Color Our Collections

Coloring books are everywhere these days it seems. Books stores. Craft stores. Museums and libraries. Libraries?

Yes, even libraries have been getting in on the current craze. Who are we to miss an opportunity to highlight some of the beautiful illustrations to be found in our collection?

Today’s coloring sheet comes from Jost Amman’s Kunnst- und Lehrbüchlein für die anfahenden Jungen (Book of Art and Instruction for Young People), published by Sigmund Feyerabend in German and Latin in 1578. If you’d like to see more of the illustrations from this book, it is featured in the “Society” showcase of the online exhibit After Gutenberg: Print, Books, and Knowledge in Germany through the Long Sixteenth Century. Or come visit us and ask to see the book in person — the call number is on the coloring page.

Download a PDF [1 MB]

Recent Acquisition: Authoritative Sylburg Edition of Aristotle

BOO_004396443-t1-001Recently acquired is volume three of Friedrich Sylburg’s authoritative Greek edition of Aristotle’s works. Printed in 1584 in Frankfurt by Andreas Wechel, this volume contains Physikēs akroaseōs biblia 8, Peri ouranou 4, Peri geneseōs kai phthoras 2, Meteōrologikōn 4, Peri kosmou 1, and Peri phychē 3.

The volume is bound in contemporary, blind-stamped pig skin over boards. On the front is a central medallion with the bust of Ludwig the Pious, surrounded by a knotted foliate pattern and border with medallions of noted humanists including Erasmus, Martin [Luther], John [of Saxony], and Philip [Melanchthon].

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Memorial Day: Stories of War by a Civil War Veteran

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian

When Congress declared the last Monday in May a national holiday in 1968, it standardized the many different ways that Americans had remembered our war dead since the Civil War (1861-1865). Defining “Decoration Day,” as Memorial Day was first known after that war, became part of a larger cultural and political conflict about how to remember the Civil War itself.

Wikimedia-Bierce_from_The_Letters_1922-croppedWriter, poet, journalist, and veteran Ambrose Bierce shaped this post-war conversation. As a nineteen year old he joined the Ninth Indiana regiment and served nearly the entire conflict. Bierce later settled in California as a journalist and writer, contributing social criticism and satire to the San Francisco Examiner and other publications.

Of the many former soldiers who put their wartime experiences into literature, Bierce probably had seen the most combat. It never left him. By the 1880s, when American culture was awash in sentimental and nostalgic literature about the Civil War and slavery, Bierce’s stories stood apart. He despised war sentiment and, as one historian put it, “never stopped recollecting the corpses.” (David Blight, Race and Reunion, 2001, p. 248) Bierce’s realism about war’s horrors, most notably expressed in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and “Chickamauga,” was nearly unrivaled in his generation and distinguished him from other writers until after World War I.

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In addition to the finely-produced first edition of collected short stories featured here, Tales of Soldiers and Civilians, Hesburgh Library holds every first edition work by Bierce, thanks to the generosity of two university benefactors, John Bennett Shaw and Walter Trohan.

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For more about Ambrose Bierce, and where most of this post’s content comes, see, David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2001). See also S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, Ambrose Bierce: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999).

 


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Recent Acquisitions to the Ediciones Vigía Collection

In pursuit of building a complete collection of Ediciones Vigía, RBSC recently added nine hand-made books from the Cuban publishing house. Our collection now totals just under 200 books.

The press was founded in 1985 in Matanzas, a city just east of Havana, in response to a repressive period in the 1970s. During this time, artists who were seen as on the margins of society—gay, opposed to revolutionary values, outside the mainstream—were ignored or punished. A small group led by Rolando Estévez, a theater designer, and Alfredo Zaldívar, a writer, undertook a project to open a press to publish these types of works.

The nine new acquisitions are fine examples of Ediciones Vigía’s hallmarks. They are hand made from readily available, inexpensive materials. All nine are shown above, with detail views of Canción de redención below.

