Title: British Museum Catalogue of Printed Books
Publisher: Trustees of the British Museum. William Clowes, London
Publication Date: 1881-1900
Binding: Contemporary buckram binding
Each volume 30 x 35 cm, covering authors A to Z (in thirty-five volumes), along with six volumes of supplements to the main catalogue.
Contemporary buckram binding with gilt lettering on spine.
In the first volume the text is detached from the spine and front cover. Title page is brittle, with splits and minor losses. Further minor defects with brittle paper occur at the front and back of several volumes. Ink stamps from Royal Colonial Institute Library and "Withdrawn from the RCS Library 1981" on front free endpapers. Provenance: sold by the Royal Commnwealth Society to myself in 1981 by the first woman librarian, Terry Barringer at their premises 25, Northumberland Avenue, London.
This was the first iteration of the complete British Museum catalogue implementing Antonio Panizzi's 91 Rules, promulgated in 1841, for standardizing the cataloguing of printed books.
Panizzi's rules were designed to allow a subject approach, based on the wording of the title page. But within such headings the sequences are where possible based on historical principles. Such familiar collective headings as:- ENGLAND, FRANCE, AMERICA; LONDON, ROME, PARIS; BIBLE, LITURGIES; GEORGE III, LOUIS XIV, PIUS IX, PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS- represent the imposition of an historically understood order upon a considerable body of heterogeneous publications.
Originally the Colonial Society (formed in 1868), the name was changed to the Royal Colonial Institute in 1870 and then rechanged to that of the Royal Empire Society in 1928 and finally the Royal Commonwealth Society in 1958. It amassed a library on the British Empire, the Commonwealth and member countries (together with smaller collections on the empires of rival nations) and hosted streams of lecturers: one day Chief Buthelezi, another day Lee Kuan Yew, the next King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho.
The Society may be seen from early on to have been progressive in its time towards diversity and equality. A female was first invited by The Royal Colonial Institute to read a research paper in 1894, and The Royal Colonial Institute was one of the first learned organisations to admit women as full Fellows, in 1922. The Society's first Asian member was Ji ju Sanjo, son of the Japanese prime minister Sanjo Sanetomi, in 1872; the first African member was Samuel Bannerman, of the Gold Coast, in 1879.
This reference work took 19 years to complete. This copy survived the Society's Northumberland Avenue headquarters and Library being devastatingly struck by a two-ton bomb on the night of 16th April 1941 during the Blitz. It also evaded the consequences of the Chairman Sir Alan Burns resignation in protest at the sale of RCS library books to supplement the Society's general income.
Each of the 41 volumes weighs over 6 Kilos. Please contact me before ordering this item in order to receive an individual quote for cost of shipping.