In teaching book history courses here at Geneseo, I came across what I thought was a small and relatively straightforward portfolio of antiquarian book leaves which are part of the college library’s Special Collections. My students however quickly realised that the information provided by the library’s catalogue—information originally provided in the 1960s by the donor and creator of the portfolio set, a man called Stanley Slotkin—just didn’t fit with what they found when they tried to research them further.
A careful cross-checking of the leaves has shown that almost all of them were misidentified (I give a corrected list of them below). In the process of trying to untangle the incorrect claims about them, I discovered that the donor, Stanley Slotkin, was something of a colourful character who was active as a biblioclast (or book breaker) from the 1950s through to at least the late 1970s. He broke up a significant number of early printed books and several late medieval/early modern manuscripts and donated them to a variety of institutions across the United States.
I’m now trying to piece together Slotkin’s career as a biblioclast, although it’s proving something of a challenge. He’s got a rollicking obituary in a 1997 issue of the Los Angeles Times, but his activities don’t seem to anything near as well-documented as those of more famous book breakers like Otto Ege.
If you know more about Stanley Slotkin, or about the books and manuscripts that he broke, please do get in touch! I’m very curious to know more about his activity as a biblioclast, and whether the other portfolio sets that he produced are similarly misidentified.
The Geneseo Leaves
The leaves here are numbered in accordance with how they appear in the college’s library catalogue.
Text Claimed: Abdullah al-Sharqawi, The margin of Al-Sharqawi on the explanation of Al-Tahrir in Fiqh written by Zakaria Al-Ansari. 1277 AH (1860/1861CE). Provenance in Cairo.
Text Identification: Husayn Kashifi, Anvār-i Suhaylī. Date unknown.
Note: Thank you to my colleague, Dr. Sadegh Ansari, for this identification.
Text Claimed: Testamenti Veteris Biblia Sacra, sive Libri Canonici Priscae Judaiorum Ecclesiae a Deo Traditi, Latini recens ex Hebreao facti. 1593. Provenance in Vienna.
Note: This is the lone leaf which is exactly as represented.
Text Claimed: The Bible: That is, the Holy Scriptures Conteined in the Old and New Testament. 1594. Provenance in Cairo.
Text Identification: The Bible that is, the Holy Scriptures Conteined in the Old and New Testament. Translated According to the Ebrew and Greeke, and Conferred with the Best Translations in Diuers Languages ; with most Profitable Annotations Vpon all Hard Places, and Other Things of Great Importance. 1603.
Note: Slotkin claims this to be an edition of the Breeches (or Geneva) Bible, but it is an edition of the Bishop’s Bible.
Text Claimed: Biblia Sacra Vulgatae Editionis Sixti Quinti Pont Max Iussu Recognita atque edita. Venice, 1600.
Text Identification: Biblia Sacra Vulgatae Editionis Sixti V. Pont. Max. Iussu Recognita Atque Edita. Antwerp, 1624.
Text Claimed: The New Testament of Our Lord Iesus Christ, translated out of Greeke by Theod. Beza. London, 1602.
Text Identification: The text of the New Testament of Iesus Christ, translated out of the vulgar Latine by the Papists of the traiterous seminarie at Rhemes. London, 1601.
Text Claimed: La sainte Bible contenant l’ancien et le nouveau testament traduite en Francois sur La Vulgate, avec des courtes Notes pour l’intelligence de la Lettre. 1604.
Text Identification: La Sainte Bible contenant l’Ancien et le Nouveau Testament traduite en Français sur la Vulgate avec de courtes Notes pour l’intelligence de la Lettre. 1704.
Note: The date claimed on the facsimile title page cannot be accurate. The translator of this edition, Le Maistre de Saci, was not born until 1614, while Frick/Fricx was only King’s Printer to Charles II 1698-1709.
Text Claimed: Rashi’s Commentaries on the Tanakh. 1609. Found in Jerusalem.
Text Identification: Book of Jeremiah, edition unidentified.
Note: Thank you to Rabbi Rachel Barenblat for her assistance in identifying the text.
Text Claimed: La S. Bibla quei ei Tut la Soinchia Scartira ner Tuts ils Cudischs d’ilg Vedera Nief Testament cun ils Cudischs Apocryphs. 1618. Purchased in Budapest, 1959.
Note: Slotkin claims that this text is written in the language of the Roma people (Romani) but it is actually written in Romansh, a language spoken in Switzerland.
Text Claimed: Missale Romanum ex Decreto Sancrosancti concilii Tridentini Restitutum, B. Pii V Pontificis Maximi Iussu Editum Clementis VIII ac Urbani VIII Auctortiate Recognitum. 1677. Found in Nazareth.
Text Identification: Missale Romanum ex decreto S. concilii Tridentini restitutum, Sancti Pii V. jussu editum, Clementis VIII. et Urbani VIII. auctoritate recognitum, nunc denuo cum, missis Sanctorum novissime a summis Pontificibus usque ad Pium IX, concessis impressum. 1856.
Text Claimed: De Hartmanni Pistoris Opera Omnia Simonis Ulrici Pistoris Studio et additionibus. 1678. Found in Vienna, 1952.
Text Identification: Partitiones iuris canonici seu pontificii in quinque libros digestae: quae instar syntagmatis specialis totius iuris ecclesiastici sunt. 1594.
Text Claimed: Die Catholische Strassburger Bibel oder Heilige Schrift, Alten und Neuen Testaments nach der gemeinen Lateinischen und von der heiligen Kirchen bewehrten. 1701. Found in Nazareth.
Text Identification: Biblische Historie, oder Geschicht-Beschreibung des Alten und Neuen Testaments. 1759.
Text Claimed: The Holy Bible containing the Old Testament and the New: with Annotations wherein the Sacred Text is at large Recited, the Sense Explained, and the Instructive example of the Blessed Jesus and his Holy Apostles, to our Imitation Recommended. 1705. Found in Scotland.
Text Identification: The Bible, that is, the Holy Scriptures, contained in the Olde and Newe Testament translated according to the Ebrew and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in diuers languages ; with most profitable annotations vpon all the hard places, and other things of great importance. 1595.