Wednesday, June 2, 2021

514. Thomas Stainton, a Vale Press Collector (1)

In February 1951, Sotheby & Co in London issued a catalogue of the collection of books from the property of Mrs. Evelyn Stainton, Barham House, Canterbury: Catalogue of a Library of Printed Books, Manuscripts and Fine Bindings. Advertisements highlighted the collection of book bindings, "including a binding for Frederick, Prince of Wales, and an unpublished binding for Thomas Mahieu (Maiolus)". 

The second book was a psalter printed in Basle in 1547, and probably bound for Thomas Mahieu around 1555. This is lot 216 in the catalogue, sold to Konniche - or Konninck? (in the list of prices and buyers' names both forms of the name are listed) - for £500. 

The first book was Robert Tailfer's True and Correct Tables of Time of 1736 in a binding with the arms of Frederick, Prince of Wales, father of George III. This lot, number 241, was sold to Michelmore for £60. G. Michelmore's collection was sold on 14 October 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II acquired the book for the Royal Collection Trust (for £200).

Nathaniel Evelyn William Stainton (1863-1940)

The widow Harriet Wilhelmina Stainton, born Grimshaw would dispose of the contents of Barham House later that year through Phillips, Son & Neale in London: 'old-English and decorative furniture, eastern carpets, porcelain, pictures, silver and plated ware'. She moved to Sevenoaks.

From her marriage in 1912, she had lived in Canterbury in the house her husband had moved into a few years earlier. His name was Nathaniel Evelyn William Stainton. He had been born in London on 20 June 1863 and would die on 1 November 1940 in Bridge, Kent. At his death in 1940, he left a fortune of £101,863 (net personalty £45,445), which was divided between his two sons. (The couple also had two daughters.) His wife received an annuity of £4,000He must have had a considerable amount of money at his disposal before he inherited another £50,000 or so from an uncle in 1909.

Catalogue (Sotheby & Co., auction of 26-27 February 1951)

The obituaries remain silent about the book collection. However, his social functions are mentioned. He was Justice of the Peace of the County, president of the Village Hall (he had contributed 'the bulk of the money which enabled it to be built'), president of the local District Nursing Association and of the Barham Conservative Association. He was remembered as a 'keen churchman' and 'a real sportsman'. 

Evelyn Stainton was not a book collector, he had probably inherited the collection from Thomas Stainton, who collected books 'in the last forty years of the nineteenth century' (according to The Burlington Magazine, February 1951).

Thomas Stainton (1825-1910)

It is not clear how Thomas Stainton's books came to his nephew Evelyn Stainton. In his will, Thomas (who died unmarried) left an annual sum to the butler and his wife, and the 'residue' went to 'four nieces'. The latter must have been a mistake for two nieces and two nephews, the others having died. 

Stainton was born on 27 July 1825 in London, went to college in Oxford (BA 1851); he lived in London for the rest of his life. After his death, his collection of paintings and old Italian bronzes was sold at auction at Foster's, Pall Mall. The London Daily News (1 July 1910) reported that the bronzes were 'picked up for "half nothing", it is said by the late Mr. Thomas Stainton, 37, Welbeck Street', and now they realised 'striking prices'.

Emblemas morales de Don Ivan de Horozco y Couarruuias
Arcediano de Cuellaren en la fanta Yglesia de Segouia
(1589)

Books with owner inscriptions from Stainton may have been sold elsewhere. Maggs bought one of his books from Hodgson & Co in 1946, Juan Ochoa de la Salde's Primera parte de la carolea inchiridion... (1555), with the annotation 'Thomas Stainton, Jan. 28 1871'. This book did not appear in the 1951 Sotheby catalogue. A treatise now in the collection of the Folklore Society Library does not appear in that catalogue either, nor does a work now in the collection of emblemata at the University of Illinois, Emblemas morales de Don Ivan de Horozco y Couarruuias Arcediano de Cuellaren en la fanta Yglesia de Segouia (1589). It has the ownership inscription of Thomas Stainton on the title page (below the main title). It is likely, therefore, that some parts of the collection were sold on other dates and at other auction houses.

J. Calvin, La Concordance qu'on appelle harmonie (1558)
[Allard Pierson, Amsterdam]


The collection included diverse types of books: there was a large number of bindings containing manuscripts (such as books of hours), incunabula and other early printed works, often from France or Italy. An example is Calvin's La Concordance qu'on appelle harmonie (1558), no. 56 in the catalogue. It was bought by Maggs, came to the collection of John Roland Abbey, and currently is in the collection of Allard Pierson, Amsterdam. 

There was English literature (Dickens, Conrad), and books on birds, art or history, and several shelves with private press books. 

To be continued.