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Friday, December 12, 2014

The Perfect Gift

With the holiday season upon us, many of us are busy finding, buying, or making gifts for our friends and family. The Rosenbach's collections are full of objects with gift giving in their history and this week I'm offering up an idiosyncratic selection of some of my favorite gifted items. (Just for clarity, these items were not necessarily holiday gifts, just gifts in general.)


Herbert Reichner, Die Gutenberg-Bibel der Sammlung Vollbehr: Schicksale des kostbaren Buches. Wien: [Jahoda & Siegel], 1927 Bound in: Leaf from Bible in German, preface to Psalms of David
Augsburg: G√ľnther Zainer, 1477 Incun 477 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

This 1927 book on biblical illustration was a gift to Dr. Rosenbach from its author.  In an unusual twist, the 20th-century book is bound in a leaf from Bible printed in Augsburg in 1477. The angular initials on the leaf were quite modern at the time, celebrating the new woodcut medium rather than  imitating traditional calligraphic forms. 


Paperweight. 1965-72. 2006.2971. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
This paperweight was a gift to Marianne Moore from Clive Driver, the former director of the Rosenbach.  


Francis Clark , vinaigrette.  Birmingham, England, 1840. 1954.2063 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia


Francis Clark , vinaigrette.  Birmingham, England, 1840. 1954.2063 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

 This vinaigrette is engraved from Rebecca Polock to Mary Wolf. Vinaigrettes hold vinegar or smelling salts to revive a fainter or simply counter unpleasant smells.  They were made by silversmiths who specialized in small personal items known as “toys.” This example was made in Birmingham which was a leader in toy production; a 1767 directory described “Gold and Silver Toy Makers, who make Trinkets, Seals, Tweezer and Tooth Pick cases, Smelling Bottles, Snuff Boxes, and Filigree Work.”

 
Glasses with printers' marks. 1946. 2002.393. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
 These are two of a set of eight glasses given to Dr. Rosenbach by Arthur Houghton in 1946. Each glass in the set is engraved with a different medieval printer's mark. The glass on the left is Johann Rosenbach, the Spanish printer whom Dr. Rosenbach liked to claim as an ancestor. The glass on the right is the English printer William Caxton. The other glasses in the set bear the marks of the St. Albans Printer, Antione Verard, Simon Vostre, Aldus, Fust and Schoeffer, and Colard Mansion.

 


Lewis Carroll,Alice’s Adventures Under Ground London: Macmillan and Co., 1886.  EL3.D145al 866 MS Facsimile #2. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
 

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures Under Ground London: Macmillan and Co., 1886.  EL3.D145al 866 MS Facsimile #2. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
This printed facsimile of the original manuscript of Alice in Wonderland (the manuscript was titled Alice's Adventures Under Ground) was a gift to "The Duck from the Dodo;" i.e. to the Rev. Robinson Duckworth from Charles Dodgson. Duckworth had accompanied Dodgson and the Liddell sisters (Alice, Edith, and Lorina) on the famous rowing expedition of July 4, 1862, when Dodgson first told a story about Alice's adventures to his young listeners.

K & Y Hendrickson, figurine. 2006.3024. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
According to Marianne Moore's niece, this carved ivory ox was a a gift to Moore from John J. Teal, Jr., the author of "Golden Fleece of the Arctic," a 1958 Atlantic Monthly article which Moore used as inspiration for her poem "The Arctic Ox (or Goat).

 And of course, as an institution the Rosenbach depends on the many gifts that come from our loyal supporters: from docents and volunteers who donate so generously of their time; from collectors who offer us choice treasures; and from financial supporters who make it possible for us to keep doing amazing things. Thank you to all of you for your gifts.


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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