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John Milsom

*** This is an INTERIM report ***

More than 100 volumes of Aldrich provenance within the Christ Church collection - variously large or small in size, single volumes or partbook sets, with manuscript or printed contents - have a semi-uniform binding of dark brown leather over boards, blind-tooled on the covers with fillets and bud-like ornaments, sometimes with blind- or gold-tooled ornaments on the spines. Allied to them are a further 30 bound volumes, also of Aldrich provenance, in which variants of those features are present. It is probable almost to the point of certainty that Aldrich himself oversaw the binding and decoration of these volumes, and for that reason the term 'Aldrich binding' is commonly applied to them. Notwithstanding the appearance of general uniformity, however, considerable variation exists within these bindings, and it is possible to divide them into many sub-groups or 'Types' according to the use of specific tools (and their combination) that were used on the covers, and the watermarks of the sheets that serve internally as endleaves. (For reasons that are explained below, spine decoration does not help to define the principal Types.) The following account is a provisional report on these features; considerable scope exists for further expansion and refinement, especially in the analysis of watermarks.

By far the most numerous of the items in 'Aldrich bindings' are the bound partbook sets that Aldrich organized into a tripartite scheme, broadly comprising (1) printed secular music, (2) printed sacred music, and (3) manuscript consort music. The first category, designated 'madrigals' (or, as shown in gold-tooling on the spines, 'MAD'), is the shortest and tidiest. It comprises tract volumes of printed music, largely secular, of which two sets (MAD A, MAD B) contain 5-voice music, and three sets (MAD C, MAD D, MAD E) 6-voice music. (The MAD C set has an allied organ book in folio format.) Greater variety exists within the 'motets' (or 'MOT') sequence. It comprises one 3-partbook set (MOT A), one 4-partbook set (MOT B), two 5-partbook sets (MOT C, MOT D), three 6-partbook sets (MOT E, MOT F, MOT G), one 7-partbook set (MOT I), and one 8-partbook set (MOT K); all are tract volumes of printed music. (There is no MOT H; the likely reason for its absence is discussed below.) Lying to one side of that main 'motet' sequence is a 4-partbook set that mixes tracts of manuscript and printed music; Aldrich designated it as 'MOT 4.B'. The 'fantasia' ('FANT') sequence is made up of manuscript material only, and appears to be less rationally organized; in addition, it includes sets that already lacked one partbook or more at the time of binding. The sequence comprises two 2-partbook sets (FANT A, FANT E), two 3-partbook sets (FANT B, FANT D), two 4-partbook sets (FANT F, FANT G), one 5-partbook set (FANT C), and one 6-partbook set (FANT H). Appended to the main tripartite scheme is a 5-partbook set in oblong format thst contains two tracts of vocal music manuscript; it was designated 'Z'.

Table 1 below summarizes the overall scheme. Column 2 suggests a name that helps to identify the nature or contents of the set (e.g. 'Locke'), while the final column gives the specific binding 'Type' to which the set belongs. For the sake of completeness, Mus. 284-8 is included in Table 1, since it too has a designated name ('MOT 5.B'), but does not have an 'Aldrich binding'.


