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Friday, August 31, 2012

Rosenbach at the Shore

As summer winds down it seemed appropriate to highlight Dr. Rosenbach's shore home in Strathmere, New Jersey. Here's a map showing Strathmere (also known as Corson's Inlet)  in relation to some of the other shore areas.

Dr. Rosenbach's "Boat House" was manufactured by Sears and Roebuck. The home, with its lavish interiors, was actually featured as a model in Sears's 1930 advertisement Homes of Today. Sears was trying to raise awareness that "the Home Construction Division of Sears, Roebuck and Co. is the largest builder of fine homes in America" and that  "big or little, pretentious or modest, whatever your home is to be, it can be erected and financed by Sears, Roebuck and Co." The catalog pointed out that a single 16th-century stained glass window in Dr. Rosenbach's shore house "cost considerably more than the completed cost of an average 8-room modern home."

Unknown photographer, photograph of Rosenbach Boat House. Strathmere, NJ.Rosenbach Museum & Library 2006.1048

Dr. Rosenbach went to Strathmere for relaxation, extensive entertaining, and his favorite pastime, fishing. Here is Doctor R. aboard his boat, the First Folio.

Unknown photographer, Dr. Rosenbach aboard the First Folio. 1946. Rosenbach Museum & Library 2006.2079  
In 1930, Dr. Rosenbach won third prize in the channel bass division of a Field and Stream contest, for a fish hooked in Corson's Inlet. He compared the experience favorably to his success in hooking rare books, claiming, " I had more fun catching this channel bass than in securing a Gutenberg Bible or a First Folio of Shakespeare." In 1938, according to the Rosenbach biography, Dr. R apparently caught "1867 fish, mostly kingfish, with some flounders, bluefish, weakfish, croakers, and fifteen large bass."

The biography has many other stories of fun at the shore (for a particularly amusing one, check out page 359), but I will sign off for the holiday weekend. Whether you share the Doctor's love of the shore, or whether you remain in town this weekend,  have a great Labor Day.

Kathy Haas is the Assistant Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog

Friday, August 24, 2012

Comparative Literature 101

If parody is a form of imitation, and if imitation is a form of flattery, then by my loopy logic James Joyce should be honored by the “comedic recontextualization” that we’ve put him through over the last month-and-a-half. 

Many of you will have seen the museum’s appearance on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report last month, in which host extraordinaire Stephen Colbert pit his “children’s book” I Am A Pole (And So Can You!) against Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses

As with all such film and TV productions, a lot got left on the cutting room floor. We thought we’d share some of our unaired (some might say, unasked for) observations about the books’ similarities here. This is deep stuff, as you’ll see. Thanks to Director Derick Dreher, and Joyce scholar Dr. Melanie Micir, for many of these references!
  • The story arcs of both stories have to do with odyssey, self-examination, and awakening.  Leopold Bloom's wanderings throughout Dublin end with certain realizations about the dynamic of his marriage, and his relationship to both his wife and his friend, Stephen Dedalus.  The titular pole from Colbert's book goes through various trials until it embraces its true “pole role” thanks to a troupe of boy scouts.
  • Joyce's novel has 18 episodes and Colbert's Pole character goes through 18 different incarnations before it finds its true calling.
  • National contexts are at the center of both books: the struggles of the Irish nation in Joyce's novel, and the very Americanness of America in I Am A Pole.
  • Both Joyce and Colbert provoked controversy in their works: Ulysses for its supposedly 'obscene' descriptions of urination, defecation, and masturbation; I Am A Pole for being the only "children's book" to include an illustration of a stripper.
  • Both books were issued in large editions with blue bindings—Joyce’s novel with an austere yet iconic blue/green cover (“Aegean blue,” in homage to Joyce’s own recontextualization of Homer’s Odyssey), and Colbert’s book with a deeper “American flag” blue.   
  • A number of characters and scenes from Ulysses seem to have found their way into Colbert’s book.  Early in I Am A Pole, the pole is seen reading a newspaper, which brings to mind the 'Aelous' episode of Ulysses, which takes place in a newspaper office.  A barber who also appears early in the book may be an homage to Buck Mulligan's appearance on the first page of Ulysses bearing a razor and bowl of lather.  And could those blooming flowers on the first pages of Pole reference a certain other Bloom?  Leo-pole Bloom?
  • Both books are based on true stories: The day on which Ulysses takes place, June 16, 1904, was actually the day that Joyce met the woman who would become his wife, Nora Barnacle.  We know I Am A Pole is based on a true story because it says so on the last page of the book, and if the world has learned one thing from Stephen Colbert, it’s always to take him at his word.
That's our list of similarities – can you think of more?


 Patrick Rodgers is the Traveling Exhibitions Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rosenbach Home in Germany

Random Rosenbach find of the week. Earlier this week I was working on a question about our paintings of  Philip Heymann Rosenbach and Adelheid Rosenbach (the paternal grandparents of our founders Philip & A.S.W., the parents of their father Morris Rosenbach).