Bob Marley and Marialva Ríos, Canción de redención
Isván Álvarez, Zoológico
Lêdo Ivo, Todo lo que en silencio es lenguaje
Salvador Lemis, El titiritero Florencio
Gabriel Mistral, Milián Maura, and Gjorge Michel, El ruego = The Prayer
Ronel Gonzalez Sanchez, Las diabluras de Eleggua
Nicolas Guillen, Cubanos para llevar
José Jacinto Milanés, De codos en el puente
Alfredo Zaldívar, Cuchillos en el aire = Knives in the Air

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Front cover of Canción de redención by Bob Marley (lyricist) and Marialva Ríos (book designer, illustrator), closed.
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Inner front cover with cover flap folded down.
Inside of front flap.
Inside of front cover flap.
Inside with left flap open and right flap closed.
Inside with left flap open and right flap closed.
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Inside center with right hand flap opened.
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Back cover.

“Vestigia Vaticana” Exhibit Opens

Frag_I_39-1r-cropped-v2Manuscripts, incunabula, seals, maps, engravings, and printed books from the thirteenth century to the present highlight how the Holy Father has left his mark on society. These materials from RBSC, together with a great bull on loan from Saint Mary’s College, are featured in the new exhibit “Vestigia Vaticana.” The exhibit’s opening coincides with the conference The Promise of the Vatican Library, being held May 8–10, 2016, at the University of Notre Dame.

These materials are like the Vatican’s footprints. They provide a trail for us to follow to get a glimpse of the official acts of the Holy Father, of books that belonged to popes, of events the general public wasn’t privy to. Take a stroll through the exhibit to see these papal bulls, apostolic briefs, a papal conclave print, a ground plan of Rome, and various other pieces.

Recent Acquisition: A Collection of Eighteenth-Century Illustrated Fables

BOO_003873139_t1-p00cby Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries recently acquired a two-volume set called Raccolta di Varie Favole by Giorgio Fossati. Published in Venice in 1744, these books gather 216 fables from a variety of sources. The fables are printed in both Italian and French, and conclude with brief proverbs. Each is illustrated with a full-page engraving, many of which portray animals and/or architectural settings.

Giorgio Fossati (1705-1785) identifies himself as “Architetto” on the title page, but was a polymath of many talents. He was an accomplished etcher and book illustrator, publishing editions of Vignola and Palladio and producing numerous maps. He also worked in the performing arts, revising opera librettos and designing theatrical sets. He was specially noted for devising ephemeral decorations for feasts given in honor of distinguished foreign visitors.

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This engraving “Of Armed Animals” comes from Book One, Fable 27. It illustrates the “soldiers” chosen by a wise Lion whose kingdom was being challenged by an upstart Leopard. These animals, among which are the Rhinoceros, the Crocodile, the Hedgehog, the Porcupine, and the Tortoise, all feature as their distinguishing characteristic both offensive and defensive capabilities. This thoughtful choice of “troops” enabled the Lion to defeat and banish the Leopard’s army. The accompanying proverb advises on the importance of soldiers being able to respect their leader.

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ND’s Conservation Lab Looks at our Pico: Is it human?

by Sue Donovan, Rare Books Conservator

The conservation lab, a unit within Hesburgh Libraries Preservation, has been part of a collaborative effort to determine if a book owned by the University since 1916 was bound in human skin. The book, a volume of the works of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, a 15th-century humanist writer, contains newspaper clippings and handwritten affidavits attesting to the book’s past. These documents purport that the book was owned by Christopher Columbus and was bound in the skin of a Moorish chieftain, which had been obtained after the conversion of the Muslim population of Granada to Catholicism by the zealous Cardinal Cisneros in 1500. After contradictions were found in the provenance records, the conservation lab engaged in identifying the nature of the skin used for the binding.

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Opera Joannis Pici Mirandule Comitis Concordie, by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Argentinus: diligenter impressit industrius Ioannes Prüs Ciuis Argentinus Anno salutis 1503 Die vero XV Marcij i.e., 15 March 1504).

In January of 2015 two samples were taken—one from the purported human skin binding and one as a control from a book with a similar binding and of the same time period and country of production as the Pico volume. Finding an area that was relatively untouched was important so that there would be no contamination from proteins and grime from centuries of handling and consultation. Accordingly, small samples were taken from underneath the paper pastedowns of each book, and they were sent to the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), where they were analyzed through protein mass spectrometry. Proteins are more stable than DNA, and because of the unique patterns and mutations that exist across species, they can be used to determine whether a binding has been made with pig, sheep, calfskin, or human skin.

In the meantime, Conservator Liz Dube and I took the volume to the photo macroscopy lab on campus to see if we could determine any information about the origin of the skin through the pore and follicle patterns, but we left just as perplexed—perhaps even more so!—than when we arrived.

