As I input information about each map sheet, I make a note of any paste-downs, bookplates, or any manuscript handwriting that includes information about the provenance of the map. That is to say, the journey that the map has taken to arrive in the Special Collections at the University of Manchester. This could be references to previous owners, and particularly in the case of the Manchester Geographical Society collection, any individuals that donated their items to the society. Many of the maps are stamped with the Manchester Geographical Society printed stamp, and stamped also with an accession date into their collection. Below are three particularly interesting and significant instances of provenance that I have discovered whilst working with the maps of Africa in this collection.
Mr Eli Sowerbutts, F. R. G. S., was a key individual in the history of the Manchester Geographical Society. He was the founder of the society and its secretary up until his death in 1904. Before founding the society he was very interested in geographical work, and identified that geographical education should be developed. He gave an enormous amount of time and energy to the society, he arranged the meetings, edited the Journal, answered enquiries, addressed audiences at lectures, and secured for exhibition and keeping many of the items in the Manchester Geographical Society collection. He donated his substantial library of maps and books to the Manchester Geographical Society upon his death.
This bookplate includes the Manchester Geographical Society emblem and reads:
“Manchester Geographical Society” The Sowerbutts Bequest, 1904. This book is one of some 1500 volumes which formed The Geographical Library of the late Mr. Eli Sowerbutts F.R.G.S. the virtual founder and for more then twenty years the devoted secretary of this Society. No. 1675.
You can read his obituary from the Royal Geographical Society on Jstor.
Charles Roeder was born in 1848 in Thuringia, Germany. He travelled to Manchester at the age of 21 to work as a clerk in a Manchester shipping house. He lived in Manchester for the rest of his life, and contributed to the study of archaeology, particularly through writing about ‘Roman Manchester’ using his research and evidence from excavations of Castlefield. He was known as an antiquarian collector and was interested in studying geology, botany, geography, and history. He donated many fine antiquarian maps to the Manchester Geographical Society map collection.
You can read his obituary from the Geological Magazine on Cambridge Core.
Bookplate from a Lady
This individual was a donor of maps and early printed books to the Manchester Geographical Society, and this bookplate is present in the collection several times. I wanted to include this piece of provenance as there is little information to find out about this donor. Is the person A. Lady, or a Lady? The Royal Geographical Society allowed female Fellows from 1913, so this could indeed be a Lady, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (F.R.G.S.).
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