FANT A 'Locke' Mus. 409-10 2
FANT B 'Hull' Mus. 411-13 4
FANT C 'Coprario' Mus. 414-16 1
FANT D 'Bing' Mus. 417-18, Mus. 1080 4
FANT E 'Great/3' Mus. 401-2 2
FANT F 'Gibbons' Mus. 419-22 1
FANT G 'Great/4' Mus. 397-400 1
FANT H 'Great/6' Mus. 403-8 1
MAD A 'Pallavicino' Mus. 484-8 1
MAD B 'Gesualdo' Mus. 908-12 1
MAD C 'Mixed' Mus. 913-18, Mus. 611 1
MAD D 'English' Mus. 449-54 -
MAD E 'Oblong' Mus. 502-7 1
MOT A '3vv' Mus. 919-21 1
MOT B '4 vv' Mus. 922-5 1
MOT C 'Grandi' Mus. 926-30 1
MOT D 'Misc.' Mus. 931-5 1
MOT E 'Mixed' Mus. 881-6 1
MOT F 'Byrd' Mus. 489-94 3
MOT G 'Late' Mus. 887-92 3
MOT I '7vv' Mus. 893-9 1
MOT K '8vv' Mus. 900-7 1
MOT 4.B 'MS/pr' Mus. 877-80 1
MOT 5.B 'Bressy' Mus. 284-8 -
Z 'Tregian' Mus. 510-14 1
Collectively these series bring together approximately 170 previously discrete sets of partbooks, printed and manuscript, any or all of which may at an earlier time have had separate wrappers or bindings. If they did, then all trace of them was removed when they were assembled into their current 'Aldrich bindings'. For that reason, the majority are of uncertain provenance. Some of the manuscript partbooks once formed part of the Hatton collection (see the Bibliography below), and the same is probably true of much of the printed music; but since the majority of the printed tracts are unmarked and bear no outward signs of provenance, in most cases it is impossible to identify the source from which Aldrich acquired them. Nor does much trace remain of the processes by which the layers of the tract volumes were assembled. In a few cases there are vestiges of handwritten numbers on titlepages, added before binding and now partly trimmed away; examples can be seen in MAD C (Mus. 913-18), MOT B (Mus.922-5), and MOT C (Mus. 926-30). The hands that added those numbers have not been identified. In one case - MOT F ('Byrd'; Mus. 488, tracts 2-3, within Mus. 489-94) - the numbers do not correspond to those of the current tract-order, suggesting that the Aldrich bindings sometimes re-ordered the contents of dismembered tract volumes. The majority of the tract volumes were provided with a summary list of contents by an (unidentified) 'Aldrich Associate', perhaps as late as the 1690s; in one case - again MOT F ('Byrd'; Mus. 493, front flyleaf, within Mus. 489-94) - his list must have been drawn up before binding, since it too has been trimmed. Aldrich's own handwriting has so far been found in only two places in the entire sequence: in MAD C (Mus. 913-18, Mus. 611, front flyleaf of Mus. 916), the list by the 'Aldrich Associate' has been annotated by Aldrich himself: 'The Thorough-Base to this Paradise is in a distinct Folio. marked. C.' (= Mus. 611); and in MOT G (Mus. 887-92), the titlepage of tract 3 (Graziani 1667) has the following inscription by Aldrich: 'This set of books I borrow'd of Mr Tim.[othy] Nourse near Paynswick Glou[cester]'. Nourse died in 1699, and presumably Aldrich then assumed ownership of the set, subsequently binding it with the other contents of Mus. 887-92.

The majority of partbooks in the MAD and MOT sequences feature on their spines a monogram-like tool, symmetrical and oval-shaped, that appears to superimpose the component letters of the name 'HENRY (or HENRICVS) ALDRICH'. In the past this has sometimes been called 'Aldrich's logo'. For an example of what seems to be a hand-drawn variant of that monogram, see Mus. 331.

The sequential ordering of the three series - FANT A-H, MAD A-E and MOT A-K - might raise the hope that the position of each set in the order reflects the chronology of binding. Other evidence, however, points to a different conclusion: Aldrich appears to have devised the idea of a tripartite series only after some of the sets had already been bound. Almost certainly he then sent the volumes back to the binder, so that that their spines might be additionally decorated with the set's series designation (FANT, MAD, MOT) and identifying letter (A, B, C etc.), together with the Aldrich monogram, and other tools selected by the binder. Evidence for this order of events is not hard to find. FANT A ('Locke'; Mus. 409-10) and FANT B ('Hull'; Mus. 411-13) have near-identical spine decorations, but their bindings are otherwise quite different (Type 2 and Type 4 respectively). Conversely, three identically bound sets - FANT F ('Gibbons'; Mus. 419-22), FANT G ('Great/4'; Mus. 397-400) and MOT I ('7vv'; Mus. 893-9) - have different spine decorations. The three partbooks of 'Bing', Mus. 417-18, Mus. 1080, are identically bound, but only Mus. 417 and 418 have decorated spines ('FANT D'); presumably Mus. 1080 was unavailable when the other two volumes went back to the binder for decoration, having been misplaced among Aldrich's books or borrowed by a user. There is also the case of MAD D ('English'; Mus. 449-54). Here, everything points to a date before 1650 for the bindings themselves, in line with the contents: 14 tracts of English madrigals and sacred songs published between and 1599 and 1630. The covers of this set are untooled except for two parallel fillets at the edges; the flyleaves have been cut from printer's waste; fragments of ties survive at the fore-edges; the list of contents in Mus. 454 (front flyleaf) has been supplied by an unidentified mid C17th hand, not by the 'Aldrich Associate'. Only the spine decorations were added by Aldrich; and those decorations now stand out as the best preserved of any set in the tripartite series, presumably on account of the different finish of the leather to which they were applied, and the lack of raised bands on the spines.

