Rare Books – Expect the Unexpected 4

Lace, Forks, The Arctic Monkeys and Golf

This is the fourth in our series of posts based on the current exhibition in the Library Gallery, and the project by Edinburgh College of Art Illustration students, based on the album of Notgeld, emergency money, from the early 1920s.

The original German Notgeld was produced for local use, which was frequently reflected in the design. In an earlier post we looked at student Notgeld which was inspired by landscape and heritage. In this post we feature the work of the students who celebrated local industry and popular culture, often humourously.

Rosemary Cockrell

The city my Notgeld are fo

The Goffr is Sheffield. The notes show different cultural aspects of the city. For example, one of my notes uses the colours red and blue to symbolise Sheffield’s two football teams. The note is a pentagon to reflect the shape of the team badge. One of my other notes is shaped like a Henderson’s Relish bottle, which is a sauce made in Sheffield. My final note is shaped like the Peak District logo.

Notgeld for Sheffield. Rosie Cockrell

The currency I made for the city also expresses an important part of the city’s history. It is inspired by the shape of a fork which symbolises Sheffield’s stainless steel industry.

Bank notes usually have prominent figures featured on them so I included some well-known celebrities who are from Sheffield. I chose Sean Bean, Jessica Ennis-Hill and the Arctic Monkeys.

 

Jade Hollick

I chose to explore the history of the lace industry in Nottingham looking at the importance of its role within the economy.

Nottingham Lace. Jade Hollick.

Gee Watson

I based my Notgeld on Leith, an industrial area with a lot of history and culture. Inspired by the variety of styles, colours and collectable nature of the University’s collection, I decided to create more abstract, palm sized notes. Using print and mixed media I explored the texture, sound and energy of the area that I call home.

Leith, in texture, sound and energy. Gee Watson

Young Lee

My work is about my favourite activities to do in Busan, South Korea, which is my hometown.

I have invented this special currency that can be used to pay for sports.

Notgeld for Busan, South Korea. Young Lee.

Alison Laing

My Notgeld notes are an example of what the currency may be like if Scotland gained independence. I took a more humorous approach when exploring themes of architecture, royalty and famous Scottish figures whilst using a strict colour palette of blue, white and black.

Currency for an independent Scotland.

 

The exhibition includes a few items which are unexpectedly humourous, for a University Library.  The one which perhaps best complements this group of student Notgeld is the humourous poem about golf The Goff.  This, incidentally, like Gee Watson’s Notgeld, is set in Leith.  It records, in mock-heroic verse, a match between a young Edinburgh lawyer and a bookseller, on Leith Links.  In the passage reproduced below they see a group of senior players – the great and the good of Edinburgh – described as if they were the heroes of legend.

We are not sure whether ‘Golfina’, the goddess of golf, is present in modern Leith.

The Goff

 

A Suffragette Belt

The CRC has recently acquired a rare belt previously owned by a Scottish suffragette. The belt has already been attracting lots of interest on Twitter so we’ve been exploring where it sits in the context of Suffragette textiles and symbolism.

DSCN0253The belt is made from a strip of ribbon, embroidered with enamelled motifs in the signature white, green and purple associated with the suffrage movement. It has a pink lining on the reverse and a gilt buckle fastening. The belt is in amazing condition despite some oxidisation of the silver in the ribbon, leading the silver threads to turn dark grey.

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Auden, Dame Edna and Bletchley Park

Welcome to the first Rare Books & Manuscripts blog of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections. And what better way to start than a post on W.H. Auden’s Poems (1928) …

 

One of the University of Edinburgh Library’s rarest 20th-century printed items is W.H. Auden’s Poems (1928). This item was part of the Archibald Hunter Campbell collection which was presented to the Library in 1984. Campbell studied at Oxford and was a contemporary and friend of Stephen Spender, Christopher Isherwood and W.H Auden. During the Second World War he served at Bletchley Park as a codebreaker and, on returning to Edinburgh, he held the post of the University’s Regius Chair of Public Law and the Law of Nature and the Nations from 1945 to 1972.

Printed by Auden’s fellow undergraduate at Oxford, Stephen Spender, Poems purports to be number 11 of “about 45 copies” subsequently Spender admitted that the actual number of copies was nearer 30.

Although a large part of the book was printed by Spender in his parents’ house on an Adana label printer, it would seem that either the printer or Spender (or possibly both!) weren’t up to the task and the book was finished and bound in its strong reddish orange wrapper by the Holywell Press. Evidence of the handover from Spender to Holywell is apparent in the immediate improvement in printing quality from page 23 onwards.

Some of the poems were never republished and Auden himself excluded most of the contents from the canon establishing Collected Shorter Poems, 1927-1957 (Faber, 1966).

The University of Edinburgh’s copy has few annotated corrections but has been signed by both Auden and Spender on the title page and is in remarkably good condition.

It truly is one of the University’s finest rare books and a fitting subject for the first Rare Books blog.

The library has a collection of W.H. Auden material, which we have recently completed cataloguing. This was purchased in 1982 from Barry Bloomfield (co-editor with Edward Mendelson of W.H. Auden: A Bibliography, 1924-1969), and has been added to by generous donations from Mendelson and others as well as purchases from book sales. Although Poems is not part of that collection we have taken the opportunity to improve the cataloguing of Auden material elsewhere in the collections.

Oh, and Dame Edna? Stephen Spender’s daughter married Barry Humphries!

Finlay West: Rare Book Cataloguer