Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Owen, C.T. mss., 1933-1942, consist of the correspondence of Charles Todd Owen, d. 1941, paper mill owner and book collector of Montgomeryshire, Wales, and London, England, and George Alexander Ball, 1862-1955, manufacturer and book collector of Muncie, Indiana. C.T. Owen began collecting children's books circa 1900, including chapbooks and hornbooks as well as early English children's books. Approximately 145 of Owen's books were shown in the Victoria and Albert Museum's exhibition "English Illustrated Children's Books" in 1932. A special issue of The Studio, Autumn 1933 ("Children's Books of Yesterday" by Philip James, Lilly Z1037 .J28) is devoted to the exhibition and includes pictures of many books loaned by Owen. Late in 1932, Owen loaned materials for another exhibition held at the Luton Public Library in Bedfordshire (exhibition catalog, Lilly Z1037 .A25 L974).

In 1933 George Ball purchased the children's book collection of Owen which included Owen's hornbooks. A correspondence developed between the two men as Owen assisted Ball with difficulties in getting the materials through customs and in purchasing additional children's books. Other topics of discussion include William John Alford, 1861?-1943; book collecting and other collecting interests of the two men; chapbooks; hornbooks; C. Clark Darton; Frederick Joseph Harvey Darton, 1878-1936; earthquakes in Wales; Kirkor A. Gumuchian, 1886?-1949; the inauguration of F.D. Roosevelt, Jan. 22, 1937; Fannie Elisabeth Ratchford, 1888- ; Sir Giles Edward Sebright, 1896-1954; George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950; Walter Thomas Spencer, d. 1936; Wilbur Macey Stone, 1862-1941; Thames Board Mill Co., Ltd.; Judith Josephine Tucker, 1902- ; Wendell Lewis Willkie, 1892-1944; Andrew White Tuer, 1838-1900; paper mills and manufacturing; mines; Stora Kopparbergs Bergslags Aktiebolag in Falun, Sweden; the political situation in pre-war Europe; and World War II. Also present are letters from Ernest Winterbotham, solicitor of C.T. Owen; the import agents at American Express Co., New York; John Edmund Hodgson from the firm of Messrs. Hodgson & Co. Several of Owen's letters from 1938-1940 are accompanied by typed transcripts. The final letter in the collection, 4 April 1942, is from Owen Owen reporting the death of his brother, C.T. Owen.

The correspondence is accompanied by several inventories of the C.T. Owen children's book collection as purchased by Ball. The books were numbered, cataloged, and shipped by Messrs. Hodgson & Co., London, England. The Balls (George A. and/or his daughter Elisabeth) prepared an alphabetical arrangement of the collection: Hand-List of the Unique Collection of Illustrated Children's Books (17th-19th centuries) Formed by Charles T. Owen. The list consists of the Hodgson-numbered catalog retyped, cut into strips and pasted on pages in an alphabetical arrangement, annotated in the hand of Elisabeth Ball and occasionally illustrated with clippings from sales catalogs and other printed materials. Several holograph lists are located at the end of the Handbook.

An inventory of the collection is available.

Gift. 1989.

Collection size: 126 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.