British Library, Add. MSS. 59874

A quarto memorandum book bound in full parchment and now containing 126 leaves (202 x 165 x 27 mm.) plus 12 stubs from excised leaves. Written and corrected throughout in a variety of black-brown iron-gall inks, the ‘History of England’ contains 13 watercolour and ink portraits within pencil- or ink-drawn roundels. Pasted to the left board sheet is an off-white wove machine-made paper label (130 x 58 mm.) in Cassandra Austen’s hand and written in iron-gall ink. The label has been repositioned and an adhesive residue indicates its original position. The torn remains of another label (18 x 85 mm.) are stuck to the head edge of the right pastedown and a British Library label is pasted below this. The manuscript is housed in a blue cloth box made by the British Library.

The memorandum book comprises nine quires of a single paper stock, a lightly blued cream handmade laid writing paper formed on a single faced mould with a Pro Patria watermark and a countermark of the royal cipher ‘GR’ within a circle1. The watermark and the countermark are each centred on opposing halves of the sheet and both were designed to read from the mould side of the sheet. The text-block comprises nine regular quires folded from 72 half sheets of paper with the chain lines running horizontally across each leaf (leaf size 195 x 163 mm.). The trimmed size of the half sheet is 326 x 195 mm. which allowing for a modest trim implies a sheet size of approximately 410 x 336 mm. or foolscap2. The orientation and position of both the watermark and countermark are consistent throughout the manuscript. The watermark lies across the spinefold with the top of the watermark appearing on the leaves after the centre of the quire. The countermark lies across the spinefold with the top of the countermark appearing on the leaves before the centre of the quire. The quires were formed by folding a pile of eight sheets of paper parallel to their long edge3. This folded pile was then cut in two (parallel to the short edge) to form two separate quires. Thus each quire contains eight half-sheets, from eight separate sheets of paper, without their matching halves. The quires were folded from a pile of paper in which all of the watermarks were aligned, and where all sheets were piled mould side uppermost. Each quire therefore contains only watermarks or only countermarks4. Quires 1-2 and 4-6 contain watermarks (total 40 half sheets), and quires 3, 7-9 contain countermarks (total 32 half sheets). The corresponding mirror arrangement of watermarks or countermarks from the three irregular quires (4, 5, 7) are not found within this manuscript. These nine folded quires provided 144 leaves, the first three leaves from the first quire and final three leaves from the ninth quire were used as pastedowns within the binding leaving a text-block of 138 leaves.

The memorandum book was bound in full parchment over millboard. The text-block is sewn on two wide parchment tapes, and the edges of the text-block have been cut and decorated with a sprinkled red colour which is now worn. The volume was covered in full sheep parchment with the sewing support extensions slit after sewing to provide a narrow slip which was laced through the covering parchment at the joint. Each board has a blind-tooled double fillet border frame, which crosses at the corners.
The method of folding the paper, which differs from the binding of printed books, and the disposition of watermarks both indicate that this was a professionally made memorandum book, probably produced as a stock item for a stationer. Although this memorandum book appears to match Volume the Third minor differences in the forwarding techniques indicate that it was produced by a different bookbinder.


Watermark similar though not identical to Heawood 3717. Edward Heawood, Watermarks: Mainly of the 17th and 18th Centuries (Hilversum: Paper Publications Society, 1950). Back to context...
Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 74. Back to context...
Quire 6 with 18 leaves has an extra bifolium and quire 7, with 14 leaves, is short one bifolium. These are probably mistakes by the binder. Traces of glue between the quires and the tightness of the sewing thread confirm that leaves have not been lost since the volume was bound. Back to context...
The one exception is quire 4 containing all watermarks apart from the conjoint bifolium fols. 45.60 which have the countermark. The countermark for fols. 45.60 is in the regular countermark orientation and the sheet was piled mould side uppermost before folding. The sheet must have been turned through 180° in the pile, before folding, by error. Back to context...