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Friday, August 21, 2015

Saint Christopher and The Golden Legend

More and more information is finally being released about Philadelphia's plans for the upcoming papal visit in a month's time, but given all the swirling logistical questions and potential transit snafus, it seemed like an appeal to St. Christopher might not be out of order. The traditional patron saint of travelers, St. Christopher was supposedly a third century martyr under Decius, but little is known about his life or death and there is no solid evidence that he actually existed, which contributed to his being removed from the Catholic Church's universal calendar of feasts during 1969 reforms.

Despite a lack of solid facts about Christopher, the Roman Calendar states that "the existence of his cult is very old." The earliest sources focus on his martyrdom, but by the middle ages many colorful legends had grown up around Christopher and were preserved in books such as The Golden Legend.  

The Golden Legend was one of the most popular books of the medieval period. Written in Latin by the Dominican friar Jacobus de Voraigne around 1260, a thousand manuscript copies survive in a wide range of European languages. After the development of printing, Jacobus's book still topped the best-seller list; a 1471-2 edition by Günther Zainer was the first "printed book to be extensively illustrated" and between 1470 and 1500 there were over 150 printed editions, as compared with 128 editions of the Bible.

In 1483 William Caxton translated and printed an English edition of The Golden Legend, based on Latin, French, and English versions of the text.  It was his largest work, requiring at least 15 months to translate, running to 898 pages, and incorporating 70 woodcuts. Over four hundred years later  William Morris's Kelmscott Press produced a beautiful three-volume edition of Caxton's text, with new illustrations by Edward Burne Jones. Morris had actually wanted it to be the first book to come from Kelmscott, but the length of the work taxed him as it had Caxton and so it turned out to be the seventh, published in 1892.

Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend. Hammersmith : Kelmscott Press, 1892.
FP .K29 892v. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

This brings us back to St. Christopher.

Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend. Hammersmith : Kelmscott Press, 1892. FP .K29 892v. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
The Golden Legend likes to start its hagiographies with a discussion of the saint's name, and Christopher is no exception. His introduction reads (in modern English taken from this transcription)

Before his baptism was named Reprobus, but afterwards he was named Christopher, which is as much to say as bearing Christ, of that that he bare Christ in four manners. He bare him on his shoulders by conveying and leading, in his body by making it lean, in mind by devotion, and in his mouth by confession and predication.

The idea that Christopher "bare [Christ] on his shoulders" is the most popular story about the saint and the one that gave him his role as the patron saint of travelers. Here is the version told in The Golden Legend.

Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend. Hammersmith : Kelmscott Press, 1892. FP .K29 892v. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Christopher sought out a hermit to be instructed in the faith and the hermit asked him to serve God through fasting; Christopher asked if there was another way. The hermit suggested "wak[ing] and making many prayers," but Christopher didn't like that any better and so the hermit told the giant Christopher (who was 12 cubits--18 feet--tall) to serve God by carrying passengers across a dangerous river. This was acceptable:

And there he abode, thus doing, many days. And in a time, as he slept in his lodge, he heard the voice of a child which called him and said: Christopher, come out and bear me over. Then he awoke and went out, but he found no man. And when he was again in his house, he heard the same voice and he ran out and found nobody. 

The third time he was called and came thither, and found a child beside the rivage of the river, which prayed him goodly to bear him over the water. And then Christopher lift up the child on his shoulders, and took his staff, and entered into the river for to pass.

And the water of the river arose and swelled more and more: and the child was heavy as lead, and alway as he went farther the water increased and grew more, and the child more and more waxed heavy, insomuch that Christopher had great anguish and was afeard to be drowned. And when he was escaped with great pain, and passed the water, and set the child aground, he said to the child: 

Child, thou hast put me in great peril; thou weighest almost as I had all the world upon me, I might bear no greater burden. And the child answered: 

Christopher, marvel thee nothing, for thou hast not only borne all the world upon thee, but thou hast borne him that created and made all the world, upon thy shoulders. I am Jesu Christ the king, to whom thou servest in this work. 

So if you're planning on coming from New Jersey to see the pope in September and aren't up for walking over the closed Ben Franklin bridge, perhaps a ride from Christopher across the Delaware would be a better bet? Or of course there's always PATCO...




Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog


Friday, August 14, 2015

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Beach season is winding down as the end of the summer approaches and here at the Rosenbach we're starting to gear up for Alice-in-Wonderland season as we make preparations  for "Down the Rabbit Hole" a three gallery exhibit that will open October 14, along with a fabulous slate of programs ranging from a conversation with Maira Kalman, Alexandra Horowitz, and Maria Popova to tea and tarts with a tea connoisseur. Appropriately, today's blog object combines both the beach and Alice.

John Tenniel, "'I doubt it,' said the Carpenter." [1870 or 71].1954.27. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
This drawing of the Walrus and the Carpenter is one of fifty illustrations which Sir John Tenniel produced for Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. It depicts the pair tramping along the sand, which, strangely, upsets them.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
If this were only cleared away,'
They said, it would be grand!'

If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose,' the Walrus said,
That they could get it clear?'
I doubt it,' said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear. 

The character of the Carpenter was Tenniel’s own invention--when Carroll gave Tenniel the manuscript he offered him the choice of drawing a carpenter, a butterfly, or a baronet, since any of these three-syllable words would fit the poem’s meter. Tenniel exerted significant influence over other aspects of Looking Glass as well; at his insistence Carroll dropped an entire episode, “The Wasp and the Wig,” because it was "altogether beyond the appliances of art.” 

In Looking Glass, the Walrus and the Carpenter poem famously ends with them devouring a group of oysters whom they have lured out for a walk.

It seems a shame,' the Walrus said,
To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!'
The Carpenter said nothing but
The butter's spread too thick!'

I weep for you,' the Walrus said:
I deeply sympathize.'
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

O Oysters,' said the Carpenter,
You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one."

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

Interestingly, Lewis Carroll changed the poem’s ending for an 1886 operetta version of Alice, allowing the ghosts of the oysters to wreak revenge on the Walrus and Carpenter:

O woeful, weeping Walrus, your
tears are all a sham!
You're greedier for Oysters than
children are for jam.
You like to have an Oyster to give
a meal a zest--

Excuse me, wicked Walrus,
for stamping on your chest!
For stamping on your chest!
For stamping on your chest!
Excuse me, wicked Walrus,
For stamping on your chest!

Possibly the stamping on chests was a metaphor for indigestion?  In any case, according to Rebecca Stott's book Oyster, "The oyster uprising brought audiences to their feet, cheering."



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog

Friday, August 07, 2015

Mary Queen of Scots Letter, Take 2


Hi everyone! This is another blog post by this summer's collection's intern, Allison! This time, I’m focusing on a letter from 1571 written by Mary, Queen of Scots. The Rosenbach has the first two pages of the letter in their collection and we wrote a blog post about it back in 2013. That post, however, mostly just provides a transcription of the letter and I wanted to explore a bit more about Mary. Most people have at least heard of Mary, Queen of Scots before and know she that she was Queen of Scotland and had a tumultuous life, but many people don’t know the full story. 

Born on 8 December 1542 at Linlithgow Palace in West Lothian (Scotland), Mary was the daughter King James V of Scotland and his French-born wife Mary of Guise. King James V died pretty soon after her birth, and Mary was crowned Queen of Scots. Originally, there was a treaty with Henry VIII in which Mary would wed his son Edward, however Henry angered the Scottish parliament and they stopped the marriage by sending 5-year-old Mary to France. A new marriage agreement was set up between Mary and Francis, the heir of King Henri II of France.

In 1558, Queen Mary I of England died; Henri II encouraged his 15-year-old daughter-in-law to assume the royal arms of England. The majority of Catholic Europe at the time believed that Mary of Scotland was the true heir to the English throne as her cousin Elizabeth I was protestant and illegitimate. Less than a year later, King Henri II of France died and Francis and Mary were crowned King and Queen of France. Tragedy would strike again soon after with the deaths of both Mary's mother and Francis, causing her to return to Scotland.

