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May 1, 2013

The Curious Story of the Electropoise

Filed under: Books — Rebecca Baumann @ 4:18 pm

The Electropoise was a fraudulent medical device invented and patented by huckster Hercules Sanche, the self-proclaimed “Discoverer of the Laws of Spontaneous Cure of Disease.” Initially marketed in the early 1890s (sources differ on the exact date), it was the first of several devices that provided “gas pipe therapy,” and its story provides an interesting portrait of late 19th –century American alternative medicine, the power of advertising, and the potent mix of gullibility and desperation that allows quack cures to flourish.

rz420-b7_00014 There is nothing electric about the Electropoise, and the “Plain Directions” (which are actually anything but plain) that accompany the object tell its user, “Do not expect any sensations of current or shock. Nature does not work that way.” The Electropoise is simply a brass lozenge called the “Polizer” to which is attached at one end a flexible uninsulated cord. At the end of the cord is a small metal disc with an elastic band, which the user attaches to her ankle for a general cure or to whatever part of the body ails her for specific therapy. The user is directed to put the tube in a bucket of cold water (the exact temperature of the water and the amount of time for the therapy being determined by a complex series of disease classifications and formulae) and then let healing oxygen flow through the cord and into the body. The instructions claim that “[t]he oxygen … is carried into the general circulation and oxidizes the blood, thus burning out all manner of poisonous impurities, destroying bacteria and preventing their further propagation.” Of course in reality, the Electropoise did absolutely nothing at all. Its makers relied on the principle that a portion of those who are sick – and, more importantly, those who believe they are sick – will get better without any treatment. A contemporary promotional feature in an 1894 issue of The New York Evangelist promises that the Electropoise could cure “an alphabet of ailments” from abscesses to vertigo. The brochure that accompanies the instrument includes seventy pages of testimonials from satisfied customers who believe they have been cured of headaches, insomnia, “female complaints,” rheumatism, malaria, pneumonia, paralysis, nervous disorders, consumption, and cancer. The directions include further serious ailments that the device is supposed to cure; for example, they advise that sufferers of “apoplexy, apparent death, congestion of the brain … drowning and epilepsy” can be aided by “chang[ing] the plate from one wrist to the other every twenty or thirty minutes during continuous application.”

According to an advertisement in an 1895 issue of The Cosmopolitan: A Monthly Illustrated Magazine, the cylinder is filled with, “a composition, the nature of which is not made public.” In the December 1, 1900 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, N.C. Morse, M.D. writes, “I have had it sawed into sections and alas, like the goose that laid the golden egg of fable fame, there is nothing in the carcass!” However, despite its literally hollow claims, the Electropoise was very popular, so much so that the Electrolibration Company, founded in Birmingham Alabama, soon added offices in New York and London and began marketing new devices such as the Oxydonor, which was the same as the Electropoise except that instead of being hollow, it contained a stick of carbon inside. Other companies followed with their own versions. In 1899, Sanche tried to prevent the sale of the rival Oxygenor but it was held by the court that there was insufficient evidence to show that Sanche’s invention was useful or valuable enough to be afforded protection. The American Medical Association released official statements, such as a 1915 book on “Mail-Order Medical Fraud,” condemning this kind of ersatz medical treatment.

As well as being potentially dangerous, the Electropoise was also expensive. Advertisements from the period indicate that this model of the Electropoise was priced from $10 to $35. The booklet included with the Lilly Library’s copy lists the price of the pocket model as $25 and the standard model (a large device which was mounted on a wall) as $50. This may sound like an inexpensive cure for all ills, but $25 at the turn of the century was comparable to several hundred dollars today. The testimonials included in the literature make it clear that consumers could pay in installments. The two books included with the Lilly Library’s copy of the Electropoise are undated. The book which includes testimonials has the name L.A. Bosworth on the cover, and many of the testimonials are addressed to him in the form of letters. Bosworth was a reverend in Boston, MA, but his connection with Sanche or the Electrolibation Company of Birmingham is not clear.

