Two Fake Blakes Revisited, One Dew-Smith Revealed*

Joseph Viscomi


Let the collector of prints be cautioned . . . to beware of buying copies for originals. Most of the works of the capital masters have been copied, and many of them so well, that if a person be not versed in prints, he may easily be deceived.

(William Gilpin, An Essay on Prints, 4th ed., 1792).


An undetected forgery is an original. I recall realizing so in 1975, not in any ontological or philosophical sense, but in the most practical circumstances. I was a curatorial assistant at the Museum of the City of New York working on an exhibition of 19th century paper toys, from pull-tab books to optical and pre-cinematic devices, like zoetrope strips and phenakistoscope discs, to toy theatres, "pantins" (jumping jacks), and constructions. Constructions were printed on large sheets, first as etchings and later as chromolithographs, and their many parts had to be cut out, like paper dolls, and assembled. Constructed, such toys are fragile and extremely rare; uncut sheets are collector items and the museum had a fine collection of them. Of course, cutting the sheets to assemble the artifact—a harlequin, a proscenium theatre, a backdrop—was out of the question. But displaying them as mere two-dimensional prints left too much to the imagination. Displaying the paper models in front of their uncut sheet was the ideal, but this required making the construction look authentic in every way, to form a one-to-one relation between its parts in three dimensions and its parts in two dimensions. In building the models I was engaged in the process of making facsimiles; in showing them without acknowledging that they were facsimiles and aging them so they appeared contemporaneous with their sheets, I was engaged in the act of making forgeries. An unacknowledged facsimile is a forgery, and, as noted, an undetected forgery is perceived and experienced as an original. For viewers of the exhibition the fakes retained the original's "aura," that historical authenticity that reproductions are not supposed to have or convey or capture, so Benjamin tells us. [1] Believing a fake is the real thing ensures that it is experienced as such by the believer. Just ask Blake about Chatterton and Ossian. [2]

This early experience in making facsimiles and doctoring them into forgeries served me well when, in 1976, at Columbia University, I began studying Blake's illuminated books, which led to the Pierpont Morgan Library where I soon put practice into theory—or at least into a working hypothesis. I discovered that plates 4 and 9 in America a Prophecy copy B were fakes. [3] Actually, my hand made the discovery, in turning the pages, which were noticeably different from the other leaves in the book, five of which were watermarked "1794 / WHATMAN." At first, with plate 4, I did not think much of this difference, thinking that maybe the leaf was "E & P" or "I TAYLOR," other wove papers Blake used around this time. But coming upon a second leaf of the same paper, for plate 9, made me pause and check The Marriage of Heaven and Hell copy F and Europe a Prophecy copy G, both in the Morgan, for their E & P and I Taylor papers respectively. No match. America plates 4 and 9 (illus. 1, illus. 2 ) were printed in black ink and touched up in an opaquish black wash, like the other impressions, but they were printed on thicker and stiffer paper, which, unlike the other leaves in America copy B, showed no bleed-throughs. The paper's feel, weight, and texture called to mind an etching paper I had recently used to print some aquatints. In short, the paper, not the image, made me suspicious enough to measure the plates. [4]

As in most copies of America, the last five lines of plate 4 have been masked out, that is, covered with (probably) a strip of paper so the inked or uninked lines could not transfer to or emboss the printed leaf. Unlike all other copies, however, the bottom platemark is only 2.4 cm. from Orc's foot, instead of the usual 4.1 cm. If this bottom platemark was caused by the material used to mask out the five lines, then, because a 2.4 cm. mask is not wide enough to cover the five lines, the bottom half of line 3 and all of lines 4 and 5 would have printed. If the bottom platemark was caused by the copper plate itself, then the plate had been cut in about the middle of the third line and printed with a mask to cover the two lines under Orc's foot. Although all posthumous pulls of this plate, in copies N, P, and Q, print the last five lines, I did not rule out the possibility that the plate could have been pulled posthumously from a tampered plate, because there is precedent for such plate tampering. [5] To make sure I was not looking at a posthumous impression pulled from a modified plate, I also checked the distances from specific points in the image to the platemarks and found that they differed from copies A, also in the Morgan, and L, in the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library. I also measured the distance between parts within the image and they too differed, with the B plates slightly larger. [6] More revealing than incorrect measurements between image and platemarks and points within the image, however, are the plate measurements themselves. The platemarks of plate 4 of copy B are 22.9 x 16.9 cm. vs. 23.8 x 16.6 cm. (Blake Books 70), and of plate 9 of copy B are 24.9 x 17.5 cm. vs. 23.5 x 16.8 cm. (Blake Books 70). These and other differences are too great to have been the result of one paper shrinking less than the others. [7]

But most revealing of all, as I discovered later, is that the platemarks of plates 4 and 9 differ in curious ways from the impressions of these plates in Robert Essick's collection. His two impressions appear to be proofs for the America copy B impressions; they were printed on larger sheets (40.3 x 28.5 cm. for plate 4, and 44.5 x 28.5 cm. for plate 9, vs. 36.3 x 26.1 cm.), on different paper ("thin, hard, ivory coloured, machine made" he tells me), and in a dull black ink. [8] They share with the Morgan impressions the top and bottom platemarks, but neither of Essick's prints has side> platemarks, while the side platemarks are the ones most noticeable in plates 4 and 9 of copy B, with the right side in plate 4 being slightly bevelled. Moreover, on those plates the sides and tops forming the corners cross each other rather than terminating at their intersection, a physical impossibility. This slight crossing of plate lines in copy B and the fact that the side platemarks are heavier while absent in Essick's two prints mean that the side platemarks in plates 4 and 9 of copy B are faked, most likely produced with a stylus indenting the paper along a bevelled ruler and inadvertently crossing the top and bottom platemarks. The top and bottom platemarks were also deliberately made, since planographic images can be printed without them; they were included because the other impressions in America copy B had platemarks, albeit slight. But Blake's platemarks were the wiped flat borders of relief-etched plates (illus. 3) and not the sharp edge or side of the plate as seen in etchings.

Except for the platemarks, plates 4 and 9 are free of the embossment—the slight indent of the letter forms—that is characteristic of type, relief-etched texts and designs, and line blocks. Instead, the ink lies flat and unreticulated on the paper, which is characteristic of lithography. Although the overall dimensions are slightly distorted, or elongated, the images are exactly right, indicating the work of a camera. The plates appear certainly to be photolithographs pulled from zinc plates. The top and bottom platemarks were probably created by the scraper bar of the litho press coming deliberately onto and off the zinc plates. The side platemarks in the copy B impressions were probably added with a stylus. However created, the platemarks were made to deceive, to make a flat image appear slightly embossed like a relief etching. The intention to deceive appears to make plates 4 and 9 forgeries, not facsimiles. Printed with platemarks in good solid black ink (and not the thinner greyish black of tonal lithography) and touched up in black water colour (like the other prints in copy B, though less opaquely), it is little wonder they escaped detection for so long.

Once doubts were raised, however, identifying the what of the impressions was relatively straight forward, as was speculating on why the fakes were executed, presumably to complete an otherwise incomplete copy of America. Nor was identifying their probable model difficult. Because an image on stone or zinc could be altered in subtle ways, absolute verification may not be possible, but plates 4 and 9 of America copy F, in the British Museum since 1859, were most likely the prints photographed by or for the forger. When and by whom, however, were and remain far more difficult questions.

America copy B sold in 1878 with the library of A. G. Dew-Smith at Sotheby's for £16.5 (lot 247) to the book dealer John Pearson. Its description in the Sotheby catalogue needs to be given in full:

BLAKE (W.) AMERICA, A PROPHECY. Engraved throughout by this extraordinary artist. EXCESSIVELY RARE, presentation copy with author's autograph inscription, splendidly bound in citron morocco, ornamented with variegated leathers and gold tooling, g[ilt]. e[dges]., by F. Bedford; two leaves said to be wanting, but Blake's original prospectus says—"America, a Prophecy in illuminated printing," folio, with 18 designs, Lambeth, W. Blake, 1793

*** This copy, unbound, sold for £18 in 1874. [9]

This catalogue description is the only evidence of an 1874 sale, and it is evidence that the copy when sold had 18 plates. In my first report, I commented on the possible ambiguity of the word "design," for in the prospectus Blake used it to mean picture, not page or plate, describing The Marriage of Heaven and Hell as being "with 14 designs" (counting top and bottom illustrations on one plate—probably plate 3—as separate designs), and not 27 plates, and the Visions of the Daughters of Albion as being "with 8 designs," not 11 plates or pages. But, as will become clear below, the Sotheby cataloguer counted pages, including plates 4 and 9. Concluding an end date of 1878 for the fakes would seem reasonable, but plates 4 and 9 are not sewn into the binding along with the other pages; they are tipped in, glued to plates 5 and 10. Moreover, plates 4 and 9 are slightly lower than the rest of the pages (noticeable only when looking along the fore-edge) and their edges are not gilt. The fakes clearly entered copy B after the binding described in the 1878 Sotheby's catalogue (which is still on the book), forcing these questions: were the fakes present when copy B sold in 1878? Or were genuine plates part of that "18 designs" only to be removed later? In my first report, I argued that they were in the book when it sold in 1878 ("Facsimile" 222); Lange arrived independently at the same conclusion (215). I will reargue in this essay for the same conclusion, using new and stronger evidence.

But first, I need to examine Bentley's reading of the bibliographical evidence. In Blake Books Supplement, he agrees that plates 4 and 9 are fakes, but he thinks they were inserted after 1878 (54). As noted, Pearson acquired America copy B at the Sotheby sale; it appears next in Thomas Gaisford's collection, sold at Sotheby's in 1890 to Quaritch, then in B. B. Macgeorge's collection, selling at Sotheby's in 1924 to Maggs, then in George C. Smith's collection, selling at Parke-Bernet in 1938 to Rosenbach, then in the collection of Mrs. Landon K. Thorne, who gave it to the Morgan Library in 1973 (Blake Books 100). [10] In placing the fakes in America copy B after 1878, Bentley raises important issues about America copy B that I failed seriously to consider: were there initially 18 genuine designs and were two of them cleanly extracted sometime between 1878 and 1973 and replaced by fakes?

