Friday, March 27, 2015

Pogo Goes to Dartmouth

A few weeks ago a researcher was in trying to track down an article from Look Magazine about Dartmouth. He knew it was by John Lardner (son of Ring Lardner, Jr.) and an approximate date, but not much more.  We found the article individually cataloged by one of our intrepid archivists of yore. The real thrill was the illustrations by Walt Kelly featuring his legendary character, Pogo.

The article, "The Young Stay Young at Dartmouth," appeared in the June 2, 1953, issue and was unexpectedly timely. As Dartmouth moves to ban hard alcohol from campus, we read that:
The fact is, though, that no one gets very shaky at Dartmouth, on drink. In and out of the fraternities, it is a beer school, not a hard liquor school. To get hard liquor in bottles--New Hampshire being a non-package state--you have to go three miles down the pike and across the Connecticut River into White River Junction, Vt. Few Dartmouth men have the ready cash or the inclination to make this run often, for that purpose.
 To see the article and all of Walt Kelly's illustrations, ask for DC History LD1441.L373.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Girl's Best Friend

We recently received a set of jewelry design drawings by Donald Claflin. Claflin, after whom the jewelry design studio in the Hopkins Center is named, was a designer at Tiffany & Co. from 1965 to 1977. During that time, he became known for his artistry and use of such unusual materials as leather and ivory in combination with the finest gemstones. His designs were both intricate and bold and quite expensive to produce. However, his tenure at Tiffany's coincided with the reestablishment of Tiffany's standard of quality under its new CEO, Walter Hoving.

Founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany and John F. Young, Tiffany's beginnings were humble. The store sold stationery and a variety of fancy goods, including costume jewelry. In 1841, Tiffany's began selling real jewelry, adding silverware to their inventory in 1847. By that time, Tiffany and Young had distinguished themselves from other stores by clearly displaying prices for their items, thereby avoiding the practice of haggling, and accepting only cash for their wares. During the Civil War, Tiffany's became an emporium for military supplies. After the war, they returned to their staples of jewelry and silverware, as well as other higher profile items. From the 1860s to 1929, Tiffany's sales grew exponentially. They opened a store in London and Paris and a factory in New Jersey. However, after the financial crash of 1929, the company's profits sank. There was a brief resurgence during World War II, when the factory in New Jersey supplied military products, but by 1955, the real estate under the company's flagship New York building was more valuable than the company itself.

Claflin, along with top designers Jean Schlumberger and Thomas Hoving, whose stained glass lamps have become synonymous with the Tiffany name, were given almost free reign under Hoving. Among Claflin's most memorable designs, were the whimsical pieces he created based on children's stories, including Alice in Wonderland and Stuart Little, as well as less extravagant pieces, including the popular criss-cross ring. He was also the first designer to use and create an entire collection out of the rare blue gemstone Tanzanite. Claflin left Tiffany's in 1977 and was hired by Bulgari where his designs became sleeker and more abstract.

Claflin's designs were little pieces of art, expressions of his individuality as an artist. He felt that there was more to jewelry design than just the setting of expensive stones. Claflin was not unique in that thought, and he was certainly not the first jewelry designer to think so. More than one hundred years before Claflin another jewelry designer got his start at Tiffany's. Herman Marcus had emigrated from Dresden, Germany, in 1849, and started to work for the company in 1850. He struck out on his own in 1864, when he opened a store with Theodore B. Starr. Starr and Marcus dissolved in 1877, and Marcus returned to Tiffany's where he stayed until 1884. Giving entrepreneurship another try, Marcus opened Jaques & Marcus with George Jaques that same year. After Jaques retired in 1892, the company became Marcus & Co. Marcus and his family loved and lived for jewels, spending a lot of their time traveling to the far corners of the earth for gemstones. They were particularly interested in neglected gems such as zircons, chrysoberyls, tourmalines, opals, garnets, beryls, spinels, and peridots. Like Tiffany's, Marcus' clientele were the wealthy for whom he designed individual pieces that were never reproduced. The style of designs ranged from intricate filigree punctuated designs that used many colored gemstones, diamonds and pearls during the Edwardian period (1900-1910), to French Art Nouveau, Egyptian and Renaissance revival influenced designs in the 1920s and 30s. In 1899, the company had added a silversmithing department, as well as an appraisal service and began to buy old jewelry for cash. They also offered their premises for jewelry storage during the summers when the wealthy left the City. In 1941, the company was sold to Gimbel Brother's department store, and in 1963 merged with Black, Star & Frost.