She returned to Scotland during a time of extreme religious turmoil. Scotland was protestant at the time, but Mary, a catholic, was determined that her Scottish subjects would be able to worship God however they saw fit. She also was determined to strengthen the crown against the Scottish nobility, who were notoriously difficult. She became popular among the common people, but, quite obviously, not among the nobility.

In 1565, she wed a noble cousin named Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley. He was strongly disliked by the common people of Scotland. In March of 1566, when Mary was sixth months pregnant, Darnley and a number of other Scottish nobles stabbed her Piedmontese secretary, David Riccio, to death, claiming that he had undue influence over Mary’s foreign policy. It is suspected that they had meant Mary to suffer a miscarriage and die from watching the horrific crime, thus making Darnley King, but nothing is known for sure.

After Riccio’s death, Mary was kept prisoner at Holyrood Palace by members of the nobility. However, she managed to escape just a few months later with the surprising help of Darnley. Eventually, the future James VI of Scotland, Darnley's son, was born. Two years later, the nobles who Darnley had plotted with in the murder of David Riccio, had Darnley’s house blown up. Darnley was found strangled in the garden.

James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell, was implicated in the murder. However, she consented to marrying him, hoping to finally stabilize the country, however it did not work. The nobles were still angry and waged war against Bothwell in 1567. Mary, to avoid bloodshed, turned herself over to the rebels and was taken to Lochleven Castle and forced to abdicate in favor of her son.

In 1568, Mary managed to escape Lochleven and began to make her way south to ask her cousin Elizabeth I for support. Elizabeth wasn’t exactly the most welcoming. She had been helping Mary’s enemies, promising them money and sanctuary in return for conspiring against Mary. Mary was the closest Catholic claim to the throne and Elizabeth, a protestant, didn’t really like that. When Mary arrived in England, Elizabeth had her guarded and then moved around from prison to prison.


Mary, Queen of Scots, autograph letter. Sheffield castle, [18 September 1571]. MS 569/12. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
It is during this time where our letter comes into the picture. Our letter was written in 1571 while Mary was interred in Sheffield Castle. In it, she is writing to friends who have been banished from her. She, in particular, mentions a Master Gordon and a Master William Douglas. William was said to have helped her escape from Lochleven Castle. She begs them to urge the King, the Queen and Monsieur to help her poor subjects in Scotland and says that if she were to die, she would wish the King of France to protect her son and friends according to the ancient league of France with Scotland.

On 8 February 1587, Mary was executed at age 44 in the Great Hall of Fotheringhay. She was executed under suspicion of plotting to kill Elizabeth and claim the English throne. Sixteen years later, however, Mary’s son became King of England and Scotland and moved her body to Westminster Abbey.

The Rosenbach’s letter by Mary shows her devoutness to her religion, and, especially, her devotion to those who she considered friends and family. Most of this side of Mary is overlooked in favor of her relationship with Elizabeth as well as all of the drama that surrounded her early life. The Rosenbach’s letter, however, gives us a chance to see a different side of Mary whose primary concern is for the safety and wellbeing of those she cares about.

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Allison Darhun is a collections intern at the Rosenbach this summer and a History major at St. Joseph's University.  

Friday, July 31, 2015

Tiny Treat

As Jobi's post last week pointed out, one of the rewards of shelf reading is discovering items in the collection which one has never noticed before. As Patrick and I were working our way through British Literature we ran across a petite pleasure: two copies of The Comic Bijou.

Comic Bijou. London: Rock Brothers & Paine. EL3 .A1bi copies 1 and 2

As you can tell from this picture, these volumes are truly tiny--only about an inch square. In fact, when Patrick peeked into the envelope containing the first copy, he thought it might be empty because he didn't immediately see a book. It was only on a second glance that he saw the minuscule volume tucked inside.

Even though they are small,  the books are rather fetching, with gold-embossed covers and gilt edges (which hopefully you can make out in the photo below).

Comic Bijou. London: Rock Brothers & Paine. EL3 .A1bi

The interior of the book consists of comic wood-engraved illustrations. I can sympathize with this one, entitled "Opening of the Exhibition."

Comic Bijou. London: Rock Brothers & Paine. EL3 .A1bi

We do try to plan a bit better here at the Rosenbach, but I can remember a few notable exhibits where we were hurriedly trying to finish up minutes before opening to the public (usually because of mis-behaving technology).