He comments perspicaciously about the persuasiveness of plates 4 and 9, which he refers to as photolithographic "facsimiles": "These facsimile plates were sufficiently persuasive to satisfy the credulity of, inter alia, Keynes (A Bibliography of William Blake [1921], Keynes & Wolf (William Blake's Illuminated Books: A Census [1953], and Bentley (Blake Books [1979]), and they evidently persuaded as well the cataloguers of Sotheby, Quaritch (who described it as 'perfect' in 1890), and Parke Bernet. Consequently, the description of copy B as having 18 plates (or designs) does not indicate clearly whether pl. 4 and 9 there were Blake's originals or facsimiles." Indeed, the involvement of so many experts supports the idea that some of them might have seen originals and not been fooled at all. This jury of expert bibliographers and the fact that the fake plates 4 and 9 were tipped in, "narrower than the others," and "not gilt like the genuine leaves," leads Bentley to speculate that "some time after 1878, the two genuine pl. 4 and 9 were removed, perhaps because of damage, and replaced with the facsimile leaves on shorter, narrower, stiffer paper with false plate marks, which were pasted to pl. 5 and 10 to perfect the copy" (Blake Books Supplement 54).

As I noted in my first report, three of the post-1878 owners of America copy B had access to facsimilists and to models and had reason enough to "perfect" an incomplete copy. Pearson published in 1877 the excellent photolithographic facsimile of Jerusalem copy D and was William Muir's first agent, issuing four of Muir's Blake facsimiles in 1884-85. Bernard Quaritch, who owned America copy B in 1890, was Muir's agent in 1885-94 and published Facsimiles of Choice Examples selected from Illuminated Manuscripts (London, 1890), which included William Griggs' eight coloured lithographs of Blake's Comus designs (Blake Books 505). Griggs also executed photolithographic facsimiles of Blake's Poetical Sketches (1890) and The Book of Ahania (1892). Quaritch also owned America copy R, which he lent Muir for his 1887 facsimile. The collector Bernard Macgeorge, of Glasgow, owned the copy from 1892 to 1924 and also knew Muir; Macgeorge lent Muir Europe copy A, which was then missing five plates, and which were "all supplied in facsimile by Muir." [11] Macgeorge also owned Songs of Innocence and of Experience copy A, which entered the British Museum in 1927 with photolithographs of plates 51, 52, 53, and b. Apparently, more than one collector "perfected" an incomplete illuminated book with photolithographic facsimiles.

That originals might have been extracted and replaced after 1878 is certainly feasible. Bentley supports this scenario by pointing to a possible early description of copy B as having 18 designs and to its plate numbers. He states that copy B "was presumably complete (pl. 1-18, e) when it passed from Blake to [C. H.] Tatham in 1799, and all subsequent descriptions of it which mention its extent say that it has 18 plates or designs" (Blake Books Supplement 54). [12] Bentley suggests that copy B may have been "the copy 'with Eighteen singular Designs, printed in tints by the artist himself' sold anonymously at Sotheby's on 5 July 1852 with the remainder of the Library of Edward Vernon Utterson, Lot 251 [for £2.7.0]" (Blake Books Supplement 54). Utterson's copy of America appears certainly to have been the copy W. T. Lowndes had in mind, when he described it as: "America, a Prophecy, 18 designs, Folio, Lambeth, 1793, Sotheby's, 1855, £2.7." (I 215). Lowndes got the date of the auction wrong but the vendor and price right. But was Utterson's copy really copy B? If so, then it had 18 designs before the invention of photolithography and Bentley is right to assume that copy B left Blake complete and that two genuine plates were removed (and are now untraced). But as Bentley also notes, in Blake Books, "the copy [Lowndes] referred to could alternatively be copies C, E, I, or L" (100n3). In fact, it was almost certainly copy R, which, resurfaced in 1987, fits the description of "printed in tints" better than all other copies, and has no known provenance before 1880. Bentley describes it as being printed in blue, pale blue, bluish black, and green (Blake Books Supplement 52, 53n3). A possible early sighting of copy B is the Puttick & Simpson auction of 25 May 1854, Lot 95, though there is no mention of the number of designs (Blake Books Supplement 55). The first known description of copy B as having 18 plates, then, is the 1878 Sotheby's catalogue, which by itself cannot answer the question of whether all the plates were genuine.

Bentley's hypothesis that copy B once had 18 genuine plates is also predicated on the first of two sets of plate numbers. The first set is 2-16, written just below the platemark on the left hand side (illus. 4). At least nine of these numbers were erased and remade by the same hand, as is evinced by the erased 5 and redrawn 5, and erased 7 and the redrawn 7 (illus. 5). The second set is 1-18, written at the top right corner of the leaf (illus. 6). Both sets are in pencil; the first set counts but does not number plate1, the second set numbers all 18 plates; the two sets are in different hands. The second set is almost certainly by "J. T.", an assistant to Quaritch, who bought the book at Thomas Gaisford's Sotheby sale of 24 April 1890. [13] The first set is not by C. H. Tatham, the first owner of copy B. [14] Neither is it by Dew-Smith, who owned America copy B when it sold in 1878, as is confirmed by my comparison of his numbers as formed in letters to Charles Darwin and the numbers of the first set. [15] Neither set of numbers is recorded in Blake Books, since neither is by Blake (88). In Blake Books Supplement, however, Bentley states that the first set of numbers, 2-16, are "Blake's page-numbers" and that they start on plate 3 (54n23), which would make sense, since this is exactly how copy A, which was printed with copy B, was numbered, as was copy M, and they are the only copies of America paginated other than the last copy printed (1821), copy O, which is paginated 1-18. Bentley believes the numbers in copy B are "1, 3-6, 8-16 on pl[ates] 3, 5-8, 10-18," which "imply" 18 genuine plates. The problem here is that the numbering starts with plate 1, not plate 3, and is sequential and without gaps. Plate 1 is counted but not numbered; plate 2 is numbered "2" and plate 3 is "3" and plate 5 is "4", plate 6 is "5", plate 7 is "6", plate 8 is "7", plate 10 is "8", plate 11 is "9", and so on to "16". Most important, the pattern of erasures among the first set of numbers does not reveal the extraction of plates 4 and 9; instead of a new "5" over an erased or altered "6", we see a "5" over a "7", a "7" over a "10", a "6" over a "3", an "11" over a "5" (illus. 7), and other numbers over no erasure at all. Hence, America copy B once existed with only 16 plates, which was not its condition when sold in 1878 with 18 designs. Plates 4 and 9 are included in the 1-18 sequence but not in the 2-16 sequence. The person who first numbered the plates had only 16 plates to number; moreover, this person is almost certainly not Blake, who formed his numbers differently (e.g., Blake's "4" is closed and not open, as is the "4" [on plate 5] and "14" [on plate 16], illus. 4), and who, to my knowledge, never numbered pages under the lower left corner of the image or in pencil.

Although there once being 18 unnumbered leaves cannot be ruled out, clearly, when the leaves were first numbered, there were only 16 to number and plates 4 and 9 were already missing. Who numbered them and when are not known, though we do know it was not Dew-Smith and must have occurred before or by 1874, when he acquired the book. Nor do we really know how it was numbered. As Bentley notes, the copy B impressions were stabbed together through two holes (Blake Books 100), no doubt by Blake or Mrs. Blake, who regularly tied the leaves together with string through stab holes knowing that the buyer would have them professionally bound. [16] The fact that most of the numbers in the first set are over erased numbers suggests their order was unknown to their owner, which in turn indicates that the stabbing was undone and the leaves were loose, or "unbound," as noted in the Sotheby catalogue. As illustration seven shows (illus. 7), numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, and possibly 13 and 15 are over erasures, and numbers 6 and 8 are very light. The first order might have been: 1, 2, 6, 3? 11, 4, 5, 8, 9, 7, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. But whatever the order, the attempt to order the plates is revealing. The mixture of erased and unerased numbers, light and dark numbers, reveal an unsure hand—which in turn reveals just how strange a book America must have appeared to anyone seeing it for the first time. There are no catchwords or, like Visions and Thel, etched numbers; no transcriptions or reproductions of America were available to consult until after January 1878, when Works by William Blake was published (Blake Books Supplement 169). [17] In short, arranging loose pages of America in the proper order is not self-evident. Reading the text would solve nothing, particularly if the owner shared Crabb Robinson's view that it was "Sheer Madness" (Blake Books 101n2). Nor would it be clear in an unnumbered and unbound set of impressions that two plates were missing. To know that, you would have to know either another copy of America to compare your own to, or Lownde's description from 1857 that there should be 18 designs, or Gilchrist's transcription of Blake's prospectus, which states 18 designs. To know which designs were missing would require actual examination and comparison of original copies. But then, so would correctly paginating the plates. Apparently, this unknown owner who numbered the plates "2-16" consulted another copy of America to get his copy in the proper plate order, but appears not to have been bothered by the two missing plates and made no attempt to complete or 'perfect' the copy."

In my initial report I focused exclusively on exposing the plates as fakes and failed to ask the important questions raised by Bentley regarding the condition of copy B before their insertion. Bentley forces us to ask: Did Blake "cast into the expanse" a copy of America with only 16 impressions? Is this something he would do? We know that he let another illuminated book, Urizen, out of the studio with various plates missing in different copies, including plate 4, the only plate in which Urizen actually speaks, present in only three of eight copies extant. Bentley's earliest provenance of America copy B provides a clue to the possible initial condition of the book: "Tatham's acquisition of America in 1799 may be connected with the fact that 'Mr. William Blake' subscribed to Tatham's Etchings, Representing the Best Examples of Ancient Ornamental Architecture (1799-1800)" (Blake Books 100n1). I suspect that this is exactly right and that Blake gathered the impressions that were to make up copy B as a gift copy. These impressions were all second pulls from the 1795 printing of copy A and assembled four years later. [18] It is conceivable, particularly with the precedent of copies of Urizen in 1794, that Blake stabbed 16 impressions and not 18, finding the second pulls of plates 4 and 9 damaged in some way or missing for some reason. It is interesting to note, in this context, that the frontispiece is damaged, having been folded in half, creating a visible crease across the middle of the leaf. If, however, plates 4 and 9 were present when the other plates were stabbed, then they were extracted before the leaves were numbered and thus before 1874, when they were acquired by Dew-Smith unbound but, as noted, already numbered. And if extracted, then we will recognize them immediately should they turn up, because, as second pulls of copy A, plate 4 will have its five lines under Orc and plate 9 will have its bottom plate border printed to form a stream under the ram and sleeping figures. They will be only the third such impressions with these design elements. [19]

While no internal evidence exists to prove or disprove the presumption that America copy B was complete when given to Tatham, bibliographical evidence indicates that two different people numbered the impressions and that each person had a different number of impressions to paginate; the first person had only 16 impressions and the second had 18. As noted, that second person was Quaritch's assistant in 1890. Initially, I thought the person who paginated 1-18 might have been the person responsible for a much smudged penciled description of the copy on its first flyleaf (illus. 8):

Lowndes gives 18 designs.

