Friday, February 5, 2016

You Got a Perty Binding

Vicar of Wakefield cover"Vellucent" binding was invented by Cedric Chivers around the turn of the 20th century. It was touted as the best thing in the book arts since paper was invented - at least by Chivers and his associates. The fad lasted for a fairly brief period.

The "vellucent" process was patented by Chivers in 1898 and boils down to two essential steps. First the artist - typically one of the women employed by Chivers in his Bath, England, bindery - would paint or draw directly onto a thin subsurface. Additional decorative materials including mother of pearl or precious metals could also be applied at this time. Once complete, the entire piece would be covered in a transparent layer of vellum and then be attached to the boards as with any other book. The vellum protected the fragile underlying decorative layer, added a "warm" tone to the work and allowed for additional gold tooling as desired.

Much like the Rubaiyat we've mentioned before, the final product was all about visual appeal. The text was secondary and only served as inspiration for the scene depicted by the artist. Is it art, is it kitsch, is is pretty? You be the judge.

Carols of Cockayne cover Imitation of Christ - back coverNature Near London cover
Garden That I Love cover Cranford coverChristmas at Bracebridge cover Cricket on the Hearth coverLa Fontaine Fables coverLa Fontaine Fables coverCranford coverEssays of Elia coverImitation of Christ coverSintram and his Companions and Undine coverOur Village coverOur Village cover

Ask for any or all of the following: Sine Illus B55hunf, Sine Illus B76cran, Sine Illus B76cric, Sine Illus B76essl, Sine Illus B76kee, Sine Illus B76ourv copy 1 & copy 2, Sine Illus B76vica, Sine Illus B766sin, Sine Illus D655nat, Sine Illus E55gar, Sine Illus H687imi, Sine Illus L443car, Sine Illus S865skeb & Sine Illus T56cran.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Spratt's Patent Cod Liver Oil Dog Cakes

Ad for Spratt's dog cakesYummy! This advertisement for Spratt's Patent Cod Liver Oil Dog Cakes appears in one of the coolest items in our extensive Stefansson polar research collection: Fridtjof Nansen's Farthest North in its 1898 serialized parts (London: George Newnes). That a book on arctic exploration could be published and sold in the manner of a popular novel says loads about how the arctic had infected the public consciousness at the time. Nansen's voyage sparked romantic visions for an English audience eager for true life adventure in an ever shrinking world.

Cover to part 1 of Nansen's Farthest North
But it is the advertisements that really get you thinking. They offer the London middle-class reader an opportunity to vicariously explore the globe's unknown reaches through the magic of consumerism. Can't go to the arctic? Well, at least you treat your dogs the same biscuits Nansen fed to his dogs! It is reminiscent of all of the kids in the 1970s who had to have Tang over actual orange juice because Tang went to the moon.

To take a look ask for Stef G700 1893 .N22.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Misunderstood Youth

Saint Joan of Arc CoverWhile preparing for a class on mysticism, a library school intern stumbled across a fascinating little book: Saint Joan of Arc by Mark Twain. Given the well-known propensity of the author for edgy humor, we expected to find a waggish re-interpretation of the Maid of Orléans, rife with clever barbs aimed at the French and any number of other hapless victims. Instead, Twain's attitude towards Joan of Arc might best be described as adulation. In the opening pages of this lovely little book, which seems to be an abridged children's version of his more weighty Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Twain reprints the latter work's preface and judges Joan's character as occupying "the loftiest place possible to human attainment, a loftier one that has been reached by any other mere mortal."

Saint Joan of Arc Title PageAlthough we did not realize it when we first examined this text, Twain's fascination with the Maid of Orléans has been characterized by at least one writer as "among the most baffling and least talked about enigmas in American literature." Although there is debate about when Twain first became enamored of the young girl, there is little argument over the serious and studious interest that the American author had in Joan. He has been described as one of the first writers to introduce her story to an English-speaking audience, nearly four hundred years after her death left her reputation shrouded in controversy.

Saint Joan of Arc as La Pucelle in full armor
Regardless of Twain's true motivation for his veneration of Joan (a worship that predated the French martyr's beatification by several decades), this work reveals an unfamiliar yet somehow pleasing contrast to the larger-than-life persona that Twain worked so hard to cultivate for so much of his career. Still, for all his apparent earnestness, Twain's preface concludes with a sentence more in keeping with his usual ironic tone: "And for all reward, the French King, whom she had crowned, stood supine and indifferent, while French priests took the noble child, the most innocent, the most lovely, the most adorable the ages have produced, and burned her alive at the stake." This edition, published in 1919, attempts in some small way to rebalance the scales by acknowledging her sainthood in its title, centuries after she was set aflame as a heretic.