rz420-b7_00002So who used the Electropoise? The illustration included in the literature that accompanies the device gives us a clue. A woman in the “Gibson Girl” style lounges prone on a settee, reading a book while the cord of the Electropoise snakes delicately from her ankle into a vase on the floor. This woman in her lacy dressing gown is the perfect consumer for the product. She is clearly of the middle or upper-middle class and she has leisure time in which to convalesce. While the testimonials reveal that both men and women used the product, it would have been especially appealing for vague “female complaints” or the ubiquitously-diagnosed condition of “hysteria” – in other words the types of ailments that may well be “cured” by a device that doesn’t do anything except make the sufferer believe that he or she will get better. The Electropoise enjoyed its reign of popularity at the same time that the vibrator was invented to “cure” hysterical women by means of genital massage – a method practiced manually by doctors and midwives since the times of Galen and Avicenna and brought into the age of electricity in the late 19th century by enterprising inventors who aspired to save doctors the trouble of inducing “hysterical paroxysm” manually. In the Paris Exposition of 1900, over a dozen medical vibratory devices were available for the perusal of visiting doctors, from low-priced foot-powered models, to the $200 elaborately-designed “Chattanooga.” The Electropoise was perhaps a distant cousin of these devices designed to cure hysteria, the great bugaboo of 19th-century medicine, a catch-all for everything from serious mental illnesses to boredom and sexual frustration. The instructions for using the Electropoise includes a section for female complaints and advises that “[i]n many cases the internal female generative organs can be treated more successfully by local application to the organ itself. For this purpose the Uterine Electrode [a long metal rod that could be attached to the device] should be used. Agents can furnish it. Price, $2.50.” Specific male complaints, including hydrocele, varicocele, and “self abuse” could be treated by applying the metal disc to the scrotum. In its promise to provide relief to even the most intimate of problems, bypassing the process of visiting a real doctor, this curious little device illustrates the allure of quack medicine and is not so different from placebo products shilled on late night infomercials today. There will always be a market for the phony miracle cure.

Rebecca Baumann, Reference Associate

Sources Consulted:

American Medical Association. Medical Mail-Order Frauds. Chicago: American Medical Association, 1915. Hathi Trust Digital Library.

“The Electropoise.” New York Evangelist. December 6, 1894. ProQuest American Periodicals.

“The Electropoise.” The Cosmopolitan: a Monthly Illustrated Magazine. 1895. ProQuest American Periodicals.

Rachel Maines. The Technology of Orgasm : “Hysteria,” the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

N.C. Morse. “Modern Empirical Inventions.” The Journal of the American Medical Association. Volume 35, part 2. December 1, 1900. Hathi Trust Digital Library.

Carolyn Thomas de la Peña. The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern American. New York: New York University Press, 2003.

August 11, 2011

Critical Collections at the Lilly Library

Filed under: Books,Exhibitions,Film,Manuscripts — Craig Simpson @ 11:56 am

photograph of Pauline Kael, film critic A new exhibition highlighting
“Critical Collections” at the Lilly Library will be on display in the Lincoln Room through the month of August. The exhibition features the papers of some of the most significant, controversial writers of cultural criticism in the modern era. Noteworthy items include: American literary critic Anthony Boucher’s pioneering reviews of J. R. R. Tolkien and Ian Fleming; British literary critic Desmond MacCarthy’s correspondence with James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw; drama critic Kenneth Tynan’s original handwritten journals; and materials pertaining to the Orson Welles/Citizen Kane screenplay debate between film critics Peter Bogdanovich and Pauline Kael (pictured here).

—Craig Simpson, Lilly Library Manuscripts Archivist and exhibition curator

June 18, 2011

Many thanks to Marty Joachim

Filed under: Books — Lilly Library @ 4:18 pm

Marty Joachim, IU Librarian Emeritus

Seen here in a photo taken in the Lilly Library Reading Room using one of his favorite reference sources is Indiana University Librarian Emeritus Marty Joachim. Since his retirement from the IU libraries at the end of 2002, Marty has given valuable service to the Lilly Library, devoting thousands of hours adding records to IUCAT (IU’s online library catalog) for the Lilly Library’s early printed books. Marty’s own academic background in Classical Studies and his knowledge of Latin and Greek made him the perfect cataloger to do this work. He estimates that at least 75% of the incunabula are in Latin. The remainder are mostly in Italian, French, German, Greek, and Spanish with an occasional work in English. Marty notes that working with the Lilly’s incunabula was endlessly fascinating. He often marveled at working with items that were unique to the Lilly Library or existed in only a few known copies. He completed the project in early June 2011. During his second retirement, Marty plans to do a lot of traveling; so far this year he has already been to Israel and Austria and will be going to China in August.

