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Margaret Georgina (Poyntz), Countess Spencer (1737-1814)

March 5, 2011

The bookplate is on the front pastedown of a handsome folio Greek New Testament printed in Paris by Robert Estienne in 1550; the volume is in the Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College Library, Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S.A.  Below it is the bookplate of Philip Hofer, the founder and chief benefactor of the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts in the Houghton Library of Harvard University, but also a trustee of Smith College and donor to its library; the curator of rare books at Smith for many years, Ruth Mortimer (for whom the room is named), was the cataloguer of Hofer’s collections of 16th-century French and Italian illustrated books.  Hofer owned another copy of this edition, now in the Houghton Library, and described as no. 78 in Mortimer’s French catalogue.  The title page of this copy bears the signature of another owner, “R Tyrwhit”.

Philip Oldfield (personal communication) has identified the arms:  “they are the arms of Margaret Georgina (Poyntz), Countess Spencer (1737-1814), wife of John Spencer, 1st Earl Spencer, who died in 1783. The countess’s bookplate is Franks 27699. The arms are Spencer impaling Poyntz.”  As he points out, “If the shield on a coat of arms is a lozenge, then the bearer is always female, usually a widow.”

The later owner, Robert Tyrwhitt (1735-1817),is identified by a long pencil note on the front flyleaf as the author of Two Discourses on the Creation of All Things by Jesus Christ (1787).

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