Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Protectors, Inc.

We found a new one this week. Our copy of the "Colonial Edition" of Stephen Crane's Last Words (London and Bombay: George Bell and Sons, 1902) is housed in a Masonite box painted yellow with a faux spine tricked out in red leather. The box alone is an oddity, with a sliding top to allow access to the book inside. Then we saw what was inside the box other than the book...

Two strips of white tape manufactured by "Book Protectors, Inc. Lake Helen, Florida." The strips each have three dots over small circular wells. The instructions for one say "Pierce Dots to make Anti-Mildew wells operative," the other says "Pierce Dots to make Insecticide wells operative."

Oooh, who knows what nasty chemicals reside under the (thankfully) non-pierced dots? Of course, if ever you needed protection from mildew and insects, it would be in Florida. We recommend washing your hands after using this one. Ask for Crane PS1449.C85 L34 1902.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bloomsbury Trifecta

We have written about the aura of the Hogarth edition of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, but our recent acquisition of the first book Leonard and Virginia Woolf produced at Hogarth Press is positively spine tingling. Two Stories (Richmond: Hogarth Press, 1917) is a simple 32-page, pamphlet-style book. The wrapper appears to be a blue woven wallpaper (but we can't tell for sure) loosely sewn on to protect the text block and add a bit of decorative appeal. The book has the feel of two people trying to figure out how to wed their new-found book aesthetic with their literary style.

It offers a perfect entry point into the Bloomsbury group: our copy belonged to Virginia's sister, the artist Vanessa Bell; the woodcuts are by another Bloomsbury artist, Dora Carrington; and, of course, its authors are key figures in the group. Two Stories also reflects their struggle for artistic independence as Hogarth was founded in part to free Virginia and Leonard from the conservative tastes of the literary publishing establishment. It gave them complete control--they could even bind in wallpaper if they saw fit.

To see this unique window into an artistic flowering, ask for Rare PR1309.S5W6 1917.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Kauffer Illustrates T.S. Eliot's Ariel Poems

Between 1927 and 1931, the publishing firm Faber and Gwyer issued a series of illustrated poems called the Ariel Poems, named after Shakespeare’s sprite. Several prominent English writers contributed to the series including T.S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, Thomas Hardy, G. K. Chesterton, D. H. Lawrence, Siegfried Sassoon, Vita Sackville-West, and Edith Sitwell. Each pamphlet had more or less the same simple format: a black and white artist print on the cover and a colored print inside followed by a poem.

What is most striking about these deceptively simple pamphlets is the role the illustrations play to complement and vastly enrich the poetry. Edward McKnight Kauffer, one of England’s most prolific and influential advertising poster artists during the 1920s and 30s, illustrated five of the poems T.S. Eliot wrote for the Ariel series. These poems were “The Journey of the Magi” (1927), “A Song for Simeon” (1928), “Marina” (1930), “Triumphal March” (1931), and later when the series was revived in the 1950s, “The Cultivation of Christmas Trees” (1954).

Kauffer was renowned for his avant-garde graphic design and poster art for companies such as London Underground Railways (1915–40), Shell UK Ltd., the Daily Herald and British Petroleum (1934–6). His work incorporated techniques and aesthetics from numerous modernist movements including cubism, futurism, and surrealism. These influences are evident in his illustrations for T.S. Eliot’s Ariel Poems with their whimsical play with geometric form and abstraction.
To see Kauffer’s illustrations of T.S. Eliot’s poems, ask for Val 817 E42 X3, Val 817 E42 W7, Val 817 E42 S2, Val 817 E42 P451, and Rare Book PS 3509.L43 M3 1930.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Yesterday we were giving a presentation to The Dartmouth Institute's Health Professions Educators' Summer Symposium on various plagues that are nicely documented here in Rauner. It was a room filled with death and despair: one section was devoted to a small pox outbreak that hit Hanover in 1777, another to the cholera pandemic of the 1830s, and another on the bubonic plague that devastated London in 1665. The London plague (alluded to in an earlier post) brings to mind Monty Python, of course, but also fleas. And fleas reminded us of one of our favorite books, Robert Hooke's Micrographia (London: J. Martyn and J. Allestry, 1665).

Micrographia was the first detailed account of life under a microscope. Hooke's meticulous descriptions and illustrations revealed a wondrous new world to behold. But it was the irony of the publication date that was a wonder yesterday. The book came out in September of 1665, right when London was in the throes of the Plague. Little did the original readers know that the marvelously illustrated creature made so utterly foreign by the microscope was the source of all of their current sufferings.

To see Micrographia, ask for Rare QH271.H79.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Shrouded in Mystery

Maria Magdalena, Duchess of Tuscany, was born into the Hapsburg family. The daughter of Archduke Charles the II and niece to Maximilian II, she married well. Her husband was Cosimo II de Medici. Her Book of Hours, perhaps originally prepared as a wedding gift, became for her a kind of album of miniature art and relics. The book is filled with miniatures she received as gifts from other royal families in Europe.

