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Ogden, C.K. Library

5,000 vols and over 500 mss boxes

The Ogden Collection was the Library's greatest acquisition of the 20th century. It was purchased with a generous grant made by the Nuffield Foundation to encourage research in the field of communications. Charles Kay Ogden (1889-1957) himself described his library as "an Orthological library of 50,000 volumes with universal English as a solution to the international problem of Debabelization, and the educational problem of Word Magic as its focus." From this library UCL acquired in 1953, the Brougham papers and several other manuscripts, a background collection of 3,500 volumes to the Bentham-Brougham group including 152 early Bentham items, and about 1,500 volumes (including 24 incunabula and 394 STC books) of carefully built special collections of rare books in fields related to his interests. He once listed the special interests of his collecting as "semantics, meaning, word magic, supplemented by subsections of sign systems, symbol systems and non-verbal notations (including cryptography and shorthand), universal language, translation and simplification". Many of these interests are supported by author rather than subject collections. The special collections of the Ogden Library (with the number of items in brackets) include : J.V. Andreae, the author of Turris Babel (9), Bacon (41), Boyle (35), Chaucer (6), Coleridge (16), Comenius (15), Ben Jonson (9), Kircher (19), Milton (23), Minsheu (34), Shelley (22), Bishop Wilkins (22), annotated books (300), cryptography (21), emblems (85), and shorthand (13).

Ogden had a particular penchant for collecting books of interesting provenance, so the collection contains five books from Ben Jonson’s own library, Percy Shelley's annotated copy of Petrarch, John Constable's copy of the memoirs of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1813) and Oscar Wilde's heavily annotated copy of the Elegies of Propertius (1872). There are c.4,800 volumes of 19th and early 20th century works, including many tracts, works by Lord Brougham, and Bentham, some 237 works by Halliwell Phillipps, many biographies of major political figures such as Gladstone and Daniel O'Connell, and a number of large volumes containing illustrations of the Crimean War from The Times.

The collection includes many of the publications of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, whose archives the Library also holds, including the Penny Magazine (1835-45), the Penny Cyclopedia, the British Almanac from 1828, the Gallery of Portraits and many publications of the Library of Entertaining Knowledge. There are also many periodicals in the Ogden Collection including, among others, the Gentleman's Magazine (1772-94), the Pamphleteer (1813-28), and the Critical Review (1775-90). Finally there is a set of Psyche Miniatures and Ogden's own collection of sale catalogues, many with his annotations, from auction houses and booksellers such as Sotheby, Quaritch and Blackwells.