There are 2 more in some copies

but I believe these to be a supplementary number

& that the book as published had only 18--

I thought this because of the similarity of the top loop in the "8" of the second "18" to the 8s used in the numbering (illus. 9), but upon closer inspection made possible only through digital imaging and enhancement, I came to see that they are not by the same hand. Both styles of 8 have unclosed top loops, but the 8 in the description is formed by slanting down to the right from the top and then down in a curve or hook, rather than slanting up to the right and then straight down, as in the page numbers. Moreover, it makes no sense for Quaritch's collator to describe copy B in such a manner, so unlike the three terse, business-like lines: description/date/source, a style so very different from the voice in the four allusive, inquisitive, and assertive lines in which a person speaks in the first person ("but I believe..."), an authoritative voice characteristic of an collector and not a collator, especially a collator who has already spoken and kept his lines concise and as unobtrusive as possible.

Nor is the description in the hand responsible for the first set of numbers. One expects logically for it to be the hand of its owner at the time of the sale, Dew-Smith. A comparison of the description's letter forms and numbers with those in Dew-Smith's letters to Charles Darwin confirm the expectation. [20] The description, then, was in place before the 1878 Sotheby sale, and its "There are 2 more in some copies" is what the Sotheby cataloguer is alluding to when commenting that "two leaves said to be wanting." The idea that some copies of America had "2 more" designs is almost certainly a reference to Gilchrist's description of America as "a folio of 20 pages" (I 109), itself presumably derived from Richard Thompson's description of America in J. T. Smith's Nollekens and His Times as having "18 plates, or twenty pages, including the frontispiece and titlepage" (Smith II 477). No copy is known to have 20 plates. But Gilchrist also transcribed Blake's prospectus, the prospectus's only source, which states that America has "18 designs," which is to say, "that the book as published had only 18 [designs]." The Sotheby cataloguer knew Gilchrist, as did Dew-Smith, whose explicit and implicit references to Lowndes' The Bibliographer's Manual of English Literature and Gilchrist's conflicting descriptions reveal a bibliophile who also knows Blake's works.

America copy B sold unbound in 1874; it was bound when it sold with Dew-Smith's library in 1878, and it had 18 designs, but its plates 4 and 9 were tipped in. This means that only the 16 numbered plates were bound and that the person who first numbered the plates 2-16 did not acquire the fakes after numbering but before selling the copy in 1874. This person could not have been responsible for the fakes. And it means that if two genuine plates 4 and 9 were extracted, then it had to have been before the plates were numbered and could not have been after the plates were bound and thus not after 1878, when 18 plates were present. The fakes appear certainly to have entered America copy B between 1874 and 1878, when in the possession of Dew-Smith.




"The active votary of any harmless object is better than the passive critic of all, and the dullest man who lives only to collect shells or coins is worthier than the shrewdest who lives only to laugh at him." [21]


In 1982, when I wrote up my first report on America copy B, I knew nothing about Dew-Smith except that he was "of Cambridge" (Keynes, Bibliography, 1921), that he owned a few other Blake works, that part of his library sold at Sotheby's, 29 January 1878, and that a smaller part—including his copy of Gilchrist's Life of Blake (1863)—sold at Sotheby's 27-30 June 1906 (Blake Books 100, 417, 696, 644n2). He was not mentioned in the Dictionary of National Biography. I stated: "Knowing nothing of the man, I cannot ascertain his handwriting or his integrity" (223n18). Since then, I have learned much. The availability of new digital databases and search engines have radically altered our scholarly horizons and deepened our research capabilities. They, along with digital imaging, have made this essay possible and have revealed that Dew-Smith was an excellent photographer, lithographer, and facsimilist.

Bedford appears to have been one of Dew-Smith's favorite binders (he had 39 other volumes bound by him in the 1878 sale), which means Dew-Smith was indeed the person who acquired Blake's America unbound in 1874, had it bound only to discover afterwards that plates 4 and 9 were missing—and that only these two and not four plates were missing, which indicates that he examined another copy of America, two of which, copies H and F, were in the British Museum by that time. He probably made the photographs of America copy F himself, masking out the British Museum stamp on the front of the images in the development of the photograph or had it masked out in its transference to the photosensitized zinc plates, oversaw the production of the photolithographs, inserted them or had them inserted, marked both leaves in their upper right corner, now under the numbers "4" and "9," with a symbol that resembles a European 7 (illus. 10) but is actually a style of cursive "F." Dew-Smith used this style of F, as is evinced in his letters to Darwin, e.g., when referring to F[rancis] M[aitland B[alfour] and Feb[ruary] (illus. 11). After inserting plates 4 and 9, marking each with an "F," no doubt for "facsimile," he described his copy in such a way to imply that it was, as Quaritch's "J. T." was later to attest explicitly, "perfect," meaning only that it was complete, missing no plates. The plates were made to complete his copy of the book and not for financial gain, and the meaning of his "F" appears never to have registered on anyone till 1978, when the fakes were discovered. [22] His description of copy B may be a bit disingenuous, but my calling the plates fakes because they, with faked platemarks and black washes matching Blake's own, successfully deceived us for 100 years, implies an intention to deceive that appears, upon revisiting the evidence, absent. Bentley's "excellent photolithographic facsimiles" is the proper and just description.

Dew-Smith was born 27 October 1848 in Salisbury, son of Charles Dew; he died 17 March 1903, at Hurlingham Court, Fulham. He was educated at Harrow, admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge University in November 1868, matriculated Michaelmas 1869; passing third class in the Natural Sciences Tripos of 1872; B.A. 1873, M. A. 1876. He assumed the additional name of Smith on succeeding to some property, July 21, 1870, but was known to his friends as "Dew." He was independently wealthy, a collector of books, prints, and jewels, and a noted amateur photographer—by which is meant, as we will see, that he took portrait photographs for pleasure, not money, for their quality is extraordinary. He was also a student, friend, and benefactor of Michael Foster, the father of the Cambridge School of Physiology, and was a founding member, along with Foster and Thomas Huxley, in 1876, of the Physiology Society. [23]

By 1873, Dew-Smith had "published a note on an insoluble ferment in Penicillium and a brief article proposing a new method for the electrical stimulation of nerves" (Geison 182). In the winter of 1873-4 he went with Francis M. Balfour to "the newly established Stazione Zoologica at Naples. The charms of Italy at once laid hold of him, and in succeeding years he paid frequent visits to that country, not so much for the purpose of continuing his researches as of enjoying the many varied pleasures which Italy alone can give" (Foster 261). [24] At Foster's suggestion, he conducted electrophysiological experiments on mollusk hearts. Upon returning to Cambridge, he and Foster "collaborated on two major papers dealing with the effects of electrical currents on the hearts of mollusks (1875) and of frogs (1876)" (Geison 182). [25] This work proved "immensely influential in the early development of physiology at Cambridge" (Geison 190) and in Foster's directing "all of his energies as well as those of his students toward a solution" to the vexing problem of the "heartbeat and its origin" (Geison 222). [26]

Dew-Smith abandoned his career in scientific research in 1876, but, according to Foster, who wrote a moving obituary notice in The Cambridge Review, 30 April 1903, "he continued to devote himself to the interests of the physiological school, which was then rapidly developing," and "took a special interest in apparatus" (261). He set up "a workshop expressly to turn out anything required in scientific laboratories as quickly as possible" (O'Conner 166) and "was reputed to be unrivalled even by the best Germans" in the "grinding and polishing of lenses at the Cambridge Observatory and of laboratory microscopes" (Pollock 146). Given the dire "need for well-made scientific instruments, Foster was more pleased than disappointed by this turn of events, especially since he had great admiration for Dew-Smith's business capacities" (Geison 182).

In 1878, he began to underwrite the publication costs of the Journal of Physiology, edited by Foster and first issued in March of that year, published by Macmillan and Company. The journal contained many lithographs, most by F. Huth of Edinburgh, of crude electrocardiograms and of drawings of tissues and cells of healthy and diseased lungs, muscles, veins, corneas, intestines, stomachs, glands, etc. of frogs, rabbits, sheep, etc. By January 1881, he had enlarged his workshop into the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company, with Horace Darwin, Charles's youngest son, now as chief engineer and partner. In 1883, as a result of his continued involvement in the publication of the Journal of Physiology, he added a lithographic department to his business, "the aim being to provide good quality illustrations for scientific publications." He had photographed instruments for prospective clients and for reproduction, but now with reproductive facilities in house, he " became an acknowledged expert" (Cattermole 37). Indeed, according to Foster, "to this part of the Company's work Dew-Smith devoted himself with great energy and remarkable skill. Photography brought together his love of apparatus and a love for art which was even stronger in him. For many years from the early eighties onwards much of his time was spent in photographic work; and he worked with signal success, as they well recognize who treasure the photographic portraits which he took of his friends and various distinguished men, both of this and other countries" (261). [27]

According to J. J. Thomson, a fellow at Trinity College in 1880 and Nobel laureate in physics in 1906, Dew-Smith "was of a type not often found in our Society, familiar with life in London and especially with Club life" (285). In 1878 he was a member of the Dilettante Society; in the 1880s, he was a member of the Saville Club and the Rabelais Club, and, in 1884, a member of the Photographic Society of Great Britain, at whose 1885 exhibition he showed four platinum prints. [28] At home in Cambridge, "his large and exact knowledge of books and art stood the University in good stead when he served on the Library, Fitzwilliam Museum, and other syndicates" (Foster 262).

In January of 1891 he amiably broke with Darwin and, in the upper floor of the same building on St. Tibb's Row, "took over the business of lithographic printing and the publication of the Journal, trading as the Cambridge Engraving Company," with his "Lithographic stock" valued at "L589.19s.5d." (Cattermole 42). In 1895, he married Alice Lloyd, a well-known journalist and novelist, and moved to "the old-fashioned Manor House at Chesterton," a few miles outside of Cambridge, where he revived his early interest in gardening. [29] He gave up the business side of things, transferring the commercial work to his chief assistant Mr. Edward Wilson, "and the photographic plant and skill which he had acquired was henceforth employed for his own pleasure or for special tasks undertaken for the benefit or at the requests of his friends" (Foster 262). The excellent collotype facsimiles of Milton's manuscripts of his minor poems, 1898, was one such project for Cambridge University Press. [30] Indeed, many books from the Press in the 1890s acknowledge Dew-Smith for plates, maps, illustrations, and facsimiles, and even one that got away reveals the quality of his late work:

The question of producing a facsimile of the sixth-century Codex Bezae, regarded by many as [Cambridge] University's greatest treasure, was broached in 1891, but was dropped on learning of the likely costs. …In May 1896 the Syndics agreed to a facsimile to meet modern standards. In the end, the facsimile was printed by heliogravure by Dujardin, in Paris. But he was the third choice. Initially, the Syndics hoped that the Clarendon Press could produce such a work by collotype, based on photographs taken by Albert Dew-Smith, a photographer of outstanding ability and until recently the partner of Horace Darwin in the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company. He was responsible for all photography at the University Library. Both Dew-Smith, in his capacity as proprietor of the Cambridge Engraving Company, and Oxford were reluctant to undertake the printing. (Mckitterick 130)

Dew-Smith is still not in the DNB (now called the ODNB), but he is mentioned in all histories of the Cambridge School of Physiology, in histories of cardiology, evolutionary embryology, and histories of medical and scientific instruments. [31] Needless to say, these are not the first places one looks for a collector of literature and art. And he appears in many memoirs of Cambridge in the late Victorian era. In Time's Chariot, Sir John Pollock, a fellow at Trinity College, includes Dew-Smith among the memorable characters in Cambridge at that time, a list that includes Lord Acton, G. M. Trevelyan, Jane Harrison, Francis Cornford, W.W.Greg, Bertrand Russell, A. A. Milne. "There was one senior at Cambridge in my time of whom it would be wrong indeed not to speak. Though not a don, Albert Dew-Smith, commonly called Dew, was made a member of the High table at Trinity. . . . To top all, he had married Alice Lloyd, . . . who . . .had in a few years collected a record public of 'fans' for her grace and fancy. The Dew-Smiths lived at Chesterton a few miles outside Cambridge in a lovely house and a lovely garden, always open to those that prized the welcome to be found there. Alas! No one will ever . . . see so curious a character as Dew, nor—quite certainly—ever meet a writer of such elfin wit as Alice Dew" (146-147).