Before Marty’s stellar accomplishment, most of the Lilly Library’s holdings in books printed before 1501 were found only in the manual card catalog in the Lilly Library Reading Room, and most of these records were brief with a minimum of description and entries. Now fully cataloged records with multiple access points for all titles are available in the online catalog. Since the time these materials were originally cataloged, scholarship has added greatly to what is known about the early years of printing in Europe. Major bibliographical tools such as the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue and the Bodleian Library incunabula catalogue have been developed or published. Marty was able to benefit from the work of other scholars and incorporate new information into the bibliographic records he created. Genre headings on each record provide access by the term Incunabula, further subdivided by place and date. Try searching IUCAT for the keyword phrase Incunabula Italy Venice.

A big thank you to Marty Joachim for bringing our 15th century books out into the 21st century.

December 16, 2010

Lilly Library Director Breon Mitchell Earns MLA Prize

Filed under: Books,In the news — Lilly Library @ 2:53 pm

Breon Mitchell

Indiana University Professor of Germanic Studies and Comparative Literature and Lilly Library Director Breon Mitchell recently received the 2010 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for an Outstanding Translation of a Literary Work from the Modern Language Association of America for his 2009 translation of Günter Grass’ 1959 novel Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum).

Read the official IU News Room press release.

A video clip from a discussion between Mitchell and Grass is available on YouTube.

Photo courtesy of Indiana University

October 6, 2010

Lilly Library announces publication

Filed under: Books,Exhibitions,Illustration,In the news,Manuscripts — Lilly Library @ 4:44 pm

Gilding the Lilly book coverThe Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington is very pleased to announce the arrival of its latest publication: Gilding the Lilly, A Hundred Medieval and Illuminated Manuscripts in the Lilly Library, written by Christopher de Hamel, Donnelley Fellow Librarian, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Fully illustrated, the book showcases a selection of a hundred items, described chronologically by Dr. de Hamel.

The Lilly Library manuscripts tell the unfolding story of European book production, art, language and literature, over more than a thousand years from the seventh century to the high Renaissance. The result is a graphic and engaging narrative of the survival and dissemination of culture in the pre-industrial world. Many of the manuscripts are described here for the first time, and they include items of extreme rarity and delicate beauty. The title, Gilding the Lilly, refers both to the burnished gold illumination used in many of these manuscripts and to the golden jubilee of the Lilly Library itself, founded in 1960.

The book is available for purchase at the Lilly Library by contacting Penny Ramon, perfoste@indiana.edu, 812-855-2452 and at the Friends of Art Bookshop, foabooks@indiana.edu, 812-855-1333.  The perfect bound soft cover edition is $50.00; the Smyth Sewn hard cover edition is $100.00; the limited edition, of one hundred signed and slip cased hard cover copies, is $175.00.

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September 17, 2010

Warm impressions of the Lilly Library

Filed under: Books — Virginia Dearborn @ 1:38 pm

Alexander McCall Smith, best-selling author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series (among others) mentions the Lilly Library with his usual warmth and gentleness on page 156 of his 2009 Isabel Dalhousie novel The Lost Art of Gratitude London: Little, Brown, 2009, in Isabel’s voice:

“‘And there’s to be a major conference to mark each new volume.  Bloomington, Indiana. Tel Aviv. Helsinki. Siena. Sydney.
She watched him.  He was quite still. ‘Starting off in Bloomington,’ she went on. ‘Have you been there, Professor Lettuce?’ Lettuce shook his head. He had coloured slightly, she noticed.
‘I had a wonderful visit there,’ Isabel said. ‘A few years ago—in the spring.  The blossom was out and it was just perfect. I was very well looked after.  They took me to the Lilly Library.  They have the most remarkable collection there—literary papers from all sorts of people, all neatly boxed away.  And an astonishing collection of miniature books. Tiny ones. Smaller than that plum tomato you’re trying to eat. You should impale it on your fork, you know.’”

