Elias Ashmole, founder of the Ashmolean Museum, was an antiquarian whose interests included heraldry, history, topography, astrology and alchemy. Intensely engaged with the politics of his time, his ballad collection is the Bodleian's richest source of political ballads from the Restoration period. Often printed in a Roman or ‘white-letter’ typeface, these contrast with the ‘black-letter’ type of more traditional ballads.
His printed books, ballads and manuscripts were first bequeathed to the Ashmolean, as were those of other early Oxford ballad-collectors such as Anthony Wood. Some of the ballads in his collection may have been previously owned by John Aubrey (1626-1697) or Edward Lhuyd (1660-1709).
Bibliography: R. W. Hunt, ‘The cataloguing of Ashmolean collections of books and manuscripts’, BLR 4(1952), pp. 161-70;
R. T. Gunther, ‘The Ashmole printed books’, BQR 6 (1930), pp. 193-5.
Contents: Over 100 ballads, mostly political, from the 17th century
Below are the volumes contained in this collection, click to expand.