Six Pack Student ExhibitionsIt is somehow fitting that my 300th post to this blog is about our student exhibition opening on Wednesday night (12/10), which was a solid success, and drew almost 30 students and staff who heard the presentations with interest.

Filling the occasional gaps in conversation, and providing an excellent backdrop as always, was our resident piano player Romulus Perez.

All six shows will be up through June 30th, and catalogs will be available for those who stop in to see them (Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 4:30 pm).

Six Pack Student ExhibitionsThe shows are:

Voices for the Vote: What Women were Saying and Reading during the Fight for Suffrage (Gaia N. Cloutier ‘16)

The Impossibility of Translating Culture (Alix A. de Gramont ‘15)

Aotearoa: The Land of the Long White Cloud (Quirin A. Sackmann ‘15)

Vinegar Valentines (Meghan E. Shaw, graduate student)

Shall We Dance? The Evolution of Etiquette on the Dance Floor (Karen J. Tuthill-Jones, graduate student)

Functional Pottery in America (Mariah J. West, graduate student)

Six Pack Student ExhibitionsSix Pack Student Exhibitions

5
Dec

“This was a man!”

   Posted by: rring   in Classes, Events

Charles_Promo_021The Watkinson (with support from the English Department) hosted a dual celebration–both of the acquisition of the 2nd Folio of Shakespeare in 2012, and of the life and work of Charles Keating, who among many other achievements, had a special Trinity connection in that he worked with generations of Prof. Milla Riggio’s Shakespeare students for almost 30 years.

Three of Milla’s former students came back to talk about the influence that Charles–and Shakespeare–has had on their lives.

IMG_3007Shown here are Kirk Peters (center, who played Othello, and was then the Associate Dean of Trinity; he is now Dean of Student Affairs at Tunxis Community College); Chris Andersson (left, who played Iago, and who is now Director of Admissions at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU); and Kara Molway Russell (right, who played Bianca, and is an English professor at CCSU, teaching Shakespeare!). Also shown here is the original cast of Othello, ca. 1990. Each special guest spoke of Charles’s profound impact on their lives as students of Shakespeare, and it was clear that he served the function of a grand mentor to all of them in different ways.img049

Also present were Charles’s son (Sean) and widow (Mary), and about 25 students from Milla’s current Shakespeare class.

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2
Dec

A gift in honor of our new President

   Posted by: rring   in book history, Gifts

IMG_3003At the fall meeting of the Trustees of the Watkinson Library, Board member John William Pye ’70 gave us an excellent gift of a special copy of his fascinating and detailed book on a major 19th-century publishing figure, James T. Fields, Literary Publisher (Portland, ME: The Baxter Society, 1987). His inscription reads:

“This unique Extra-Illustrated copy of my book on James T. Fields is given this day to the Watkinson Library at Trinity College in honor of the new College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney by the author, John William Pye, November 6, 2014.” It is wonderfully bookish gift from a great bookman.

For those not “in the know” (take my course on rare books!), an “extra-illustrated” book is a special thing. The practice of extra-illustration (also known as “Grangerizing” for reasons too detailed to get into here), began in the late 18th century and enjoyed its greatest popularity during the 19th century.

You begin with a favorite book (often it was the Bible, the works of Shakespeare or an author of similar stature, or a seminal national history, etc.); take it out of its original binding; add in things that relate to the text (portraits, letters, etc.) that are then mounted on leaves (pages) of the same size, then put it into a new, custom-made binding.

img047The original binding of John’s book looked like this, and it is about 1/3 as thick as the extra-illustrated copy, which of course was swelled to its current thickness by the insertions John made. Tthe difference is shown here, with a shot of the fore-edges of each book, side by sideimg048. The left-hand book is the extra-illustrated version.

Inside are manifold and unique bits and pieces that relate to the text. For instance, opposite page 6 is a tipped-in engraving of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, under which is likewise affixed an original autograph signature of that author. The relevant text, on pp. 6-7, discusses how Longfellow, a “young professor of languages at Bowdoin College who was seeking a publisher for his recently translated collection of Spanish poems,” approached the firm Allen & Ticknor, and a deal was made.

