Recent Acquisitions feature: Phantasmion

Our Recent Acquisitions Evening is tomorrow. Here’s one more fascinating item that will be on display — this one offers an intimate glimpse into the life of a 19th-century woman writer of increasing relevance.

Phantasmion

Sara Coleridge was a talented writer and translator whose work is often overshadowed by the biographical fact of her parentage: Her father was literary giant Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Many critics consider her Phantasmion, first published in 1837, to be an early precursor to the modern fantasy novel. Coleridge’s life has been little studied, though there has been increasing scholarly interest in her since the 2007 publication of many of her poems, the majority of them newly-discovered.

Phantasmion

This extensively annotated volume of Phantasmion holds special significance because its vast marginalia was written by Coleridge as a long letter to Aubrey de Vere, an Irish poet who Coleridge formed a close friendship with after the death of her husband. In it, she offers a look into her inner life, including remembrances of growing up in England’s Lake District, the anxieties of growing up with a famous writer for a father, and her experiences as an opium addict. More than just a presentation copy, this book represents a unique record of female authorship, written in Coleridge’s characteristically eloquent style.


See this remarkable volume and more 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: William Webb’s journal

Our Recent Acquisitions Evening is in just two days. As we eagerly await the event, we continue our blog feature of recently acquired items that will be on display on Wednesday evening.

William Webb journal

William Webb’s A Record of My Journey from London Bridge to Berlin Thence to Persia via the Baltic Volga & Caspian Sea is the only known copy of Webb’s travelogue documenting his travels through Persia in 1870.

William Webb traveled to Tehran from London to begin a new job as a signaler for the Indo-European Telegraph Company. The title of the book references a stop in Berlin, where Webb was trained to use cutting-edge high-speed telegraph equipment.

Webb’s diary records an arduous two-month-long journey from Berlin to Tehran, during which Webb faced hardships including being thrown from his horse and having two teeth pulled.

William Webb journal

This illustration, done by a Persian artist, depicts Webb (on the right). The person on the left is identified in a caption as Mirza M. Hussein, “who gained the highest no. of marks at the college for the English language under examination of Capt. Pearson.”

The book’s text, in a beautiful script, was done using lithographic printing at the Royal College of Tehran, also known as Dar al-fonun, the first modern university in Persia. Lithographic printing was the primary method of publishing in Tehran at that time because lithographic printing was better suited to Arabic scripts than movable type.

No record of an earlier lithographed English-language book printed in Persia has been found.


This and many other unusual 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: Opuscula Anatomica

With only five days until our Recent Acquisitions Evening, our parade of recently acquired items continues.

book open to medical illustration

Bartolomeo Eustachi’s Opuscula Anatomica is a medical classic, first published in Venice in 1565. This book ticks off an impressive list of medical text firsts:

  • First monograph on the kidney, including the first account of the adrenal gland
  • First correct description of the Eustachian tube in the ear (which bears his name)
  • First description of the thoracic duct and the Eustachian valve in the heart (also named for the author)
  • First detailed account of the teeth in a medical text

book open to medical illustration

But what makes this book particularly interesting is the way Eustachi uses a grid system, similar to those used on maps, as a way of marking the location and scale of the parts. In the first edition of Opuscula Anatomica, Eustachi advised using rulers to find the grid references. This edition supplies a separate scale that is attached to the book by a thread. Editions in which the original scale remains attached are rare.


See this and other intriguing items 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 materials up close.

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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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