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Inventory of the Edward Gordon Duff Papers, 1882-1924, bulk 1890-1914
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Subject Matter
  • Persons represented by five or more pieces
  • Interesting or Important Items

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Edward Gordon Duff Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1882-1924,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1890-1914
    Creator: Duff, Edward Gordon
    Extent: 1010 pieces in 13 boxes in chronological order
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Lot 332 in Duff sale, Mar. 18, 1925. Purchased by Rosenbach.


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Edward Gordon Duff Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Letters addressed to Edward Gordon Duff (1863-1924), English bibliographer and book-collector. Duff was born in Liverpool and educated at Cheltenham College and Wadham College, Oxford, where he received his B. A. in 1887. He showed an aptitude for bibliographical work before he was twenty, and while at Oxford developed a plan for describing sixteenth-century books, started to collect early English books, and entered into correspondence with Henry Bradshaw, J. E. Bailey, and William Blades. In 1887 he was at work on a pamphlet on early stamped bindings.
    Duff soon became recognized as a student of early English printing as well as an authority on early stamped bindings, and in 1890 was invited by William H. J. Weale to draw up a catalogue of cuts, including printer's devices, alphabets, and border pieces appearing in books printed in England before 1530.
    In 1893 Duff was named librarian of the newly established John Rylands Library. In this capacity he spent his time preparing the three volume catalogue of the Library, published in 1899, and answering questions sent in by scholars, librarians, and collectors about the John Rylands books and manuscripts. In 1900, however, Duff resigned his post at Manchester and spent the rest of his life doing independent bibliographical work. For a time he lived at Liverpool, but eventually settled at Oxford.
    In the winter of 1899-1900 Duff and Robert Proctor founded the Type Facsimile Society. This was but one of the many projects that claimed his attention. From his pen came a steady flow of books and articles, mostly on the subjects of 15th and 16th century printing and bookbinding. Three times Duff was Sandars Reader in Bibliography at Cambridge University (1898-99, 1903-04, 1910-11). In 1905 The Bibliographical Society recognized his accomplishments by conferring honorary membership of the Society on him.
    Duff's advice was frequently sought by collectors and librarians on such matters as a prospective purchase or the identification of some fragment of early printing. As a cataloguer-at-large Duff described the early English books in the Pepysian Library; the Pierpont Morgan English incunabula; and occasionally described a rarity for J. Pearson & Co. From the tone of the letters addressed to him, Duff appears to have been a most obliging and helpful friend and correspondent. In Who's Who his recreations were listed as: fishing, swimming, tattooing, and book-collecting. The year following his death his books were sold at Sotheby's in two portions: early stamped bindings, Mar. 16, 1925; general library, Mar. 17-19. Total of the sale was ¥8,100.

    Subject Matter

    • I. Bibliographical work of E. Gordon Duff
      • A. Early English printing
      • B. Stamped bookbindings (see letters of Weale & Fletcher)
      • C. Preparation and publication of his writings and those of his associates
    • II. John Rylands Library, 1893-1900
    • III. Duff family genealogy (see letters of Alistair Taylor)

