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Friday, August 30, 2013

Back to School

It's that time of year again. Time to pack up your pens:

Waterman, fountain pen marked "M.R.". Rosenbach Museum & Library, 2004.0048  

Pen. Rosenbach Museum & Library, 2006.2046

 And your pencils:

Pencil marked "M. Rosenbach." Rosenbach Museum & Library, 2004.0050     

Eagle Pencil Co., Mirado pencil. Rosenbach Museum & Library, 2006.2740.002 

But you might want to leave the pencil/penknife combo at home, even if it is monogrammed.

Penknife and pencil holder, marked "P.H.R",  Rosenbach Museum & Library, 2004.0046a   

Pencil,  Rosenbach Museum & Library, 2004.0046b

You might need some paper clips:

Paper clip, Rosenbach Museum & Library 2006.2797      

Don't forget about the importance of a good school lunch!

William Barnard after William Redmore Bigg, Village school dinner. London (?): Thomas Dimsdale, 1808. Rosenbach Museum & Library, 1954.0906 

And of course, plenty of books...

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Drood Mystery

This week's blog post is by collections intern Lloyd Frisone. If your interest is piqued, be sure to check out our Sleuths and Spies hands-on tour (next offered in January) which features the mystery.
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While interning at the Rosenbach, I was shown the original monthly installments to Charles Dickens last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It was scheduled for twelve installments but Dickens only completed six before his death, leaving the second half of the novel unknown.

Charles Dickens, The mystery of Edwin Drood. No. III, June 1870. EL3 .D548d
The Mystery of Edwin Drood centers on the disappearance of the titular character, Edwin Drood, a quirky young engineer who was fostered by his seemingly devoted and loving uncle John Jasper, who secretly loves Edwin’s fiancĂ© Rosa Bud. Also a person of interest is Neville Landless, who takes an instant dislike to Mr. Drood while also harboring feelings for Miss Bud.

So what happened to Edwin Drood? Was he kidnapped? Murdered? Did he flee after a failed murder attempt? The first six installments are peppered with insinuations that John Jasper murdered Edwin to get to Rosa but could these hints just be red herrings? Being in an investigative mood, I decided to see what information I could find about Dickens’ plan for Mr. Drood.

The first clue was a letter Dickens wrote to his friend John Forster on August 6, 1869 regarding the plot of Edwin Drood. In this letter, Dickens indicated that the novel was to involve “the murder of a nephew by his uncle . . . . All discovery of the murderer was to be baffled till towards the close . . . by means of a gold ring which had resisted the corrosive effects of the lime into which he had thrown the body.” 

The second and third clues come to us from third parties. The Edwin Drood illustrator Luke Fildes claimed “that Dickens had told him, when they were discussing an illustration, "I must have the double necktie! It is necessary, for Jasper strangles Edwin Drood with it” And lastly,  Dickens' son Charles Jr. claimed his father had told him that Drood was murdered.

So it appears that the second half of the novel would have revealed that John Jasper strangled Edwin with a scarf and tossed his body into quicklime. However, these clues don’t take into account the possibility that Dickens might have changed his mind regarding the plot. In one of his manuscripts, Dickens listed several possible titles for the novel, among which included “Flight and Pursuit,” “The Flight of Edwin Drood,” and “Edwin Drood in Hiding,” suggesting that Dickens at least considered an ending in which Edwin Drood survived.

In the end, we can never know for sure how Dickens would have ended his last novel, though that hasn’t stopped dozens of writers from trying. You can find over fifty Drood continuations—just pick the one you like best.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake (Or Save It)

Earlier this week, the librarians at the Huntington Library put up a Tumblr post of two slices of wedding cake (complete with frosting) that they found while processing a collection. As it turns out, they are not the only institution with cake collections--our Marianne Moore collection is also home to a piece of piece of preserved cake.

The Moore cake seem to have been a wedding favor--it was found inside a monogrammed box with a ribbon.

Monogrammed box. 2006.4255.001

The piece of cake is about 1 1/4" x 3" and is wrapped in wax paper and then in foil.
Cake. 2006.4255.002

Some of the paper is stuck to the cake and the foil is torn, so I didn't want to risk further damage by unwrapping it for a picture, but I was able to open it slightly to give a glimpse of the cake itself. The cake is dark brown; I am not an expert in cake conservation, so I don't know if it was originally dark or if the color changed with age.  According to a quick internet search, fruit cake and other dark cakes are often used for the groom's cake, which is the cake often distributed as favors.

