Spring and Summer 2020 Exhibit – Paws, Hooves, Fins, and Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800

In 1515 an Indian rhinoceros boarded a ship bound for Lisbon. Given as a gift to King Manuel I of Portugal, the animal was a sensation in Europe, inspiring drawings, paintings, descriptions and woodcut prints that circulated around the continent. Although he never saw the rhino, German painter and printmaker Albrect Dürer created an iconic woodcut image. His rhino served as the model for many of his contemporaries, including the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner, and endures in popularity even today.

This famous rhino appeared in his monumental Historia animalium (History of Animals) and its subsequent editions. The rhino printed in the 1583 German edition of Gesner’s work is a focal point of the exhibition, Paws, Hooves, Fins, and Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, open now and through the summer in Rare Books and Special Collections.

Like many of the animals reproduced in Gesner’s volume, this rhino’s appearance derives partly from second-hand observation, partly from classical descriptions, partly from the artist’s imagination and technical skill, and partly from the print technologies available in the early sixteenth century. In Gesner’s influential tome, the rhino shares space with domestic cats, farm animals, other exotic beasts such as elephants, as well as creatures of the imagination such as unicorns and sea monsters. Images of animals in early modern books were not entirely realistic, offering a unique window into the fluid spaces between art and science, legend and observation.

Along with our rhino, this exhibition features early printed images of an octopus, sloth, anteater, hippo, coot, emu, otter, and more. Some of these animals appear in wide-ranging catalogs of the flora and fauna of the entire world. Others are in works that offer systems of classification specific to a single type of animal. Still others live in the pages of books that describe animals of one part of the world, whether the Americas, Asia, or Australia.

Also on display as part of this exhibition are specimens on loan from the University of Notre Dame’s Museum of Biodiversity. If early modern naturalists were writers, they were also collectors. They populated cabinets of curiosity and proto-museums with animal and plant specimens represented in their books. In recognition of this link between early science and collecting, some of the specimens – an arctic fox, a turtle carapace, and a collection of moths – inhabit a miniature a cabinet of curiosity.

Special Collections invites animal lovers of all ages to join us for this exhibition. We look forward to sharing these materials with the South Bend community. We are especially excited to welcome students and educators from the South Bend School Corporation and PHM Schools for tours this spring and look forward to taking this exhibition on the road to South Bend and PHM Schools and to Marquette Montessori. We are currently hard at work on our homemade reproduction of an early modern natural history book, which features reproductions of images included in the exhibit!

Very special thanks to Sara Weber for her design work, image creation, and layout of our book. We extend our gratitude to our conservators, Jen Hunt Johnson and Maren Rozumalski, for creating a period binding for the reproduction, and to Neil Chase for mounting all of the materials for us. We are grateful to Barb and Ron Hellenthal of the Museum of Biodiversity for their generous collaboration.

For more information or to schedule a tour for your class, organization, or interested group, please contact the curators, Erika Hosselkus (ehosselk@nd.edu) and Julie Tanaka (jtanaka1@nd.edu).

Recent Acquisition: The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica

Patrick Browne’s The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica

by Joel Gabriel Kempff, PhD Candidate, English Department, University of Notre Dame

Rare Books and Special Collections is pleased to have acquired The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica. This 1789 edition of Dr. Patrick Browne’s description of the Caribbean Island, contains 49 stunning color plates, illustrated by Georg Dionysius Ehret, one of the period’s most lauded and influential botanical and entomological artists.  The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica includes an account of the British colony’s governmental and economic structure at the time, a description of the soil and fossil content of the island, as well as a comprehensive account of its flora and fauna.

Patrick Browne was born in Ireland in 1720. Educated as a botanist and physician, he made the harrowing transatlantic journey six times in his life, collecting, organizing, and cataloging the natural history of not only Jamaica, but several British sugar colonies of the West Indies. In his preface to the section which catalogues the animal life of Jamaica, Browne muses eloquently on the purpose of such a book as his. Beyond its scientific value as a simple taxonomy, the creatures cataloged in his book offer important knowledge to do with a range of topics.  Browne writes:

…the Naturalist endeavors to observe the peculiar forms, differences, classes and general properties of all. The nature of society we may learn from the Castor, and the rules of government, industry and friendship, from the Ant and the Bee. The little Nautilus has first taught us to sail; and the uses of the Paddle, the Lever, the Forceps, and the Saw, with a thousand other mechanical powers are daily shewn us by numbers of the insect tribe.