McCall Smith visited Bloomington in April 2009 to give a public talk in the Indiana Memorial Union’s Whittenberger Auditorium as a guest of the College Arts and Humanities Institute at Indiana University.

Special collections in the Lilly Library — including the miniature books and works by Alexander McCall Smith — may be requested for use in the library’s reading room during operating hours.

June 3, 2010

Robert Klein Collection of Comics

Filed under: Books,web site — Whitney Buccicone @ 12:04 pm

Shadow comic_small

A new database has been added to the Lilly Library’s comic book page. The Robert Klein Collection is the Lilly Library’s newest collection of comic books. Ranging from the 1970s forward, the collection spans the independent and international sides of the comic book world. An intriguing gem is an Arabic comic of Superman as well as several Japanese comics. The collection focuses on independent publishers and provides an interesting frame of reference for those interested in a non–mainstream view of the comic book community.

For more information, please see our page on the Klein comic book collection.

—Whitney Buccicone, Literature Cataloger

View a larger image.

April 28, 2010

Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly

Filed under: Books,In the news — Lilly Library @ 1:45 pm

Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly_cover_small

Joel Silver, Associate Director and Curator of Books for the Lilly Library, has written a book about the collector for whose family the Lilly Library was named, Josiah Kirby Lilly, Jr., and Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach, from whom Mr. Lilly bought many books and manuscripts. Published in limited first edition by Bird & Bull Press, Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly: Book Collecting in a Golden Age not only tells the story of these two particular men but also brings to light the golden age of book collecting in the earlier decades of the twentieth century.

For most of his life, J. K. Lilly, Jr. (1893–1966), of Indianapolis, was a devoted collector in many different fields. For some three decades, beginning in the mid–1920s, Mr. Lilly’s collecting attention was focused on assembling one of the finest private libraries of rare books and manuscripts in the world. Mr. Lilly’s collection, which was quite wide–ranging in scope, was particularly strong in American and British literature, American history, voyages and travels, and the history of science and medicine. In the mid–1950s, Mr. Lilly donated his collection of 20,000 books and 17,000 manuscripts to Indiana University, where it became the founding collection of the Lilly Library.

View more images and ordering information.

April 14, 2010

Michael Uslan at MCPL on May 9

Filed under: Books,Events — Virginia Dearborn @ 4:43 pm

Batman comic book

Michael Uslan, executive producer for the Batman films and author of America at War: A History of War Comics as well as other books and comic books, will give a talk at the Monroe County Public Library in downtown Bloomington on Sunday, May 9 at 2:00 p.m. about the Golden Age of comic books. Mr. Uslan’s visit is part of this year’s One Book One Bloomington and Beyond, which is centered on Michael Chabon’s novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

The Lilly Library holds the Michael E. Uslan Collection of comic books, graphic novels, action figures, and popular culture collectibles. The comic books and graphic novels from this collection may be searched in a special database and requested through the IU Libraries’ online catalog, IUCAT. Collection inventories for the action figures and popular culture collectibles can be found here.

To learn more about comic books at the Lilly Library, please join us on April 19, when Literature Cataloger Whitney Buccicone will present “Whiz! Bam! Pow! Collecting Comics at the Lilly Library,” showcasing the Lilly Library’s comic book collections and providing instruction on how to access this excellent resource.

March 11, 2010

Lilly Library announces publication of Lilly Texana

Filed under: Books,In the news — Lilly Library @ 12:57 pm

Lilly Texana

Based entirely upon the Lilly Library’s collections, a new work joins the ranks of bibliographical and historical publications that document the long, complicated history of Mexico–Texas relations before 1849. Lilly Texana: One Hundred Eighty Broadsides and Other Ephemera Relating to Texas, Printed and Published in Mexico before 1849 in the Lilly Library of Indiana University, by Everett C. Wilkie, Jr., describes a significant body of materials in the Lilly Library’s collections pertaining to Texas history that until now has been generally unrecognized or not reported to exist in the copy described. Most of the included items are not found in Thomas Streeter’s seminal Bibliography of Texas, the primary work in this area, or in other sources. Several entries represent the discovery of another copy of an item that Streeter believed to exist in only a single example.