Other images included here are a photograph of Dickens with an original envelope which held one of his letters to Ticknor & Fields, a binding cloth sample from an edition of Tennyson, and a royalty payment check.

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14
Nov

Pure Nostalgia

   Posted by: rring   in book history, New acquisition, oppotunities for research

IMG_2969Unpacking 22 boxes of a gift collection this morning has generated pure, unadulterated nostalgia for my earliest passion: reading The Hardy Boys mystery series.

The gift came quite literally from out of the blue. A bookseller in the southwest posted a note to a rare books listserv that his client — a collector in New Mexico — had formed a “study collection” of various juvenile genre series (nearly 700 volumes, including multiple editions of the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Little Colonel, The Dana Girls, the Bobbsey Twins, Judy Bolton, Connie Blair, and works by Alcott, Montgomery, Porter, and Wiggin), and she wanted to gift it to an institution. Three minutes after this was posted, I responded, and was the first institution to do so–and therefore got the prize!

IMG_2968And what a prize it is. It joins our other children’s books (ca. 2,000 volumes) which also connects to our Barnard collection (ca. 7,000 volumes)  on early education, effectively allowing our students to study what American youth read from the 1820s through the 1950s.

What we have in this current gift is a small but significant window into the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which produced such an outpouring of works from its “fiction factory” from the 1920s through the 1970s, many of which are still in print. Generations of American youth cut their teeth on these stories, myself included–when I was ten I refused to read anything else, my mother had to wean me off these books and branch out, I loved them so much.

In the 1950′s there were some major revisions done, mostly to update the technology and language (racial slurs were thinned out, etc.)–as one can see from a comparison of the first page of the first Hardy Boys volume, The Tower Treasure, below:

img037On the left is the 1927 edition, and on the right, the revision done in 1959.

A small exhibition of these books will be mounted in the atrium of the Raether Library and Information Technology Center from January to June, 2015.

3
Nov

Making books!

   Posted by: rring   in Artist's books, Classes, Events, exhibitions

book making workshop 029 copyPaulette Rosen, an instructor from the Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven, held a workshop in the Watkinson on making a book by hand. A small but enthusiastic group learned how to assemble and sew a pamphlet and make an accordion-fold book. We learned about the properties of paper, tricks for measuring and folding, sewing, and covering boards. We all came away inspired with ideas for new projects and gifts for the upcoming holidays under the capable guidance of book artist Rosen.

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23
Oct

Daniel Kelm visits!

   Posted by: rring   in Artist's books, Events, exhibitions, News

Kelm2On October 9 book artist Daniel Kelm gave a talk in the library on his life and work. Kelm has a background in chemistry and weaves science into his inventive book structures.  He has been commissioned by artists who explore bookish forms to help engineer their non-traditional structures, and he also makes books of his own design that challenge the reader to interact with the books as mechanisms and puzzles.  Members of the varied audience–from the chemistry department, Wesleyan University and other parts of Connecticut–had great fun figuring out how the books worked after Daniel’s talk.

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GarciaGarcía, Gregorio.  Origen de los Indios de el Nueuo Mundo, e Indias Occidentales. (Madrid, 1729).

Nowhere is the general confusion and genuine indecision of the sixteenth and early seventeenth-century theorists of Indian origins more pronounced than in this work—the first book published exclusively on the issue [this is the 2nd edition, it was first published in 1607].  García spent nine years in Peru, beginning in the late 1590s.  In order to discover as best he could what the origin of the Indians was, García evaluated what he read, what he was told by both Spaniards and Indians, and what he had seen.  The two fundamental assumptions upon which he based his book were that all men and women descended from Adam and Eve, and after the Deluge from Noah (who divided the world giving Asia to Shem, Egypt and Africa to Ham, and Europe to Japheth).  He believed that the peoples of the Americas came to the New World from one of the three parts of the known world. García examined in detail all the opinions regarding origins current in Europe at the time–derived from the Carthaginians; the lost Jewish tribes; that Peru was the Ophir of Solomon. The “libro ultimo” contains native accounts of their origins, describing the tribes of Mexico and Peru, derived from a manuscript of Juan de Vetanzos (a companion of Pizarro). He rejected none of the origin theories, but accepted them all collectively—that is, in his view, the ancestors of Native Americans came to the New World from different parts of the known world, at different times, and in different ways.