    Persons represented by five or more pieces

    • ALDIS, Harry Gidney 18 pieces
    • ALLNUTT, William Henry 7 pieces
    • AMERY, George Douglas 6 pieces
    • BAILEY, John Eglington 5 pieces
    • BENNETT, Richard 5 pieces
    • BLADES, Rowland Hill 5 pieces
    • BOSANQUET, Eustace Fulcrand 13 pieces
    • BULLEN, Arthur Henry 19 pieces
    • CHAWNER, George 5 pieces
    • CLAUDIN, Anatole 11 pieces
    • COCK, Alfred 8 pieces
    • DAVENPORT, Cyril James Humphries 7 pieces
    • DELISLE, Léopold Victor 8 pieces
    • DZIATZKO, Karl Franz Otto 5 pieces
    • ELLIS, Frederick Startridge 5 pieces
    • FLETCHER, William Younger 10 pieces
    • FRANKS, Sir Augustus Wollaston 7 pieces
    • GIBSON, Strickland 15 pieces
    • GORDON, Cosmo 7 pieces
    • GRAVES, Robert Edmund 8 pieces
    • GRAY, George John 7 pieces
    • GREENWELL, William 13 pieces
    • HAEGHEN, Ferdinand van der 9 pieces
    • HALL, Joseph 9 pieces
    • HESSELS, Jan Hendrik 5 pieces
    • HUGHES, Charles 6 pieces
    • HUTH, Alfred Henry 7 pieces
    • JOHNSTON, George P. 12 pieces
    • JOHNSTONE, James Fowler Kellas 9 pieces
    • LAW, Thomas Graves 20 pieces
    • LAWLEY, Stephen Willoughby 7 pieces
    • LEE, Sir Sidney 7 pieces
    • LEIGHTON, Stanley 5 pieces
    • LEWIS, Samuel Savage 5 pieces
    • LOVETT, Richard 10 pieces
    • McKERROW, Ronald Brunlees 20 pieces
    • MURRAY, A. G. W. 16 pieces
    • NICHOLSON, Edward Williams Byron 7 pieces
    • PEARSON, J., & Co. 14 pieces
    • PLOMER, Henry Robert 15 pieces
    • POLLARD, Alfred William 18 pieces
    • PRIDEAUX, Sarah Treverbian 5 pieces
    • PROCTOR, Robert George Collier 21 pieces
    • RYLANDS, John Paul 7 pieces
    • SAMPSON, John 11 pieces
    • SAYLE, Charles Edward 23 pieces
    • SCHREIBER, Wilhelm Ludwig 5 pieces
    • SCOTT, Edward 5 pieces
    • SCOTT, John 5 pieces
    • SIDGWICK, Frank 11 pieces
    • STEVENSON, John Horne 7 pieces
    • TAYLOR, Alistair N. D. 25 pieces
    • THOMAS, Sir Henry 22 pieces
    • THOMPSON, Henry Yates 7 pieces
    • WEALE, William Henry James 15 pieces
    • WINSHIP, George Parker 13 pieces
    • WORDSWORTH, Christopher 9 pieces
    • WORMAN, Ernest James 5 pieces

    Interesting or Important Items

    • ALDIS, Harry G. 1903, Oct. 3. Re: Scottish National Library<
    • COCKERELL, Sir Sydney C. 1897, Feb. 10. To Charles Rowley.
    • William Morris library (110 manuscripts, 800 printed books, exclusive of the modern ones) for sale at ¥20,000. Would like to see collection go to John Rylands Library.
    • GIBBS, Henry Hucks, 1st Baron ALDENHAM. 1890, Mar. 17. "I am not without hope that, with your help, my saffron-colored prayer-book may yet be found in Bradshaw's chaos."
    • HESSELS, Jan Hendrik. 1887, June 28. "But I really hesitate taking every book away from Gutenberg as I should like to let him exist as a printer."
    • HOLME, Strachan. 1897, Nov. 9. Requests Duff to prepare a valuation of the Bridgewater Library for insurance purposes.
    • POLLARD, Alfred W. 1913, Jan. 9. "What I can't stomach is that these British Isles should be put on a level with Spain, as the only other country to which the Commission is sending a man of its own instead of the work being done by the natives. I dislike it even for the foreign incunabula in British libraries; but that it should be done for our own English books seems to me damnable."
    • PROCTOR, Robert. 1899, Nov. 23. "She [Mlle. Pellechet] is a most estimable person but has no eye at all for types."
    • REED, Talbot Baines. [1892, July?] Re: the founding of the Bibliographical Society
    • ROSENTHAL, Ludwig. 1899, Nov. 11. The price of the Missal Speciale set at ¥15,000.
    • WINSHIP, George Parker. 1900, Feb. 5. Asks questions about the new John Rylands Library building.
    • WRIGHT, Joseph. 1896, Dec. 16. Pleasfor support of the English Dialect Dictionary.