Unknown artist. Philip Heymann Rosenbach. German, mid-19th-century. 2004.0089

Unknown artist. Adelheid Rosenbach. German, mid-19th-century. 2004.0090

Just for kicks, I threw their names into Google along with the names of their hometown: Gunzenhausen, Germany. What should pop up, but a page put together by students in Gunzenhausen on "The Story of the House at Kirchenstrasse 11." The students trace the ownership of Kirchenstrasse 11 in Gunzenhausen from its construction in 1550 to the present-- it turns out the the Rosenbachs owned it for almost 60 years! Apparently Philip Heymann Rosenbach bought the upper half of the house in 1813 and the lower half of the house in 1815 and the family owned it until 1872. I don't know if Philip owned other properties in Gunzenhausen, but this is presumably where the family was living when their children were born, including Morris, who was born in 1820. The house is still standing and you see pictures of it on the students' page! If you scroll down, there's also a nice section on Rosenbach genealogy.

So, many thanks to the students of Gunzenhausen for giving us a picture (literally) of Morris Rosenbach's pre-emigration home. I should also point out that the page is part of a larger student project on Jewish Life in Gunzenhausen and there are many other interesting pages to explore.

Kathy Haas is the Assistant Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Enjoying the Games

Many of us here at the Rosenbach have been avidly following the Olympics, so in honor of the games, here are a few sport-related images from the collection.

George Cruishank, illustration for William Hone, The Every Day Book. William Hone: London, 1825. Rosenbach museum & Library 1954.1880.1910
Among the many gymnastic exercises described in The Every-Day Book are "the exercises on the pole and parallel bars" which serve in particular to expand the chest to strengthen the muscles of the breast and small of the back and to make the latter flexible" and  "Vaulting which is considered one of the principal exercises for the increase of strength activity good carriage of the body and courage which employs and improves the powers of almost all parts the body and has hitherto always been as an art by itself is brought to some perfection in three months"

George Cruikshank. Sailing Match (detail of larger sheet) London: W. Belch, 1804.  Rosenbach Museum & Library 1954.0055
Eugene-Louis Lami. Regatta on the Seine. 1842-1850. Rosenbach Museum & Library. 1954.1510
Discus thrower. bronze. Rosenbach Museum & Library 1954.1979
 If you look up the next time you're on a tour of the library at the Rosenbach you can find this discus thrower perched atop a bookcase.

George Cruikshank. London, 1817.Rosenbach Museum & Library 1954.0123

Enjoy the Olympics and we'll be back next week.

Kathy Haas is the Assistant Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog

Friday, August 03, 2012


We're continuing with our series of posts by the Rosenbach's amazing interns. This one follows the French theme of the past few weeks.


Hello Readers!  My name is Kat and I am a Collections Intern for the summer here at the Rosenbach. I have a B.A. in History from Temple University and a keen interest in historic clothes and accessories. This year I have been swept up in the recent commemorations of the 200 year anniversary of the War of 1812. With such background and interests, it is no wonder that this Empire Era hair comb in the Rosenbach collection caught my attention.

Tiara. c. 1800-1825. Rosenbach Museum & Library. 1954.1877a.
The tiara, or hair comb, is gilded metal set with amethysts and faux pearls surrounded by carvings of leaves and geometric shapes.  Such a comb would be part of a set of jewels, called a parure, consisting of a necklace, earrings, bracelets and brooches.  Ladies would set this comb in front of a high chignon or set of curls, as seen in this painting of Bonaparte sisters by Jacques-Louis David.

Jacques-Louis David, Portrait of the sisters Zenaide and Charlotte Bonaparte. 1821. In the collection of the Getty Museum. Photograph by Ed Bierman. Made available under Attribution 2.0 license.

Speaking of the Bonapartes, this hair comb has a possible connection to the famous family!  Paperwork accompanying the comb at the time of sale claims it was the property of a great grand niece of Napoleon Bonaparte.  Though this cannot be substantiated, there is no doubt that this style of the comb would have fit right in with the fashions prevalent during Napoleon’s reign.

After the French Revolution, simplicity in dress was the order of the day.  Neo-classical styles featuring Roman and Egyptian influences were made popular by Napoleon’s beloved wife, Josephine.  She is seen here wearing a classical styled tiara and gown:

George Cruikshank, Napoleon, When First Consul & Madam Josephine (His First Wife) in the garden at Malmaison. 1824.  Rosenbach Museum & Library. 1954.1880.1673
The hair comb from the collection has a simple crescent shape similar to those seen on Greek and Roman statues of goddesses from antiquity.  Influences of classical design can also be seen in the leaf pattern set between rows of amethysts.  The leaf motif, reminiscent of the laurel wreath crowns worn by Roman emperors of the Classical age, was a popular ornamental design during the Empire period.  Napoleon himself was often depicted wearing this popular symbol.  In the following engraving, he wears a military hat with gold embroidered leaf swags.  
David Edwin, Napoleon Buonaparte. Philadelphia: C. and A. Conrad & Co, 1809-1810. Rosenbach Museum & Library. 1954.1178
With engravings widely circulated in books (as this one was) and sold in shops, Napoleon may have intentionally used his image in the media to connect himself with powerful ancient rulers to strengthen his political image.

The recent British royal wedding between William and Catherine of Britain has brought tiaras back into the spotlight. It is interesting to note that many of today’s tiaras are made with the same leaf designs made popular thousands of years ago, connecting countless generations through art and design.

Kathryn Stelzer has a B.A. in History from Temple University and previously interned at the Cairnwood Estate in Bryn Athyn.