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Friday, June 28, 2013

Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart.

Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872) was an ardent bibliophile, collector, cataloger, publisher, and intense sufferer of bibliomania. In the title of this post, Bart. refers to Baronet, a hereditary honor by the British Crown.

Phillipps once aspired to collect every book and manuscript ever written. In his attempt to do so, his estate, Middle Hill, was full to the gills in every room with the objects of his obsession. 

So immense and staggering was his collection, it took well more than a hundred years after his death to disperse all of it through auctions and private sales. Today, Phillipps might be characterized as a hoarder. 

In 1848, he received this envelope below, opened it, and read its contents, possibly book or manuscript related. Somewhere along the way to present day, the contents became separated from the envelope. There's no telling where the letter went, but the envelope found its way here.


 
The letter, with wax seal still present on the back side of the cover, was posted January 25, 1848 at Broadway, where Phillipps resided at Middle Hill. He had inherited this estate from his father, but it was his own heir that would cause him to one day abandon Middle Hill. 

In 1863, out of fear that his daughter and son-in-law, whom he disliked, would inherit Middle Hill (dictated in his father's will) and all his books, Phillipps simply moved into a new estate, which his heirs could not touch. Moving such a massive amount of books reportedly took two years to accomplish.

Broadway, the village in which Phillipps amassed most of his collection, is about 15 or 16 kilometers (about 10 miles) southeast of Worcester, which is referenced on the envelope with the writing, Worcester Corn Market Committee. I don't know if this is something that Phillipps was involved with or if he may have even made the notation himself. Maybe the letter was from the committee. 


Perhaps the answer to the Worcester Corn Market Committee mystery is in A.N.L. Munby's five-volume study on Phillipps, a copy of which is not in my collection. Yet.

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