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Friday, May 20, 2016

The Unpublishable Memoirs

Dr. Rosenbach became famous for selling the best books at the highest prices, but how does one amass a great collection when one doesn't have the money to play the game? The clever but unscrupulous protagonist of Dr. R's first book,The Unpublishable Memoirs, has a simple solution: clever cons and sly stealing.

The Unpublishable Memoirs is not a personal memoir, but a work of fiction. It consists of eleven mystery stories about Robert Hooker, a bibliophile who is tired of being snubbed for his lack of cash and so wreaks his revenge by snookering the rich out of their rare books and art.

Oliver Herford, "Bibliofiends." pencil and ink. ca. 1917. 1954.660. Collection of the Rosenbach.
The image shown above is the original drawing for the frontispiece of the book. Entitled "Bibliofiends," it was executed by Oliver Herford and the second figure on the staircase was apparently supposed to represent Dr. R.

A.S.W. Rosenbach, Unpublishable memoirs. New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1917. Ro1 917u copy 4. Collection of the Rosenbach.
I don't want to give away too much of the plot, since that would ruin the fun, but suffice it to say that the tales include cleverly constructed forgeries, fake customs officials, a story based on the Murders in the Rue Morgue and a host of other fascinating twists. The book  is well out of copyright now, so you can read it or download it at Internet Archive and many other sites to enjoy it for yourself.

The Unpublishable Memoirs was published in 1917 and Dr. Rosenbach sent gratis copies to his friends, clients, and collectors. Henry Huntington noted “it will be a pleasure to add it to the Library,” but another friend, Walter Hart Blumenthal, responded less kindly with a page of typographical errata. A London edition came out in 1924, and in 1925, more surprisingly, there was a version in Czech, which only printed the first of the eleven stories.

A.S.W. Rosenbach, Neueřejnitelné memoáry Unpublishable memoirs. Prague: Method Kaláb, 1925. Ro1 925. Collection of the Rosenbach.



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster for the Rosen-blog.



Friday, May 13, 2016

The Mexican War

One of the exhibition ideas we've considered here is "Wars You Forgot" and I suspect for many of us north-easterners, myself included, the Mexican War is not one we spend much time thinking about. But today marks the 170th anniversary of the U.S.'s declaration of war on Mexico; Congress voted to approve the war on May 13, 1846.

The basic issue in the war was territorial disputes in the southwest. In 1845 the U.S. had annexed Texas, whose independence Mexico had never recognized, there were disputes over the United State's southern boundary line, and Mexico had also rejected expansionist President Polk's requests to purchase California and New Mexico. Fighting lasted for two years until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848. In the treaty the U.S. southern border was fixed at the Rio Grande and Mexico agreed to sell all its possessions above that line.

"UnitedStatesExpansion." National Atlas of the United States. From Wikimedia.

One of the Mexican War items in our collection is a letter written in 1847 by the young soldier Abner Perrin en route to Vera Cruz, Mexico.  A later biographical sketch shown below (written in 1887, after the had served as a Brigadier General for the Confederacy) claims that:
When only sixteen years old, contrary to the desire and remonstrances of his Father and Mother and influenced with patriotic ardor and a love of arms, he volunteered in Captain Preston S. Brook's company of the Palmetto Regiment, commanded by Colonel Pierce Butler; and during the Mexican War, participated in the services and the valorous achievements of that gallant regiment.

Charles C. Jones, "Brig Gen Abner Perrin CSA." Augusta, Ga.: 30 June 1887. AMs 1187/8. Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
You can find out more about the Palmetto Regiment's participation in some of the major battles of the War at the South Carolina Information Highway.  [For those Rosen-fans for whom the name Pierce Butler rings a bell, the Pierce Butler who led the Palmetto Regiment (and died at the Battle of Churubusco) is NOT the Pierce Butler who married Fanny Kemble.]

Our letter predates all this action; from his ship, seventeen year old Abner tells his father:
I have luckily time to drop you a few lines as there is a small boat making towards us from the coast. I am perfectly well in every respect and very much pleased. We have had a very pleasant passage so far. We will be in Vera Cruz in a few days. Before you received this letter probably we shall be far on our way to the City of Mexico. I shall write to you when I get to Vera Cruz: tell all the family to write to me my friends also.