Having come into being, the tripartite scheme was developed by the addition of further sets to the series. Evidence of this comes from the MOT sequence: it begins with 3- and 4-voice sets (MOT A = '3vv'; MOT B = '4vv') and ends with 7- and 8-voice sets (MOT I = '7vv'; MOT K = '8vv'); but for the more numerous 5- and 6-voice sets, Aldrich evidently gave himself room to expand as his collection grew. Initially he reached only MOT E - the set called 'Mixed' because it includes both secular and sacred music. Subsequently he added MOT F ('Byrd') and MOT G (called 'Late' because it includes publications dated up to 1676), two sets that are near-identical in appearance, not only in tooling (both Type 3) but also in spine decoration. That left room for the addition of one more set (MOT H) before the 7-voice MOT I; but the position was never filled.

The MAD sequence reveals a different pattern of organization. Its first two sets (MAD A: 'Pallavicino'; MAD B: 'Gesualdo') between them include all the 5-voice partbooks in upright format. The third set (MAD C) is, like MOT E, a 'Mixed' set of sacred and secular works. MAD D ('English'), as explained above, had a pre-existent binding, which Aldrich merely decorated. MAD E is unique in being in oblong format, not upright. All of these sets contain printed music. As if to underline its difference, Aldrich gave the title 'Z' to his one oblong-format manuscript set of vocal music (Mus. 510-14).

It is far less easy to reconstruct the chain of events that led to the ordering of the FANT series. Significantly, however, the second set in the sequence (FANT B) appears to have been one of the last sets to come into existence, for its contents were copied by Edward Hull, a singing-man at Christ Church Cathedral in the early 1690s. Since this set ended up being placed second in the FANT sequesce, it seems likely that the tripartite scheme itself - or at least the FANT sequence within it - also dates from 1690s.

By far the majority of volumes in 'Aldrich bindings' belong to the 'Type 1' variety, with upper and lower covers tooled with an ornament that has been called '3 pointed buds'. This tool recurs widely in Christ Church books outside the Mus. sequence, and it probably belonged to an Oxford bookbinder who used it as his standard ornament. Within Type 1, many sub-divisions can be made on grounds of the endpapers added by the binder, with their various watermarks. Brief descriptions of these (and a list of the volumes in which they occur) are given below. Type 2, which is an uncommon variant of Type 1, appears to be broadly contemporary. Type 3 is found only in the 'expansion' sets within the MOT sequence (MOT F = 'Byrd'; MOT G = 'Late'). Type 4 is found only in the FANT sequence (FANT B = 'Hull'; FANT D = 'Bing').

BINDING TYPE 1. '3 pointed buds'

BINDING TYPE 2. 'Square variant of 3 pointed buds'

For a full list of volumes in these bindings, see Table 2 below. The following symbols and contractions are used:

+ The upper and lower boards have additionally been tooled in the corners with a small floral ornament.
'dots' The edges of the covers have been gold-tooled with a row of dots, rather than the usual S-shaped ornament otherwise found ubiquitously in volumes with 'Aldrich bindings'.
Watermarks in flyleaves:

1/wmk A Compact watermark of a shield-like device, rounded at the base, with a fleur-de-lys-like crest, the whole enclosing a loop that springs from a curved horn. Clear examples: Mus. 17, front and rear flyleaves.
1/wmk B Watermark of a jester's head facing left, above figure '4' surmounting a three-leafed clover; countermark 'GANNE' in a scroll. Clear examples: Mus. 920, front and rear flyleaves.
1/wmk C Watermark of a jester's head facing right, above figure '4' surmounting a three-leafed clover. Clear examples: Mus. 928, front and rear flyleaves.
1/wmk D Watermark of a small fleur-de-lys within two concentric circles, above the letters 'I G'. Clear examples: Mus. 611, front and rear flyleaves.
1/wmk E Mus. 439 only: watermark of a shield capped with a crown, and enclosing a fleur-de-lys; visible only in the first of the three front flyleaves (now pasted over with modern indexes): = same watermark as sheets inserted into MAD B (Mus. 910, tract 6) in place of missing madrigals 17-20.
1/wmk F Mus. 403-8 only: at end of Mus. 404, watermark of 2 concentric circles enclosing ?? 'COULOMBIER [fleur-de-lys] B [fleur-de-lys]', the whole encircling a bunch of grapes.
1/wmk G Mus. 804 only: watermark is an elaborate design with a crescent of ruff at the base, and underneath 'CHATEL'.
1/wmk H Mus. 525 & 526 only: watermark is largely trimmed away, but similar to G above, but 'POMO' in the scroll; best seen in flyleaves at rear of Mus. 526.
1/wmk J Watermark of a large shield with waists, surmounted by a crown, and enclosing a fleur-de-lys; at the base, '4', then ''WR'. Countermark = central 'IHS' with a cross above and 'LM' below. Clear examples: Mus. 10, front and rear flyleaves. The same paper occurs in Mus. 10, ff. 65-6, and in the body of Mus. 18.