The works described in Lilly Texana are part of the Bernardo Mendel broadside collection, which contains approximately 15,000 single–sheet items, pamphlets and ephemera, many of which are laws, other official pronouncements, or proclamations. Lilly Texana provides full bibliographic descriptions and historical context for each of the 180 works included and five indexes covering names, subjects, titles, publication, and bibliographic cross–references. The book will be of interest to anyone concerned with the history of Mexico–Texas relations, descriptive bibliography, the American Southwest, or the history of printing. Many of the items described are believed to be unique and demonstrate the often incredible depth of the Lilly’s unexplored collections.

More information about the publication and its author, as well as how to order Lilly Texana is available at http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/texana.shtml.

February 17, 2010

A Pencil or a Meat Cleaver: Raymond Carver and His Editors, on March 31

Filed under: Books,Events,In the news,Manuscripts — Lilly Library @ 9:59 am

Raymond Carver book cover

Save the date! On March 31, 2010 at 5pm author Carol Sklenicka will deliver a talk at the Lilly Library entitled A Pencil or a Meat Cleaver: Raymond Carver and His Editors about her recently published biography of American short story writer Raymond Carver, Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Life (2009).

“When Raymond Carver died too young at age fifty in 1988, readers lost a distinctive American voice. Carver’s reputation as the ‘American Chekhov’ and his influence on a generation of writers and on the form of the short story itself is well documented. What is not widely known, however, is how he became a writer so widely revered, how he suffered mightily to achieve his art, and how others around him were affected by the arc of his remarkable life. Carol Sklenicka…devoted ten years to researching and writing this book, interviewing hundreds of people in Carver’s life, some of them key figures who have since passed away. She has crafted a…meticulous biography.” —From the Scribner press release

The Lilly Library has manuscript collections from two of Carver’s editors: Noel Young (Capra Press Mss.) and Gordon Lish (Lish Mss.). Ms. Sklenicka will talk about both of these editors and the development of Carver’s relationship to them in the period between 1968 and the 1980s.

A reception will follow the talk.

February 3, 2010

Eileen Julien to read from Travels with Mae, Thursday, February 11

Filed under: Books,Events — Virginia Dearborn @ 2:53 pm

Travels with Mae

Eileen M. Julien, Professor of Comparative Literature, African American and African Diaspora Studies, and French and Italian at IUB, will read from her recent book Travels with Mae: Scenes from a New Orleans Girlhood at the Lilly Library next Thursday, February 11, 2010 at a reception honoring the 2009 publication.

Travels with Mae is a series of vignettes at once tender and full of doubt. Eileen Julien tells the story of her girlhood, young womanhood, and cultural and political awakening against the backdrop of New Orleans in the 1950′s and 60′s. Not only the story of the author’s coming of age, this is a loving portrait of family life. Julien gives an insider’s perspective on New Orleans culture. With her we attend Carnival balls and parades, family picnics and swimming parties, and survive hurricanes Betsy and Katrina. Along the way, we meet countless aunts, uncles and cousins, and are privy to family spats, her mother’s upstairs closet, and kitchens stretched from New Orleans to Washington, D.C., rural Louisiana to New York, Paris to Bordeaux and Dakar.” Read the full IU Press description.

The reception will be held on Thursday, February 11, 2010 from 4–6pm in the Lilly Library; at 4:30pm, Sandra Zagarell, Department of English, Oberlin College, will speak and Eileen Julien will do a short reading. This event is presented by Indiana University Press, the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of French and Italian, and the Lilly Library.

January 21, 2010

Peter Bogdanovich to visit IUB

Filed under: Books,Events,Film,Manuscripts — Virginia Dearborn @ 5:37 pm

Paper Moon movie poster

On Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 4pm, the Lilly Library will present “A Conversation with Peter Bogdanovich” in Room 251 of the Radio–TV Building on the campus of Indiana University, Bloomington.

Bogdanovich was born in 1939 in Kingston, New York. He attended Stella Adler’s Theatre Studio and has appeared on stage, screen and television. He was film critic for Esquire, The New York Times, Cahiers du Cinema among others, and has written numerous books on American cinema, most notably The Cinema of Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, and This is Orson Welles. He also wrote The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten (1960–1980) based on his relationship with the Playboy centerfold who was murdered by her estranged husband.