See the Watkison’s copy.

new england primer0002The New England primer.  (Providence: John Waterman, 1775).

The New England Primer stands at the forefront of early American schoolbooks.  The first mention of it occurs in the register of London Stationers in 1683, under the title The New England Primer, or, Milk for Babes. One of its predecessors in England was The Protestant Tutor, which, like its successor, contained the alphabet, the syllabarium, the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, and the picture of the burning of the Protestant martyr John Rogers.  The earliest surviving primer produced in America was printed in Boston, 1727—by which time it was a staple product of the colonial printer.  The print shop run by Benjamin Franklin and his partner David Hall printed over 37,000 copies between 1749 and 1766, and only one copy has survived.  It has been estimated that from 1680-1830 six to eight million copies were produced (only about 1,500 survive).  Portraits of English kings (e.g., George II and III) were replaced eventually by famous Americans (e.g., John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and George Washington).  Around 1790 the primers were secularized, and little boys and girls ceased to be promised salvation or threatened with eternal fire; girls were instead warned that “pert Miss Prat-a-pace” was to have no treats unless she turned into “pretty miss prudence,” and that good boys would be rewarded with “credit and reputation,” whereas bad ones would live in beggary.

We have dozens of examples of the NEP, and thousands of other early American schoolbooks in our Barnard Collection.

3
Oct

Introducing our Fall Creative Fellows!

   Posted by: rring   in Creative Fellowships

MinotHenry Minot ’17 is from Fairfield, CT, majoring in Classics, and is the Music Director of WRTC, Trinity College’s radio station, and the House Manger of the Mill, the campus arts collective. Henry’s project will be to create an “archive” of 18th-century Revolutionary War-era documents (like a series of letters, and a map) centered around a fictional man in Connecticut who is attempting to raise a militia company for the war effort.

 

Stefan KramerStefan Kramer (IDP) is a History major who works in the IT industry and has experience and schooling in film-making. Stefan will create a short film (working title, “What the Font?!”) which will feature various fonts as characters in a short, humorous narrative, each with its own voice and characteristics–using our excellent book history collections.

 

The DEADLINE for applications for a spring Fellowship is December 1st!

2
Aug

Rare Book School Day 5

   Posted by: rring   in book history

IMG_2920From “Lower Tibet” (the floor underneath RBS where its collections and other things are kept), to the top of Special Collections (a bit of Michael is visible here, ascending the stairwell) we roamed and ruminated!

After the morning gathering (donuts today) of all 5 classes, we split off for ours into Lower Tibet to examine a teaching collection RBS has assembled over the years of artifacts. This included binding leathers, parchment samples, packets of various sorts of ephemera (for teaching typography, illustration methods, paper, etc.), plates of steel and copper, a lithography stone, electrotype and stereotype plates, and many other items. A booklet sourcing a bunch of this material was given to us, and will be of great use to me in building such a collection at Trinity (we already have a huge head start).

IMG_2921In the afternoon we discussed The Peddlar Lady of Gushing Cross, an “animated book” by Moving Tales, which published it, as well as the WordPlay Shakespeare (an “enhanced e-book” by the New Book Press. We had a rather animated (so to speak) discussion about what was a book, and the concept of “loss and gain” when it comes to the ways in which the culture “chooses” to go in one direction or another (like, say, to embrace the novel, or the e-book, or the online newspaper). It generated a lot of potential in terms of how to inform my own class discussions.

During lunch, I am proud to say, we gave the first “class gift” during Michael’s 5-year tenure (we will be listed as “H-90 2014” under the “Very Good Friend” strata of giving next year). This was an idea of mine to give a little to RBS as a class, and to challenge other classes to do the same! Michael thanked us nicely in his closing remarks, and it only increased the sense of community we shared (and perhaps it helped to spur the very long lines for RBS merchandise). Time to pack up and drive back to Hartford!