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Welsh almanacs collection (16th-20th C.)


Almanacs were calendars containing a range of information, including: astronomical, astrological, medical, and agricultural notes; dates of markets and fairs; descriptions of routes between towns; chronologies of historical events; poems and anecdotes; predictions of weather; and all sort of information for practical use.

The Salisbury collection contains c. 1,000 Welsh almanacs, published as broadsheets, booklets, or newspaper supplements, and ranging in date from the 17th century to the 20th century. Related to the collection is a set of English almanacs in the Cardiff Rare Books collection.

The Welsh Almanacs section includes almanacs published from the 17th century (such as Almanac Am y Flwyddyn 1681, published in London by Thomas Jones, one of the first almanacs in Welsh) to 20th century versions.

Holdings include a major set of the Almanac Caergybi, which appeared under a variety of titles: Amseroni neu Almanac (1836-1929; variant issues of several editions are available), Almanac Caergybi (1853-1856), Almanac (from 1851-1860), and Cyfaill o Gaergybi (1847-1865). The almanac-maker of the Caergybi almanacs, John Roberts of Holyhead (followed by his son Robert), was also the compiler of a series of almanacs with various titles (Cyfaill Cofus, Cyfaill Derbyniol, Cyfaill Glandeg, Cyfaill Hyddwyn, Cyfaill Tawel, etc.), printed under a fictitious Dublin imprint in order to avoid taxation (1801-1835).

In addition, the section includes a wide range of other Welsh almanacs: titles include, for instance, Almanac y Gweithiwr (1887-1906), Almanac y Miloedd (1872-1940), Amseroni Neu Almanac … Gan Gymro (then Almanac … Gan Gymro; 1837-1871); Almanac y Cymro (1903-1918); Dehonglydd y Sêr Neu Almanac (1748-1764); Newyddion Oddiwrth y Sêr, neu Almanac (1718-1752); The Aberystwyth Almanack (1906-1910); Almanac (published in Llanwrst, 1838-1845); and The Glamorganshire Almanack (1897-1909).

Included in the Collection is also a set of broadsheet almanacs produced by local publishers or as newspaper supplements from the 18th century to the 20th century. Holdings include a comprehensive set of the Royal Almanack, produced by several publishers under various names: The Chester Royal Almanack (1788-90); Cheshire, Lancashire, and North-Wales Almanack (1791-93); The Royal Almanack ... (1796-1801); The Royal Almanack, particularly calculated for Cheshire and North-Wales (1802-03); Cheshire and North Wales Royal Almanack (1804-1829); Evans’s Cheshire and North Wales Royal Almanack (1820; 1830). Among the newspapers supplements are: Almanac ‘Y Cymro’ (1899-1906); Border Counties Advertiser almanack (1899-1903); and The Welshman Almanack (1910-1914).

A wider set of English almanacs (from the late 17th century to the very beginning of the 19th century) is held in the Cardiff Rare Books collection. The major titles included  are: Apollo Anglicanus (1685-1747); Atlas Ouranios, the Coelestial Atlas (1751-1801); The British Telescope (1729-1749); The Coelestial Diary (1729-1772); Ephemeris: or, a Diary Astronomical, Astrological, Meteorological (1685-1762); The Gentleman’s Diary (1741-1801); The Ladies’ Diary (1729-1801); Merlinus Anglicus Junior (1729-1762); Merlinus Liberatus (1729-1801); Olympia Domata (1729-1801); Parker’s Ephemeris (1729-1772); Poor Robin (1685-1801); Remarkable News from the Stars (1729-1772); Speculum Anni (1734-1801); and Vox Stellarum (1729-1801, and 1793-1845 in the Salisbury Library). Most of the items are bound by year.

Also held (in Store) is a good run of the 20th century editions of Whitaker’s Almanack.

Around 50-100 individual almanacs are held also in the Cardiff Astrological Society collection.

A few examples of continental almanacs can be found in the collection, including a French set of almanacs, and an edition of facsimile reproductions of thirteen sheet almanacs printed in Umbria (Italy) between 1565 and 1822.

Date range: 17th-20th centuries.

Significance: Significant in Wales and the United Kingdom.

Strengths: Welsh almanacs, English almanacs

Size: Almanacs in Salisbury Collection: c. 1,000 items (plus c. 500 English almanacs in Cardiff Rare Books and other collections).

Languages: Welsh and English.

Keywords:  Almanacs, broadsheets, history, Wales, England, astrology.