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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

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”

February 26, 2009

Art imitates life: Georg Kaiser

Filed under: Books — Breon Mitchell @ 11:50 am

Kaiser, Der gerettete Alkibiades

Georg Kaiser (1878-1945), a major figure in German literary Expressionism (1910-1925), even signed his books in typical Expressionist “Telegrammstil” (telegram style). The copy of Der gerettete Alkibiades (1920) shown here, recently added to the Lilly’s growing collection of modern German literature, was inscribed for his friend Marthe Fröhlich only five days after he’d sent the following barely-veiled threat of suicide to his wife: “No one is even close to being my equal: I know that I’m the brother of Kleist, Büchner, and Goethe. I am one of the great wonders of the world. I’m the most extreme exponent of human kind… And if—growing weak—I make Kleist’s fate my own, you must carry on in my memory…”

Suicide was surely on his mind—the play ends with the death of Socrates. Ironically, the limited edition (one of 50 signed copies) is a touch of luxury totally at odds with Kaiser’s own desperate financial situation at the time. In October of that year, calling to mind the protagonist of his most famous play, From Morn to Midnight, he was arrested for embezzlement, and eventually put in prison. He died in Switzerland in 1945– of natural causes.

–Breon Mitchell, Director

View more images from Der gerettete Alkibiades.

December 4, 2008

Poysons are of Various and Infinite Kindes: The First English Book on Poisons

Filed under: Books — Lori Dekydtspotter @ 12:54 pm

Poysons, title page

Thanasima, kai d&#275l&#275t&#275ria [in Greek]: Tractatus de venenis, or, a treatise of poysons: their sundry sorts, names, natures and virtues, with their severall symptomes, signes diagnosticks, prognosticks, and antidotes… / by William Ramesey (London: Printed by S.G. for D. Pakeman, at the Rain-bow in Fleet Street, 1661).

Written by the seventeenth-century British astrologer and physician, William Ramesey (1627–1676?), this book is likely the first English work on poisons. The text begins with a lengthy “Epistle Dedicatory” to Ramesey’s patron, Charles II, and is followed by two forewords, one aimed at a more learned audience, “To the Judicious and Ingenious Readers,” the other crafted for readers who might require a more “common” approach, “To the most Imprudent and Rurall Readers.” The author’s descriptions of the various types of poisons, include such things as “Mad-dogs bite,” “Garlick taken in excess,” the “Basilisk,” “Sea Dragons,” and insect venoms. He explains to his readers that there are no known poisons that can be programmed to kill at a specific time in the future, once administered. As the bookseller’s description accompanying this book explains, this directly refutes the then-common notion that a poison could be given which would both immediately perform the assassin’s work, but would allow ample time to establish an alibi. In 1668 Ramesey, having been admitted as an MD at Cambridge by royal mandate, became the physician-in-ordinary to Charles II. It is believed that he died in 1676 while in prison—not for poisoning, but for debt.

— Lori Dekydtspotter, Rare Books Cataloger

The call number for this book is Lilly Library RA1201 .R19 1661

See more images of this book here.

December 1, 2008

Grand Tour exhibition at IU Art Museum features Lilly Library books and journals

Filed under: Books,Exhibitions,Illustration,Manuscripts — Guest Blogger @ 4:01 pm

Thiebault travel journal

Ten items from the Lilly Library collections are part of the current special exhibition at the IU Art Museum, The Grand Tour: Art and Travel, 1740–1914, on view through December 21, 2008. (For more information, see the IU Art Museum web site). This exhibition considers the role of art and visual representation in the history of tourism. One of the great pleasures of researching the exhibition were the many hours I spent at the Lilly Library paging through rare eighteenth-century travel guides and hand-written, hand-drawn travel journals, some of which are still uncatalogued. Drawing was an important component of middle- and upper-class education during the period examined in the Grand Tour exhibition, and it is wonderful to see how the average traveler was able to put their drawing skills to use while on the road.

One of my favorite Lilly books in the exhibition is a two-volume journal (only volume one is in the exhibition) recording a walking tour in the north of Wales in September 1827, Voyage à pied dans le nord du Pays de Galles (Thiebault Family mss., uncatalogued). The journal was compiled by a French traveler, Adolphe Thiebault (1797–1875?), and is filled with his beautiful, precisely delineated ink and wash drawings of the landscapes he encountered in Wales. Each drawing is carefully pasted into the journal, and is accompanied by a descriptive caption and date. The page on view in the exhibition is particularly interesting, depicting a view of the Menai Suspension Bridge, a modern technological wonder in Thiebault’s day. Completed in 1826, the bridge was one of the world’s first iron suspension bridges. Linking mainland Wales to the island of Anglesey (previously accessible only by ferry), the bridge reduced travel time between London and Dublin from thirty-six hours to just nine. Thiebault drew the bridge on September 16, and on the facing page pasted a newspaper clipping with a story about the bridge.

Another book that provides great insight into the values and interests of its time is the very useful Gentleman’s Guide on his Tour Through Italy of 1791. If you ever wondered how long it took a Grand Tourist to travel from Rome to Naples in the late eighteenth century, this book will tell you: twenty-five hours, during which it was necessary to change horses at eighteen designated post-stations. Aside from providing detailed practical information regarding money, itineraries, and lodgings, the guidebook puts a strong emphasis on the art that English tourists wanted to see when they traveled to Italy. Lists of paintings in both private and public collections are included in the book, as is information about architecture and archaeological sites such as Pompeii, which had only been discovered a few decades earlier. Although unillustrated, the book includes a beautiful fold-out, colored map of Italy next to the title page. This book, with its map on display, is the first object visitors see when they enter the Grand Tour exhibition.

