Recent Acquisitions feature: Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening

With our Recent Acquisitions Evening less than a week away, we’re continuing to feature items that will be on display during that event.

illustration: english estate

Have you ever wondered how your estate would look with some minor improvements?

Maybe a few Gothic details on the facade?

illustration: english estate

Perhaps a stately pond?

illustration: english estate

Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening has you covered.

Humphry Repton was an English landscape designer who anticipated the home and garden before-and-after photo shoot long before its time.

In Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, published in 1816, he discusses relationships between architecture and landscape design. In an effort to show the aesthetic power of elements like color, water, and fences, he implemented a paper-engineering solution to the problem of being able to show just one image at a time: Repton used a system of hinged panels that are nearly hidden at first glance, but can be lifted to reveal his dramatic proposed changes to several English estates. One estate featured in the book is Harleston Park, which is thought to be the inspiration for Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. Repton is also mentioned by name in Mansfield Park by the genial but easily led Mr. Rushworth, who chats at length about his passion for estate improvements throughout the novel.


See this remarkable first edition volume at the Rare Book Collection’s Recent Acquisitions Evening, a not-under-glass display of some of the Collection’s notable acquisitions. We hope you’ll join us on March 22 for the unique opportunity to see these incredible items up close.

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Recent Acquisitions feature: Chumbe

As our Recent Acquisitions Evening approaches, we’re continuing our series of posts featuring items that will be on display.

This chumbe, created by Mamá Pastora Juajibioy, an artist from the Camëntsá Nation in Colombia, is a woven sash that tells a story. Its narrative is communicated using semasiographic writing rather than a phonetic-based alphabet. In semasiographic writing, a symbol represents a concept or idea instead of a phoneme or syllable. Other examples of semasiographic writing include mathematical notation and musical notation. This chumbe and the writing it uses are emblematic of the oral tradition of the Camëntsá people.

The Rare Book Collection holds one of two chumbes in the UNC Library system; the other is in the Sloane Art Library. The copy in the Rare Book Collection is housed with two CDs, which hold recordings of an event related to the chumbe, including a poetry reading and oral literature history given by Hugo Jamioy Juagiboy of the Camëntsá Nation and a chumbe weaving and storytelling history given by the artist who created this chumbe, Mamá Pastora Juajibioy of the Camëntsá Nation. The recordings include information about how the chumbe is made and what stories it encodes.


This and many other items will be on display at the Rare Book Collection’s Recent Acquisitions Evening, a not-under-glass display of some of the Collection’s notable acquisitions. We hope you’ll join us on March 22 for the unique opportunity to see these remarkable items up close.

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Recent Acquisitions feature: Guerrilla

As our Recent Acquisitions Evening on March 22 approaches, we’re offering a preview of some of the items that will be on display.

This serial publication, Guerrilla, is a 1947–48 French military guide published for French soldiers fighting in Vietnam. At the time, the Việt Minh were engaged in a war of resistance against French occupation.

While the French Army had access to better equipment and modern military technology, the Việt Minh trained diligently in guerrilla tactics. Guerrilla uses text and illustrations, many of them done in a cartoon style, to educate French soldiers on Việt Minh defenses, patrols, organizational structure, politics, diet, and more.

Illustrations show Việt Minh arms and munitions, camouflage, booby traps, uniforms, and insignia.

The Rare Book Collection holds four of six known volumes of Guerrilla.


These and many other items will be on display at the Rare Book Collection’s Recent Acquisitions Evening, a not-under-glass display of some of the Collection’s notable acquisitions. We hope you’ll join us on March 22 for the unique opportunity to see these remarkable items up close.

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Recent Acquisitions feature: Psalter

As we prepare for our Recent Acquisitions Evening on March 22, we continue to feature some of the items that will be on display.

This diminutive volume is a psalter — a book, used in private devotion, containing the biblical Book of Psalms. This copy is actually is two psalters bound dos-à-dos , or back to back, with the front covers opening in opposite directions.

Published in the late 16th or early 17th century, this volume has an embroidered binding done in silk thread in a variety of colors. The silver-colored threads are actually made of silver.

This miniature format is the smallest and rarest in which psalters were issued.


This and many other items will be on display at the Rare Book Collection’s Recent Acquisitions Evening, a not-under-glass display of some of the Collection’s notable acquisitions. We hope you’ll join us on March 22 for the unique opportunity to see these remarkable items up close.