Sidney Colvin (1845-1927), Slade Professor of Fine Art and the Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum (1873-85) and later Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, was a Fellow of Trinity and living in the College at the same time as Dew-Smith. They became friends and through Colvin Dew-Smith met Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94), who wrote him a very witty letter in verse from Hotel Belvedere in Davos, Switzerland, in November 1880, thanking him for a present of a box of cigarettes. Stevenson describes himself as "Shut in a kind of damned Hotel,/ Discountenanced by God and man; / The food? - Sir, you would do as well / To cram your belly full of bran" (5-8). He complains for another fifty lines to reach: "I judge the best, whate'er befall,/ Is still to sit on one's behind,/And, having duly moistened all,/ Smoke with an unperturbed mind" (61-64; Stevenson 215-17). Many of Stevenson's friends, including Colvin, who edited his letters, thought Dew-Smith's photograph of Stevenson, c. 1885, the best ever taken of him. According to Colvin: "As a resident master of arts he helped the natural science departments by starting and superintending a workshop for manufacturing instruments of research of the most perfect make and finish; and he was one of the most skillful of photographers, alike in the scientific and artistic uses of the craft—a certain large-scale carbon print he took of Stevenson to my mind comes nearer to the original in richness of character and expression than any other portrait" (Memories 126). According to Pollock, "Dew was also the best portrait photographer that has ever lived, superior even to Mrs. Cameron; his portraits of Joachim and Stevenson, as well as of a host of Cambridge worthies, will live so long as their names and memories survive" (146). The Stevenson photograph, like most of his portraits, was executed as a platinum print, a technique requiring much skill and used by modernist photographers Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, and Paul Strand. [32]

He was indeed an "interesting character" and a "man of fine tastes and of means to gratify them" (Colvin 126; illus. 12, illus. 13). According to the physiologist, poet, and Nobel laureate in medicine for 1932, Charles Sherrington, he "always dressed in a velvet jacket" (Granit 50). "He was tall, with finely cut features, black silky hair and neatly pointed beard, and withal a peculiarly soft and silken, deliberate manner of speech. Considerable were our surprise and amusement when some dozen years later we found his outward looks and bearing, and particularly his characteristic turns of speech, with something of dangerous power which his presence suggested as lying behind so much polished blandness, evoked and idealized by Stevenson in his creation of the personage of Attwater in the grimmest of island stories, The Ebb Tide" (Colvin 126). Pollock notes much the same: "Six foot three, a grand, mysterious appearance and a carefully trimmed pointed beard gave semblance to a legend that was true" (146). Sir Walter Landgon-Brown recalls that "Mrs. Dew-Smith told me that her husband accepted the likeness, but emphatically denied that he was ever a revivalist!" (92). [33]

Foster notes that it was at "the Savile Club and elsewhere" that "he was for many years frequently in the company of the younger princes of literature and art." In addition to Stevenson, "he got to know most of the 'coming men,' and they got to know him" (262). In the summer of 1885, Dew-Smith met Charles Fairfax Murray, another collector of Blake, as well as book dealer and painter. [34] According to Fairfax Murray's biographer, "Dew-Smith's two great interests were collecting—books, manuscripts and jewelry—and photography," and he and Murray "quickly found a great deal in common" (Elliot 163). They, together with John Middleton, "took their dinners at the High Tables of Trinity, Trinity Hall and King's … and spent relaxed hours in the Master's garden by the Cam. Cambridge provided a congenial, masculine atmosphere in which Fairfax Murray could pursue his consuming delight in rare books among scholars of like mind, and it remained the place in England in which he was most at ease…." (164).

Dew-Smith also appears in Period Piece by Gwen Raverat, Charles Darwin's granddaughter and Geoffrey Keynes' sister-in-law. She recalls when "It was understood by us children, that Uncle Horace and Mr. Dew-Smith had started a sort of concern called The Shop, where they made clocks and machines and things, and where we hoped that poor spelling would not matter much. Nowadays it is called The Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company, and is not unknown; but then it was in a very small way, and was just The Shop, and was considered by my father as rather a doubtful venture" (203, 2003 ed.). [35] Margaret Keynes, Sir Geoffrey Keynes' wife, says the following: "She [Mrs Darwin, in a letter of 4 July 1885] enclosed a small photograph taken by A. G. Dew Smith, friend and a noted photographer…." [36]

In various online databases, Dew-Smith is recorded as "photographer and lens maker" (National Portrait Gallery data base) and as "bibliophile and photographer" (Library Catalogue, Archives HUB). In the Darwin Correspondence Project, [37] he is recorded as "Engineer and instrument maker"; in the Pitt Rivers Museum database, he is recorded as a photographer and as having "worked as a lens grinder at the Observatory in the University of Cambridge. His photographic portraits are close and intense and the dense black and white of the platinum printing gives his images dramatic impact." [38]




"I would venture to suggest that it is not wise to treat the passion for old, rare, or curious books with disrespect. Any pursuit of the kind has a more or less refining influence upon the mind. It may be tainted and vulgarised, no doubt, by the ignorant caprice of fashion or the mere money-grubbing spirit of speculation; but, on the other hand, it may be so pursued as to be made not only a charming but an instructive occupation." [39]


Foster notes in Dew-Smith's obituary that "there was another part of his life" that Foster had no share in, that in addition to his "dormant love of science" there "must have been a far stronger dormant love of art" (262). Foster cannot date its awakening, but recalls that "even in the earliest days of our friendship he had already become the possessor of a large number of rare books and several valuable pictures" (262). The "earliest days" corresponds exactly with Dew-Smith's inheritance in July of 1870. As noted, Dew-Smith was not a Fellow of Trinity, but was "allowed rooms in College and the privileges of the high table" (261). Foster recalls that

he set about—I was going to write—'to furnish them,' but that commonplace word is not the right one with which to describe the way in which he transformed the four bare walls left by a Cambridge builder into a chamber full of beautiful things, which, though each in turn drew upon itself the gaze of the visitor, produced together the dominant effect of luxurious ease and comfort. There was in it no mark of the collector. For Dew-Smith was no mere collector. He took unwearied pains and put forth unusual skill as a hunter to secure something which he sought, a rare first edition, a fine old engraving, an attractive and fantastic jewel, or some old bit of furniture, yet he sought to possess it, not simply that he might have it, but because, having it, to look at it or to handle it gave him pleasure whenever he wished. (262)

Another friend recalls "the walls being adorned with examples of Rossetti, Burne-Jones and other favourite artists of that day" (Sharpey-Scafer 27). Foster estimates that Dew-Smith must have begun to "gather together such things very early, and in gathering to have worked with unusual skill, for so early as 1878, when he told me, in his usual manner of speaking, that he 'thought about getting rid of some of his rubbish,' I found that his 'rubbish' was advertised with more than usual enthusiasm by Messrs. Sotheby as 'a very choice library and a small but rich collection of ancient engravings and modern drawings'" (262). Indeed, it was a remarkable collection of books, bindings, prints, drawings, and paintings, 374 lots over two days, split between books (lots 1-262) and art (lots 263-374). Nearly half the books were finely bound, 40 by Bedford, 20 by Riviere, 41 by Pratt, most with gilt top edges and uncut, that is, with deckle edges on the outside and bottom of the leaves. He was also a collector of "precious stones, of which in their uncut state he would sometimes pull a handful out of his pocket to show us" (Colvin 126).

In addition to America copy B, he owned another Blake illuminated book and numerous engraved book illustrations: Visions of Daughters of Albion copy N, Pastorals of Virgil, Malkin's A Father's Memoir of his Child, Gay's Fables, Hayley's Ballads, Designs to a Series of Ballads, and Life of George Romney, Ritson's Select Collection of English Songs, Salzmann's Elements of Morality, John Scott's Poetical Works, Burger's Leonora, Blair's The Grave, Illustrations to the Book of Job, proof impressions, and a pencil drawing, now untraced: "Colossal Figure of a Man borne through the air, attended by many others, above, in the distance, are female figures, some with musical instruments." He also had Blake's annotated copy of Swedenborg's Wisdom of Angels concerning Divine Love and Divine Wisdom. [40] Much of what remained in his library sold after he died, on the third day of a larger auction, 27-30 June 1906. Included were Gilchrist's Life of Blake, first edition, Swinburne's William Blake, a Critical Essay, a "Scrap Book … containing illustrations by Stothard, W. Blake…," Young's Night Thoughts printed on vellum, the 1797 edition but "without the illustrations by Blake" (Sotheby catalogue), and Pearson's 1877 facsimile of Jerusalem. Also included was a presentation copy of Whitman's Leaves of Grass to "A. G. Dew-Smith." [41] Keynes and Wolf states that for a while he also owned Songs copy J (Census 59). [42]

Dew-Smith's Blake collection was small but is of interest to Blakeans as yet another example of a Victorian collecting Blake after the publication of Gilchrist's Life of Blake in 1863. In its own day, however, his library was of great interest to bibliophiles as reflecting modern tastes and fashions in book collecting. The quality and number of first editions of Shelley and Byron and the high prices they brought were much commented upon in the press. The reviews are worth quoting extensively to give a sense of book collecting when the great Blake collections were being formed, but also because the dedicatee of this essay is a true bibliophile, collector, and descriptive bibliographer who appreciates such minute particulars.

