Monday 7 July 1662

Up and to my office early, and there all the morning alone till dinner, and after dinner to my office again, and about 3 o’clock with my wife by water to Westminster, where I staid in the Hall while my wife went to see her father and mother, and she returning we by water home again, and by and by comes Mr. Cooper, so he and I to our mathematiques, and so supper and to bed. My morning’s work at the office was to put the new books of my office into order, and writing on the backsides what books they be, and transcribing out of some old books some things into them.

14 Annotations

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"My morning's work at the office..." My god, that's pretty much what I do on Friday and Saturday morning...

[Out of context but of course my family's prayers and best go out to the citizens of London.]

Robert Gertz   Link to this

It's still such a shame that Sam doesn't take an interest in dad-in-law Alexander. I'd've loved to have heard about his perpetual motion machine and other inventions from Sam.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Why doesn't Sam visit his parents-in-law? We know, and understand why, he doesn't get on with Balthasar, but not why he doesn't seem to want to spend time with the parents.
As a librarian, I must commend Sam on his diligence in ordering his books! It seems the Sir Williams used the "nearest available empty surface" method of filing prior to Sam's arrival.

Miss Ann   Link to this

Just like Sam it's that time of the year to finalise the last financial year's books & papers and open new files for the 2005/2006 financial year - sticking labels on spines of folders, etc. Some things never change.

In-laws - the unwelcome baggage that you get when you fall in love - I can understand Sam's not wanting to waste time with the in-laws - I feel exactly the same way about my ex-in-laws - truly frightful people, the ex-husband was definitely the pick of that mob!

Michael Robinson   Link to this

"writing on the backsides what books they be"

Does anyone know if Pepys is writing on the spines of the books? 'Twas often the custom early in the C 17th. to title in Mss. on the fore edge and if shelved, rather than kept in a chest or closed press, shelve volumes fore edge out: see the background in the carved monument to Dean Boys (d. 1625) in Canterbuy Cathedral where the books in his study are clearly shelved fore edge out.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

I suppose given Balty's pretensions to gentlemanly grandeur, Alexander, rightly or foolishly considering himself a ruined French aristocrat, looked down his nose at Sam the tailor's son and Sam...And possibly Bess...Never forgets. Interesting that Sam took time off from the office to take Elisabeth to the parents after a blissfully happy morning with her yesterday.

And Sam...I'd check those household accounts with the merchants. I'd bet a few of those 30 shillings are going to mum- and dad-in-law. Actually I wouldn't...Bess is just doing her daughterly bit for the aging ps.

Cumgranissalis   Link to this

Sams In Laws be neither of wealth or of good connection, and even be, of French extraction. They could even be still upset that Sam removed their daughter at a tender age from the bidding rites of better placed suitors. Many an in Law never come to terms, that their little darling has left home.
[Families, a myth of the father Claus variety]

Australian Susan   Link to this

Sam and the books
It seems clear that we are talking about ledgers here. Maybe they were not bound. It was common in those days (and into the 19th c to buy a book unbound and then have it bound, so that you had a library of uniform books, maybe with your crest embossed on the front if you were armigerous). So Sam may have paper bound items here, so it would be easy to write on any part of them. I took "backsides" to mean spine, as if unbound, they would not actuallly have spines, but I don't know enough about 17th c office practice. Does anyone out there?
Incidently the Australian financial year runs from July to June, but the English is April to March so Sam has passed through that time this year! A hangover from the time when the year began at Easter. Sam still usesthis practice in his year dating.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

"writing on the backsides”

What I do know is the following:-

That the substantial majority of account books from the second half of the English C 17th. that I have examined are bound in vellum with the hair side out as the most durable material for frequent use (some were probably purchased as bound ruled blank books from stationers; however I have seen two examples of Royal acounts bound in Turkey morocco, probably by the Mearne shop, but neither had any titling on spine or fore edge)

That a substantial majority of these C 17th. accounts were titled on the fore edge in pen — some were also titled along or accross the spine as well. The habit of writing titles accross the top of the fore edge appears to have persisted in certain individual estate offices till early in the C 20th.

That titling vellum with iron gall ink on the hair side, if it is not damp and within a few days of covering, is very difficult because the ink will not sink in or adhere.

That the unbound “draft” accounts I have examined are of one sewn signature and if they have the first and last leaf blank as a wrapper are titled in pen on the top, if titled at all. In general in the C 17th. and C 18th. these drafts begin at the top of the first leaf; all paper is used for work because it was too expensive a product to waste.

When I first saw the words I thought “This is the first dated direct evedence I have come accross for the general paractice of spine titling in England” — however on reflection I realised that though Pepy’s word “backside” is clear to him it is not clear to me.

For what it is worth as a general observation and crude summary of a great deal of technical literature; spine lettering (generally in the second compartment) seems to begin to appear as a “standard” on London calf or morocco bindings of printed books circa 1680. (Most but not all earlier examples are C 18th or C 19th. retrospective tooling on earlier bindings. However some binders shops working for some patrons, normally those who had spent time in Paris, were spine titling occasionaly by circa 1600)Whether C 17th century London printed books were issued in boards as a retail binding — as C 18th. century ones post 1730 certainly were — is an open question, or did individuals buy sheets for binding. Pepys bookcases made after the diary period now at Magdaline Cambridge, appear to be one of the first known surviving examples of a bookcase as an independent piece of case furniture in England. They are made for “spine out” display — between the time of Dean Boys tomb (post 1625)and Pepys cases there is a major change in the visual appearance of books in the English interior.

Ruben   Link to this

"writing on the backsides"
Thank you, Michael for your interesting annotation.
I ask myself what is to be seen today in the last pages of Samuel’s books in his library.

language hat   Link to this

I second Ruben's thanks.
That kind of detailed, well-informed commentary is what keeps me coming here.

Cumgranissalis   Link to this

Thanks for the information, excellant,
Thanks Mr Robinson. I concur with the two previous excellant annotators.

pedro   Link to this

This day in Portugal.

Two regiments of horse, and two regiments of foot, comprising in all of 3000 men, landed in Portugal. They were marched straight to the front in the Alentejo.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

This doesn't answer Michael Robinson's question about Pepys's "writing on the backsides" of his "new books," but is a feature of front-edge use at the time: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fore-edge_painting

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.