Somewhat in line with the six degrees of Rosenbach idea, one of the things I like about working here is how often I'll go someplace else and run into things with a Rosenbach connection. I've blogged about this before, as in last year's post about Paige M Gutenborg, but I had another Rosenbach moment last weekend when I visited the Three Faiths exhibit at the New York Public Library.
I was there with friends and we happened to arrive just in time for the docent-led exhibit tour. I love tours, so of course I joined up. Anyway, near the end of the tour was a beautifully illuminated medieval manuscript; the label indicated that the abbot responsible for its commission had later been impeached for financial malfeasance and suggested that this book might have part of his profligate spending. The docent explained that its reputation as an expensive book had continued into the 20th century, when the library had acquired it in the 1930s through (who else) Dr. Rosenbach. Apparently he had been instructed to bid on it up to a certain dollar amount, but then kept bidding well beyond the agreed-on limit. However, in his usual way, he somehow he managed to convince them that the manuscript was worth the price they paid. Typical Dr. R.
If you are in New York in the next month, I highly recommend the exhibit (it closes on Feb 27th) and many thanks to Farrar for suggesting it to me. It's quite large--approximately 200 items from the NYPL's Jewish, Christian and Islamic collections and arranged into thematic sections (revelation, commentary, personal faith etc.) . You can check out their Bay Psalm Book as well as their Gutenberg Bible and their oldest western manuscript (the Harkness Gospels), among other treasures. If you saw our Chosen exhibit a few years back you might recognize some of the Jewish items, such as an edition of Nahmanides with an elaborate metalcut border and a Mahzor with the first printed illustration of a matzah. There's also a very nice educational section, called the Scriptorium, which explains the processes of paper preparation, paint-making, calligraphy and manuscript illumination with videos and hands-on examples. Even if you don't make it up north, the Scriptorium videos are available on the exhibit website and are well worth a look.
For more on the exhibit, here's the New York Times's exhibit review.