Cake. 2006.4255.002
Before you ask about bugs, rest assured that in the interest of pest prevention we have separated the cake from its box and store the cake inside a sealed plastic bag, so no creepy-crawlies will be tempted. Of course the cake is so old and so dessicated that I doubt they'd be interested anyway, but it never hurts to take extra precautions.

So now the question is, how many other institutions are repositories of very old cake?

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library.

Friday, August 09, 2013

The Travels of Capts. Lewis & Clarke

This week's post is by Rosenbach collections intern Kara Wentworth.
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As a native of the Great Plains I was thrilled to find that Dr. Rosenbach had a strong interest in documentation of Western Expansion. In searching through these materials I came across this book, now known as the Lewis and Clark 'Apocrypha,' a word meaning "statements or claims that are of dubious authenticity." The text is certainly one of the bestselling examples of stolen intellectual property in history and an excellent indicator of the unbridled hunger for information about the west and American Indian culture in the U.S. in the early 19th century.
The Travels of Capts. Lewis & Clarke. Philadelphia: Published by Hubbard Lester, 1809. Rosenbach Museum & Library A 809tr
The full title of the book is The Travels of Capts. Lewis & Clarke, from St. Louis, by way of the Missouri and Columbia Rivers, to the Pacific Ocean; Performed in the Years 1804, 1805, & 1806, by Order of the Government of the United States. Stated on the title page is that the book is “Compiled from Various Authentic Sources, and Original Documents, and A Statistical View of the Indian Nations, from the Official Communication of Meriwether Lewis.” Despite the seemingly official title, this book was definitely not an official publication. The majority of the book is written in first person, but rarely is mention made of the speaker’s identity, the reader seems to be lead to believe that it is Lewis. In some cases he may be, in fact in modern re-printings Lewis is generally listed as a co-author which surely makes him turn in his grave. 

Immediately upon completing their epic journey, Lewis and Clark were concerned with controlling how and when their findings reached the public. They purchased the journal of one of their comrades to prevent it from being published and Lewis even ghost-wrote a letter Clark sent to his brother, knowing it would reach the papers. When rumors of intent to publish several journals like this one about the expedition reached Lewis in 1807, he issued a notice to the public warning them that "several unauthorised and probably some spurious publications [are] now preparing for the press, on the subject of my late tour to the Pacific Ocean by individuals entirely unknown to me." In the same notice he shared his intent to publish the first of his journals in 1808, a promise he unfortunately was not able to keep. The official account remained unpublished until 1814, after his death.

In this drought of information one man saw an opportunity. The Travels of Capts. Lewis and Clarke was the work of a man using the pseudonym Hubbard Lester. In 1809, capitalizing on Americans’ hunger for an account of the expedition, Lester compiled his plagiarized text, drawing on information from Jefferson's report to Congress published in numerous papers in 1807, from the only published journal from the expedition, that of Sergeant Patrick Gass from 1807, and from Lewis's "Estimate of the Eastern Indians," which had been made public in 1806 and was a description of the tribes encountered between St. Louis and Fort Mandan, and sent back to Jefferson from the fort there.

The Travels of Capts. Lewis & Clarke. Philadelphia: Published by Hubbard Lester, 1809. Rosenbach Museum & Library A 809tr
Though an inaccurate and incomplete account, the book did provide the public with some information about the Western Territory. A large section is dedicated to a summary of Lewis’s “Estimate of the Eastern Indians,” with brief descriptions of the many tribes they encountered on the eastern side of the Rockies, though some sections of the “summary” are actually taken from other texts about different tribes Lewis and Clark hadn’t even encountered. Five engravings of Indians were created specifically for the book, including the two pictured of a Sioux Queen and a Sioux Warrior. The fold-out map just inside the cover was drawn for the book, and though inaccurate was the earliest published map based on Lewis and Clark’s actual route.

The Travels of Capts. Lewis & Clarke. Philadelphia: Published by Hubbard Lester, 1809. Rosenbach Museum & Library A 809tr
The text was first published in Philadelphia in 1809 and versions were printed in 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1840 in multiple languages. It was an instant best-seller and remained one for several years in America and abroad, regardless of the fact that its authenticity was called into question immediately.    

Friday, August 02, 2013

The American Language

This week's post on a twentieth-century volume in our collection (A 937a) comes from our collections intern Robin Craren.
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American language, you say? Although you may balk at the term, H.L. Mencken wrote a whole book about it (The American Language: An Inquiry Into the Development of English in the United States), explaining the divergence of American English from British English; and he wasn’t the first to notice the changes inflicted on the English language by the Americas.

