Sion College Library Provenance Project

Richard Rawlinson (1690-1755), a bibliophile and bishop of the Church of England, donated many books to Sion College Library (A83.2ap/H22)
Gilt armorial stamp of Sion College Library

Sion College Library was founded in the early 17th century for the clergy of the City of London. The Sion collections, now held by Lambeth Palace Library, have been greatly enriched over the centuries by numerous donations and bequests. These collections strongly reflect the very wide community of citizens who supported Sion College Library: everyone from nobility, surgeons and attorneys to merchants, stationers and many of London’s clergy. The names of each donor were listed by the College in a volume known as the Book of Benefactors (see Sion L40.2/E64 for a transcription), but many of the books also contain physical evidence of their previous owners.

Do you recognise this hand-painted armorial bookplate found in a Lutheran Bible of 1536? (A13.6/L97)

With a major project currently underway to catalogue the 30,000 early printed books in the Sion collections, it has become clear that marks of provenance are both numerous and varied, and that evidence of previous ownership, such as bookplates, inscriptions, ink stamps and armorial bindings, can reveal the history of an individual book. Inspired by the University of Pennsylvania’s wonderful Provenance Online Project (POP), the Printed Books team here at Lambeth have created the Sion College Library Provenance Project:

Home page of the Sion College Library Project
Home page of the Sion College Library Provenance Project
18th century bookplate of the Dutch sea captain, J. G. Michiels (A96.6/J23)
18th century bookplate of the Dutch sea captain, J. G. Michiels (A96.6/J23)

The project’s home page allows you to view all of our images, organised in chronological order with the most recent shown first. There are also separate sets for each different category of provenance mark (with most types divided into “identified” and “unidentified” examples): – Identified bookplatesUnidentified bookplatesIdentified inscriptionsUnidentified inscriptionsIdentified bindingsUnidentified bindingsIdentified stamps Unidentified stampsIllegible inscriptionsSion College Library marksBinding wasteAnnotations. You can also browse the collections using the tags we have added to each entry.

In addition to showing the different marks of provenance within the Sion collections, the project also aims to seek your collaboration and comments to help decipher and identify as many of our provenance marks as possible. If you know of any information that would help identify an entry, please feel free to sign in and leave us a comment or transcription! We look forward to hearing from you.

Click here to visit the project: Sion College Library Provenance Project

A83.2a B14E (2)
Can you decipher this inscription? Let us know! (A83.2a/B14E)

The Printed Books Team

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