The Academy, for 9 February 1878, listed the highlights among the books, paying especial attention to first editions:

Byron's Works, sold for £17.; Barham's Ingoldsby Legends, £7. 10s.; Browne's Religio Medici, £4.; Fuller's David Hainous Sinne, £9. 15s.; Keats' Poems, £5. 15s.; Milton's Poems, £14. 10s.; Ruskin's Modern Painters, £25. 10s., Stones of Venice, £13. 15s., Seven Lamps of Architecture, £7. 10s.; Shelley's Queen Mab, £8. 5s., Alastor, £9., Laon and Cythna, £8. 15s., Epipsychidion, £11. 15s., Adonais, £42; Sterne's Tristram Shandy, with autograph, £11. 5s., Sentimental Journey, £4. 4s.; Thackeray's Comic Tales and Sketches, £5. 5s.; Burton's Anatomy, £19. 10s.; Milton's Comus, £50., Lycidus, £73., Paradise Lost, £34. ; Spenser's Complaints, £11. 16s., Faerie Queen, edition of 1611, £10. 10s. Among other remarkable lots were Aesopi Fabulae e. Vita, Neapoli, 1485, which was knocked down to Mr. Quaritch for £131.; Shakspere's Poems, 1840, with the excessively rare portrait by W. Marshall, £62.; an Italian Biblia Pauperum, block book, 1510, £24.10s.; Dibdin's Bibl. Spenceriana, &c., 7 vols., £26.; Grimm's Stories, with Cruikshank's plates, £10. 10s.; Horae Beatae Mariae Virginia, MS. on vellum, 1518, £40. 10s.; another, £48. 10s.; Suffragia Sanctorum, MS., £29.; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, edition of 1826-28, £19. 10s.; Blake's Visions of the Daughters of Albion, £30.; Blake's America, a Prophecy, £16. 5s.; his illustrations of Job, £14. The whole day's sale realised £1,634. 15s. 6d. (119).

It contained several remarkable examples of the work of Albert Dürer as well as fine Italian prints of the Renaissance, of rare quality. By a master whose surprising merit has been fully recognised only during recent years—Jacopo de' Barbarj, the "Master of the Oaduceus"—there was only one example, the Judith, sold for £10. 2s. 6d. By Domenico Campagnola, there was the Beheading of a Female Saint, which fetched £24. 10s. (Noseda). The greater prices were reached only with the Albert Dürers. The magnificent St. Hubert, from the noted collection of Mariette, realised £60. (Agnew); the St. Jerome in the Desert, £10. 10s. (Noseda); a rich impression of the Melancolía, £18. (Noseda); an impression of the Great Fortune, £14. (Thibaudeau) : a fine impression of The Knight of Death, £32. (Colnaghi). By Wenceslaus Hollar there was a rare impression of his view of Antwerp Cathedral, which fell for £10. 5s. Of Lucas van Leyden's engravings, known by the amateur to be hardly second to those of the great German, an impression of the print known as the Magdalen giving herself up to the Pleasures of the World was sold for about £20. (Danlos). By Andrea Mantegna, a rare master in this art as in the art of painting, there were the Soldiers carrying Trophies, £10. (Frazer), and the Bacchanalian Scene with the Wine Press, £20. (Thibaudeau). By Nicoletto da Modena, we find the rare print, The Punishment of the Evil Tongue, £22. 10s. (Davidson). Marcantonio's engravings realised the highest prices. The Adam and Eve was knocked down to Mr. Agnew's bid of £111.; the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, aí for £30. 10s., and the rare Lucretia to the same for £61. There were but few prints by Rembrandt, and these not always of the first quality. Martin Schongauer's Christ on the Cross sold for £39. 10s. (Noseda).

At the end of the print sale were offered several remarkable drawings, two of them by an artist whose work very rarely comes under the hammer. Mr. Burne Jones's invention of Pyramus and Thisbe, in three compartments, painted on vellum with the dainty care peculiar to the designer, realised £200. It fell to the bid of Mr. Agnew. The King's Wedding sold to the same for the sum of one hundred guineas. There were a few sketches rightly, we believe, attributed to Turner; and an exceedingly good example of John Lewis, Edfou, a Sheikh Encampment, showing the valley and course of the Nile. This last was purchased for £160. (Agnew). (131).

This second day realized £1432.9s.5d; together, the two days realized £3067.4s.11d, a very considerable sum. Relative to the sales in the previous three years, even those with many more lots, Dew-Smith's brought in more money and certainly more per item. For example, the library of Philip Martineau, auctioned at Sotheby's 5 July 1875, also brought in a little more than £1600 but for 1176 lots. The library of Dr. James Bird, at Sotheby's 23 August 1875, had 2027 lots that brought in £1513. Libraries with fewer than 300 items were relatively rare, but an auction of a "Well-known Collector," 15 May 1877 at Sotheby's, had 273 lots that brought in £268.19s.6d. In other words, £1634 for 262 lots of books is very impressive, and £3067 for 374 total lots means Dew-Smith raised a lot of money quickly by selling some of his "rubbish," the timing of which raises the possibility that he was motivated by his commitment to underwrite the publishing costs of the new Journal of Physiology, the first issue of which was March 11, 1878, just six weeks after the auction.

In his "Bibliomania in 1879" (Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country, July, 1879), "Shirley" closely scrutinized the sale's highlights and high prices for ominous signs of things to come. [43] He criticizes the current crop of book hunters, accusing them of following fashions and collecting rather than reading books, of not knowing their real value. He sees the Dew-Smith sale as exemplifying such fashions and the influence of the PreRaphaelites. But even he has to admit that Dew-Smith's collection, though an example of how collections and collectors have changed, was remarkable.

January 29 of last year is a red-letter day in the calendar of the bibliomaniac. On that day the library of Mr. Dew Smith was sold by auction at Messrs. Sotheby's room in the Strand. There never was brought together at that classic shrine a more illustrious congregation of book-hunters. The piety which they manifested was infectious; the prices which they gave were fabulous. The very catalogue is a work of genius; it sparkles like a page of Macaulay. And, in the absence of any official handbook, it is perhaps the best guide that the critical student of the latest fashions in bibliography can select. In such a pursuit there cannot, of course, be any absolute standard of value, for there is no why or wherefore in liking; and when the supply of an article is inexorably limited, the healthy action of competition in equalising prices cannot make itself felt. (74)

That the Dew-Smith auction catalogue was a "guide" for the modern bibliophile was not meant as a compliment. Shirley states that "The old race of book-hunters . . . has nearly died out. … They knew the insides as well as the outsides" (73). But the "bibliomania which flourishes at present is unconnected with any genuinely antiquarian or historical instinct" (74). Moreover, today's buyers know only that "an early edition which contains a printer's blunder at a specified page is pure and priceless, but that without the misprint it is comparatively worthless and may go for an old song. That is about the measure of the capacity of the majority of our book fanciers, though some of their number possess, in addition, a more or less intelligent appreciation of the distinction between ' half morocco, uncut, top edge gilt by Riviere,' and ' calf extra, uncut, top edge gilt by W. Pratt,' a distinction of no mean value in the auction room" (74). These examples of bindings come from the Dew-Smith collection, noted for its splendid bindings and uncut condition of most of its books. He continues: "The truth is, that book-buying has become a fashion, and the canons which govern the buyers of books are as capricious and incalculable as those which govern the buyers of old pictures or old china. There are handbooks for the buyers of porcelain; a handbook for the fanciers of rare editions and choice ' bits' for the library is not yet compiled" (74). Dew-Smith's auction catalogue represents that guide or handbook, for better or worse.

Shirley argues that the "prevailing bibliomania must . . . be regarded as the expression, more or less intelligent, of a simply sentimental dilettantism. It is not antiquarian; it is not historical: it affects the personal and the picturesque." He gives examples of the "dainties on which it feeds," all drawn from the Dew-Smith collection: "An early illuminated missal, a 'Horae Beatae Virginis Mariae' on vellum ' within beautiful arabesque borders, exhibiting flowers, birds, and grotesques, richly ornamented with thirty-one large and twenty-two small miniatures, and numerous capital letters, all exquisitely illuminated in gold and colours, red morocco, silk linings (1518),' an Aldine Dante or Pindar, a first edition of 'Comus' or' Lycidas,' the 'Adonais' printed at Pisa" (74). And Shirley is quite sure who is to blame about the objects in fashion and their high prices:

The influence of Mr. Ruskin and Mr. Dante Rossetti on the prices which a certain class of books command is very noticeable. The passion for ' Horae' of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is of quite recent growth, being, in fact, one of the offshoots of pre-Raphaelitism. These manuscript offices could be purchased for a trifle not so many years ago in many German and Italian book shops; now they are not to be met with except in the auction room, and the 'Horae' at Mr. Dew Smith's sale brought from £40 to £50 apiece. In 1850 Mr. Rossetti, Mr. Holman Hunt, and Mr. Woolner began the publication of the ' Germ,' of which three or four shilling parts were published; it was thereafter discontinued for lack of subscribers. The numbers, bound together, form a thin octavo volume, which now sells for about £5. The drawings (like the wooden figures carved among the dolomites) are delightfully archaic, though the remarkable Italian story by Mr. Rossetti is probably the main attraction. The 'Blessed Damosel,' moreover, originally appeared in the 'Germ,' and the admirers of that vivid vision are thus enabled to set side by side the original study—somewhat crude and incoherent, it must be confessed—and the finished masterpiece as it appears in the collected poems. . . . (75)

Shirley also blames Dante Rossetti for the high prices Blake's illuminated books were bringing in, recalling the "days when the weird and grotesque designs of William Blake were simply unsaleable—a mere drug in the market." But then "came Mr. Rossetti's brilliant chapter in Gilchrist's Life, in which justice (perhaps more than justice) was done to Blake, and to another great and unsaleable genius, David Scott; and now a copy of the 'Visions of the Daughters of Albion,' which twenty years ago might have been picked up for 30s., cannot be secured for less than £30" (76).

