Parker Cinema Collection

Processing the A.G. Parker Cinema Collection is almost complete.  A few fragile volumes await conservation and cataloguing and a residue of journal runs are currently being added to the catalogue, but the end is clearly in sight.

Glynne Parker (second from right) in the Periodicals Department in August 1963, when located on South Wing 1.

We know from Glynne Parker’s own records that his book collection ran to 2774 books.  These numbers can still be seen on many of the books’ spines.  Book 1 in the sequence was Roger Manvell’s Film from 1944 (CCD.56.64), and book 2774 was René Prédal’s 1985 La photo de cinéma (CCC.56.1018), acquired by Glynne on the 24th of March 2011.  Journals make up a minor component of the overall collection, but include some fairly rare small-run publications.  Glynne’s set of Sequence, produced by members of the Oxford University Film Society including Lindsay Anderson and Penelope Houston, includes the scarce first number.

Glynne was intricately acquainted with the University Library’s own cinema holdings and largely avoided duplicating his own collection with ours.  The uniqueness of the A.G. Parker Cinema Collection has been lessened to some degree with the subsequent arrival of the Schobert film collection, but its value in complementing our existing holdings remains high.  Glynne concentrated on American, British, and European cinema and bought chiefly in English, French, and Italian.  His great interest in silent cinema is reflected strongly in the collection, with many major Italian titles about the genre and over 50 books about Buster Keaton.

The French component of Glynne’s books has furnished the UL with some wonderful runs of French monographic series.  Of particular note are:

  • Classiques du cinéma (28 titles)
  • Cinéma d’aujourdhui (84 titles)
  • Premier plan (46 titles)
  • Collection “Septième art”  (98 titles)

The A.G. Parker collection also contains some interesting early titles on cinema.  Among the earliest books in the collection are The modern bioscope operator (London : Ganes Limited, 1911; CCC.56.471), Motion picture handbook : a guide for managers and operators of motion picture theaters by F. H. Richardson (New York : Moving Picture World, 1912; CCD.56.110), and Motion picture acting : how to prepare for photoplaying, what qualifications are necessary, how to secure an engagement, salaries paid to photoplayers by Frances Agnew (New York City : Reliance Newspaper Syndicate, 1913; CCD.56.402).

As the book numbering mentioned earlier suggests, Glynne’s involvement with his collection of books on film was not limited to the amassing of material.  He also did a great deal of analysis of the content, giving a level of detail that standard cataloguing in the Library would not usually capture.  Accompanying his library and also donated to us are a dozen catalogue card drawers, in which he recorded:

  • analytical entries for articles in the journals he collected, arranged by subject (country, director, film, actor, film festival); these entries run to five drawers and thousands of cards
  • one drawer of similar analytical entries for some of his book collection
  • one drawer of entries under author/editor and publisher for Glynne’s film journals
  • one drawer of cards recording the ordering and receipt of books and journals, preceded by entries for the journals Glynne did collect
  • one drawer of entries for journal titles not collected by him
  • one drawer of desiderata
  • two drawers of cards recording titles (to 1977 and from 1978) held by the University Library, complete with classmarks

A notebook in Glynne’s hand contains an alphabetical list with Upper Library classmarks of synopses and popular book versions of films produced between 1928 and 1955.

Pages from the notebook of synopses and popular book versions of films.

With the instincts of a librarian, Glynne kept detailed and well-organised invoices of all his purchases together with all the booksellers’ catalogues from which he made many of his selections.

All the catalogue cards and other ephemera relating to the collection can be consulted in the Rare Books Reading Room.

David Lowe

One thought on “Parker Cinema Collection

  1. Until I read this blog post David I hadn’t thought about the recursive nature of abstraction involved in cataloguing. Here, a collector’s catalogue has become an item in a collection, thus requiring cataloguing. I suppose this sort of thing may happens quite a lot when one library acquires the contents of another – but only when the acquired catalogue is better than that of the acquirer!

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