Mus. 15 (MS: Aldrich) 1/wmk A
Mus. 17 (MS: Aldrich) 1/wmk A
Mus. 43 (MS: Aldrich) 1/wmk A
Mus. 448 (Quarto tract vol.) 1/wmk A
Mus. 919-21 MOT A ('3vv') 1/wmk A & B
Mus. 922-5 MOT B ('4vv') 1/wmk A & B
Mus. 795 ('Orfeo' tract volume) 1/wmk B
Mus. 908-12 MAD B ('Gesualdo') 1/wmk A (912) & C (910)
Mus. 926-30 MOT C ('Grandi') 1/wmk C
Mus. 931-5 MOT D ('Misc.') 1/wmk C & D
Mus. 414-16 FANT C ('Coprario') 1/wmk D
Mus. 436 (organ book to 'Great Set') 1/wmk D
Mus. 484-8 MAD A ('Pallavicino') 1/wmk D
Mus. 913-18, Mus. 611 MAD C ('Mixed') 1/wmk D
Mus. 502-7 MAD E ('Oblong') 1/wmk D
Mus. 881-6 MOT E ('Mixed') 1/wmk D
Mus. 900-7 MOT K ('8vv') 1/wmk D
Mus. 877-80 MOT 4.B ('MS/pr') 1/wmk D
Mus. 419-22 FANT F ('Gibbons') 1/wmk D/dots
Mus. 397-400 FANT G ('Great/4') 1/wmk D/dots
Mus. 893-9 MOT I ('7vv') 1/wmk D/dots
Mus. 937-8 ('Ghirlanda' 1630') 1/wmk D/dots
Mus. 510-14 'Z' 1+/ wmk A (& D in 512)
Mus. 439 (MS: songbook) 1/wmk E
Mus. 403-8 FANT H ('Great/6') 1/wmk F
Mus. 804 (Morley "P&EI') 1/wmk G
Mus. 525 (MS: Aldrich) 1/wmk H
Mus. 526 (MS: Aldrich) 1/wmk H
Mus. 10 (MS: Husbands/Aldrich) 1+/wmk J
Mus. 18 (MS: Aldrich) 1+/wmk J
Mus. 401-2 FANT E ('Great/3') 2/no binder's flyleaves
Mus. 409-10 FANT A ('Locke') 2/wmk D/dots
Mus. 338 (Child) 2+/no wmk in flyleaves
BINDING TYPE 3. Centres of covers: more elaborate blind-tooled rectangles, with ornaments on the outsides and insides of the corners.

  • Mus. 489-94 (MOT F: 'Byrd'). Flyleaves: the watermarks are largely lost in the gutters, but include: crest of a small fleur-de-lys (mounted on a pedestal?), used also in the block of blank paper bound at the end of Mus. 494 to give it bulk; letters that could be 'CD'; fragments of bunches of grapes. The sheet used by the 'Aldrich Associate' to draw up the index (Mus 493) uses paper with a different watermark.
  • Mus. 887-92 (MOT G: 'Late'). Flyleaves: as above. Unusually, there is no index by the 'Aldrich Associate'. The contents of this set were heavily used by Christ Church copyists. Latest print is dated 1676. Binding may date from after 1699 (Nourse).

BINDING TYPE 4. Centres of covers: same principle as Type 3 above, but with less elaborate blind-tooled rectangles, and with different tools used for the ornaments at the corners.

  • Mus. 411-13 = FANT B ('Hull'). Flyleaves: watermark at front of Mus. 412 include grapes and 'MLI'. Compare endpapers of N.D.3.2 (textblock: 1683, printed in Oxford).
  • Mus. 417-18, Mus. 1080 = FANT D ('Bing'). Flyleaves apparently integral to MSS themselves (on which see Wainwright Hatton p. 384). N.B. MS annotation in Mus. 418, front flyleaf: 'This book to be bound as it is'. Mus. 1080 lacks gold tooling on spine.

PRE-ALDRICH BINDING, but spine decorations added for Aldrich


David Pinto, 'The Music of the Hattons', Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 23 (1990), 79-108. Find in a Library

Jonathan Wainwright, The Musical Patronage of Christopher, First Baron Hatton (1605-1670) (Ph. D. dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1993), 2 vols. Copy deposited in Christ Church Library at Arch. Sup. H.2.270. Find in a Library

Jonathan Wainwright, Musical Patronage in Seventeenth-Century England: Christopher, First Baron Hatton (1606-1670 (Aldershot and Brookfield VT, 1997). Find in a Library