He is the owner/founder of several production companies including: Saticoy Productions, Inc., Copa de Oro Productions and Moon Pictures. Bogdanovich directed his first feature film Targets, starring Boris Karloff in 1968. His breakthrough film, however, was The Last Picture Show (1971) based on the Larry McMurtry novel. Several successful and critically acclaimed films followed, notably his documentary Directed by John Ford (1971) and the comedies, What’s Up Doc? (1972) and Paper Moon (1973). Subsequent films include Daisy Miller (1974), They All Laughed (1981), Mask (1985), and The Thing Called Love (1993). He is also credited for the screenplays of The Last Picture Show, its sequel Texasville, What’s Up Doc?, and many others.

You can learn more about Peter Bogdanovich by exploring the Lilly Library’s Bogdanovich Manuscript Collection. An inventory and finding aid are also available for this collection.

And, of course, you can come to Room 251 in the Radio–TV building and meet Mr. Bogdanovich on Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 4pm!

January 6, 2010

Lilly Library materials in Islamic Book Arts exhibit

Filed under: Books,Manuscripts,Online exhibitions — Virginia Dearborn @ 5:09 pm

Kufic Qur’an fragment

Yasemin Gencer, IU Ph.D. student in Islamic Art, has drawn on the collections of the Lilly Library, the IU Art Museum, and the Mathers Museum of World Cultures to create a permanent online exhibition of Islamic materials entitled From Pen to Printing Press: Ten centuries of Islamic book arts in Indiana University Collections.

This exhibition is an adaptation of an Indiana University Art Museum exhibit displayed last spring as “part of a larger project that aims to make the Islamic materials housed at IU better known to the general public.” It includes wonderful descriptions and images of Islamic manuscripts and rare books from the Lilly Library’s collections, such as an illustrated and abridged copy of Firdawsi’s Shahname, a miniature Qur’an, and one of the earliest recorded Mughal manuscripts.

View more images by visiting the exhibition.

November 24, 2009

On the Origin of Species

Filed under: Books,Exhibitions,In the news — Virginia Dearborn @ 5:01 pm

One hundred fifty years ago today, Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species was published in London. Although he was not the first person in England to publish something about evolution, his work gained ground based on its accuracy and detail on the subject.

The Lilly Library is home to several editions of this work (see the link in the paragraph above), and many other editions and related works can be found in IUCAT.

Be sure to check out Music for the Worms: A Darwin “Themester” Exhibit at the Lilly Library in the Lincoln Room now through December 19, 2009. This exhibit is part of Evolution, Diversity, and Change, Indiana University’s Fall 2009 Themester.

September 16, 2009

2009 Miniature Book Society Conclave XXVII

Filed under: Books,Events — Cherry Williams @ 1:13 pm

Miniature books

I recently had the pleasure of attending my first Miniature Book Society Conclave, which was held August 28–31 in Princeton, NJ. The annual meeting, held in a different location each year, includes workshops, tours, auctions, a book swap meet, and the announcement of the annual traveling exhibition book competition winners.

The Miniature Book Society, or MBS, is an international non-profit organization chartered in 1983. Its purposes are to sustain an interest in all phases of miniature books and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information about miniature books.

What Is a Miniature Book?
In the United States, a miniature book is usually considered to be one which is no more than three inches in size — height, width or thickness. Outside of the United States, books up to four inches are collected as miniature books.

The Lilly Library and Miniature Books
The Lilly Library has been the legal repository of the archives of the Miniature Book Society since approximately 1996. The archive includes not only the files and records of the business activities transacted by the organization but also the entries and papers relating to the annual miniature book competition and traveling exhibition which is sponsored by the organization. You can read more about the Miniature Book Society mss. collection here.

In addition, the Lilly is home to the Ruth Adomeit collection of thousands of miniature books, as well as the reference materials, books, correspondence, articles, photographs, etc. which Mrs. Adomeit accumulated over a lifetime of collecting. These books were exhibited in 2001 and a selection of them can be seen in the online exhibition 4000 Years of Miniature Books. You can read more about the Ruth Adomeit mss. collection here.

The Lilly Library is always actively collecting miniature materials of all kinds and is interested in receiving non-duplicative miniature books and other related material. The MBS archive, as well as the Adomeit collection, is available for use in the Lilly Library Reading Room. As always, we welcome visits not only by those with a research need for the materials but also by members of the interested general public.

— Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts

September 15, 2009

Fore-Edge Paintings in the Lilly Library

Filed under: Books,Illustration,Online exhibitions,web site — Virginia Dearborn @ 5:03 pm

Fore-Edge common prayer cropped

The Lilly Library is pleased to debut another excellent online exhibition developed in 2008 by former graduate student employee, Denise Griggs: Fore-Edge Paintings in the Lilly Library.

This exhibition features paintings created along the fore-edge of pages in a book, an art form that first became popular in the late 18th century. Many of these paintings “vanish” when the book is closed and are only visible when the pages are fanned open, though some of the fore-edge artworks in the Lilly Library’s collection can be seen along the edge of the closed book. The subjects in the paintings range from countrysides to cityscapes, religious devotion to seats of government.

Denise Griggs also developed an online exhibition on English writer Daniel Defoe.

–Virginia Dearborn, Reference/Technical Assistant

View more image clips from the online exhibition here.

May 6, 2009

New illustrated works with military themes

Filed under: Books,Illustration,Manuscripts,New acquisitions — Cherry Williams @ 1:47 pm

Odelette Guerriere, title page

The Lilly Library has recently received two new works charmingly illustrated with remarkable depictions of military themes. The first, Odelette Guerrière (1870), by Catulle Mendès, is a small ode characterized by an erotic or jovial theme with a predominately descriptive narrative. The Lilly Library’s copy is unique because it is illustrated with 5 original water colors signed by French artist/illustrator Albert Bligny interspersed throughout the text. In addition, the luxurious volume was bound by Marius Michel in full red Morocco with gilt decorations, green silk and marbled end papers.

The second, a folio collection of 115 drawings and water colors by A. Rochet and R.P. Germain, depicts daily life on the home front in Dijon, France during the First World War (1914-1918).

– Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts

View additional images from Odelette Guerrière and the Rochet and Germain folio

March 24, 2009

One Book One Bloomington discussion tomorrow

Filed under: Books,Events — Lilly Library @ 2:58 pm

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is the 2009 selection for One Book One Bloomington.

The Lilly Library will host a book discussion for The Book Thief — tomorrow, Wednesday, March 25 at 4:00 p.m. Breon Mitchell, Director of the Lilly Library, will lead the discussion in the Lilly Library Slocum room.

March 2, 2009

Earliest Printing in Sarawak?

Filed under: Books,New acquisitions — Breon Mitchell @ 11:26 am

Spelling Book of the Dyak Language

Little seems to be known about the early history of the Mission Press in Sarawak, which is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. The arrival in 1847 of Christian missionaries among the Dyaks, who were famous as headhunters, must soon have been followed by a small printing press. The Lilly has recently acquired two early examples of the Mission Press, a twenty-page “Spelling Book of the Dyak Language” dated 1853, along with a Catechism in Dyak dated 1854.

The Lilly’s copy bears a presentation inscription from the probable author, William Gomes. Of Sinhalese-Portuguese descent, Gomes arrived in Sarawak in 1852, worked in the Home School in Kuching, and served as missionary at Lundu from 1853 to 1867. The recipient, Rev. Hawkins, arrived in Sarawak in 1865, as the wife of Bishop McDougall later recorded in her memoirs:

“After the Banting expedition, the Bishop took Mr. Waterhouse to Lundu, and Mr. Hawkins, a missionary lately come out, went with them. They arrived on a Saturday. On Sunday there was a great gathering of Christian Dyaks: fifty-two people were confirmed, eighty received the Holy Communion, so that they were more than three hours in church, the Bishop preaching to them in Malay. On Monday Mr. Waterhouse and Mr. Hawkins paid a visit to a beautiful waterfall, about two miles from the town; and on Tuesday all the party, Mr. Gomes included, went in boats forty miles up the river Lundu, with three hundred Dyaks, to tuba fish.”

No doubt Mr. Gomes took this opportunity to present his new colleague with a copy, already twelve years old, of the spelling book shown here, along with the Dyak catechism—precious tools in the life he now faced. If anyone knows of an earlier surviving example of the Mission Press in Sarawak, we would appreciate hearing of it.

– Breon Mitchell, Director

View more images from the the “Spelling Book of the Dyak Language”

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