GILBERTSON, Edward (1813-1904), comp.. Dictionary of illustrations of Japanese myths, legends, folk-lore &c.. MANUSCRIPT ON RULED PAPER. [Ilfracombe, c.1888-1898]. 2 volumes, 4° (255 x 204mm). Written in a neat cursive hand on ruled paper, rectos only, occasional drawings or diagrams in pen or pencil or other illustration on versos, titles in red and black, , 345; , 261pp. Late 19th-century half black roan, spines lettered in gilt.
GILBERTSON. [Catalogue of Japanese Swords in the Collection of Edward Gilbertson.] MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER. [Ilfracombe: 1888-1898]. 4° (238 x 182mm). Written in a neat cursive hand on ruled paper on rectos only, some additional material written on versos, pp. 2-157 (lacking first page, presumably title), followed by black-and-white photographs of the swords mounted on pages numbered 135-162. Cross-references added in red ink, slightly later pencil additions on condition and other aspects. (Very slight smoke and damp-staining on fore-edges.) Late 19th-century pasteboard, cloth spine (rebacked), paper spine label 'Swords'. Provenance: E.V. Gilbertson (signed on flyleaf), and by descent to his grandson, Tim Gilbertson ('Return to Tim Gilbertson' on final flyleaf).
GILBERTSON. [Japanese Notes.] MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER. [Ilfracombe: c.1890-1902]. Volume II only (apparently of 2), 4° (254 x 202mm). Written in a cursive hand on ruled paper, one lacquer tracing drawing in red mounted, numerous pen-and-ink drawings, printed additions mounted or window-mounted. 1-443, 480-=497pp. Late 19th-century half dark brown leather, lettered on spine, marbled edges (hinges strengthened, corners a little worn). Provenance: Edward Gilbertson, and by descent to Edith Nairn (label) and Tim Gilbertson. The latest addition, on p.133 was written after March 1902. As the spine title states, this volume of 'Japanese notes' contains a wealth of information on a huge variety of subjects: lists of Japanese painters, sword makers and swords, armour, alloys, New Year decorations, legends and fables, and much else. While very tidy and with no corrections, the order indicates that the album was compiled ad seriatim so that material on the same subject may occur in different locatons; the index refers to vol. I when the subject also occurs there.
GILBERTSON. 'Japanese archery and archers', extract from Japan Society Transactions, IV, 1-15, 8 plates, London: William Clowers and Sons for the Japan Society, 1898. 8°, self-wrappers, paper spine (central sheet coming loose).
A founding member of the Japan Society, London, in 1891, Gilbertson was an avid collector and, as these manuscripts demonstrate, scholar of Japanese art. His encounter with Japanese art came first in retirement, when he lent money to a friend with a collection of Japanese ivory figures as surety. Long swords and sword fittings soon became his main focus, and he assembled a collection of almost 300 items. The present manuscript catalogue of his sword collection appears to have been prepared for publication. It includes two lengthy introductions written in 1888 and 1898, a glossary, values of swords, notable specimens in the collection, and an index of subjects and of swordsmiths, in addition to the descriptive catalogue. Pencil annotations show further work on the catalogue, suggesting material for inclusion and noting condition. IT IS ONE OF THE EARLIEST CATALOGUES OF A PRIVATE COLLECTION OF JAPANESE SWORDS IN THE WEST. Gilbertson compiled the two volumes on Japanese myths and legends from numerous sources, such as Anderson's catalogue of Japanese paintings in the British Museum, and arranged it alphabetically into dictionary form for handy reference. It would have made a valuable contribution to Japanese studies, had it been published at the time. Gilbertson's only published works are his four papers read before the Japan Society and published in their Transactions; in addition, a genealogy of the Miochin family (1892) is in the Society library.
Gilbertson's collection of swords and swordfittings was dispersed in three sales at Glendinning's between 1910 and 1917. Many of the fittings were purchased by the English collector Duncan Beresford- Jones and were sold in these Rooms, London 7 June 2000. His heirs slowly dispersed the art objects and the manuscipts, retained by the family, were mostly destroyed about 20 years ago by fire (hence the slight smoke staining in one volume). These manuscripts facilitate an overdue reassessment of this significant figure in the study of Japanese swords and art in the West. (5)