To see scrapbooks of Jaques & Marcus designs, created at the time of their manufacture ask for
MS-674. To see the more than 300 drawings by Donald Claflin ask for MS

Friday, March 20, 2015

Artist's Book?

We love a good artist's book--something with some depth that gives the "reader" an opportunity to play while it calls into question the nature of the book. Most of the ones we acquire are created for that purpose, but occasionally history throws up something that we would now see as an artist's book.  Case in point: Excursion Views of Narragansett Bay and Block Island (Providence: Excursion View Co., 1878).

Housed in a walnut and glass case, Views offers two mechanical moving scrolls that take you on a panoramic yacht tour from Providence, Rhode Island, around Block Island and back. The hand cranks carry you past Newport, Bristol, shoreline hotels and scenic lighthouses--all in chomolithographic splendor. Views performs its real magic, though, when it is set next to books like the English Pilot (we will blog that some day...), a tourist guide, or a Victorian novel...

It is not cataloged yet, but you can ask for it at the Rauner reference desk.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

This Ought To Be A Good Book

When Robert Frost met Sidney Cox in Plymouth, New Hampshire, in 1911, they were both teachers. The 22-year-old Cox was a recent graduate of Bates College and a newly minted high school teacher, while Frost, age 37, was a teacher at Plymouth Normal School (later Plymouth State College). Their first meeting was not amiable, with Frost teasing Cox about papers he was hurrying home to grade. However, the relationship improved over a common interest in literature and poetry and over the next forty years they kept up a lively correspondence with Cox developing a reverence for the poet very quickly. So when Cox decided to write a book about his friend, he decided not to write a standard biography but rather "a portrait of the wholeness of a man," he described as "the wisest man, and one of the two deepest and most honest thinkers, I know." Cox finished the manuscript before his death in 1952, and in 1954, it found its way to the offices of the New York University Press and its editor Wilson Follett who recognized the value of the book because he felt that Frost was "one of the remaining early moderns who merit rediscovery and re-examination."

After the book was vetted and accepted by the editorial committee of the New York University Press, Follett suggested that a preface by Robert Frost "in which he states the facts of his long association with Cox in as much detail as he can be got to supply," would be beneficial to the sale of "this little book." He believed that Frost and Cox's "association was such that I think he [Frost] cannot possibly refuse." On October 20, 1954, Follett sent a letter to Frost with a request for such a preface. He received no reply. On November 16, 1954, he sent a second request, this time to the University of Cincinnati, where he believed Frost to be. Again, there was no reply from Frost. Instead, in a letter addressed to Follett by William S. Clark in the English department at Cincinnati, he was assured that Clark had personally put Follett's letter into Robert Frost's hands. On May 10, 1955, Follett made another attempt to contact Frost directly.
Dear Mr. Frost
Is it not possible for you to take a moment to acknowledge a fairly long-standing invitation to contribute some word of your own to Sidney Cox's Swinger of Birches, a book written with great devotion to you and to truths as Cox saw it?
Seven days later he sent an additional letter addressed to Frost's assistant Kathleen Morrison asking her if she had had a chance to talk to Frost about the requests as the Press had been "holding up publication of the book," because they felt that it was "incomplete without a contribution from Frost." In June 1955, Follett received an answer from Kathleen Morrison telling him that Frost "feels strongly that he doesn’t want to break the habit of a lifetime and start writing anything in books that deal with him or his writing." In another letter addressed to Frost almost a year later, Follett was getting exasperated, reminding Frost that "You were important to Sidney Cox for four decades; there must have been senses in which he was and is important to you." On June 18, 1956, Follett finally received a response from Frost in which he grudgingly consented to and enclosed a "bookselling preface," in which he denied ever having read the manuscript, something Follett believed to be false, as he was told that Frost had read it while Cox was still alive. In the preface, Frost also reiterated the fact that he did not like to read anything about himself.
I find most attempts to describe me much to disturbing either for my pleasure or my discipline. I am assured and I assume from my knowledge of Sidney Cox that the book is one texture of honesty and as such I may concede it all the value you please, but be the responsibility of giving it to the world entirely on the heads of others.
Over the two years that Follett had been trying to get in touch with Frost, he was also regularly updating Alice Cox, Sidney's widow, about the progress of the publication. In regard to Frost's preface he told her that "it was a nasty little document, reflecting in every line the self-detestation with which he [Frost] supplied it." However, even though Follett felt that the preface was "astringent,'' he was "prepared to publish it exactly as it stood." Then, in September 1956, he received an additional letter from Frost.
Dear Mr. Follett
A letter from Alice Cox put our situation in an entirely different new light. She doesn't share my hesitation about the preface at all. She wants it and is sure that Sidney would want it too. That's all I ask and should have asked from the first. It doesn't matter to me now about this slight discomfort I may still feel in prefacing my own praises. If it is not too late I should like another chance at the preface to touch it up a little and perhaps make it sound a little less grudging.
A Swinger of Birches was published in 1957, by New York University Press. To read the entire correspondence ask for MS-1325.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Slavery, Abolition and the New World