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Recent Acquisitions feature: México y sus alrededores

As we count down the days until our Recent Acquisitions Evening, we continue to feature items that will be on display on March 22.

México y sus alrededores (Mexico and its Surroundings) is a stunning document of life in Mexico in the mid-19th century. It features color plates made using chromolithography, a type of color printing in which ink is applied to a stone and then transferred to paper, one color at a time, in progressive proofs. Chromolithography can produce rich colors created by layering colors over each other, and many of the plates in México y sus alrededores display such complex pigmentation.

The plates primarily depict locales around Mexico City, providing a vivid and useful record of architecture, clothing, and daily activity.

Many of Castro’s chromolithographs show landscapes from a bird’s-eye view, offering remarkable perspectives on Mexico City.

México y sus alrededores was issued by subscription in parts, beginning in 1855. Plates were added and changed over time. Each copy contains whichever plates were chosen by its original purchaser, and no two copies are identical. The number of plates varies widely from copy to copy, with anywhere from eighteen to fifty-two plates. The Rare Book Collection’s copy has an unusually large number of plates, some of which are done in full chromolithography and some of which are merely tinted.


You can see this beautiful volume, as well as many other rare and unique items, on display at the Rare Book Collection’s Recent Acquisitions Evening — a not-under-glass display of some of the Collection’s notable acquisitions. We hope you’ll join us on March 22 for the opportunity to see these remarkable items up close.

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Recent Acquisitions feature: Analog Tweeting

As our Recent Acquisitions Evening approaches, we’re continuing to feature items that will be on display.

Today’s feature is Analog Tweeting by book artist Todd Pattison.

Analog Tweeting is a set of miniature handmade blank books, each with a letter on its spine, in a found wooden tray. Each tiny letter has been reclaimed from a discarded text. Pattison’s intention is for the reader/tweeter to compose a tweet using the books as movable type before photographing and posting it.

His artist’s statement reads:

“…This forces the user to be more thoughtful in what they say and post, and can give them time to edit or reconsider what they are sending and the audience to whom they wish to send it.”

Are you ever guilty of being too quick to hit send? Embrace a slower pace and try your hand at analog tweeting at our Recent Acquisitions Evening on March 22.

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Recent Acquisitions feature: Fantasmagoriana

As we prepare for our Recent Acquisitions Evening on March 22, we continue to feature some of the items that will be on display.

Among them is Fantasmagoriana.

A French anthology of ghost stories published in 1812, Fantasmagoriana is famous for its influence on some of the most well-known and earliest gothic horror writers.

On a trip to Geneva in 1816, Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and John William Polidori found themselves housebound because of terrible weather. To pass the time, they took turns reading to each other from Fantasmagoriana, and then challenged each other to tell their own ghost stories.

Mary Shelley told the story that would become her classic Frankenstein; Polidori’s tale became The Vampyre.

And while those novels became wildly popular, sparking their own literary descendants and continuing to be sold two hundred years later, copies of Fantasmagoriana are incredibly rare. The New York Public Library holds the only other known copy in the United States.

The RBC copy of Fantasmagoriana is distinctive: bound in at the end is a series of additional gothic short stories in manuscript.


This and many other items will be on display at the Rare Book Collection’s Recent Acquisitions Evening, a not-under-glass display of some of the Collection’s notable acquisitions. We hope you’ll join us on March 22 for the unique opportunity to see these remarkable items up close.

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Recent Acquisitions feature: Z Mého Dětství (From my Childhood)

As we prepare for our Recent Acquisitions Evening on March 22, we continue to feature some of the items that will be on display.

Among them is Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová’s 1929 Z Mého Dětství (From my Childhood).

Considered to be the first graphic novel published by a woman, Z Mého Dětství is an autobiographical work told entirely through beautiful woodcuts, mostly depicting domestic, middle-class scenes. While not much is known about its Czech author, Bochořáková-Dittrichová was the subject of a 2014 exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts — a fitting recognition of a talented artist and pioneer.


This and many other items will be on display at the Rare Book Collection’s Recent Acquisitions Evening, a not-under-glass display of some of the Collection’s notable acquisitions. We hope you’ll join us on March 22 for the unique opportunity to see these remarkable items up close.