— Jenny McComas, Curator of Western Art after 1800, Indiana University Art Museum

View a larger image of a page from Adolphe Thiebault’s journal

October 20, 2008

Bound for the bottom of the sea

Filed under: Books,Manuscripts — Elizabeth Johnson @ 11:51 am

Signals to be used by the squadron,.. (binding)

One of the books in this summer’s exhibition in the Lilly Library Main Gallery, Blue at the Mizzen: Patrick O’Brian and the 19th Century Naval World, was a slim, but heavy volume entitled: Signals to be used by the squadron under command of [blank space]. This book, printed in Brooklyn by Thomas Kirk for use by Commander John Rodgers’ flotilla during the War of 1812, has a very unusual binding – it’s encased in lead. The heavy lead binding insured rapid disposal in the event of an emergency. By throwing the book overboard, the Captain could make sure that the signal book didn’t fall into enemy hands. The first page of the book contains hand-drawn colored signal flags, and the key or indicator to each of the signals is added in manuscript. Commander Rodgers was clear in his orders concerning the signal book. “It is directed, that the commanding officers of the flotilla will never suffer their signal books to be exposed either to the possibility of being lost, or to the inspection of any persons who duty does not require that they should be made acquainted with the signals. On the receipt of this signal book, the officer to whom it is delivered is desired to furnish me with all signals appertaining in any degree to these. Signed, John Rodgers.”

— Elizabeth Johnson, Head of Technical Services

View another image from Signals to be used by the squadron under command of [blank space]

September 15, 2008

New online exhibition: Daniel Defoe

Filed under: Books,Online exhibitions,web site — Erika Dowell @ 3:32 pm

Robinson Crusoe, first edition

The Lilly Library posted its first online exhibition in 1997, and we have added new ones to the web site on an irregular basis. Sometimes graduate students in library science develop online exhibitions for course credit, then bring them to us for official posting. Sometimes, Lilly Library staff and student employees develop an exhibition at the request of a Curator or the Director.

In some ways the online exhibition is a creature of 1997. The current buzz in libraries is all about Google Books and creating online collections of materials scanned in their entirety. But our staff believes there is still a place for the online exhibition. We can promote specific groups of material in a way that goes beyond the cataloging records without the expense of a large digitization project. Online exhibitions are easily found in web search engines. Once researchers find the exhibition online, they can arrange a visit to the Library or contact us about ordering photocopies or more digital images.

For the past year, Denise Griggs, a graduate student in the School of Library and Information Science, has worked part-time to develop new online exhibitions for the Lilly Library. This week, Daniel Defoe: The Collection of the Lilly Library debuts. It features pamphlets, books, and newspapers published by the prolific English writer, best known for his novel, The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.

September 12, 2008

John Bidwell lecture on Monday

Filed under: Books,Events — Lilly Library @ 3:21 pm

Declaration of Independence, 1776

The Friends of the Lilly Library are sponsoring the following lecture this Monday:

“The Declaration of Independence: Fantasies and Facsimiles,”
John Bidwell, Pierpont Morgan Library
Monday, Sep 15, 5pm – 6pm
Lilly Library

Patriotic prints containing the text of the Declaration and facsimile signatures of the Founding Fathers first appeared in 1818. Although advertised as absolutely accurate reproductions, they did not replicate the text so much as celebrate its achievements as a vindication of human rights, a charter of freedom, and the birthright of the nation. Leading artists and engravers embellished them with ornamental lettering, portraits of presidents, and elaborate allegories of peace and prosperity. One of the more fanciful and partisan interpretations prompted the Department of State to commission the first real facsimile, which, ironically, may have played a role in damaging the original, now badly faded and barely legible. In this slide lecture John Bidwell will recount the fate of the original and will show how facsimiles have influenced the way it has been read and revered.

John Bidwell is Astor Curator of Printed Books and Bindings at the Pierpont Morgan Library, before which he was Curator of Graphic Arts in the Princeton University Library. He has written extensively on the history of papermaking in England and America.

September 8, 2008

Unique illustrations in Maupassant volume

Filed under: Books,Illustration — Lori Dekydtspotter @ 10:17 am

Mesples tn

Within the pages of this first edition of Guy de Maupassant’s first novel, Une Vie (Paris: Victor Havard, 1883), the reader will discover a collection of 52 original watercolor sketches by the French artist Paul-Eugéne Mesples (1849-1924). Giving the feel of a sketch book of sorts, Mesples painted colorful vignettes that gently blend into the printed text. It was the custom of many French bibliophiles to commission artists to add such series of watercolors to works of literature, often using untrimmed copies to do so. This uniquely illustrated volume may have been a prototype for a later edition with the publisher Victor Havard, though there is no evidence that Mesples’ illustrations for Une Vie were ever published. In 1886, Mesples was commissioned to illustrate the first edition of Maupassant’s Toine (Paris: Flammarion, 1886).

Many of the illustrations feature the main character, Jeanne le Perthuis des Vauds, a woman of the provincial aristocracy. The novel recounts the events of Jeanne’s life from the age of seventeen to her mid-forties: engagement, marriage, childbirth, discovery of her husband’s infidelity, death of her parents, and the birth of her first grandchild. Mesples captures these common life moments in detailed sketches that highlight nineteenth century French provincial aristocratic dress and provide hints of interior décor.

— Lori Dekydtspotter, Rare Books Cataloger

View more images from Une Vie. The call number for this item is Lilly Library PQ2349.6 .V65 1883

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