[ Victorian Free Public Libraries in Lambeth, Birmingham and elsewhere. ] Scrapbook of ephemera (posters, handbills, bookplates, tickets, forms) and newspaper cuttings, compiled by Walter Powell and completed by H. M. Cashmore.

Walter Powell (1874-1928), Chief Librarian of Birmingham [ Herbert Maurice Cashmore (1882-1972), City Librarian of Birmingham; Lambeth; Free Public Libraries ]
Publication details: 
[ Lambeth (London), Birmingham and other places in England. ] Between 1887 and 1928.
SKU: 18213

On his death Cashmore was said in his obituary by P. Havard-Williams to belong 'to a legendary age of British public librarianship'. The present collection (completed by Cashmore but almost all the work of his predecessor as Birmingham chief Librarian Walter Powell) is a marvellously evocative relic of that period, containing a mass of ephemeral material from a number of late-Victorian English public libraries - including forms, applications, certificates, reminder cards, bookplates, order slips, labels - these artefacts accompanied by a large body of related newspaper cuttings, mainly from provincial newspapers. The early part of the volume contains material relating to Lambeth (where Powell was assistant librarian from the late 1880s), and the latter part to Powell's native Birmingham (where he was chief librarian from 1912), but also included is a large amount of material relating to other English libraries (listed below). The collection consists of several hundred items, laid down on 179pp. of a 4to scrapbook, followed by a four-page manuscript index (compiled in a small hand with a librarian's care). The collection itself is in good condition, while the pages of the scrapbook, which lacks its covers, are aged and chipped. Manuscript title-page by Cashmore reads: 'SCRAP BOOK | Compiled by | WALTER POWELL | (completed by H. M. CASHMORE) | 1890-1928.' Ownership signatures on first page: 'Walter Powell, | July 4th. 1890' and 'H. M. Cashmore | 27: vii: 1928'. The volume begins with material relating to the opening of several public libraries in Lambeth in the late 1880s: mainly Norwood Public Library, Knight's Hill, but also the Durning Library, Kennington, and the Tate Public Library, including engraved illustrations of library buildings and newspaper reports of opening ceremonies, also application forms, notices, invitation cards, subscription lists and other material (including calling card of chief librarian Frank J. Burgoyne). Also present are a striking poster for the opening ceremony of West Norwood Free Public Library, unfolding to 75 x 48 cm, and five notices (all 22.5 x 28 cm), all set out in characteristic Victorian style, one reading: 'Notice! | The Library and News | Room will be | Closed | on | Whit-Monday.' The political element is emphasised by handbills headed 'The Free Library Act in Lambeth' ('The coming year (1887), will be the JUBILEE year of Queen Victoria's reign; it would be a glorious movement to plant TEN FREE LIBRARIES AND READING ROOMS in the Borough andn Parish of Lambeth.') and 'Free Libraries for Lambeth' ('There are many of the Parishioners who are very anxious to establish Reading Rooms and Libraries all over the Parish of Lambeth. Let us examine their proposals and their methods.'), with another handbill urging parishioners to vote 'IN FAVOUR!!' There are also a number of handbill advertisements, including one addressed to 'WORKING MEN!' (headed 'KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!!') and another for a lecture at Norwood by Alexander Macdonald ('War Correspondent with the late Nile Expedition'). The Birmingham material consists a similar range of material (labels, notices, forms, announcements, invitation cards), and includes a hand-written response to Powell's 'Application for Increase of wages' in 1912, and a printed card given out for the City of Birmingham Free Librariees on the 'Visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales' ('The point most worthy of notice is, that these Libbraries have been provided, and are maintained, by a small rate, willingly paid by the people themselves, and that they are free to the public, rich and poor alike, absolutely without charge.'). While most of the material relates to Lambeth and Birmingham, also present is material relating to: Public Library, Wandsworth; Chelsea Public Libraries (including a small leather reader's ticket); Tate Library, Brixton (including an illustrated handbill description of the opening by the Prince of Wales, and two armorial bookplates for presented material); Newcastle upon Tyne Public Library and Art Gallery (including an engraved illustration on coloured paper, and a notice of 'Fifth Annual Stock-Taking'); Battersea Public Libraries (illustrated invitation to the laying of the foundation stone); Swansea Public Library; Wolverhampton Free Library (including a poster for an evening of 'Lectures & Entertainments'); City of Coventry Free Public Library (four labels in different colours); Clerkenwell Public Library; Richmond Free Public Library; North Devon Athenaeum; Worcester Victoria Institute; Handsworth Public Libraries; Worcester Public Library and Hastings Museum; Glasgow Mitchell Library; St Martins-in-the-Fields Free Public Library; Roupell Park. Also present is material relating to the Library Association, including several items relating to the 'First Summer School for Library Assistants', 1893, including an Autograph Letter Signed from J. D. Mullins, chief librarian at Birmingham, stating that Powell is 'a bona fide Student of librarianship', and not connected with 'either of the trades referred to in the programme of the Summer School viz Type Foundry, Printing, Bookbinding', as well as the programme of the 1906 Library Association conference. The several hundred cuttings are indexed at the end of the volume, and come from the following sources: Birmingham Daily Gazette; Birmingham Daily Post and Journal; Birmingham Mail; Birmingham Magnet; Birmingham News; Birmingham Pictorial and Dart; Birmingham Weekly Post; Daily Chronicle; Daily Mail; Daily News; Evening Dispatch; Felling Gazette; Globe and Traveller; Guildsman; Harborne Herald; Lambeth Post and South London Review; Library World; Metropolitan; Norwood News; Norwood Review and Crystal Palace Reporter; Norwood News and Crystal Palace Chronicle; Norwood Press and Dulwich Advertiser; Pall Mall Gazette; Saturday Review; Smethwick Telephone; South London Mail; South London Press; Southern Star; Staffordshire Sentinel; Star; Sutton Coldfield News; Tit Bits; Town Crier; Western Daily Mercury; Western Morning News. Of interest are three pieces from the Pall Mall Gazette, 1891, concerning the question 'Are free libraries a failure?' Also a full-page 1895 cartoon and accompanying article from the 'Town Crier', titled 'Wanted - A Rise!', the cartoon showing a librarian holding out his cap to beg money from Britannia. The newspaper cuttings also include obituaries of John Davis Mullins and Arthur Capel Shaw of Birmingham; Peter Cowell of Liverpool; and David W. Chalmers, assistant librarian at Norwood (several reports of inquest). Cashmore has contributed the last five pages, which are covered with obituaries of Powell, and the first item in the book, a photograph captioned by Cashmore: 'Mr. Walter Powell's house | 9, Mayfield Road. | Wylde Green. | (Photograph by H. M. Cashmore) | House sold 27. vii. 1928'. Loosely inserted related items are two related items from 1928: a large poster (75 x 56 cm.) from Birmingham auctioneer William Adams, advertising the sale of Powell's effects; and a copy of the catalogue (6pp., 4to) of the auction including Powell's house: 'Estates of E. M. Evans, deceased; Walter Powell, deceased; and other directions. | Particulars of sale of Freehold & Leasehold Residences, at Solihull, Wylde Green, Olton, and Marston Green (With Vacant Possession), and Freehold Land, Widney.' Another loosely-inserted item is an extracted item (18pp., 4to) headed 'Section XVI | Public Libraries | By Walter Powell | Chief Librarian, Birmingham Public Libraries'. The only extraneous material in the volume consists of twenty-seven pages of engraved portraits of prominent authors.