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Recent Acquisitions feature: Thirty Different Drafts of Guinea

In anticipation of the Rare Book Collection’s Recent Acquisitions Evening on March 22, we’re highlighting a number of the items that will be on display.

One notable work is William Smith’s 1728 Thirty Different Drafts of Guinea.

Smith was a surveyor for the London-based Royal African Company, and Thirty Different Drafts of Guinea represents a record of the British slave trade in West Africa in the early part of the eighteenth century. A large folding coastal map shows the locations of slave forts on the African coast from Gambia to Whydah (in present-day Benin).

This appears to be a pre-publication copy, in which some of the plates are in an early, less complete state — later printings of the plates include alterations and additions.

This copy belonged to Edward Deane, director of the Royal African Company’s fort at Whydah, whose annotations appear in the book. It also contains a subscriber list that enumerates people committed to purchasing it. The list includes Barbados merchants, Royal African Company agents, and Irish noblemen and clergymen, as well as John, Thomas, and Springett Penn — sons of Quaker and Pennsylvania founder William Penn.


This and many other items will be on display at the Rare Book Collection’s Recent Acquisitions Evening, a not-under-glass display of some of the Collection’s notable acquisitions. We hope you’ll join us on March 22 for the unique opportunity to see these remarkable items up close.

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RBC Books Go to the Museum 

The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) in Raleigh has borrowed six volumes from the Rare Book Collection for their current exhibition, Glory of Venice: Renaissance Paintings 1470-1520. Four of the books date from the Incunabula period, the first fifty years of printing with moveable type, 1450-1501. This group of volumes included a copy of Summa theologicae pars quarta by Antoninus (1480), La Commedia by Dante (1491), Aristophanis Comoediae novem by Aristophanes (1498), and Francesco Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499). Two slightly later Renaissance volumes, also printed in Venice, include Pliny the Elder’s Historia naturale di Caio Plinio Secondo (1510) and Hamishah humshe Torah (1533), also known as The Five Books of Moses, with Prophets and Hagiography. These books, printed in Venice and illustrated with woodcuts or painted miniatures, reflect the publishing and printing innovations happening in the city during the period represented by the exhibition’s paintings.

Loaning materials from the Rare Book Collection (or any of the Library’s special collections) is part of our outreach and research mission, and this arrangement with the NCMA is a particularly good example of how this kind of collaboration is beneficial. The choice of these six books was made after extensive research in Wilson Library’s reading room by the exhibition’s co-curator, Lyle Humphrey, and the page openings to be shown in the exhibition were also selected. The next step in a loan of this type was for the Library’s conservators to evaluate the condition of the volumes, carry out any minor repairs that might be necessary for safe display on the bindings or leaves, and to construct custom-fit supports for each of the volumes to remain open to the selected pages for the duration of the exhibition.

The books and the custom supports, referred to as cradles, were picked up by the NCMA art handlers and taken to the museum in advance of the day for installation of the books in the gallery. On Monday, February 27, 2017, the Library’s conservators and our colleague from Duke’s Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which was also lending books, went to the Museum to install the collection materials.

 

 

 

After associating each book with the specific cradle made for it, we stabilized the placement of the pages with narrow strips of polyethylene plastic to be certain that the pages remained open at the correct place.

Rebecca Smyrl, Assistant Conservator for Special Collections, placing a book in its custom-fit cradle

Henry Hébert, Conservator at Duke’s Rubenstein Library, strapping a volume from Duke in its cradle

Jan Paris, Head of Conservation for Special Collections, securing one of the UNC volumes in its cradle

Digital image of two pages of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, considered by many to be the most beautiful book of the Venetian Renaissance, was produced by the printer Aldus Manutius and includes 120 woodcuts. Because only two pages of a book can be seen in the static display of an exhibit case, the curator has included a digital surrogate of the entire volume on an iPad nearby, so visitors can see all of the visually arresting illustrations in this book.

Installation complete!

Once all of the books were placed correctly and strapped for stability on their cradles, the vitrines that protect the volumes on display were installed. The books will return to the Rare Book Collection in a few months. Until then, Glory of Venice will be open at the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Meymandi Exhibition Gallery from March 4, 2017 – June 18, 2017.

 

This post was written by Jan Paris, Head of Conservation for Special Collections, Wilson Library

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