In 1772, a Scotch-Dutch captain named John Gabriel Stedman journeyed to the northeastern coast of South America, sent by the Dutch military to help quell a slave rebellion in its colonies there. Nineteen years after his return, Stedman published an extensive record of his travels--equal parts travelogue, naturalist description, political and military history, and personal narrative--titled Narrative, of a Five Year’s Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, in Guiana, on the Wild Coast of South America; from the year 1772 to 1777: Elucidating the History of that Country, and Describing its Productions, Viz. Quadrupes, Birds, Fishes, Reptiles, Trees, Shrubs, Fruits, & Roots; with an Account of the Indians of Guiana, & Negroes of Guinea (London: J. Johnson, 1796).

While Stedman’s text overflows with vivid descriptions of landscapes and wildlife, as well as the native Arawak population, it became popular--and remains compelling--for its depictions of colonial slavery. The Dutch military sent Stedman to join its campaign against the  maroons, or the escaped slaves who formed inland communities and waged guerrilla warfare against the colonists and their plantations. While he did so, Stedman also developed sympathy for the enslaved population; he condemns the inhumane torture and punishment that they suffered, and describes it in lurid detail in his narrative (see illustrated examples: vol. 1 pg. 111, 327). While Stedman’s outspoken sympathy made him unique for his time, he remained undeniably ethnocentric. In his introduction, he muses, “while the Colony of Surinam however is reeking and dyed with the blood of the African negroes, truth compels me to observe, that the Dutch there are not the only guilty; but that to most other nations, and particularly the Jews, is owing this almost constant and diabolical barbarity” (vol. 1 pg. v).

Stedman’s contradictory perceptions of race and slavery surface most clearly in his relationships with women. He paints a picture of a romantic love affair with a mulatto (mixed-race) slave named Joanna, waxing poetically: “Her face was full of native modesty, and the most distinguished sweetness; her eyes, as black as ebony, were large and full of expression, bespeaking the goodness of her heart” (vol 1. pg. 87, pictured p. 89). Stedman praises Joanna and other African slaves in comparison with European women; however, his narrative omits several unromantic sexual exploits with slave women, recorded only in his personal journal. Over the course of Stedman’s relationship with Joanna, she gave birth to a son named Johnny. While he managed to emancipate Johnny, Stedman failed to free Joanna--and, allegedly, she refused to go to Europe as an outsider and a slave. Ultimately, Stedman left both Joanna and Johnny behind, returning to Europe and marrying a Dutch aristocrat.

Stedman likely supported some reform within the system of slavery--but certainly not its eradication. Despite this fact, and his problematic personal life, his Narrative became popular within the British abolitionist movement, largely due to its vivid condemnations of torture. Abolitionist intellectuals attempted to recast Stedman’s text in support of their cause. J. Johnson, the radical abolitionist printer who published the text, captioned its first illustration--which shows Stedman standing over a dead slave--with his own sentimental verse:
'From different Parents, different Climes we came,
At different Periods”; Fate still rules the same.
Unhappy Youth while bleeding on the ground;
‘Twas Yours to fall--but Mine to feel the wound.
Many of the illustrations are based on Stedman’s own sketches, but are actually the work of abolitionist artist and poet William Blake. The final illustration, and one of Blake’s most famous, depicts “Europe supported by Africa and America” (pictured, vol 2. pg. 395); with it, Blake criticizes European colonialism, not just for its exploitation of African and Native American populations, but also its dependence on them.

While Stedman’s Narrative made some contributions to the abolitionist cause, it also served colonial governments; his detailed military planning maps and battle descriptions made the text into a useful handbook for anti-guerrilla combat in the colonies. Ultimately, Stedman’s legacy is a mixed one--steeped in slavery as much as early abolitionism. He ends his Narrative with one last ethnocentric plea for tolerance: “Thus, if it has not pleased fortune to make us equal in rank and authority, let us at least use the superiority we possess with moderation, and not only proffer that happiness which we have to bestow on our equals but let us extend it with chearfulness [sic] to the lowest of our deserving dependants” (vol 2. pg. 395).