The "most unique and characteristic feature of the Dew-Smith sale," however, was not his Blakes or their prices, but "the prices obtained for the original editions of Shelley's poems," and that "except Mr. Ruskin's and Mr. Tennyson's works, there are not many quite modern publications which show any considerable increase in value" (76). The mania for first editions that was exploited by the Wise and Forman forgeries of the 1880s and 1890s, as well as providing the demand for facsimile editions of literary works, is clearly present:

The literature of what may be called the Shelley revival is becoming abundant, if not redundant, and the first editions of the poet's works are not now to be had for love or money—certainly not for love, and rarely for money. This thin quarto of twenty-five pages is the "Adonais," printed at Pisa in 1821; and at Mr. Smith's sale the 'Adonais' sold for exactly forty guineas. At the same time 'Queen Mab' (1813) brought £8. 5s., "Alastor" (1816) £9., "Laon and Cythna" (1818) £8. 15s., and "Epipsychidion" (1821) £11.15s. These are extraordinary prices. Seeing that an excellent edition of the collected poems can be had for about five shillings, how comes it that the coolest bidder loses his head when a copy of the first edition of "Epipsychidion" or "Adonais" is "going"? (81)

Shirley's rationale for valuing the "original," for going to the work's origin, appears at first to manifest the romantic idea of "first thought, best thought," as Ginsberg would say, attributing it to Blake, though actually misquoting Gilchrist, who stated that Blake was "wont to affirm; —'First thoughts are best in art, second thoughts in other matters'"(I 370). But it is not spontaneity or the original spark, not the manuscript drafts or sketches, that he is searching for. He prizes the first and original condition of the printed artifact, believing that "undoubtedly an early edition does bring us nearer to the writer" (82)—which is an unexamined, self-evidently good thing. He quotes Charles Lamb's declaration "that he could not read Beaumont and Fletcher except in folio" and that "he did not know a more heartless sight than the octavo reprints of the 'Anatomy of Melancholy.'" Advocating for the primacy or "aura" of a book's physical features, or "bibliographical code," to use Jerome McGann's concept in The Textual Condition (1991), Shirley states: "a man who has learnt his 'Adonais' from the first edition feels that it is not the same thing in a modern dress; the virtue has gone out of it. And the first edition of the 'Adonais' does bring us into exceptionally close relations with Shelley. It was printed by himself at Pisa, where he was living, in 1821, and it cannot be said to have been 'published' in the ordinary sense of the word—that is, for general circulation" (84).

But the modern bibliophile, Shirley believes, values early editions not for their historical authenticity or for bringing readers closer to writers, but mostly for "the corruption of the early text." He chastises the editors of Shelley the way Blake scholars—with Dante Rossetti clearly in mind—chastise Victorian editors of Blake for having "'improved' the original with such success that they may be said to have improved it out of existence. . . . They have insisted on Shelley saying many things which in point of fact he did not say, but which in their opinion he ought to have said." Consequently, "it has come about that the latest editions of Shelley are no more reliable than the earliest; and the student who, so to speak, wishes to see all round him in arriving at accurate knowledge of the genuine Shelley text, must consult the original editions, which were bungled by the printers, as well as the more recent, which have been 'improved' by the editors. In Shelley's case, therefore, a first edition has a real literary as well as sentimental value, and the competition of students accounts more or less for the prices which have been obtained" (83). Whether intended or not, Shirley provides the rationale for facsimile reproduction of literary texts, including those of Blake by Pearson, Muir, Griggs, the William Blake Trust, and the Blake Archive, as well as diplomatic editing of the kind used in the Archive: "Unless he has a very clear case indeed it is better for the able editor to leave even the commas unmolested; when he disturbs semicolons, colons, or full stops he is pretty certain to come to grief" (84).

The source for Shirley's despairing comparison of modern book collecting with the collecting of china, the latter of which had handbooks and the former did not, is the review of the Dew-Smith sale in Gentleman's Magazine (January to June, 1878):

FEW things are more conducive to quietude of life and length of days than the possession of a hobby, supposing always it is not, like the breeding or running of racehorses or the like, of too exciting a nature. Where it takes the shape of collecting objects of interest or curiosity it forms one of the most agreeable occupations that a man whose life is not wholly occupied in the pursuit of wealth can adopt. If exercised with a moderate amount of intelligence it is likely to prove a source of profit. The recent sale of the library of Mr. Dew Smith, at which books fetched prices previously unheard of, shows that when a collection is made with judgment the investment will prove largely remunerative. A man need not wait long, indeed, to find his purchases rise in value. First editions of Byron and Shelley brought, at the sale mentioned, prices that comparatively few years ago would have been thought excessive for early Shakespeares. For the benefit of young collectors of books I give a piece of information, the importance of which it is impossible to overestimate. Pay little heed to second-rate copies, the value of which fluctuates with changing fashions; but when you come upon a first-rate copy of any rarity, secure it—it is certain to rise steadily in value. If a library is known to contain works of this description, it attracts, when it is sold, a class of buyers altogether unlike those who flock to the sale of more ordinary works, and the prices obtained are immensely increased. Meantime, as one of the chief difficulties of young collectors is to know what they can obtain at a low price with a reasonable hope of seeing it advance, let me offer them what is technically called a "tip." There is probably no safer investment than buying the masterpieces of modern china. Some of the works of Messrs. Minton and other manufacturers are admirable in art. In the course of comparatively few years these things are sure to rise enormously in value. Another class of purchases that may be recommended is that of works from our pictorial exhibitions in black and white. These have attracted as yet no attention at all proportionate to their worth.

("Table Talk" 626).

The idea of collecting art and books as "investments" fails to surprise us today, but clearly the idea shocked and dismayed Shirley, for whom collecting books in particular was not a rich man's game nor a means to acquire or build wealth. Building a library reflected, ideally, a passion for knowledge, and basking in a book's historical aura or authenticity was reward enough. The prices brought in by Dew-Smith's library changed all that, or had, Shirley feared, the potential to change radically the nature and motivation of collector and collecting, with books, pots, and vases all equivalent and interchangeable. Regarding just Blake, Shirley's worst fears were realized at Sotheby's in May 2006, when a syndicate of businessmen underwrote the purchase of Blake's 19 Grave watercolours, recently rediscovered in 2001, and sold them individually in hopes of a substantial profit (not realized) and at the cost of splitting the set up (realized). I do not know if Dew-Smith was lucky or savvy in selling works for more than he acquired them, or if his profit merits tarnishing his motivation in collecting them or his intention in selling them, which I presume was to raise capital to help underwrite the publishing cost of The Journal of Physiology. What I do know is that he sold America copy B bound and with 18 designs for £16.5s after investing money for binding and two facsimiles, which was nearly two pounds less than what he acquired it for, unbound and with two fewer designs, just four years earlier!




While we cannot say for sure if America copy B ever had 18 original designs, as Bentley supposes, we can say with confidence that if it did, it was before its plates were numbered 2-16 and thus before they were acquired by Dew-Smith. We know for sure that Dew-Smith had the 16 plates bound by Bedford, and did not extract any original impressions. We can also state confidently that he was responsible for reproducing plates 4 and 9 to complete his incomplete copy, identified them with an "F" (presumably for "facsimile"), and described copy B as having the correct number of designs, 18. He was already a fine photographer and probably took the photographs of the model, America copy F; he had access to lithographers and other professional reproductive printers while running his workshop, and he had an artistic appreciation of fine reproductions as well as fine prints. His own recorded expertise just a few years after the sale as a lithographer and facsimilist is not coincidental. Perhaps his interest in these arts was stimulated by the creation of plates 4 and 9, but more likely it was already in place before the Sotheby sale.

John Pearson, who bought America copy B at the 1878 sale, also sold many books to Dew-Smith, including a few from the William Tite sale in 1874. Pearson produced a remarkably fine photolithographic facsimile of Jerusalem copy D in 1877, which was in Dew-Smith's collection sold at Sotheby's in 1906, along with a few other works in facsimile, including Linton's "facsimile plates" in The Life of Blake (lot 496). [44] Though not mentioned in his manuscript catalogue of his library (no Blakes are entered), one must wonder if he had Pearson's facsimile in hand in 1877 and was inspired by it to reproduce the two missing plates in his illuminated book using the same technique. [45]

Albert George Dew-Smith was indeed "a man of artistic tastes and mechanical genius" (O'Conner 182). Collector, bibliophile, physiologist, instrument maker, business man, patron, photographer, lithographer, facsimilist. No doubt, "To the many who knew him as Dew-Smith, and knew him little, he was a picturesque character whose ways were his own; to us who knew him as Dew, and knew him well, to whom he had often been a very present help, he was at once a delightful companion and a trustworthy, ever-ready friend" (262). With Dew-Smith "always to be found in the workshop at Tibbs Row," Foster understandably could claim that "whoever was privileged to be admitted into his studio always found some new thing of beauty, or at least of interest, to admire" (261-2).




1. America a Prophecy, copy B, plate 4. Used with Permission. Morgan Library and Museum, NYC, PML 63938.

2. America a Prophecy, copy B, plate 9. Used with Permission. Morgan Library and Museum, NYC, PML 63938.

3. America a Prophecy, copy B, plate 16, embossment of bottom right plate border into paper, detail. Photograph by Mark Crosby. Used with Permission. Morgan Library and Museum, NYC, PML 63938.

4. America a Prophecy, copy B, numbers from set 1: "4" and "14" on plates 5 and 16, placed just below the left corner of the plates. Used with Permission. Morgan Library and Museum, NYC, PML 63938.

5. America a Prophecy, copy B, numbers from set 1: "11" over an erased "5"; "5" shaped the same as erased "5", over erased "7"; "7" over erased mark, same shape as erased "7". Numbers computer enhanced. Used with Permission. Morgan Library and Museum, NYC, PML 63938.

6. America a Prophecy, copy B, numbers from set 2: "4" and "14" on plates 4 and 14, placed top right corner of leaves. Used with Permission. Morgan Library and Museum, NYC, PML 63938.

7. America a Prophecy, copy B, numbers and erasures in set 1. Numbers computer enhanced. Used with Permission. Morgan Library and Museum, NYC, PML 63938.

8. America a Prophecy, copy B, description of book on front flyleaf. Used with Permission. Morgan Library and Museum, NYC, PML 63938.

9. America a Prophecy, copy B, number "8" in description (top) and in set 2 (bottom). Numbers computer enhanced. Used with Permission. Morgan Library and Museum, NYC, PML 63938.

10.America a Prophecy, copy B, backward "F" on plates 4 and 9. Used with Permission. Morgan Library and Museum, NYC, PML 63938.

11.A. G. Dew-Smith's capital "F" in letter to Charles Darwin, in initials of F. M. B, and in "Feb." DAR 162:176. Letters computer enhanced. Reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library.

12.A. G. Dew-Smith, albumen print by Eveleen Myers (1888), who received technical advice from Dew-Smith. Below the image she inscribed: "I have him as a saint—my great friend." National Portrait Gallery, London.

13.A. G. Dew-Smith, lithograph signed by him. Artist unknown. National Portrait Gallery, London.




The Academy, February 9, 1878.

Acierno, Louis J. The History of Cardiology. London: Parthenon, 1994.

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---. Blake Books Supplement: A Bibliography of Publications and Discoveries about William Blake, 1971-1992, Being a Continuation of Blake Books (1977). New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

---. The Blake Collection of Mrs. Landon K. Thorne. New York: Pierpont Morgan Library, 1971.

