Today’s mystery provenance mark comes from a book called “Il Pastor Fido” the “Faithful Shephard”, a tragicomedy from the late 16th century (Penn Libraries: IC55 G9315 590p 1591). The monogram bookplate shown above appears in the upper left corner of the inside front cover the book. This bookplate is so ornately designed that at first the central letters may just seem an extension of the vine pattern wreathing the monogram. Even when the large letters, “M” “L” and “C” become clear, one could easily miss the small “y” inserted near the top between the L and the C. Who’s monogram is this, and why does the little “y” appear?
Two other marks of provenance in the book include the inscription of the name Henry Williams, written at the top of the page and just barely visible beneath the ink someone used to try to blot it out.
Lower down in the title page another inscription marks the book as a gift from Henry Williams to someone named Herbert. Possibly Herbert was the one who crossed out Henry’s name when the ownership of the book was transferred to him?
Who Henry and Herbert were is another mystery, and neither name sheds any light on who the owner using the MLyC monogram may have been, though a flourish underneath the inscription noting the gift suggests the predecessor for the sort of ornate design in the bookplate’s monogram:
The inscriptions by Henry and Herbert look like they come from somewhere around the 17th century. It’s hard to tell whether this flourish and the numbers written next to it [edit: these numbers identified as a price: 2s 6d by Mathew Haley in a comment below] were made by one of them, but it also looks like it comes from a similar period. The flourishes and monograms that ornamented the penmanship of an earlier period were the root of the intricate printed lines that made their way into the design of a bookplate like the monogram above, which is probably from the 19th or 20th century.
If you have any idea whose initials were so elaborately entwined on this bookplate make a comment under the image on the POP Flickr feed, or on this blog post. For all the provenance marks in this book, visit POP here.
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