Comic Bijou was published in London by Rock Brothers & Payne and seems to date from around 1850, although there is no date on the title page and none in our catalog record. It looks like Rock & Payne produced a whole series of miniature Bijou books around this time, such as this 1852 Bijou Almanac,  a Bijou Bible, and volumes of travel illustrations, such as Bijou Picture of Paris and a volume of Illustrations of the United States. None of these are represented in the Rosenbach collection, but I'll have to keep my eyes (and maybe a magnifying glass) open for them elsewhere!



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog





Friday, July 24, 2015

I Love Inventory

Since this is my first Rosen-blog post, I thought I would tell you a few things about myself: I love pencils, spreadsheets, organizing things, and my birthday. Starting collections inventory the week of my birthday is pretty much the best present (if present is defined as ‘work activity’) I could ask for!

Conducting inventory is an important collections management exercise for museums striving to meet the collections stewardship standards set forth by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). It is an essential component of documenting the current condition and location of each object, especially since our collections are regularly used for researchers, Hands on Tours, exhibitions, and loans. Inventory is also the perfect time for me, a relative Rosenbach newbie, and interns Emily and Allison to learn about the important books in our collections.

Judy Guston and Allison Darhun examine Judaica
While I have done five collections inventories at my former museum and presented  Inventory: Important! Intimidating! But Not Impossible!  at the 2012 MAAM conference, I was happy that Librarian Elizabeth Fuller was leading Phase I of our inventory project: shelf reading the books in the library collection.

Shrek on a cart
 Elizabeth began with instructions for the project and an orientation to the Shelf Reading Kit, quickly renamed the Shrek. The Shrek includes a reference list of collections codes; a worksheet (yay!); envelopes for preserving small paper fragments; envelopes for old paging slips (but only if the book has been properly returned to the shelf!), acid-free ID strips, grip-tites (my new favorite supply-- pre-measured twill tape that go around the book and are pulled tight to keep covers together with their books), sponges for dusting, and a trash bag (for evil things like paperclips and dirty sponges). We also have improved separation boards with pockets to hold the paging slips that we use as space savers to indicate when a book has been temporarily removed from shelf.

Patrick Rodgers (the headless curator) demonstrates the use of a grip-tite

Divided into teams of two, we were sent to different areas of the library to begin the shelf reading. One person reads from the card catalog and the other carefully removes the book from the shelf (never grabbing or pulling on the top of the spine) and confirms that the book has the matching call number and an ID strip in the proper location. Condition problems are noted, and the book edges are dusted when necessary. Kathy and Patrick completed their section of 17th Century British Literature, (EL1), with ease and made headway with EL2. Emily and I started with Fine Press, while Allison and Judy worked with Incunables and Judaica. We have only covered a fraction of the collection (Elizabeth is still crunching the numbers but I am sure she will have an exact percentage soon), but I am looking forward to this regular Monday project.

Emily Pazar reshelves a book in Fine Press


Jobi Zink has been the registrar at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia since July 2014. Previously she spent 15 years as the registrar of the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Bye Bye Boney

This week marks the 200th anniversary of the final surrender of Napoleon. Defeated at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, Napoleon retreated to Paris and then fled towards Rochefort, hoping to escape on a French frigate and head to the United States. A British blockade prevented his escape and on July 15th, 1815 Napoleon surrendered to Captain Frederick Maitland of the British ship Bellerophon.

As always, there is an apropos political cartoon from George Cruikshank on the subject. Napoleon was a favorite target for the satirist and only nine days after the surrender he published "Complements & Congees or Little BONEY’S surrender to the Tars of Old England!!!"

George Cruikshank, Complements & Congees or Little BONEY’S surrender to the Tars of Old England !!! London: J. Johnson, 24 July 24 1815. 1954.1800.600 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
In this image Napoleon leads an entourage of "brave generals" headed by a barber and a cook. He asks to be taken to America, or barring that, England since he "hate[s] those Bears & cursed cossacks." Captain Maitland responds, "I'm afraid they would not take that care of you in America that they will in England therefore I shall conduct you to the latter place as quickly as possible." Meanwhile, the British sailors speculate that Napoleon should be put in a zoo.