Abner Perrin, autograph letter signed to Abner Perrin. Off Key West, 24 October 1847. AMs 1187/7. Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Abner Perrin, autograph letter signed to Abner Perrin. Off Key West, 24 October 1847. AMs 1187/7. Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Although the Mexican War itself proved to be relatively short, its effects would be long lasting. Not only did it add a vast new swath of territory to the United States, but it also re-opened the tense question of how to balance slave and free areas. Some called for the new territories to be free, others wanted to extend the Missouri Compromise line west to the Pacific, while southerners called for popular sovereignty and pressed for a territorial vote to decide whether slavery would be legalized. Eventually the intricate Compromise of 1850 was passed, incorporating popular sovereignty among other measures to appease both parties. The Compromise quelled sectional tensions, but not for long, as in 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise and established popular sovereignty in all the territories, leading to the rise of the Republican Party and setting off the Civil War.





Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster for the Rosen-blog.



Friday, May 06, 2016

The End of Alice

There's only a little over a week left to see our exhibits Down the Rabbit Hole: Celebrating 150 years of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Camera Lens: the Photograph of Charles Dodgson, so if you haven't seen them, or if you've been meaning to see them again, come on by before they close on May 15th! We've scheduled two great programs to round out the Alice festivities: From Wonderland to the Phantom Tollbooth with consulting curator Leonard Marcus and author Norton Juster on Thursday, May 12 and a Carroll Hands-on Tour on Sunday, May 15.


Lewis Carroll , Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. London: MacMillan and Co., 1866.
EL3 .D645a 866b copy 3. Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.     
As we think about endings, the ending of Alice in Wonderland itself foreshadows the hold on the imagination that the story would have and its remarkable staying power. It concludes with Alice waking up and realizing that her experience of Wonderland was "a curious dream!". But she then goes on to tell her older sister "all these strange Adventures" that had happened in her dream of Wonderland. Then the book closes with the musings of the sister:
But her sister sat still just as she left her, leaning her head on her hand, watching the setting sun, and thinking of little Alice and all her wonderful Adventures, till she too began dreaming after a fashion, and this was her dream:—

First, she dreamed of little Alice herself, and once again the tiny hands were clasped upon her knee, and the bright eager eyes were looking up into hers—she could hear the very tones of her voice, and see that queer little toss of her head to keep back the wandering hair that would always get into her eyes—and still as she listened, or seemed to listen, the whole place around her became alive with the strange creatures of her little sister's dream.

The long grass rustled at her feet as the White Rabbit hurried by—the frightened Mouse splashed his way through the neighbouring pool—she could hear the rattle of the teacups as the March Hare and his friends shared their never-ending meal, and the shrill voice of the Queen ordering off her unfortunate guests to execution—once more the pig-baby was sneezing on the Duchess's knee, while plates and dishes crashed around it—once more the shriek of the Gryphon, the squeaking of the Lizard's slate-pencil, and the choking of the suppressed guinea-pigs, filled the air, mixed up with the distant sobs of the miserable Mock Turtle.

So she sat on, with closed eyes, and half believed herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and all would change to dull reality—the grass would be only rustling in the wind, and the pool rippling to the waving of the reeds—the rattling teacups would change to tinkling sheep-bells, and the Queen's shrill cries to the voice of the shepherd boy—and the sneeze of the baby, the shriek of the Gryphon, and all the other queer noises, would change (she knew) to the confused clamour of the busy farm-yard—while the lowing of the cattle in the distance would take the place of the Mock Turtle's heavy sobs.

Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.


Lewis Carroll, Alice’s adventures under ground: [facsimile] [Vienna: Privately printed by Jaffé for Eldridge R. Johnson, 1936] Reference collection.Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The manuscript version of Alice's Adventures ends with a similar paragraph of the sister imaging Alice as a grown woman, but ties the sister's dream into the setting where the real-life Charles Dodgson told the original story--on a boat trip with the three Liddell sisters in July 1862.

She saw an ancient city, and a quiet river winding near it along the plain, and up the stream went slowly gliding a boat with a merry party of children on board—she could hear their voices and laughter like music over the water—and among them was another little Alice, who sat listening with bright eager eyes to a tale that was being told, and she listened for the words of the tale, and lo! it was the dream of her own little sister. So the boat wound slowly along, beneath the bright summer-day, with its merry crew and its music of voices and laughter, till it passed round one of the many turnings of the stream, and she saw it no more.