But what makes this so special is an extraordinary bit of cloth lovingly embroidered onto folio 172. On the back it is described in Latin, translated, "The Holy Cloth saved in Turin, in which was bound the body of Jesus Christ, as an example of its holy contact with the same, having been a gift to the most serene Mary, given by Fernando, Duke of Mantua." What this really is, we don't know. Likely it is a piece of cloth, painted with blood to look like the complete Shroud of Turin in miniature. But, could the cloth actually be a bit of the Shroud--a relic taken from it, then painted to represent the whole? Almost surely not, but the information on the back is inconclusive and these were the people with the connections, wealth and power to secure relics. That Maria treasured it as a relic is unquestionable.  Either way, it is an amazing bit of mystery.

To see it, ask for Codex MS 608940.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Maid's Night Out

It was just a coincidence that lunchtime was approaching when I came upon a 1936 menu from the Hanover Inn within a box of documents on my desk. So, I was already thinking about food, but the thing about menus is that they also can shed light on cultural, economic and historic events. The menu, for example, certainly leads me to assume that in 1936 there were many Hanover households with maids, maids who either did the cooking or the cleaning up, or both, and who apparently all took Thursday nights off. I don't know what the maids were up to on Thursday night, but the Inn provided Maid's Night Out Specials for dinner, and, later, dancing on the porch. (Your investigative blogger can tell you that the special 85¢ lobster salad dinner in 1936 would be difficult to replace at a similar location today for less that 30 times the cost.)

Rauner has any number of menus, many of them documenting meals at local restaurants, College dining halls, fraternity banquets and campus events. Somewhat less regional is the Christmas banquet menu from the Ziegler Polar Expedition, 1903-1905. The expedition left Norway in the summer of 1903, landing at the base camp in Franz Josef Land left from a previous Ziegler expedition. They then established an advance camp for their run (actually two unsuccessful runs) to the North Pole, Camp Abruzzi, several miles further north. By the time Christmas rolled around, their ship had been crushed in the ice; by January all traces of it would be gone. I wonder if the men would have been chowing down heartily on New York style chicken croquettes had they had known that neither a resupply nor a relief ship would reach them for another year and a half.

On a more cheerful note, especially for chocolate fans, there's the Tarif des Consommations from the Nestlé pavilion at the1937 International Exposition in Paris.

Chocolat au lait à la crème d'amandes, anyone?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Building Bridges

As Independence Day fast approaches, it is hard not to feel a sense of anticipation in the air. Perhaps it emerges from imminent firework displays, the onset of long summer days, remembrance of our Founding Fathers, or familial traditions of hot dogs, hamburgers, and all things red, white, and blue.

Thomas Paine and his work of propaganda, Common Sense, is often overshadowed by these familiar representations of Independence Day. Nonetheless, he is an important figure in America’s early history. Paine was an Englishman who immigrated to the United States in 1774. A publicist, writer and orator, Paine soon became very active in the fight for independence upon his arrival in Philadelphia.  In 1776, Paine published his pamphlet criticizing the British government and calling on the colonists to declare their independence and fight for freedom. 

Common Sense became a sensation throughout the colonies and among the higher ranks of political greats such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. The relatively short work is remembered for its influential ideas and its impact on the American Revolution. For Paine and Americans in agreement with his arguments, independence was a want, a necessity, and, above all, their right. Rauner Special Collections Library has a copy of the tenth edition of Common Sense from 1776, the same year that the pamphlet was originally printed. The fact that a tenth edition was printed during its first year of publication demonstrates its true popularity. This particular copy was also quite popular with its previous owners: the wear and tear on the pages resembles a beloved novel that has been read and re-read.

In addition to his interest in politics, Paine was also very focused on the sciences and is credited for experimenting with marsh gas, a smokeless candle and the construction of bridges. It is his passion for bridge-building that is fascinating to us here at Rauner. In our manuscript collections, we have a handwritten letter from Paine to Benjamin Franklin, dated June 14, 1786,  that references Paine’s homegrown bridge models. Franklin at the time had retired from his role as Ambassador to France and had assumed his new role as Governor of Pennsylvania. It can be concluded from the letter and some additional research that Paine and Franklin had a relationship akin to mentor and protege, which can be traced back to Paine’s first arrival in America: Franklin had met Paine abroad and had written a letter of introduction for him in the early 1770s. The relationship formed during those early days of revolution lasted into Franklin’s later years and was close enough to warrant Paine seeking Franklin’s observations on his bridge models; the two men evidently shared a passion for more than politics.

To see our copy of Paine’s Common Sense, ask for Rare E211 .P126 1776.

To read Paine’s letter to Benjamin Franklin, ask for Ticknor MS 786364.1.

Posted for Julia Logan, a library school student at Simmons College who is Rauner's Public Services summer intern.