Browne goes on to suggest that works such as his Natural History offer a new, more respectful way of understanding so many of the world’s tiny creatures, which were before only regarded as pests that produce only “filth and putrilage.” Browne writes that is this new kind of scientific inquiry which allows humans to gain new respect, even awe, for all sorts of plants and animals. When one views such intricately drawn, to scale illustrations of a bell flower, a flying fish, or a lobster, one does indeed wonder at the complexity and beauty of such creatures and can’t help but reflect on what humans might still have to learn from the plant and animal kingdoms. At its time of publication, and even now, Browne’s work has been valued as an astonishing addition to natural philosophy and science.

Archives of Natural History notes that Browne’s work on Jamaica “is now considered one of the most significant natural history books of the mid-eighteenth century, in some respects second only to the earliest works of Carl Linnaeus.”[1] In fact, Linnaeus himself—the father of modern taxonomy[2]—wrote from Sweden to Browne, “I never coveted any Book, I know not by what instinct, with more ardour desire than yours .. [and having] obtained it I spent day and night reading it through, I read it over but never enough  … Good God how I was transported with desire of a book infinitly [sic] to be commended” and “you ough[t] to be honoured with a golden statue”.  Linnaeus also wrote to the English naturalist Peter Collinson that “No author did I ever quit more instructed.”[3] Patrick Browne’s collected physical specimens now reside in the Linnaean Society Collection.

Throughout his life, and during his retirement in Ireland, Browne catalogued the flora and fauna of County Galway and of his home, County Mayo. His manuscript on Irish flora was published in the handsome Flowers of Mayo: Dr. Patrick Browne’s Fasciculus Plantarum Hibernicae 1788, edited and with substantial commentaries by Charles Nelson of the Irish National Botanic Gardens. This book, with color plates by Wendy Walsh, may also be viewed in the Hesburgh Special Collections.

Dr. Browne was known as a gentle and generous man by his colleagues. He married an Antiguan woman who lived with him in Ireland until his death on August 29th, 1790.

 

 

[1] E. C. Nelson, ‘Patrick Browne’s The civil and natural history of Jamaica (1756, 1789)’, Archives of Natural History, vol. 24 (1997), p.327–36.

[2] Calisher, CH (2007). “Taxonomy: what’s in a name? Doesn’t a rose by any other name smell as sweet?”. Croatian Medical Journal. 48 (2): 268–270.

[3] Transactions of the Linnaean Society, iv (1798), 31–4.

Upcoming Events: February and early March

Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, February 20 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: MA student research presentations.

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.


The spring exhibitPaws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, is now open and will run through the summer. This is an exhibit of rare zoological books featuring early printed images of animals. We welcome classes and other groups of any age and would love to tailor a tour for your students and your curriculum — and if you can’t come to campus, the curators can bring the exhibit to you. Watch for forthcoming announcements of additional related events!

For more information about the exhibit or to set up a visit, contact curators Julie Tanaka and Erika Hosselkus.

The current spotlight exhibits are: John Ruskin and Popular Taste (February – April 2020) and Ruskin, Turner, and Popular Taste (February 2020), both featuring materials from Special Collections relating to the Ruskin Conference being held at Notre Dame in February.

Recent Acquisition: The Fabulous Cockettes Host a Private Benefit

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

This small poster (11 ½” x 18”) advertises “The First Annual Miss de Meanor Beauty Contest” by the Cockettes, an avant-garde, hippie theater group that became known for experimental, free spirited performances of cross-dressing and musical theater. The ensemble formed in 1969 with men and women from the Kaliflower commune in San Francisco. They first gained attention by performing parodies of musical theater songs (in full costume and makeup) at the city’s Palace Theater before a regular Saturday night underground film showcase, the Nocturnal Dream Show. The Cockettes created shows titled, “Gone with the Showboat to Oklahoma,” and “Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma.”

The evening’s special feature, “Lady Divine,” refers to Divine, a drag queen and stage name of Harris Glenn Milstead. Divine had already achieved countercultural acclaim playing characters in John Waters’ films (Mondo Trasho, 1969; Pink Flamingos, 1972) before this San Francisco appearance. She joined the Cockettes at one of their Palace Theater shows (“Journey to the Center of Uranus”) and then as Miss de Meanor in this performance at the House of Good, another underground cultural venue in the city. Other characters in the show included Miss Shapen, Miss Used, and Miss Conception.

This poster is part of Rare Books and Special Collections’ Broadsides, Prints, and Posters collection.

