recognition of Heritage | The Millionth Volume | Rare Books and Special Collections | Some Recent Gifts & Acquisitions

Foreword | 200 Years of Librarians | Selected References

Some Antebellum Treasures

Henry Junius Nott
Henry Nott (1797-1837) was an 1814 graduate of South Carolina College, editor of the South
Carolina Law Reports, professor of Logic, the Elements of Criticism, & Philosophy of Languages from 1824 till his death at sea, and chairman of the faculty in 1834-35. In 1821-23, he spent part of a visit to Europe finding books for the College library.


catalogue of the Library of South Carolina CollegeThe College library in the 1830's
[Edward W. Johnston],
Catalogue of the Library of the South Carolina College.
Columbia, SC: the Telescope, 1836. Original wrappers. Presented by Miss E. Gibbes of Charleston.
--Johnson, librarian of the college for only two years (1834-36), had previously served as sublibrarian, publishing an article attacking the New England puritan poets in Legare's Southern Review in 1831, and being attacked by the young James Henley Thornwell in a local newspaper as Thomas Cooper's creature ("a machine in the hands of some designing Englishman"). Johnston's rather bitter preface to this self-published catalogue indicates that he had already left before its publication, presumably in the post-Cooper reorganization of 1836. Johnston's idiosyncratic subject arrangement was derived from the 17th century philosopher Francis Bacon, and he lamented that the listings are incomplete (because professors would not return books when asked), but his work remains a valuable guide to the early holdings.


an example of early printingCollecting incunabula in the 1820's
Bartholomaeus Anglicus, 13th cent.
De proprietatibus rerum.
Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1483.
The University library includes nearly thirty incunabula, books printed during the first fifty years after Gutenberg, through 1501. This volume, which has probably been in the library since the 1820's, shows the transition between manuscript page design and early printing. Illumination has been added by hand to a printed text. This Latin account of the natural world had been written by a 14th century English Franciscan.


donation from president PrestonAn early donation of incunabula
Albertus Magnus, Saint, 1193?-1280.
De celo & mundo.
[Venetiis: Joannem & Gregorius d' Gregoriis fratres, 1495]. Bound with Phisico sive De phisico auditu libri octo [Venetiis, 1494] and other works by the author. Presented to South Carolina College by William Campbell Preston.
--the works of the Dominican scholastic philosopher Albertus the Great made Aristotelian ideas on the natural sciences widely available in the later middle ages. This volume, which binds together seven early printed editions (incunabula) of works by Albertus Magnus, was presented by William Campbell Preston, later President of South Carolina College (1845-1851); it was already in the library at the time of the 1836 printed catalogue.


plate 251Audubon's Birds of America at South Carolina College
John James Audubon, 1785-1851,
"Brown Pelican, Pelecanus Fuscus,"
plate 251, from his Birds of America, no. 51, 1835.
Among the great glories of the library is the full set of John James Audubon's double elephant folio engravings Birds of America, published in parts between 1828 and 1838. A subscription to these hand-colored copperplates, engraved by Robert Havell Jr. of London from paintings by Audubon, was voted by the South Carolina legislature in December 1831, and the final installments delivered by wagon from Charleston in 1839. The original cost was $925.50, including the binding of volume I, though an additional $50 was spent in 1853 for binding up number parts of the remaining volumes. The library's copy was disbound for conservation in 1965, and then housed in portfolios, though the bindings have been preserved. For this plate, Audubon drew the life-sized bird, probably in the Florida keys in April 1832, while his assistant George Lehman drew the mangrove limb on which it is perched.


plate 58The Other Audubon (Graniteville Room)
Audubon, John James, 1785-1851, and John Bachman, 1790-1874.
"Sciurus sub-auratus, the yellow-bellied squirrel,"
plate 58, from The viviparous quadrupeds of North America.
3 vols. New York: J.J. Audubon, 1845-1848. Contemporary half roan, cloth. Presented to South Carolina College by General J.H. Adams.
--less well-known than Audubon's great Birds of America is this late series also associated with his name, but produced collaboratively towards the end of his life. The Quadrupends was produced by a different process, using black and white lithography rather than engraved copperplates before the handcoloring stage. The series of 150 plates was issued in 30 parts, at a total cost of $300. James Hopkins Adams was Governor of South Carolina, 1854-1856.


an important source for European early exploration of the AmericasAn early purchase in American history
Theodor de Bry, 1528-1598.
Brevis narratio eorum qui in Florida Americi provincia Gallis acciderunt . . . Auctore Iacobo Le Moyne. . . . 
Frankfurt: John Wechel, Theodor de Bry, 1591. Vellum.
This important source for early European exploration of the Americas was originally purchased by the College for $35. The Renaissance German engraver Theodor de Bry issued two major series of exploration narratives, with fine illustrations and beautiful, now very rare, engraved maps. De Bry's Greater Voyages covered North and South America, and the Lesser Voyages covered Africa and Asia. This map of Florida, from the second part of the Greater Voyages, shows the early Spanish and French settlements of Port Royal and "Charlesfort" (near Parris Island, not the later Charlestown).

 

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