Then she thought, (in a dream within the dream, as it were,) how this same little Alice would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman: and how she would keep, through her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather around her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a wonderful tale, perhaps even with these very adventures of the little Alice of long-ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.
Lewis Carroll, Through the looking glass. London: Macmillan, 1872 [i.e. 1871].
EL3. D645th copy 3.Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The second Alice book, Through the Looking Glass, also ends with a meditation on that initial boat trip and the passage of time, in the poem "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky"

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July --
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear --
Long had paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream --
Lingering in the golden gleam --
Life, what is it but a dream?
In keeping Dodgson's love of wordplay, the initial letters of the poem's lines are an acrostic spelling out the name "Alice Pleasance Liddell."

So this brings me to the end of this post about endings.  Come see us before the end of our Alice exhibitions and stay tuned for the beginnings of some fascinating new projects and exhibitions.





Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster for the Rosen-blog.






She saw an ancient city, and a quiet river winding near it along the plain, and up the stream went slowly gliding a boat with a merry party of children on board-she could hear their voices and laughter like music over the water-and among them was another little Alice, who sat listening with bright eager eyes to a tale that was being told, and she listened for the words of the tale, and lo! it was the dream - See more at: http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/alices-adventures-under-ground-the-original-manuscript-version-of-alices-adventures-in-wonderland#sthash.Z8Y8OZK8.dpuf

She saw an ancient city, and a quiet river winding near it along the plain, and up the stream went slowly gliding a boat with a merry party of children on board-she could hear their voices and laughter like music over the water-and among them was another little Alice, who sat listening with bright eager eyes to a tale that was being told, and she listened for the words of the tale, and lo! it was the dream - See more at: http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/alices-adventures-under-ground-the-original-manuscript-version-of-alices-adventures-in-wonderland#sthash.Z8Y8OZK8.dpuf

Friday, April 29, 2016

Gravelot

This week's blog post comes to us from collections intern Rebecca Schott.

- - - -

Hubert Francois Gravelot was a French illustrative artist during the early half of the 1700’s, and is credited with bringing the French Rococo style to English decorative art. Gravelot began his career by studying art in Paris and Rome but eventually settled on making maps. In 1732, he was invited to travel to England to help engrave an edition of Religious Ceremonies by Picart. He continued to live in England where he made a fortune designing engravings that would decorate English classics, political satires, fashion plates, and gold and silver ornaments.


Hubert François Gravelot, "Britannicus" [1768]. Illustration for Oeuvres de Jean Racine. 1945.63.15. Collection of the Rosenbach

 Gravelot was known to be a careful artist. In fact, he would sketch a scene multiple times in order to construct the best composition.  The Rosenbach has some of these elegant Gravelot sketches in our collection. Most of them are illustrations of various plays in which the characters occupy distinctly Rococo rooms. 

This is interesting because Rococo began as decoration for the private rooms of the French king, Louis XIV, and later moved on to other forms of art like painting, sculpture, and fashion.  Rococo interior design is characterized by delicate features composed of small curves that would be made of wood or stucco. These features would be placed on interior walls in intricate, floating designs.  

Hubert François Gravelot, "L'Orphelin de la Chine, Sc. Dern." [ca. 1768]. 1954.358. Collection of the Rosenbach
The Rococo style can be seen in French painting beginning with the art of the painter Jean-Antoine Watteau. Rococo painters usually focused on portraiture, mythological scenes and pastoral landscapes where aristocratic figures would frolic on leisurely outings.  Artists would also use pastel colors in their painting and incorporate lush, curving greenery reminiscent of the forms in Rococo interior rooms.

The intricate forms of Rococo rooms translated well to furniture and decorative arts where tables, chairs, and mirrors would be graced with delicate designs. Instead of placing furniture against a wall, they would be freestanding to accentuate a lightness and versatility. It was important that furniture could be rearranged in order to accommodate different social gatherings.   

Gravelot includes Rococo designs in his carefully constructed drawings of interior spaces. For example, in his drawing for the play L’Orphelin de la Chine elegant, looping designs decorate the walls. The Rococo elements are toned down for his drawing of the play Berenice by Jean Racine, but it is still easy to notice the small details that adorn his spaces. Even his decorative works bring to mind fancy Rococo features.     


