The unifying feature of the Crofton Collection is the size of its 296 books, which are all little (but not miniature), typically from 12 to 14 centimetres in height.
Several books are attractively bound. English and French literature, especially poetry, of the eighteenth century predominates, and several texts are present in multiple editions: for example, Pope’s Homer, Dryden’s Virgil, Cowper’s poems, Hannah More’s Sacred Dramas, and Thompson’s Seasons. There is also some devotional and travel literature.
Most of the titles are in English, with one quarter in French. The French element of the collection is marked by late editions of seventeenth-century works, notably by the great French playwrights, Corneille, Racine, and Molière, alongside the eighteenth-century writers Florian, Rousseau, and Montesquieu, and by translations of classics from several other languages: the works of Salomon Gessner, Don Quixote, Sterne’s Sentimental Journey, and Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield.
Sixty-four per cent of the titles were printed in the first half of the nineteenth century, with another 27 per cent emanating from the second half of the eighteenth century. They are re-issues and editorially insignificant editions which precisely because they are not landmark issues are scarce in academic libraries.
The books were collected by Cecil Frederick Crofton (1859-1935; real name Frederick Martin), an actor, especially of comic roles, whose theatrical heyday was 1882-1896. He donated them in 1932. Several items contain his pictorial bookplate, in one of two separate designs.
Items from the collection
Virgil, Aeneis, translated by John Dryden (1815)
Florian, Galatée at rp,am pastorale, 4th edn (1792)
Caudwell, James, ‘The Forgotten Cecil Crofton’, FULLview, 22 (Dec. 2003), 13-17