To read Stedman’s fascinating Narrative and see William Blake’s illustrations, request Rare Book F2410.S815 copy 2.

Posted for Emily Estelle ‘15

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"Her mind appeared uncommonly spiritual"

Chloe Spear (c. 1767-1815) was an enslaved African woman living in Boston who became the subject of a posthumous biography, Memoir of Mrs. Chloe Spear: A Native of Africa, Who was Enslaved in Childhood, and Died in Boston, January 3, 1815, Aged 65 Years, by an unidentified “Lady of Boston” in 1832.

Chloe was twelve years old when she was “taken from country and kindred” and sold to the prominent Bradford family in Boston whom she served until she was freed in 1783. Chloe Spear spent her first few years of captivity in Andover, Massachusetts, and later moved to Boston where she was baptized at Second Baptist Church. Following her emancipation, Spear worked as a housekeeper and washerwoman before opening up a boarding house with her husband, Cesar. She and Cesar had seven children, all of whom she outlived.

The Memoir of Mrs. Chloe Spear is a spiritual biography—central to her story are the ways in which her spirituality and deep commitment to Christianity evolved. Following her baptism, Spear read the Bible with incredible fervor, opened her home to white and black Christians for prayer meetings, and engaged in mission work in Boston and Andover. As noted by her biographer: “She was kind and benevolent to the poor and distressed. Whenever objects of charity were presented, her hand was open for their relief.”

Spear died of “rheumatic complaints” in 1815. In her will, she left her home, money, and possessions to her church with hopes that it be applied to—in her words—the “relief of the sick and poor—particularly those of colour.” Following her death, one prominent white Boston minister posited of her: “Several of the last years of her life, her mind appeared uncommonly spiritual. As she advanced in life, she seemed to ripen for glory. Few Christians with whom we have been acquainted have appeared to maintain so near a walk with God, or to enjoy so much of heaven.”

Spear's Memoir is currently on display in Rauner Library in a student-curated exhibit, "Snatched from Africa's fancy'd happy seat": Gender and Slavery in New England. You can see it there until the end March.  After that, ask for 1926 Collection, L325 1832.

Posted for Jordan Terry '15

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Spontaneous Expression

In 1923, a young girl sat down at her typewriter and began to write a story about flowers, meadows and woodlands. She was nine years old but had been typing since she was four. Home schooled by her mother, and with the support of her editor father, Barbara Newhall Follett finished the first draft of her book The House Without Windows three months later. She then began to revise it with the help of her father, Wilson Follett, and a print-ready draft was completed in October of that year, only to be destroyed in a fire a little while later. Distraught but not discouraged, Barbara began again, trying to remember the words that she had so carefully chosen the first time. However, according to her father:
One day in December, everything was suddenly different. As an experiment of despair, Barbara had stopped trying to remember the shape of sentences, the precise order and phraseology of details, and had begun to let the material come back as it listed.
And it did, but the new book would not be finished for one reason or another until 1926, when Barbara was twelve. It was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1927. As far as the difference between the first draft and final draft was concerned, Wilson Follett found that... to ordinary literacy, there [was] no perceptible difference…[but] what the reader is here given is an articulate eight- and nine-year-old child's outpouring of her own dreams and longings in a fanciful tale, superficially revised by the hand of a twelve-year old girl.
The book was a success and a year later Barbara wrote The Voyage of the Norman D., an account of a sea journey to Nova Scotia she undertook with her mother. This second book was also critically acclaimed and Barbara was only fourteen when she was heralded as a child prodigy.

Her personal life, however, was marked by many disappointments. Wilson Follett abandoned his wife for a younger woman, leaving the family penniless, and forcing Barbara to work as a secretary in New York. While still in her teens, she married Nickerson Rogers, who graduated from Dartmouth College in 1931. Nick was an outdoor enthusiast like herself and by all accounts the marriage was a happy one until 1939, when Nick confirmed Barbara's suspicion that he had met someone else. On December 7, 1939, Barbara left her house after a fight with Nick. She had thirty dollars and a notebook in her pocket and was never seen or heard from again.

Ask for Rare Book PZ7.F735 Ho to read Barbara's first novel.