Bobbit, Mary Reed. With Dearest Love to All; the Life and Letters of Lady Jebb. Chicago: H. Regnery Co., 1960.

Brown, Edward G. A Traveller's Narrative, 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1891.

Cattermole, M. J. G. and A. F. Wolfe, Horace Darwin's Shop: A History of The Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company, 1878 to 1968. Bristol & Boston: Adam Hilger, 1987.

Colvin, Sidney. Memories & Notes of Persons & Places, 1852-1912. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1921.

Dale, Henry. "Sir Michael Foster, K.C.B., F.R.S. A Secretary of the Royal Society," Notes and Records of the Royal Society, London, June 1, 1964. Vol. 19: No. 1, 10-32.

Darwin, Francis. Annals of Botany, xiii, 1899.

Dew-Smith, Albert, George. Letters to Charles Darwin 17 January 1875, 19 January 1875, 21 February 1882, and 25 February 1882. Darwin Correspondence Project.

Elliot, David. Charles Fairfax Murray: The Unknown Pre-Raphaelite. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2000.

Erdman, David, V. Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. Newly Revised Edition. Ed. David V. Erdman, with commentary by Harold Bloom. New York: Doubleday, 1988.

Foster, Michael. "In Memoriam," The Cambridge Review, 30 April 1903, 261-62.

Foster, Michael and A. G. Dew-Smith. "On the Behaviour of the Hearts of Mollusks under the Influence of Electric Currents," Proc. Royal Society, 23 (1875), 318-343.

---. "The Effects of the Constant Current on the Heart," Journal of Anatomy and Physiology, 10 (1876), 735-771.

Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country (July, 1879, and March, 1880).

Gaskell, Philip. A New Introduction to Bibliography. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1972.

Geison, Gerald L. Michael Foster and the Cambridge School of Physiology: The Scientific Enterprise in Late Victorian Society. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton U. Press, 1978.

The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. ccxlii, January to June 1878 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1878): 626.

Gernsheim, Helmut and Alison Gernsheim. The History of Photography from the Earliest Use of the Camera Obscura in the Eleventh Century up to 1914. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955.

Gilchrist, Alexander. Life of Blake, 'Pictor Ignotus.' London: Macmillan, 1863.

Granit, Ragnar. Charles Scott Sherrington. London: Nelson, 1966.

Gunter, Susan E. Dear Munificent Friends: Henry James's letters to four women. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999.

Hawgood, Barbara J. "Sir Michael Foster MD FRS (1836–1907): the Rise of the British School of Physiology," Journal of Medical Biography, 2008: vol 16, #4: 221-226.

Keynes, Geoffrey. A Bibliography of William Blake. New York: Grolier Club, 1921.

Keynes, Geoffrey and Edwin Wolf. William Blake's Illuminated Books: A Census, New York, Grolier Club of New York, 1953.

Keynes, Margaret Elizabeth. A House by the River. Cambridge: Privately Printed, 1984.

Langdon-Brown, Walter. Some Chapters in Cambridge Medical History Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.

Lange, Thomas. "Two Forged Plates in America, copy B," Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly 16 (Spring, 1983): 212-216.

Lowndes, W. T. The Bibliographer's Manual of English Literature. London: Bohn, 1857.

Martineau, James. "Hours of Thought," quoted in The Academy (9 February 1878), 77.

McGann, Jerome. The Textual Condition. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991

McKitterick, David. New Worlds for Learning, 1873-1972, Vol. III of A History of Cambridge University Press. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Milton, John. Facsimile of the Manuscript of Milton's Minor Poems, preserved in the Library of Trinity College Cambridge, ed. Aldus Wright, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1898.

O'Conner, W. J. Founders of British Physiology: A Biographical Dictionary, 1820 – 1885. Manchester, UK; Manchester University Press, 1988.

Pollock, John. Time's Chariot. London: John Murray, 1950.

Raverat, Gwen. Period Piece; a Cambridge Childhood. London: Faber and Faber, 1952, reprint 2003.

Sharpey-Schafer, Edward. "History of the Physiological Society during its First Fifty Years, 1876-1926," Part 1, Journal of Physiology, 64, 1927 (3 suppl): 1-76.

Shipley, A. E. and James Crawford Simpson. Darwin Centenary, The Portraits, Prints and Writings of Charles Robert Darwin, Exhibited at Christ's College, Cambridge, 1909.

"Shirley." "Bibliomania in 1879." Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country (July, 1879), 71-88.

Smith, J. T. Nollekens and His Times. London: Colburn, 1828: II, 477.

Sotheby Auction Catalogue, London, 29-30 January 1878.

Sotheby Auction Catalogue, London, 27-30 June 1906.

Stevenson, R. L. The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, 2 vols. Ed. Sidney Colvin. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1899.

Stokes, George Gabriel. Memoir and Scientific Correspondence of the Late G. G. Stokes. Selected and arranged by Joseph Larmor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1907.

Thomson, Joseph, John. Recollections and Reflections. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937.

Viscomi, Joseph. "Blake after Blake: A Nation Discovers Genius." Blake, Nation, Empire. Eds. Steve Clark and David Worrall. London: Palgrave 2006. 239-262.

---. Blake and the Idea of the Book. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.

---. "Facsimile or Forgery? An Examination of America, Plates 4 and 9, Copy B." Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly 16 (Spring, 1983): 217-223.

---. "The Myth of Commissioned Illuminated Books: George Romney, Isaac D'Israeli, and `ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY designs of Blake's'." Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly 23 (Autumn, 1989): 48-74.

Whitman, Walt. The Correspondence: Volume III: 1876-1885, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller. New York: New York University Press,1964.

Williams, Mari E. W. The Precision Makers: A History of the Instruments Industry in Britain and France, 1870-1939. London: Routledge, 1994.



[*] Blake in Our Time: Essays in Honour of G. E. Bentley, Jr. Ed. Karen Mulhallen. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010. 35-78.

[1] Benjamin, Walter, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction."

[2] "I Believe both Macpherson & Chatterton, that what they say is Ancient, Is so," Blake's Annotations to Wordsworth's Poems (Erdman 665).

[3] "Facsimile or Forgery? An Examination of America, Plates 4 and 9, Copy B." Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly 16 (Spring, 1983): 217-223. In 1990 I discovered that the Morgan Library's impressions of There is No Natural Religion copy G were also unacknowledged facsimiles. See Blake and the Idea of the Book, chapters 21 and 22.

[4] I confided my suspicions to Thomas Lange, the assistant curator then in charge of books and prints at the Pierpont Morgan Library, who also noticed the difference in paper and suspected the two plates. He wrote up a report simultaneously published with mine: "Two Forged Plates in America, copy B," Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly 16 (Spring, 1983): 212-216. Bentley seems to have been a bit puzzled by the difference too, noting that plate 9 was printed on "stiffer paper than the rest" (Blake Collection 26).

[5] In the posthumous pull of "The Little Black Boy" (pl. 9), the woman's bun was removed and her back narrowed with a burin. Songs of Innocence copy U contains such a pull, though it is recorded as an extra impression (Blake Books 366).

[6] For example, line 4 of plate 4 is 12.6 cm. long in copies A and L, but 13.0 cm. in copy B. Line 7 of plate 9 is 11.5 cm. long in copies A and L, but 11.9 in copy B.

[7] Damp printing paper shrinks only 1 to 2.5 % of the sheet size (Gaskell 13), which could not, for example, account for the 1.4 cm. difference between the length of plate 9 of copy B (24.9 cm.) and of copy A (23.5 cm.). Mark Crosby kindly rechecked these measurements for me in summer of 2009.

[8] Robert Essick provided much needed information for my first visit to America copy B and has again been a generous reader and examiner for this my second visit.

[9] The prospectus is punctuated incorrectly in the Sotheby catalogue, as noted by Lange (212). The end of Blake's quotation should be after "1793," not "printing."

[10] Thomas Gaisford, the Greek scholar and Dean of Christ Church, Oxford (Lange 216 n5, Blake Books index). There are other Blake books with Gaisford's bookplate (Songs of Innocence copy H, Europe copy E, The Book of Urizen copy C, Poetical Sketches copy N), and at least three, besides America copy B, acquired after 1874 (Visions of the Daughters of Albion copy I, Songs copy M, Thel copy C). Since the scholar's dates are 1779-1855, I was puzzled by the presence of a few of these books in the collection, stating: "Apparently, someone familiar with the collector's taste in books continued to build the library" ("Facsimile" 223 n13). I've discovered in preparing this essay, though, that the Blake collector was Thomas Gaisford, son of the Dean of Christ Church, born 1816, Captain in the Army, bibliophile, and a member of the Society of Dilettantes (1864).

[11] A Catalogue of the Library of Bernard Buchanan Macgeorge (privately printed, 1906), 8. Plates 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 were extracted from Europe copy A before 1856 and reunited in 1906, when it was in Macgeorge's hands (Blake Books 156-57).

[12] America copy B never contained plate e, "The Preludium," because that plate was printed with and above plate 3, which is present without it, as noted in Blake Books 99.

[13] Quaritch's assistant wrote on the rear flyleaf "Collated & perfect / Apl 24 90 / J.T." He wrote similar annotations on Thel copy C (also in the Morgan Library). The initials refer to either J. Tuckett or J. Thorowgood (Lange 216 n6). The idea that "J.T." was responsible for the second set of numbers was suggested to me by Mark Crosby, who confirmed this by comparing the numbers to J. T.'s annotations in America and Thel.

[14] On the recto of the frontispiece is the inscription in ink: "From the author/ C H Tatham Octr 7/1799." Presumably this is Tatham's hand; it is not Blake's. In any case, the "7" and "9" do not resemble the "7" and "9" in either set of numbers.

[15] I checked digital photographs of four letters written by Dew-Smith to Charles Darwin on 17 January 1875, 19 January 1875, 21 February 1882, and 25 February 1882. The letters are in the Cambridge University Library and recorded in the Darwin Correspondence Project as letters 9822, 9825, 13695, and 13706.

[16] Bentley notes that America copy B was "stabbed once (perhaps with Europe [C]) through three holes, 6.5 and 7.7 cm apart. Stabbed again through three holes 10.7, 12.9 cm apart" (Blake Books 100). He also notes that "America may have been sewn, either earlier or later [than 1799] with Europe (C), which was separate by 1821" (Blake Books 100n1). America's second set of stab holes, presumably by Blake, suggests that Blake separated the two books before giving America to Tatham.

[17] Works by William Blake is dated 1876 on its title page but was published after January 1878 (Blake Books Supplement 169); it included lithographic facsimiles of America and six other works based on tracings.

[18] Copy A was printed for George Romney in 1795 on large paper and beautifully coloured; it was one of a series of copies of illuminated books printed on large paper. See Viscomi "Myth."