English began to change almost immediately after the first settlers came to the Americas. America’s first colonists were at first rather loyal to the English language and denounced the “Americanisms” of the new colonies but as Mencken describes, some words were necessary to adopt because they simply did not exist in the English language, representing objects, plants, and animals new to settlers.

Mencken illustrates several borrowed words from Native American languages and how they developed into the words we use today. One example shows raccoon’s transformation from rahaugcum to aracoune to rarowcun and finally to raccoon. On the same page, he discusses the word opossum, which came from apossoun, which changed to opassom, to the word we use today (which has been clipped to possum, something I will discuss later in this post). Words such as skunk, hickory, squash, caribou, pecan, and persimmon also come from Native American origins.

While these words were created out of necessity, meanings of other words changed from their British equivalents, causing the English to disparage the nuances of the new “Americanisms.” For example, the word American corn now refers to what the Spanish called maiz (from the Native American word), while its British origins referred to grain for human consumption, in particular wheat. The settlers began to call maize by the term Indian corn. But, by the middle of the 18th century, the Indian was dropped and corn referred to maize while grain was referred to as breadstuffs.

 After the Revolutionary War ended and the new country was formed, the general feeling in America was that the United States would rise in the world as England declined and a widespread contempt for everything English extended to the canons of the mother-tongue. Very quickly “the common speech of the United States [had] departed very considerably from the standard adopted in England.” The War of 1812 would not help with the contempt that the Americans felt towards the English, nor how the English felt of what the Americans were doing to their language, and began a new series of complaints across the pond.

One English writer, speaking of her travels in America, wrote that she had seldom “heard a sentence elegantly turned and correctly pronounced from the lips of an American;" there was “always something either in the expression or the accent” that jarred her feelings and shocked her taste. Another writer observed that “it is remarkable how very debased the language has become in a short period in America.” While the English were disgusted with the adaptations of the American language, the United States was not only eager to differentiate itself from its former rulers but was also quite literally an ocean away during a period in which sea travel back and forth across the Atlantic could take the better part of a year.

One feature of American English was the American notion to shorten or condense words. This was done through new word formation, either by clipping, back-shortening, or back-formation (in which part of the original word is retained, i.e. influenza to flu); blending which began in the 19th century (bringing two or more words together to create a new term and meaning, i.e. brunch from breakfast and lunch); or by the use of suffixes such as -ize, -ate, -ify, -ous- and –ment (i.e. to Americanize).

The book illustrates many words created from shortening or clipping. Among the examples are the words moving picture changing to movie, promenade changing to prom, cabriolet to cab, photograph to photo, gasoline to gas, telephone to phone, drapery to drapes, etc.

Interestingly, the author illustrates the ways in which companies and advertisers have created words through blending. A footnote describes the etymology of the word Vaseline coming from the German word wasser (meaning water) and the Greek elaion (meaning oil), thus describing the product in a unique way. Other companies to use blending are Nabisco for National Biscuit Company, Listerine from Lord Lister, the surgeon who brought the aseptic to surgery, etc.

In addition to these new word formations, Americans of the 19th century were concerned with condensing complex thoughts into a shorter phrase, some of which we still use today. For example: to keep tab, to keep a stiff upper lip, to go it blind, to run into the ground, to get ahead of, to crack up, to bark up the wrong tree, and to let it slide.

American English has developed as an adaptation of British English, and while our languages interact more often now than in the 19th century (due to the electronic age and better political relations), each language still has its own set of terms, words, and phrases that represent the culture in which they were created. While our countries now share many of the words previously considered “Americanisms,” there are still very distinct differences between what we call everyday objects and things (for example: lift vs. elevator, jumper vs. sweater, post vs. mail, petrol vs. gasoline, the list goes on and on). There are innumerable ways in which our countries differ from one another (geographically, linguistically, and culturally) and Mencken’s book seeks to investigate some of these differences in order to understand the development of the American language alongside the development of the United States as a country.

I’ll conclude this blog entry as Mencken did his book, with this quote from the 16th century:

And who in time knows whither we may vent
The treasure of our tongue? To what strange shores
This gain of our best glory shall be sent,
T’ enrich unknowing nations with our stores?
What worlds in th’ yet unformed Occident
May come refin’d with th’ accents that are ours?

--Samuel Daniel, Musophilus, 1599