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.

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: Miniature Books on the Four Elements

by Julie Tanaka, Curator, Special Collections

Les Quatre élémens appeared around 1830 in Paris printed by Maulde and Renou. These four miniatures—a mere 3.25 x 2 inches—were designed to teach French children about the properties of the four elements: earth, fire, water, and air.

Each volume is a tricesimo-secondo, more commonly referred to as a “32mo”. In book production, these terms refer to a single sheet that has been folded to produce 32 leaves (64 pages).  Each volume has glazed pastel paper boards (covers) in lavender, yellow, green, and pink. Each front cover is blindstamped with a decorative frame that surrounds a raised vignette representing the element featured in the volume.

Inside of each book are two wood engravings. One of the engravings in La Terre depicts a family fleeing an earthquake (below) and its other shows farmers harvesting crops.

Le Eau contains wood engravings of a fisherman (above) as well as a flood. In Le Feu, children see a volcano erupting (below) as well as a display of fireworks.

In the fourth book, Le Air, a mother and her children look upon a hot air balloon (above) and in the other wood engraving, the winds blows a man’s hat off.

Special Collections’ acquisition of this fine example of nineteenth-century science education in France was a collaboration with Professor Robert Goulding (Program of Liberal Studies, Director of the Reilly Center, and Director of History and Philosophy  of Science). Professor Goulding states that this set is “probably one of the last publications to teach the old system of the elements as a scientific theory.”

Happy Holidays from Special Collections!

Georg Dionysius Ehret, Plantae selectae quarum imagines ad exemplaria naturalia Londini, Nuremberg, 1750.

Wishing you and yours a happy Canada Day (July 1)…

Mark Catesby, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands, London: C. Marsh, 1754.

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and a festive Fourth of July!


This week Rare Books and Special Collections is
open Monday through Wednesday (July 1-3),
CLOSED Thursday (July 4),
and open Friday (July 5).

Upcoming Events: October and early November

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

Friday, October 12 at 3:00pm | Frankenstein and Medical Ethics: A Panel with Faculty from Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend (IUSM-SB).

• Mark Fox, MD PhD MPH (IUSM-SB), Modern Day Re-animation: Revisiting the Moral History of Transplantation

• Joseph Kotva, PhD (IUSM-SB), Frankenstein and an Ethics of Virtue

• Gary Fromm, MD (IUSM-SB), Frankenstein, Film, and Medical Education

• Kathleen Eggleson, PhD (IUSM-SB), Teaching Frankenstein Today:  The Moral Imperative to Reform the Education of Medical Scientists

• Chair, Eileen Hunt Botting, Professor of Political Science (Notre Dame)

This event is part of Operation Frankenstein, a semester-long series of interdisciplinary events taking place at the University of Notre Dame to celebrate the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s novel.

Tuesday, October 23 at 4:00pm | Public Lecture: “La primera entrada al Río de la Plata: Maldonado y su historia” / “The First Entry to the Rio de la Plata: Maldonado and Its History” by Silvia Guerra (Uruguayan poet and scholar).

Wednesday, October 24 at 4:00pm |Un mar en madrugada / A Sea at Dawn: Bilingual Reading by Silvia Guerra and Jesse Lee Kercheval.

Thursday, October 25 at 5:00pm | Italian Lecture: “Primo Levi e Dante: quattro casi (più o meno noti)” / “Primo Levi & Dante: Four Cases (More or Less Known)” by Fabrizio Franceschini (Pisa). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Wednesday, November 7 at 3:30pm | Black Catholic History Month public lecture by Fr. Clarence Williams, CPPS, Ph.D. Co-sponsored by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism and Hesburgh Libraries/University Archives

Thursday, November 8 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Fascist Im/Mobilities: A Decade of Amedeo Nazzari” by Alberto Zambenedetti (Toronto). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.


The exhibit In Solzhenitsyn’s Circle: the Writer and his Associates runs through the end of the semester. The exhibit will be open special hours during the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture’s 19th Annual Fall Conference “Higher Powers” (November 1–3, 2018).

The current spotlight exhibits are Frankenstein 200 (August – December 2018) and A Modern Prometheus: Balancing Science and Ethics (September – October 2018).


RBSC is open regular hours during Notre Dame’s
Fall Break (October 15-19, 2018)
.

Recent Acquisition: Defending Tycho Brahe’s cosmology

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries have just acquired the first edition of an important work on astronomy by the early modern Jesuit polymath, Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680), entitled Itinerarium exstaticum quo mundi opificium (Rome, 1656). The work generally defends the theories of Tycho Brahe, who combined elements of both the Ptolemaic and Copernican views of our solar system. Although the Jesuits had officially adopted Brahe’s cosmology by this time, the work apparently ran afoul of sixty-five theses listed in their own Ordinatio pro studiis superioribus, issued in 1651.

These difficulties led to a second edition being published in 1660 (Iter extaticum coeleste). This revision accomplished by Kircher’s friend, Gaspar Schott, contained twenty-seven pages of apologetics. Our Medieval Institute Library holds a 2004 facsimile of the Iter, so that now—with both editions available here at Notre Dame—scholarly comparisons of both works are possible.

 


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Recent Acquisition: First Edition Frankenstein (1818)

A fine, first edition of one of the most influential works of European literature and the most taught novel in universities—Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—enhances our European literature collection. The stunning volumes now complement our holdings of the first illustrated edition (third overall edition) published in 1831 by Colburn and Bentley and the first American movie tie-in edition printed by Grosset and Dunlap in 1931.

Shelley’s novel was first printed anonymously in three volumes in 1818 for the London publishing firm Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mayor, and Jones in an edition of 500 copies. RBSC’c set is tastefully bound in contemporary style in 20th-century tan, smooth morocco. Spines are gilt-ruled in compartments with black morocco title labels and the sides are bordered with a double gilt rule.

The acquisition of the first edition of Frankenstein was made possible by the Hesburgh Libraries, a Nanovic Institute for European Studies Library Grant, the Department of Political Science (Notre Dame), and Professor Eileen Hunt Botting in memory of her brother, Kevin E. Hunt.


Mark Your Calendars – Upcoming Events

Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein will be the centerpiece of a spotlight exhibit, It’s Alive! Frankenstein in the Arts and Sciences, in Special Collections in Fall 2018. The exhibit will be part of a series of campus-wide events celebrating the bicentennial of Frankenstein.

Special Collections will also host a multidisciplinary panel discussion on Friday, October 19, 2018 with faculty from both Indiana University School of Medicine at South Bend and the University of Notre Dame exploring Frankenstein’s relevance to 21st-century medicine and medical ethics.