Vignette: Poetic Flowers, Geneva, [1824]

The difference between seeing a J or a T means, for Mrs. T Smith, having your work accessible in digital archives or remaining concealed. We originally transcribed the author’s first initial as a J. The entry is in Stainforth’s wish list, page 562, line 15. The initial is added above the line, and I must say it still looks like a J to me! While once more searching for a trace of this work online, I discovered that the top search result lists the 1946 edition of the Catalogue of Printed Books in the British Museum. Knowing that most of Stainforth’s library wound up at the British Museum, and then the British Library after that, I searched the BL catalog simply for “Poetic Flowers” on a hunch. To my surprise, I found a BL record for Poetic Flowers, Second edition. T. Smith, Mrs. Geneva, 1824. Not only did I find the record that refers to the title Stainforth sought, but I also found a copy of the book digitized by the BL attached to the record. Yahtzee!

Previously, I had written this about the title: “In his wish list, Stainforth lists Mrs. J. Smith’s Poetic Flowers, editions 1 and 2, published in Geneva, where the printer and publication date are unknown (562.15). He did not cross out the entry, which indicates that Stainforth was not able to find these books. Coincidentally, neither can we. There is an entry for this title in Worldcat, but it is a placeholder that says OCLC was ‘unable to get information about libraries that hold this item.’ In this case, our global digital library catalog, Worldcat, mirrors Stainforth’s wish list.”

This is probably now nearly all false provided that the author’s first name starts with T. While it’s true that Stainforth could not find the book, we certainly can. I need to update not only my own paragraph but also write to OCLC and log a potential correction to see if this Poetic Flowers by J Smith and another Poetic Flowers record by T Smith are in fact the same bouquet.  I have never proposed a correction to OCLC before — only in the LOC.

 

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One Comment

  1. Kirstyn Leuner

    Update: the manuscript definitely contains a J, not a T, based on an analysis of Stainforth’s handwriting. The title is not listed in the auction catalog because it’s on Stainforth’s wish list — he never acquired it, so it wasn’t in his library when the auctioneers recataloged his library for its sale. That quashes my theory that the auction catalog was the source for Worldcat’s Mrs. J Smith entry. It would really be nice if we could pin the Mrs. T Smith to Stainforth’s entry, since it contains so much more information as well as a digital edition. The investigation continues …

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