Of course Napoleon was not destined for the monkey house at the Tower of London. Instead, in August he was shipped off to St. Helena in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where he would die in 1821. For more on one of the odder souvenirs collected after Napoleon's death, check out our 2012 post on Napoleon's Penis.



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog



Friday, July 10, 2015

Darius Codomannus

Hi everyone! I'm Allison, the Rosenbach’s newest collections intern! I’ve just returned to Philadelphia after spending the past semester abroad in London, England. I was so excited to explore all of the works by all of the British authors at the Rosenbach. Eventually, I came across a number of works by Charlotte Bron, but one in particular stood out: Darius Codomannus: A Poem. It was a poem by Bron that I had never heard of. Granted, I am by no means well versed in all things Charlotte Bron, but for some reason it stuck out in my mind.

Charlotte BronDarius Codomannus: A Poem.  London: privately printed, 1920. FP .W813 920 bt. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Written in 1834, when Charlotte Bron was just 18 years old, the poem tells the story of the defeat of Darius Codomannus, the last king of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. Often referred to as "Death of Darius Codomanus," the poem was written between her time as a student at Roe Head in Mirfield and as a governess at Roe Head. The poem was originally written in normal-sized script on lined paper and accompanied by other poems such as “Richard Coeur de Lion and Blondel” and “Saul”. It has been suggested that this group of poems shows that Bronte recognized that she needed to develop a public poetic mode to go along with her fantasy-based private writings. These poems were also said to have been similar to school exercises she wrote while in Brussels.

The poem, wasn’t published in her lifetime, but was eventually published in 1920. The small pamphlet, encased in a pink cover, is 16 pages. The last four pages of the Rosenbach’s copy, however, are not cut open and therefore are unable to be read. It was published for private circulation only, with just 30 copies made, which explains why is one of her least known poems and isn't even included on many lists of Charlotte Bron’s works. The pamphlet was published by Thomas Wise and printed in London by Richard Clay and Sons, Ltd. Thomas Wise had plenty of experience dealing with Bron’s work and had published a detailed bibliography of the Bron sisters.


Charlotte BronDarius Codomannus: A Poem.  London: privately printed, 1920. FP .W813 920 bt. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

Darius Codomannus, also known as Darius III, was the last king of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and reigned from 336 BCE to 330 BCE. He was conquered during Alexander the Great’s quest to control all of Asia. In her poem, Bronte uses elegant verse to showcase the death of Darius Codomannus as well as highlight his importance to Persia. Darius died at the hands of his cousin, Bessus. Bessus stabbed him and left his dying body to be found later by Macedonian soldiers.


A stately form, though blighted now. –
For grandeur dwells upon his brow,
And light shines in his lifted eye
Which looks on death unfearingly ;
And o'er him rests a placid grace ;
Sign of high blood and noble race

The forehead bears a diadem
Burning with many an orient gem
Stained ruddy now in blood.
The starry robe, the flashing ring,
The jewels in bright and braided string,
All speak of Persia's slaughtered king
Stretched dying by the flood.

The poem proceeds to go into detail of what happened to lead up to his death. It tells of the betrayal by his cousin and how, inevitably, Persia was left without a king. His death gave Alexander the Great the ability to take control and Alexander became the official ruler of Persia. You can find the full text of the poem at Poetry Nook.

At one point in her life, Charlotte Bron tried her hand at being a published poet, however was discouraged when she received a response from the poet laureate of England, Robert Southey. He said that literature could not be the business life for a woman and that she should be more engaged in her proper duties. Though it seems as though she respected his response, she continued to craft a number of poems. She eventually managed to publish a book of poems, aptly entitled Poems; however it did not sell well. It also did not include "Darius Codomannus." After the publication of her novel Jane Eyre, Bron stopped writing poetry except for three occasions, the deaths of her sisters. She is far better known for her novels than her poetry; however she is still respected as a poet.
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Allison Darhun is a collections intern at the Rosenbach this summer and a History major at St. Joseph's University.