Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A puzzle

Miscellanea Marescalliana, v. II
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about two bound volumes of pamphlets and offprints from William Stubbs's library. Here I just wanted to share one more little bit from one pamphlet from one of those volumes.

The pamphlet here, the title page of which appears in the blurry image to the left, is by George William Marshall, and it identifies itself as volume II of his work Miscellanea Marescalliana, being Genealogical Notes on the Surname Marshall. It is a scarce book, I think it is safe to say: WorldCat/OCLC appears to turn up only ten or twelve copies in libraries, and the WorldCat descriptive entry on Vol. 1 indicates that there were only fifty copies for private distribution printed.

It was a labor of love, one imagines, a huge collection of 174 pages of documentary records (and indexes, etc) concerning the name "Marshall," gathered together in one place, printed, and handed out to a small circle of friends and family.

And, of course, it is always a treat for me to run across a truly rare or scarce item, even when (like this) it is unlikely to be of any great monetary value, except perhaps for folks named Marshall. But this particular pamphlet grew even more interesting for me when I took a close look at the small poem at the foot of the title page, as shown in my second picture.
Marshall's poem.
Obviously, this is some sort of puzzle: I see one "M", one "D", one "C", four "L"s, seventeen "V"s, and three "I"s, all picked out in red ink and capital letters. I make that out to be 1888, the date of publication. That would seem to cover the "When we go" part of the poem, but there should also, I think, be some way to read here the pamphlet's "From Where We Spring" bit: the foot of the title page, after all, is a very conventional place to put the date and place of publication for a book, and I don't see any reason to suppose that this little puzzle poem wouldn't be as good as its sense. 

The printer identifies himself on the final page of the pamphlet as "Robert White, Printer, Worksop" but so far I've not been able to work that out from the poem, or any other solution.  I'd love to hear from anyone who can solve the rest of this little bibliographic puzzle.

No comments:

Post a Comment