Recent Acquisition: The persecution of Catholics in Elizabethan England

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired an important work on the persecution of Catholics in England during the reign of Elizabeth I, De persecutione anglicana libellus, by the English Jesuit Robert Parsons (1546-1610). Parsons accompanied St. Edmund Campion on his mission to England in 1580, but while Campion was captured and eventually executed, Parsons was able to flee the country. He built a printing press in Rouen (France) and in 1597 became the rector of the English College in Rome.

This 1582 edition, published in Rome, includes two letters by the Jesuit martyr Alexander Briant, the first of which alludes to the interrogation of Campion.

Welcome Back

RBSC looks forward to an event-filled Spring ’20! As we welcome students, faculty, staff, researchers, and visitors back from the holiday break, we want to let you know about a few things to watch for.

Spring ’20 exhibit: Paws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800

This exhibit features mammals, sea creatures, and birds from our early modern rare book collection and is enhanced by images from our botanical collection as well as plant and animal specimens on loan to us from Notre Dame’s Museum of Biodiversity. We would like to extend our appreciation to Barbara Hellenthal (Curator) and Ronald Hellenthal (Director) for their help to make this possible.

Spotlight exhibit featuring works by and related to John Ruskin

This exhibit will open in February in conjunction with the Ruskin Conference at Notre Dame John Ruskin: Prophet of the Anthropocene, February 7-8, 2020. Guest curated by Professors Robert Goulding (History and Philosophy of Science) and Sara Maurer (English).

Monthly rotating spotlight exhibits

Drop in every month to see what new surprise awaits you in our monthly feature.

Special Collections’ Classes

Throughout the semester, curators will teach sessions related to our holdings to undergraduate and graduate students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College as well as from other local schools ranging from preschoolers to adults. If you’re interested in us doing instruction for your class or group, please contact Special Collections.

Italian Studies Research Seminar Series

The Spring ’20 series kicks off on Thursday, January 30 at 5:00pm. Join us for the first of four talks this semester.

Recent Acquisitions

Birds of Acid title pageWe acquire new material throughout the year. Watch for announcements about recent acquisitions. RBSC has already received new materials for our Irish, Latin American, Medieval manuscripts, Eastern European,  American, and European collections. We are awaiting the first installment of a new artist book, Birds of Acid by Parisian artist Didier Mutel some time this month.

Upcoming Events: January and early February

Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, January 30 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “The Artist and the Police: Decameron 8.3″ by Justin Steinberg (Chicago).

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.


The spring exhibitPaws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800, curated by Erika Hosselkuss and Julie Tanaka, will open in January and run through the summer.

The current spotlight exhibit is: Irish Art and Literature from Graphic Studio Dublin (December 2019 – January 2020). The semester spotlight exhibit, featuring materials relating to the Ruskin Conference being held at Notre Dame in February, will be installed prior to the conference.


If you would like to bring a class or other group to Special Collections, schedule a tour of any of our exhibits, or schedule another event, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.

Recent Acquisition: an Italian Renaissance history of the persecution of Christians, with letters on a wide range of additional subjects

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries is pleased to announce that we have acquired the second edition of Boniifazio Simonetta’s De Christiane Fidei et Romanorum Pontificum Persecutionibus Opus, printed in Basel by Nicolaus Kessler, December 1509. This fascinating work is really encyclopedic in scope; the basic narrative deals with the history of the persecution of Christians, but also includes 179 letters by the author to a wide circle of his contemporaries, including such renowned figures of the Italian Renaissance as Lorenzo de Medici, Ludovico Sforza, Pico della Mirandola, and Pope Innocent VIII. This correspondence, interspersed throughout the text, treats a wide range of disparate subjects, including classical history, mythology, music, geography, botany, agriculture, medicine, physics, astronomy, and astrology. This second edition also includes a dedicatory preface by Jerome Emser, a prominent German theologian and Catholic opponent of Luther.

We have identified only other seven other North American holdings of this edition.

Sample page showing notation.
Front cover, showing binding in manuscript waste over vellum.
Back cover.

Upcoming Events: December and early January

There are no events scheduled to be hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections in December 2019 or early January 2020.

Rare Books and Special Collections will remain open for our regular hours during Reading Days and Exams (Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm). We welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.


The fall exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance is open for just under three more weeks, closing December 19.

The current spotlight exhibits are Touchdowns & Technology: The Evolution of the Media and Notre Dame Football (September – December 2019), a display of selected materials from the University Archives, and Irish Art and Literature from Graphic Studio Dublin (December 2019 – January 2020) in conjunction with the Snite Museum’s exhibit “Looking at the Stars”: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame.

RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Christmas & New Year’s Break (December 21, 2019 – January 1, 2020) and will resume regular hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm) on Thursday, January 2, 2020.