Hubert François Gravelot, "Berenice" [1768]. Illustration for Oeuvres de Jean Racine. 1945.63.15. Collection of the Rosenbach


Friday, April 22, 2016

R.I.P. Cervantes and Shakespeare

2016 marks the 400th anniversary of the deaths of both William Shakespeare (whose 450th birthday we celebrated two years ago) and Miguel de Cervantes. Traditionally it has been claimed that both men died on the same date: April 23, 1616, but modern scholars have thrown a wrench into the works by suggesting that Cervantes probably died on the 22nd  (his funeral was on the 23d) and reminding us that Shakespeare's death date is itself only inferred from his funeral date on the 25th.  Of course, even if they had both died on April 23d, it wouldn't have been the same day, since England was still on the Julian calendar, while Spain was on the Gregorian, so April 23 in the two nations was ten days apart. (By the way, for those of you keeping score at home, William Wordsworth also died on April 23--many years later, of course)

Cervantes and Shakespeare lived during the birth of the modern world, when their nations were in constant conflict as Spain began to decline and England to rise as world powers.  Despite the conflict, flourishing new developments in art and literature crossed borders. Don Quixote was known in Shakespeare’s England, and Dr. Rosenbach wrote his dissertation on some of its influences there.  Both writers were among his favorites and well-represented in our collections.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de La Mancha. En Madrid: por Juan de la Cuesta, 1605. C2 .C419d 605. Collection of the Rosenbach.
This first edition of the first part of Don Quixote is one of only 18 copies known to survive today.  Most of the 400 that were printed were sent to the Spanish colonies in the New World, and some of those were lost in shipwrecks on the way.  The book was popular enough in Spain to have four more editions within the year, and another five by the time the second part was published in 1615.

Alonso Fernandez de Avellaneda (pseudonym). Segundo tomo del ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha …En Tarragona: en casa de Felipe Roberto, 1614. C2 .F363s. Collection of the Rosenbach.
The first part of Don Quixote ended with the promise of a second part, but Cervantes did not finish it until 1615.  Meanwhile, a writer calling himself Alonso Fernandez de Avellaneda (his real identity remains unknown) obliged impatient readers with his own continuation.  Interestingly enough, although he appropriated Cervantes’s characters, he did not pretend it was the work of Cervantes; in fact the book contains a number of unfavorable references to the original author.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, autograph document signed.Ecija, Andalusia, 6 February 1589. C2 .C419 MS2. Collection of the Rosenbach.
The Rosenbach owns the only three documents in Cervantes’s own hand in the Western hemisphere, all relating to his work as a commissioner of supplies for the Spanish fleet.  Communities did not always want to produce the grain they were required to provide, and Cervantes was imprisoned twice for discrepancies in his accounts.  This is a report of expenses incurred in 1588–1589 for a mill owned by his supervisor, Antonio de Guevara.

William Shakespeare, The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, as it is now acted at his highness the Duke of York’s theater.London: Printed by Andr. Clark for J. Martyn and H. Herringman ..., 1676. EL1.S527 ha676. Collection of the Rosenbach.
Dr. Rosenbach ’s Shakespeare collection originally included copies of all four folios and the first quarto (single) edition of each play; these were sold to Martin Bodmer in 1952, but the Rosenbach still houses a rich collection of Shakespeareana, not only early folios, but also many fascinating later printings of the plays. This 1676 edition of Hamlet tones down some of the play’s rough language and indicates with quotation marks the extensive cuts that were made in the Duke’s Men’s performance, as “This play [is] too long to be conveniently acted.”

William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s King Lear: As altered by N. Tate, newly revised by J. P. Kemble… London: Printed by C. Lowndes, [ca. 1796]. EL1 .S527le 796. Collection of the Rosenbach.

Although now hailed as one of Shakespeare’s greatest works, King Lear’s story of a distressed and disabled monarch has had a troubled past. Seventeenth-century audiences, fresh from the English Civil War and the exile of Charles II, did not appreciate the tale of a fallen monarch, and in 1681, Nahum Tate reworked the play as a love story in which Cordelia survives and King Lear resumes the throne.

Here's to both Cervantes and Shakespeare, two towering literary figures whose work has reached readers and audiences for four centuries; may they continue to entertain and inspire generations to come.



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the co-author of this post.





Elizabeth Fuller is the Librarian at the Rosenbach
and the co-author of this post.

Friday, April 15, 2016

William Morris

We have posted before about William Morris's Kelmscott Press, which strove to elevate the craft of hand-printing in the late 19th-century. but the Rosenbach also has an interesting example of Morris's work in another arena: textile design.

William Morris & Co., textile.[1883-1917] 2005.102. Gift of Mark Samuels Lasner. Collection of the Rosenbach.
William Morris (1834-1896) wore many hats in his life: poet, novelist, artist, printer, manufacturer, political activist, and more. He preferred, however, to describe his profession as “designer.” In all his endeavours, be they books or textiles or beyond, he was reacting against  what he saw as the Industrial Revolution’s proliferation of ugly, inferior goods and, worse, its dehumanization of work. orris believed the purpose of design was “to give people pleasure in the things they must perforce use [and] make.” These principles were at the heart of the late 19th/early 20th-century Arts and Crafts movement, of which Morris was a leading figure, and seem timely again today with the rebirth of interest in craftsmanship in everything from clothing to beer.

