Ion Smeaton Munro was a diplomat, journalist and author. He was also a fiercely proud Scot. Having spent much of his working life in Rome, he found ample opportunity to seek out books relating to the Jacobites and their activities. Rome being, of course, where the exiled Stuarts held court for two generations, where Prince Charles Edward was born, from where he set out for the ill-fated ‘45 and where he lies buried in the crypt of St Peter’s with his brother Henry and their father, The Old Pretender. Ion Smeaton Munro began his collection in the 1920s, and continued to add to it until his death in 1970. The Collection was then passed to his son, Ian Munro, who in much the same way his father describes Henry Stuart, ‘was not renowned as a bookish man, but he loved books around him. He was a great ‘encourager’ of books’.
Ion Smeaton Munro had a special interest in Henry, who he referred to as ‘Prince Charlie’s forgotten brother’ and sought books produced by a small printing press in Frascati, founded by him in around 1776. Editions consisted of only a few hundred copies. He wrote that he soon discovered ‘the best of the little-known Frascati publications is hungrily sought - for quite different reasons from my own. Historians of music want it because it is a close analysis of the Gregorian Chant with exhaustive and practical rules for its proper use by church choirs in all services. It is also wanted by students of typography for its crude but remarkable printing of music in hand-made woodcut blocks with tables of tonal value signs.’ He goes on to say, ‘At last, in the dusty corner of a dusty shelf in the back of a dusty shop in the Trastevere quarter of Rome, my eyes and hand alighted on this rare treasure. It was the concluding line of that typically eighteenth century prolix title-page which gave me my own particular thrill - ‘In the Printinghouse of the Frascati Seminary Itself’. The book is in its contemporary simple cardboard binding, with a deep blue marle on the outside.’
Here is a small selection of highlights from the Collection of Jacobite Books from the Library of Ion Smeaton Munro & Ian Munro...
An extremely rare ephemeral survival reporting the Battle of Culloden. Only one copy recorded on COPAC: Aberdeen University. Copac notes of the 1929 facsimile held by the National Library of Scotland that it is "A facsimile from the only known copy of the original, now in the newspaper collection of The William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan."
Sir John Strange (1696-1754), Master of the Rolls. In July 1746 Strange was one of the counsel for the crown at the trial of Francis Townley for high treason before a special commission at the court-house at St. Margaret's Hill, Southwark (Cobbett, State Trials, xviii. 329–47), and at the trial of Lord Balmerino, for the same offence, before the House of Lords (ib. xviii. 448–88). In March 1747 he acted as one of the managers of the impeachment of Simon, lord Lovat, before the House of Lords for high treason (ib. xviii. 540–841).
Francis Towneley seized and held Carlisle Castle in the 1745 Rising until it was besieged and surrendered against his will. At his trial in London on 13 July 1746, Towneley's defence that as a French officer he should be treated as a prisoner of war was disallowed. He was found guilty of high treason and was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
The original copper plate was found near the West end of Loch Laggan, April 1746, probably thrown aside during the flight after Culloden. The plate is the work of Sir Robert Strange, who hastily prepared plates due to a sudden need by the Prince for currency caused by the loss of the "Hazard" sloop on its way from France with a large sum of money on March 25th 1746. Strange was commissioned for notes of amounts from £200 downwards, but no notes were printed, and nothing of the proposed issue has survived, with the exception of the original copper plate. The reason for this is that the Plate was only delivered to Prince Charles's Treasurer a day or two before the battle of Culloden, and the other copper plate for larger notes was never completed. The original plate was purchased by The West Highland Museum in 1928 for £430 at the Cluny sale, with the assistance of a £100 grant from the National Art Collections Fund. In 1928 the Museum arranged for the distinguished Sir D.Y. Cameron R.A., Scottish artist and etcher, to print a limited edition of 57 impressions of special signed proofs, although this one is not numbered, which were sold for the benefit of the Museum.
Following James II's accession to the throne in 1685 Castlemaine was sent as Ambassador to Rome with a splendid equipage and magnificent train to reconcile the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland to the Holy See.
AUCTION | Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photography | Wednesday, 9th October at 11:00am
VIEWING | Sunday 6 October 12pm - 4pm | Monday 7 to Tuesday 8 October 10am - 5pm | Day of sale from 9am
LOCATION | 33 Broughton Place, Edinburgh