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Friday, December 19, 2014

Last Chance for Bescribbled!

There are only two weeks left to see Bescribbled, Nibbled, and Dog-Eared:Early American Children's Books before its last day on 12/31! Earlier this year I posted about visitor responses to our exhibit question "What is the worst thing you did to a book as a child;" since then we've filled and erased our response board many times.Here's how the board looks currently; there are some great answers (I especially like the note about "writing 'secret' curse words inside [a book]") but there's still plenty of room for you to make your mark.



The show closes on New Year's Eve, which is a time often associated with fireworks, so  in my swan-song post for the exhibition I thought I'd highlight a do-it-yourself manual entitled The Art of Making Fireworks.


Christopher Grotz, The art of making fireworks, detonating balls, &c. New-York: Published by S. King, 1821
RBD ROS 605 Rare Book Department, Free Library of Philadelphia

Just to be clear, we do NOT recommend the amateur production of fireworks, so please do not try this at home! In the exhibit, this book is displayed next to a tale about a child who burns down her house and kills her parents by playing with fire, a telling juxtaposition if ever there was one.

After laying out the basic ingredients in fireworks (gunpowder, saltpetre, sulphur, charcoal, and steel filings) The Art of Making Fireworks opens with instructions for squibs and serpents. (Because the book is in an exhibit case, the following images are all from a different edition in the British Library, whose copy was digitized by Google)

Christopher Grotz, The art of making fireworks, detonating balls, &c. Dublin: James Charles, [1820?. British Library. Digitized Jan 29, 2014

Later on, the book goes into making sky rockets, which requires careful production of the cases and trial and error regarding the correct charge.

Christopher Grotz, The art of making fireworks, detonating balls, &c. Dublin: James Charles, [1820?. British Library. Digitized Jan 29, 2014
In the section on sky rockets the author also goes into special effects and colors that can be obtained through adding different ingredients, such as raw antimony for a reddish honey color, camphire for white, and ivory shavings for silver.

Christopher Grotz, The art of making fireworks, detonating balls, &c. Dublin: James Charles, [1820?. British Library. Digitized Jan 29, 2014

In Bescribbled the book is open to pages showing off some more complicated effects, such as "To make a Dragon, or any other Animal, run on a line, spitting fire." If it weren't so dangerous, this effect might have been a nice way to get Smaug to show up for your Hobbit-watching party.

Christopher Grotz, The art of making fireworks, detonating balls, &c. Dublin: James Charles, [1820?. British Library. Digitized Jan 29, 2014
So come on in to see this book and its many friends before the end of the year! If you do plan to visit the Rosenbach in the next two weeks, please note that we are closed 12/24 and 12/25 and will be closing at 5 PM (instead of 8 PM) on 12/31.

Finally, somewhat on on the subject of holidays and children's books (but mostly just because I thought it was cool) I wanted to share this video of the 2014 holiday windows at Lord and Taylor in New York. I saw them in person back in November and loved the book-themed "Hall of Wisdom" window, which features cute mice let loose in a library. In the background, books are cut into paper sculptures reflective of their contents--among the children's books I saw were "Jack and the Beanstalk" and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (complete with lit lantern inside the wardrobe). There are adult books too--a giant marlin for The Old Man and the Sea and the spinning windmill of Don Quixote. This window shows up at 5:30 in the video below.




Enjoy!




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

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