In 1784 John Dickinson presented to Dickinson College books selected from the library of his father-in-law, Isaac Norris. These books, which were the foundation of the College's Library, represent a substantial portion of Isaac Norris's own collection. As such, they are a record of his erudition and interests.
The compilation of the catalogue of the books of Isaac Norris at Dickinson College had presented a problem. There is no contemporary list of John Dickinson's gift of 1784. Nor is there any known catalogue of Norris's entire collection. The eighteenth- and nineteenth-century catalogues of the College's Library are of little assistance since they do not indicate Norris's ownership. In the 1930's, the books believed to be part of the College's original library were segregated from the rest of the College's collection.
Norris used several methods to indicate his ownership of a volume. Some of his books have a paper label, lettered by him, pasted over the binder's title on the spine. On the books bound in vellum, Norris often wrote the title directly on the spine. The presence of marbled endpapers is another sign of Norris's ownership. He usually required them in the books he had bound for himself by Christopher Reinhold of Germantown. Often, he added them to books already bound.
Isaac Norris had an armorial bookplate, engraved by James Turner, which he placed in many of his books. He wrote his signature inside the front cover or on the title-page of some. Frequently his books contain notes in his hand. Sometimes, the only evidence of his ownership is his notation on a flyleaf of the number and price from sale catalogues of Thomas Osborn in which Norris found the books listed. On the pages where he made notes, Norris usually added a border in red ink.
Most of the 'Norris' books at Dickinson College contain signs of his ownership. However, broken spines, missing covers, and missing endpapers have made it difficult to identify others as Norris books. These books are included in the present catalog unless there is evidence which would make Norris's ownership impossible. Two books included here were not part of the gift of 1784. Grotius, The Truth of Christian Religion, London, 1680, and Sparrow, A Rationale upon the Book of Common-Prayer, London, 1668, remained in family hands until 1958 when they were given to Dickinson College by Catherine Armatt Ellis. Both books contain John Dickinson's signature as well as signs of Norris provenance. In all, 1,902 titles in 1,750 volumes at Dickinson College have been identified as probably belonging to Isaac Norris and are cataloged here.
The Norris account books in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Library Company of Philadelphia contain four lists which itemize Norris's major book purchases from 1750/1 to 1757. In these, Norris recorded the titles, places of imprint, dates, and prices of each volume. Every title in the lists has been checked against the Norris books at Dickinson College. The presence of a title in the manuscript lists verified Norris's ownership of volumes lacking other signs of provenance. In the present catalogue, the manuscript lists are cited by year and their locations in the account books are given. Since the bibliographical information is repetitive, the titles, imprints, and dates are not quoted. The price which Norris paid is quoted as it is given in the account books. The citation in Botallo, Commentarioli duo, Lyon, 1565, for example, '1750/1 lists [p 48] "-1-"' indicates that this title appears in the 1750/1 list, on page 48 of the account book, and that Norris paid one shilling for it.
Each entry in this catalogue consists of the author's name, the title of the book, and the place, printers' and publishers' names, and the date from the imprint. The size of the book-4to, 8vo, etc.-is followed by a description of the present binding. All evidence of provenance earlier than Norris is noted. Brief biographies of identifiable former owners are given in an appended provenance index. The presence of Norris's bookplate, signature, notes, and other signs of ownership is indicated. Entries in the manuscript lists are cited and some bibliographical references are given.
Titles are arranged literally from the books, but are not always transcribed in full. Authors' names and honorifics are usually omitted. All omissions except at the end of a transcription are indicated by an ellipsis. Places of printing are given in English usage. Printers' and publishers' names are copied literally from the imprint with addresses omitted. Dates are transliterated into Arabic numerals when necessary.
The sizes of the books are given as the sheets were folded and not as gatherings were put together, i.e., 8vo, not 8vo in fours. No collations are included except to note defects. Each book was collated in full by gatherings and pages.
While the presence of Norris's manuscript label, marbled endpapers, bookplate, and signature serves to identify his books, his notes indicate the use he made of the books. Frequently the notes are lengthy quotations from reference books or notices in periodicals about the book and its author. Sometimes they are merely citations to these works. In some of his books, Norris added marginal comments and corrected the errata. None of the notes is quoted in full here. Some are summarized and the rest are indicated.
The notation in Norris's books of the number and price from the sale catalogues of Thomas Osborn is quoted here. In some, the price was entered in pencil, possibly by a clerk in Osborn's bookshop, and Norris added the catalogue number only. When the pencil notation of the price was not present in a volume, Norris added both the number and the price. Most of the numbers are from the 1749 Osborn catalogue of the libraries of William Kynaston, Josiah Martin, and others. Occasionally Norris copied a number incorrectly. When this occurs, the number as it appears in the 1749 catalogue is listed here after the number given by Norris. Norris was not always careful to distinguish editions. He often cited the same number from the 1749 catalogue for two or three different editions of a work. A few numbers are from the 1752 Osborn catalogue of the libraries of Dr. Edward Chandler and others. Although most of the numbers listed by Norris appear in these two catalogues, there are some which have not been identified.
The bibliographies cited as references are listed below. They are by no means the only bibliographies consulted in compiling this catalogue. The catalogues of the British Museum, the Bibliotèque Nationale, and the Library of Congress were used extensively. However, it seemed rather pointless to list volumes and pages from these catalogues. Entries from Wing are from the second edition through the letter 'E'. An asterisk after the Wing number indicates a difference between the imprint listed in Wing and that in the Norris book.
I would like to express my gratitude to the members of the Norris Committee for their interest and support in the publication of this catalogue. Special thanks go to Martha C. Slotten and the staff of the Morris Room, Danna L. Spitzform, Gail L. Dennis, and Catherine S. Montague for their unsparing assistance during the project. Most importantly, I am profoundly grateful to Edwin Wolf 2nd for his encouragement, guidance, and advice in the planning and publication of this catalogue.
Marie Elena Korey
Adams, H. M. Catalogue of Books Printed on the Continent of Europe, 1501-1600 in Cambridge Libraries (Cambridge, 1967).
Bishop, William Warner. A Checklist of American Copies of "Short-Title Catalogue" Books (Ann Arbor, 1944).
Goldsmith, V. F. A Short Title Catalogue of French Books 1601-1700 in the Library of the British Museum (Folkestone and London, 1969-1972).
Pollard, A. W., and G. R. Redgrave. A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland And of English Books Printed Abroad 1475-1640 (London, 1926).
Wing, Donald. Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America And of English Books Printed in other Countries 1641-1700. Volume I, 2nd edition; Volumes II-III, 1st edition (New York, 1972, I; 1948, II-III).