To see Saint Joan of Arc, by Mark Twain, come to Rauner and ask for Rare DC103 .C63 1919.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Early Recycling?

two page spread of Gerould papers' border=
John H. Gerould, a member of the class of 1890 and later professor in Biology and Genetics at Dartmouth, seemed to have a habit of writing on whatever piece of paper was nearest to him. While looking through his files for a lecture on eugenics, we realized how much information is hidden on the backs of his manuscripts.

request for private faculty toilets' border=Gerould wrote on departmental memos, personal letters, and book reviews. One of the most historically interesting  is a letter requesting donations to the American Red Cross during World War I. For a given lecture, Gerould might write on twenty different sheets, the same pen scrawling across four or five sizes, textures and colors of paper. One has to be especially carefully when looking through folders, because tiny pieces of paper could suddenly whoosh out!

One of my favorites is a page from a lecture on butterflies given in Manchester, New Hampshire. On the back is a letter from the biology faculty to President Hopkins (the one who said no to Dartmouth's shot at the Rose Bowl) requesting new facilities. In addition to the demands for more classroom and laboratory space, they specifically ask for a "Private toilet for instructors" (image above). Curious indeed!

John H Gerould as a youthSo why did Gerould do this -- was it an early eco-friendly measure or a spendthrift habit, or was he really so distracted he just wrote on whatever was nearby?

The full finding aid for MS-1040 is online. The papers pictured this post come from Box 5, Folder 15 (Lecture at Manchester NH). Gerould's alumni file provides more context about his life and publications. In the employment section of his alumni form, he writes that he works for Dartmouth College, the purpose of which is "educating boys." Quite apt, even today.

Friday, January 22, 2016

What is this Book?

Engraving of Aveline Here is a curious book. It contains multiple sets of engraved plates from the 18th century, mostly by Pierre-Alexander Aveline. The plates constitute different series of views of Paris and its surroundings. There is no title page, and there is no indication that it was ever issued in its current format.

So, why does it exist?  We had a theory that it may have been some kind of sample book. Like a catalog in a shop where plates were housed. A tourist could look through the book and select an image to have printed to take home as a memento of his or her trip to Paris. But then we saw a description of a similar book of engraved plates that described it as a source book used in an artist's studio. Need a good Parisian backdrop? Take a look at the book of engravings and select one to work into your painting.

It is a pretty compelling explanation for the existence of a book like this. Ours has been rebound, so it lacks some important evidence of use, but it could well be a reference work of visual culture for others to sample. This is not yet cataloged, but you can see it by asking for it at our desk. The magic number we need to find it is 10110446. We welcome your theories!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A True Statement Piece

While searching through the Photo Files to create the Afro-American Society exhibition, we came across this great photograph. Two black women walk across campus -- one wears a shirt that simply says, "Dartmouth," while the other's t-shirt bears the phrase: "When better men are made, Dartmouth women will make them." Zing.  Unfortunately, we don't have any other information about the two women, or even a date for the photograph. If you recognize these women, please contact us!

We thought we might have this shirt in our collection, but we don't. Undergrads, take note: you might be wearing some totally rad (and historically-relevant) t-shirt that will get photographed and written up in the archival blog in 30 years.

If you want to see more of the images in this folder, you can come by and ask for the "Afro-American Society" Photo File, or you can access this image (and other images from the AAS Photo File) using our online database.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Occom Pond Ice Record

Skaters on Occom PondOccom Pond, conveniently located at the Northwest part of town, just a short distance from the campus center and the village of Hanover, has long been a destination for winter recreation and fun. Dartmouth students and local community members take to the ice for free skate and pond hockey.

However, with the unusually late onset of freezing temperatures in Hanover, the pond has yet to ice over completely.  Turning to the college archives for some answers, or at least some comparative data, we were able to locate a record book documenting the “frozen over” and “ice going out” dates of Occom Pond from 1914-1965.

1965 entry from Occom Pond Ice record
The creator of the record book, known only by the initials F.H.C provides detailed notes down to the day of the month of when ice first appears on the pond until it disappears in the spring. The last entry from April 17, 1965 states:
ice all out of the Pond
a nice Sunday ice disappeared from this
end up to the other-
From the record book it appears that on average the pond was frozen over by the end of November or early December. This year’s data definitely logs in as below average. For those already hoping and praying for signs of spring you may be interested in knowing that on average the ice melted by April of each year… only a few more months of winter?

Horses on Occom Pond
F.H.C also maintained detailed notes on daily observations of usage, recreation, temperatures and snowfall. An entry from 1939 states that on “Dec. 26th horses put on, Dec. 27 tractor.” Perhaps, a way to measure the safety of the ice for human masses? More probable, the horses and tractors were used for plowing and maintaining the pond.

cover to Occom Pond Ice Record
1949 entries from Occom Pond Ice RecordOur daily observations here at Rauner report that as of yesterday, January 14th  the DOC has not yet approved the pond for skating. The snow covered pond may look inviting but please be advised that the ice is still considered too thin. We would not risk the lives of our horses, nor our tractors. According to the Dartmouth Cross Country Ski Center website, the college will test the ice again next week.  So, stay tuned!

Whether you are counting down the days until spring or sharpening your skates in anticipation of some future frozen fun, come take a look at Codex MS 914269, "The Occom Pond Ice Record." You can also search for “Occom Pond” to browse additional photographs of the pond from our digital photo files collection.