William Morris & Co., textile.[1883-1917] 2005.102. Gift of Mark Samuels Lasner. Collection of the Rosenbach.
The Tale of Beowulf Done Out of the Old English Tongue. Translated by William Morris and A. J. Wyatt. Kelmscott Press, 1895. FP K895b. Collection of the Rosenbach.

As with his work for the Kelmscott Press, Morris's textile patterns were inspired by an interest in medievalism and a belief (shared by other British design reformers) that two-dimensional objects should utilize flat, stylized designs, rather than the hyper-realism common in Victorian styles. The specific pattern in our textile is the "Rose" and an 1883 drawing for the pattern is preserved at the Victoria & Albert Museum.  Their notes indicate that it "is one of only three printed textile patterns in which Morris depicted birds. He had claimed in a letter to Thomas Wardle dated 25 March, 1877 that he was studying birds to put into his next design."




Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster at the Rosen-Blog.




Friday, April 08, 2016

Words on Wordsworth

Given that it is both Poetry Month and William Wordsworth's birthday (his 146th) I thought it might be a good time to showcase a few Wordsworthian items from our small but fascinating collection of the poet. We have several letters from Wordsworth to Joseph Cottle, who published his Lyrical Ballads, but for this post I'll focus on some of the printed works in our collection. 

One such piece is  Wordsworth's copy of Memorials of a Tour of the Continent 1820, published in 1822. This book of poetry was inspired by his 1820 European tour, which he had undertaken with his sister Dorothy, his wife Mary, and some of Mary's relations. Wordsworth scholars like to point out that this tour was a re-run in reverse of a 1790 walking tour that Wordsworth had done with his friend Robert Jones. They also note that although we often think of Wordsworth in terms of  the Lake District and domesticity,  mobility and travel were also key aspects of his life and personality.

Our copy of Memorials is signed by Wordsworth in pencil at the top of the title page.
William Wordsworth. Memorials of a tour on the continent, 1820. London : Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown, 1822. EL3 .W926m. Collection of the Rosenbach.

It also includes some of his penciled corrections to the text, as in the case of this page from the poem "Processions."

William Wordsworth. Memorials of a tour on the continent, 1820. London : Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown, 1822. EL3 .W926m. Collection of the Rosenbach..
 Finally, there are some handwritten lines of verse on one of the rear blank pages.

William Wordsworth. Memorials of a tour on the continent, 1820. London : Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown, 1822. EL3 .W926m. Collection of the Rosenbach.

One of the aspects of our collection which I really love is that our Wordsworth holdings reflect the connections between other writers and Wordsworth.  Our copy of his 1807 Poems, in Two Volumes (which includes his famous "I wandered lonely as a cloud") is inscribed on the half-title from Wordsworth to his friend and fellow poet Robert Southey.

William Wordsworth, Poems, in two volumes. London : Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1807. EL3 .W926p. Collection of the Rosenbach.

We also have a copy of Wordsworth's posthumously-published book The Prelude that was owned by the New England poet and author James Russell Lowell. Lowell signed and dated the half title in 1850.

William Wordsworth, The Prelude, or Growth of a Poet's Mind ; an Autobiographical Poem.  London: Edward Moxon,1850. EL3 .W926pr. Collection of the Rosenbach.

This copy was ultimately given by Lowell to the publisher and poet James T. Fields in 1866, as evidenced by another inscription on the paste down. Lowell's esteem for the book is evident in the letter tipped into the front, which explains that "I never liked to give away anything of which I had an abundance. It were giving just nothing. Therefore I send you  the "prelude"--and you may reckon it against Hazlitt's "Liber Amoris" which you gave me."

William Wordsworth, The Prelude, or Growth of a Poet's Mind ; an Autobiographical Poem.  London: Edward Moxon,1850. EL3 .W926pr. Collection of the Rosenbach.
I think I'll wrap up here, but as a final (and unrelated) note I will give everyone the answers from last week's April Fool's post. The faux titles were: The true and disturbing tale of Samuel Salt or, The madness of a lion and Vegetables too cheap, an account of the strange and surprising occurrence  in Leefwich. All the others were (believe it or not) real titles from our collection.




Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster at the Rosen-Blog.