[19] Blake had another copy on hand in 1799, since he gave Crabb Robinson copy D, printed in 1793, in 1825 (Blake Books 101). Perhaps he viewed this as his own copy and was willing to part gratis with impressions he could gather from an earlier printing, even if the set was incomplete and one leaf was folded. Or perhaps he simply chose to give Tatham impressions more recently printed.

[20] I am grateful to Mark Crosby for confirming my suspicion by checking Dew-Smith's manuscript library catalogue in the Cambridge University Library and coming to the same conclusion. The catalogue has no entries for Blake and appears to have been written after the 1878 sale.

[21] Dr. James Martineau, "Hours of Thought," quoted in The Academy (9 February 1878), 77.

[22] The possibility that the seven-like mark or symbol might be a backward F was first raised by Lange (213), and Bentley also mentions the possibility (Blake Book Supplement 53n2). I thought it might be a "printer's mark rather than a number" ("Facsimile" 222n10), and as such meant to call attention to itself as an insertion. I sought writing examples by Dew-Smith in hopes of identifying this mark as well as the authorship of the description and numbering.

[23] Foster became a fellow at Trinity in 1870 and presented lectures on the elements of physiology (e.g., physiology of digestion, nervous system, embryology) (Geison 117). But in the spring of 1873 he "announced the creation of a new 'practical course of elementary biology'" which marked the "beginning of a new epoch in the teaching of biology in the English university" (Geison 117-118).

[24] Balfour went on to become a Fellow at Trinity for his work done at the station, recommended by T. H. Huxley. When Balfour died climbing Mount Blanc, in fall of 1882, Huxley called his death "the greatest loss to science—not only in England, but in the world—in our time" (Geison 126, 128).

[25] Michael Foster and A. G. Dew-Smith, "On the Behaviour of the Hearts of Mollusks under the Influence of Electric Currents," Proc. Royal Society, 23 (1875), 318-343. Michael Foster and A. G. Dew-Smith, "The Effects of the Constant Current on the Heart," Journal of Anatomy and Physiology, 10 (1876), 735-771.

[26] Gaison discusses the significant and extensive influence of these papers in detail, in parts III, "The Problem of the Heartbeat and the Rise of the Cambridge School," and IV, "Denouement and Conclusion" (222-355).

[27] During the 1880s he was producing colour photographs for the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company (Bobbit 218), which included a set of the sunsets at Krakatoa after the volcanic eruptions of 1883, published by The Royal Society and said by scientist and president of the Royal Society, George Stokes, to be the "finest colour prints that he had ever seen" (21).

[28] He exhibited platinum prints, also called platinotypes, of Aldis Wright, Professor Caley, Herr Joachim, and an unidentified subject ( Platinum prints are "photographic prints made by a monochrome process that provides the greatest tonal range of any printing method using chemical development. Unlike the silver print process, platinum lies on the paper surface, while silver lies in a gelatin or albumen emulsion that coats the paper. As a result, since no gelatin emulsion is used, the final platinum image is absolutely matte with a deposit of platinum (and/or palladium, its sister element which is also used in most platinum photographs) absorbed slightly into the paper" (see Wikipedia (

[29] A remarkable personality in her own right, she published Soul Shapes (1890) anonymously, and the novel White Umbrellas (1895) under the pen name "Sarnia." As Alice Dew-Smith, her best known work was Diary of a Dreamer, published in 1900, in which "Dew" is "Max" and a collector of encyclopedias and dictionaries. She was a good friend of the classicist Jane Harrison, recalled by Raverat: "I can't remember seeing any other women smoke, except her [aunt's] friends Jane Harrison and Alice Dew Smith" (193). And was also a friend of Henry James, who referred to her as "mystical" (Gunter 194). She is sometimes recorded as Alice Murray Dew-Smith and Alice Lloyd Murray Dew-Smith; somewhere down the line, her middle name of Mary appears to have been incorrectly transcribed as Murray and used as her maiden name (suggested to me by Tommy Nixon, research librarian at my own research library, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who helped solve this puzzle).

[30] Facsimile of the Manuscript of Milton's Minor Poems, preserved in the Library of Trinity College Cambridge, ed. Aldus Wright, Cambridge University Press, 1898. "The Council of Trinity College have requested me to superintend the reproduction of this chief treasure of the College Library, and after the photographic portion of the work had been executed by the skilful hands of Mr. A. G. Dew-Smith, himself a member of our body, I thought I should do a greater service to students of Milton if, instead of merely recording the variation between the MS. and the printed text, I enabled them to ascertain the variation for themselves" (2-3). See also Edward G. Brown, A Traveller's Narrative, 2 vols. (Cambridge University Press, 1891): "The Persian titlepage does not belong to the original, but was subsequently written at Acrre by my request in black, and beautifully reproduced in colours by Mr. Dew-Smith" (liii); Robert Sinker, The Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (1891): "As regards the illustrations, for the frontispiece and the four facsimiles of MSS. I am indebted to the skill of Mr A. G. Dew-Smith, of Trinity College" (vi).

[31] See Mari E. W. Williams, The Precision Makers: A History of the Instruments Industry in Britain and France, 1870-1939 (London: Routledge, 1994), Gerald L. Geison, Michael Foster and the Cambridge School of Physiology: The Scientific Enterprise in Late Victorian Society (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton U. Press, 1978), M. J. G. Cattermole and A. F. Wolfe, Horace Darwin's Shop: A History of The Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company, 1878 to 1968 (Bristol & Boston: Adam Hilger, 1987). Louis J. Acierno, The History of Cardiology (London: Parthenon, 1994), Barbara J. Hawgood, "Sir Michael Foster MD FRS (1836–1907): the Rise of the British School of Physiology", Journal of Medical Biography, 2008: vol 16, #4: 221-226. W. J. O'Conner, Founders of British Physiology: A Biographical Dictionary, 1820–1885 (Manchester, UK; Manchester University Press, 1988), Edward Sharpey-Schafer, "History of the Physiological Society during its First Fifty Years, 1876-1926," Part 1, Journal of Physiology, 64, 1927 (3 suppl): 1-76, Henry Dale, "Sir Michael Foster, K.C.B., F.R.S. A Secretary of the Royal Society," Notes and Records of the Royal Society, London, June 1, 1964. Vol. 19: No. 1, 10-32.

[32] Gernsheim, in his The History of Photography, gives the Stevenson print as an example of the technique (xxv). Wikipedia does the same (

[33] "In telling anything of special interest that had happened to himself, Dew-Smith had a trick of avoiding the first person singular, and instead of saying 'I did' or 'I felt' so and so would say abstractly in the third, 'one did' or 'one felt.' This scrupulous manner of non-egotism, I remember, came with specially odd effect when one day he was telling us how an official at a railway station had been offensively rude to him. 'What did you do?' he was asked, and replied in a deprecating voice, 'Well, you know, one had to put him through the door-panels.' It is this aspect of Dew-Smith's character which no doubt suggested, although it did not really much resemble, the ruthless task-master, the man of stern Calvinistic doctrine and iron fatalism, who is the other half of Stevenson's Attwater" (Colvin 126-27).

[34] In the 1880s and 1890s, Fairfax Murray acquired America copy P, Thel copy G, Descriptive Catalogue copy G, Jerusalem copy H, Marriage of Heaven and Hell copy K, and Songs of Innocence and of Experience copy Z (Blake Books 105, 127, 138, 261, 300, 425).

[35] Gwen Raverat was daughter of George Darwin, married to Jacques Raverat and sister to Margaret, who was married to Geoffrey Keynes. One of the instruments the workshop designed and made was a microtome, which facilitated the cutting of thin sections of tissues for microscopic examination. plates.

[36] See Margaret Elizabeth Keynes, A House by the River (Cambridge: Privately Printed, 1984), 64. I am grateful to Robert Essick for bringing this reference to my attention. Dew-Smith made a platinotype of Margaret Darwin in 1894. He reproduced (and restored) an old and faded photograph of Charles Darwin by Messrs. Maull and Fox, c. 1854, used in Francis Darwin's Annals of Botany, xiii, 1899. The Darwin Centenary, The Portraits, Prints and Writings of Charles Robert Darwin, Exhibited at Christ's College, Cambridge, 1909, included a "Portrait of Charles Darwin . . . by the late A. Dew-Smith, Esq., of Trinity College" (#103).



[39] Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country (July, 1879), 77.

[40] The catalogue Sotheby's states: "MS note on the fly-leaf in the autograph of Mr. Dante G. Rossetti states that the volume was formerly in the possession of Mr. Tatham, a friend of Blake's. It was exhibited at the recent Blake Exhibition. The notes are of great interest and value. "Blake Books makes no mention of Rossetti's hand, and with good reason: it is dated 1839, when Rossetti was just 11 years old. The Burlington Fine Arts Exhibition records this volume as belonging to Mr. Kirby, who can now be added to its known provenance as recorded in Blake Books (696).

[41] Whitman writes to William Michael Rossetti, 5 May 1876 to tell him that "the books, according to list sent, will now be prepared, packed, & sent (together with your & Mrs. Gilchrist's copies, which have been waiting) probably to London express"; the books are Leaves and Rivulets, "(the latter Vol., as you see, includes Memoranda of the War as a constituent part). . . . I send my love & thanks to W B Scott—I shall try to write a line to him, to C W Reynell, to J L Warren, to A G Dew-Smith, & one or two others, soon as I can." He sent Dew-Smith his two volumes on 19 May 1876 (Correspondence 44, 45n6).

[42] It is interesting to note that the impressions of Songs copy J also have fake platemarks. They were trimmed to "within 0.5 cm of the etching, skillfully inlaid into larger sheets (13.1 x 19.7 cm), carefully indented at the join of the inner and outer leaves (perhaps, as Keynes & Wolf [59] suggest, 'by putting each print, damped, in press with a blank plate') to look like platemarks" (Blake Books 416).

[43] "Shirley" is a man, referred to in Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country (March, 1880) as "our brother-contributor the accomplished 'Shirley'" (370).

[44] The 1878 sale also included works with facsimiles, including W. Y. Ottley's "Inquiry into the Origin and Early History of Engraving, 2 vol. numerous facsimiles, half morocco, uncut, top edges gilt, scarce, 1816" (lot 225), and Rembrandt's "L'Oeuvre decrit et commente par M. Charles Blane, 2 vol. imperial 4to. With 40 etchings by Flameng, and 35 Heliographs by Amand Durand, half green morocco, uncut, top edges gilt. Paris, 1873" (lot 258).

[45] One of the earliest uses of photolithography for book reproduction is Blake's The Book of Job engravings in Gilchrist's The Life of Blake (1863). See Viscomi "Blake after Blake."