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.

Posted in Acquisitions, Events | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Acquisitions, Events | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Acquisitions, Events | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Acquisitions, Events | Comments Off on Recent Acquisitions feature: Z Mého Dětství (From my Childhood)

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.

Posted in Acquisitions, Events | Comments Off on Recent Acquisitions feature: Thirty Different Drafts of Guinea

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

Posted in Collections, Events | Tagged , , | Comments Off on RBC Books Go to the Museum 

Recent Acquisitions feature: The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque: A Game

This is the first in a series of posts featuring items that will be on display during the Rare Book Collection’s Recent Acquisitions Evening on March 22.

The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque: A Game is a parlor game based on William Combe’s satirical poem The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque.

Combe’s poem skewered the aesthetic ideal of the picturesque, which was ascendant at the time of the poem’s publication in 1809. Lovers of the picturesque prized rustic, natural, and asymmetrical scenes that reconciled the tension between the beautiful and the sublime. English writer, artist, and educator William Gilpin articulated the notion of the picturesque in a 1768 essay and depicted it in sketches that often featured ruins in the English countryside.

The picturesque ideal caught on like wildfire among England’s educated and moneyed classes, who had increasing access to the countryside with the expansion of railroads. Soon England’s Lake District filled with tourists observing and sketching rustic scenes.

As with any cultural movement that captures the public imagination so completely, the picturesque and its devotees became ripe for satire at the height of its popularity. With his poem The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, writer William Combes seemed to relish the opportunity.

Originally published with humorous caricatures by artist Thomas Rowlandson, the poem depicted a Don Quixote-style “hero,” probably modeled on Gilpin. The character Dr. Syntax undertakes a series of adventures in which he’s so blinded by his quest for picturesque scenery that he falls victim to all manners of peril.

The poem itself became wildly popular, becoming the subject of a variety of cultural adaptations. One of them is this parlor game.

With a complicated set of instructions (“The lines refer to the picture whose number is next in rotation. Namely No 1 card refers to No 2 picture…”) and a colorful teetotum to spin, the game is a fantastic example of literature adapted as a board game.


This and many other intriguing 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 incredible items up close.

Posted in Acquisitions, Events | Comments Off on Recent Acquisitions feature: The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque: A Game

Recent Acquisitions Evening 2017

We’re excited to announce that the Rare Book Collection will host its biannual Recent Acquisitions Evening on March 22. The event, a not-under-glass display, is a unique opportunity to closely examine some of the notable items we’ve acquired in the past two years.

William Webb, A Record of my Journey from London Bridge to Berlin Thence to Persia via The Baltic Volga & Caspian Sea. Printing Office of the Royal College of Teheran, Persia. [1870].

This year’s event features important works on the history of printing, books that invite interaction between viewer and object, and a number of items that challenge the traditional meaning of the word book. The Rare Book Collection’s global focus will also be emphasized, with books printed in London, Mexico City, Cameroon, Paris, Augsberg, Tehran, Saigon, Rome, Mexico, Nigeria, and more.

One item of particular note that will be on display is the Library’s eight-millionth volume, presented by the Hanes Family Foundation.

In the weeks leading up to the event, we’ll feature a selection of these items on the blog — but nothing compares to seeing them in three dimensions, so we hope you’ll join us!

The Rare Book Collection Recent Acquisitions Evening takes place Wednesday, March 22, 2017 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Fearrington Reading Room. The event is free and open to the public.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to visit the exhibition World on Fire in Flames of Blood: Narratives of the Russian Revolution, which features materials from the RBC’s André Savine Collection.


Recent Acquisitions 2017 blog features

Posted in Acquisitions, Events | 10 Comments

Mummy Printing in the Rare Book Collection

img_9580

Cover of Seyppel’s Christoph Columbus Logbuch, likely printed in 1890 | PT2639.E9 C47 1890z

Recently added to the Rare Book Collection and now fully cataloged is Carl Maria Seyppel’s Christoph Columbus Logbuch, or Christopher Columbus’ logbook, one of a number of Mumiendrucke (mummy prints) created by the German author and artist. Some scholars believe that Seyppel’s work was a forerunner for the modern comic, and looking through this particular piece and others that have been digitized, that seems a valid assumption (Grüner 7). A Mumiendruck is a work that has been printed on paper and processed to look old, even adding elements, such as sand and seaweed in this case, to add to the aura of aging. The paper is deliberately destroyed and stained to make it appear older than it actually is. Carl Maria Seyppel is the most prominent figure in this form of book-making. Continue reading

Posted in Acquisitions, Collections | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wilson Library Receives $5 Million Gift

Photo by Mark B. Perry, Jr.

We are excited to announce that Wilson Special Collections Library has received a $5 million gift, the largest in the history of UNC Libraries, from alumna Florence Fearrington (’58). The gift will facilitate infrastructural improvements in the third floor reading room, renamed the Fearrington Reading Room in Florence’s honor, and will enable us to continue building the Library’s collections for future readers.

Read more on the Library News and Events Blog and The Daily Tar Heel.

Posted in News | Tagged , | Comments Off on Wilson Library Receives $5 Million Gift