Based upon in-house tests, it was uncertain whether the Pico book was bound in human skin. We turned next to our outside collaborators for their expertise. To find out what they uncovered, read John Nagy’s article, “The Truth Uncovered,” in the Spring 2016 issue of Notre Dame Magazine.

Thanks to George Rugg for his research on the provenance of the Pico volume, Donald Siegle of the NYC OCME for his correspondence regarding protein mass spectrometry, and John Nagy for his research into the personalities behind this book’s ownership and for bringing the information together in his article.

 


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Recent Acquisition: L’École des armes (The School of Fencing)

BOO_004370170-00eDomenico Angelo. L’École des armes: avec l’explication générale des principals attitudes et positions concernant l’escrime. . . . London: R & J Dodsley, 1763.

Domenico Angelo (c1717-1802) was an Italian fencing master whose School of Arms in Soho, London brought continental small-sword techniques to a fashionable English clientele that included members of the royal family. His L’École des armes (The School of Fencing), first published in London in 1763, went on to become the most influential instructional of the later eighteenth century (and the immediate source for the article on fencing in Diderot’s Encyclopédie). It is also a lavish book, an oblong folio (29 x 47 cm) containing 47 engraved plates after John Gwynn. Together, Angelo’s text (written in French) and Gwynn’s images provide a course of instruction that emphasizes both the cultivation of poise and grace and practical modes of self-defense.

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Plate 14: Cinquieme position du Salut. (Fifth position of the Salute.)
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Plate 21: De la parade de prime sur le coup de second. (Of the parade called prime against the second thrust.)
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Plate 46: L’epée & Lanterne combattiie par l’epée & Manteau. (The sword & Lantern against the sword & Cloak.)

Rare Books and Special Collections recently acquired a first edition of L’École des armes, an important addition to the early modern sport-related titles in the Joyce Sports Collection.

Recent Acquisition: Three Works of Battista Piranesi

by Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian

BOO_004334827-bk1-00gAn important new acquisition is Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Antichità d’Albano e di Castel Gandolfo (Antiquities of Albano and Castel Gandolfo), published in Rome in 1764. This volume is dedicated to Pope Clement XIII, who was an important patron of Piranesi’s. It is bound with two related works from 1762:  Descrizione e disegno dell’emissario del Lago Albano (Description and Design of the Emissarium of Lake Albano) and Di due spelonche ornate dagli antichi alla riva del Lago Albano (Concerning Two Caves Embellished by the Ancients on the Bank of Lake Albano). All three focus on the environs of Castel Gandolfo, which is just outside of Rome, overlooking Lake Albano, and is the summer residence of the popes.

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Piranesi (1720-1778), best known as an etcher and engraver, was an influential figure in eighteenth-century neoclassicism. His Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome) were informed by his personal architectural and archaeological research and are especially celebrated. Also of significance are his Carceri, which are imaginative views of early Roman prisons.

The volume acquired by the library was produced soon after Piranesi opened his own printing studio in 1761. It is a very early edition, issued without several of the illustrations that appeared in later versions. Two of the plates in Di due spelonche have lettering and drawing in pen and brown ink which are believed to be in Piranesi’s hand. Only eight other copies of this kind are known to be in existence.

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“Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion” Exhibit Opens

This year marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, the rebellion that led to the eventual establishment of an Irish Free State. The University of Notre Dame’s Keough-Naughton Institute is at the forefront of the impetus to re-examine the events of 1916, with Professor Bríona Nic Dhiarmada’s three-part documentary, 1916 The Irish Rebellion which will be shown on public television in Ireland, the U.S. and at screenings throughout the world.

Notre Dame will also be the center of Irish studies for five days this spring as host to ACIS (the American Conference for Irish Studies). Over a thousand visitors are expected at this conference.

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In Hesburgh Libraries Rare Books and Special Collections, a special exhibit to mark this centenary is on display from February 12th until April 28th.

The exhibit draws from the Hesburgh Special Collections and includes books written by people involved in the events as well as contemporary accounts of the rebellion. Letters on display include one from Roger Casement. An extremely rare first edition of W. B. Yeats’s poem Easter, 1916 is part of the exhibit.

From the University Archives, a book recording the subscriptions of South Bend residents to an Irish government bond will be on display.

The exhibit is open to the public from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.