Posts Tagged ‘Anniversaries’


Admiral of the Ocean Sea

   Posted by: rring    in Uncategorized

Today is Columbus Day, and we librarians are busily working as the students are off visiting family, watching the game (whichever game is on in your part of the country), or sleeping off last night’s party.

Plumbing the depths of the Watkinson today, I drew up quite a nice nugget–Noviter historiarum omnium repercussiones, printed in Venice in 1506.  This is a chronicle that contains one of the earliest printed accounts of Columbus and his voyages.  The great Americana bibliographer Henry Harrisse gives us the following description in 1866:

“Many of the historians of the fifteenth century were mere chroniclers, who kept a historical register of events in the order of time, beginning a mundi incunabulis[i.e., the cradle or beginning of the world], and ending with the year when the manuscript was intrusted to the printer.  Every two or three years, additions were made and new new editions published under the name of the author who had given celebrity to the work, even after he was dead and buried within the walls of the monastery, which had often been his only sphere of action and personal influence.  The present chronicle is one of that character.”

The author was Jacopo Filippo Foresti da Bergamo (1434-1520), who “was of a noble family, and abandoned the world to become a monk of the Augustine order.”   The first edition of this work was printed in Venice in 1483, and it was reprinted with additions as late as 1581.  The first edition to mention Columbus was printed in Venice in 1503.  Aside from this 1506 edition, the Watkinson has an edition printed in 1492, which (of course) makes no mention of the world-changing event that happened that year (it only covers events up to 1490).



For those suckers born in the last few minutes

   Posted by: rring    in Uncategorized

The fact that 2010 is the 200thanniversary of P. T. Barnum’s birth just crossed my desktop, so I thought a glance into the stacks to see what we have would be interesting.  Barnum was born in Bethel, CT on July 5, 1810 to Philo F. Barnum, a merchant farmer who apparently descended from one of the eight original proprietors who established Danbury in 1685.  His mother was Irena Taylor, daughter of Revolutionary War veteran Phineas Taylor.  After a few false starts as a clerk and a newspaper owner, Barnum essentially moved to New York in 1835 and started shucking & jiving, beginning with purchasing the services of Joice Heth, purportedly the 161-year-old ex-nurse of George Washington, for $1,000, and making $750 a week by charging admission to hear her spin tales of our first president for a year until she died.  Schemes like the American Museum and his various traveling shows (including The Greatest Show on Earth) generated tremendous crowds and fans, and had an enormous impact on American popular culture.

The Watkinson has a nice handful of sources, including the second edition of Barnum’s autobiography, entitled Struggles and Triumphs: Or, Forty Years’ Recollections (1869)–from which the portrait of Barnum shown here was scanned.


“Without printer’s ink,” Barnum once said at a banquet in his honor, “I should have been no bigger than Tom Thumb.”  We have a copy of his Humbugs of the World (1866),which includes some of his theories about the effective use of publicity.  Barnum defined a “humbug” as “putting on glittering appearances–outside show–novel expedients, by which to suddenly arrest public attention and attract the public eye and ear.”  I include here a page from the table of contents.











“The Art of Money-Getting, or Success in Life” was first delivered as a lecture to an audience of over 2,000 in London on December 29, 1858, and in the London Times review of it the next day, its organization was likened to Cicero’s De Officiis.  On our shelves we have an edition of this printed in 1882.






The final nugget is, according to biographer A. H. Saxon, “an anonymous burlesque” by one of Barnum’s journalist friends, entitled The Autobiography of Petit Bunkum, the Showman, published in 1855–the beginning of which is shown here.