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Friday, January 31, 2014

Networking...For All Time

It has been a busy week here at the Rosenbach and for our colleagues at in the Rare Book Department at the Free Library. Here at the Rosenbach we've opened our new exhibit Networking Before the Net: Sharing Information in the Pre-Digital Age, while at the central branch they have opened Shakespeare for All Time in their new rare book department exhibition space.

Farrar Fitzgerald and I hiked up 20th street to take a look at Shakespeare this afternoon and had a great time.  The first item as you walk into the gallery is their First Folio, which was a gift from P.A.B Widener and Josephine Widener Wickfeld; it is shown right next to a Free Library memorandum explaining how Library board member Dr. Rosenbach wanted to surprise the rest of the board with the gift and asked for a book truck to be placed next to his chair at a trustee meeting.

One of my favorite sections of the exhibit was a case devoted to 18th-century editions of Shakespeare and the development of Shakespearean scholarship. Alexander Pope (the man in the lower center, wearing a banyan and turban), wrote a very famous edition of Shakespeare in 1725, and Lewis Theobald (shown writing at his desk, to Pope's right)  took him to task for his editorial liberties and errors the following year in Shakespeare Restored, or a Specimen of the many Errors as well Committed as Unamended by Mr Pope in his late edition of this poet; designed not only to correct the said Edition, but to restore the true Reading of Shakespeare in all the Editions ever published. The scholar at the farthest right of the assemblage, Edmund Malone, may be familiar to Rosenbach fans as the man who unmasked W.H. Ireland's Shakespearean forgeries.

I was also fascinated by this book: The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines, written by Shakespeare's first female editor, Mary Cowden Clarke. Apparently the book "trace[s] the probable antecedents in the history of some of Shakespeare's Women" and was aimed at a female audience. My interest was definitely piqued and I'd love to spend some more time with this one.

There's much more to see--images of Shakespearean actors (including Henry Irving and Junius Brutus Booth); illustrated editions by Arthur Rackham, Rockwell Kent, and others; material relating to Dickens's productions of Shakespeare; and lots of other fantastic stuff. So go check it out!

There's also plenty to see in the Rosenbach's new Networking exhibit. Where else can you find a discussion of 18th-century broadsides and modern Facebook walls...

...and a discussion of 17th-century fart jokes going viral...

..and take your own carte-de-visite style photo?

So come check us out as well! We hope to see you soon.

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

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Robert Burns loved the lasses aye, but did he love the snow?

Once again it is snowing on January 25th, the birthday of Robert Burns and the occasion of Burns Night celebrations around the world. Typically a Burns Night gathering is a supper of haggis, nips, and taddies interspersed with many toasts and recitations of the Scottish Bard's poetry. As I stopped to pick up the flowers for this afternoon's event at the Rosenbach, the florist asked me, "Did Burns love snow?" I did not know the correct answer to this question but I thought about it as I walked to work--and I guessed, yes Burns did love the snow, as he loved the lasses and the hills of Scotland, why not?

Here are the Rosenbach we are hosting a reading event of some of the Bard's most famous poems along with songs performed by Don and Susan Simon. Susan plays the bagpipe and Don plays guitar.

Here is the line up for this afternoon's program:

SONG: Scots Wha Hae
READINGS: To a Mouse, and Letters to Clarinda from Sylvander dated December 8, 1787 and March 18. 1788
SONGS: Ay fond kiss, and Green Grow the Rashes O’
READINGS: A Red, Red Rose, and To A Louse
SONGS: Corn Rigs, and John Anderson my jo John (two version)   
READINGS: To a Haggis, and Holy Willie’s Prayer
SONG: A Man’s A Man for A’ That
SONG: Auld Lang Syne
DANCE: Road To the Isles, and Gie Gordons

I a quiet excited to see the dance demonstration at the end of this year's program. This is anew addition to our program and I hope it sets everyone in the spirit properly!
The Rosenbach has several images of Robert Burns in our collections. One hangs in Marianne Moore's living room. If you had ever wondered what the Ploughman Poet really looked like click on the video link bellow:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Ben's Birthday

Today, January 17, marks the 308th birthday for one of Philadelphia's most famous citizens--Benjamin Franklin. Of course, when he was born the date on the calendar was actually January 6, since Britain and her colonies wouldn't switch to the Gregorian calendar until 1752.

Mr. Franklin had a few things to say about age and aging (as did about most topics). For example, "At twenty years of age the will reigns; at thirty the wit; at forty the judgment"  (Poor Richard, 1741) and "All would live long, but none would be old" (Poor Richard, 1749).

If we wanted to celebrate Ben's birthday with an appropriately 18th-century cake, we might turn to Hannah Glasse's Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy, published in 1747. Here are her instructions to make a fruitcake-like "rich cake."

Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery. London, 1747. EL2 .G549a Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation

Take four pound of flour, we dried and sifted, seven pound of currants washed and rubbed dry, six pounds of the best fresh butter, two pound of Jordan almonds blanched, and beated with orange flower water and sack till they are fine, then take four pound of eggs, put half of the whites away, three pound of double refined sugar beaten and sifted, a quarter of an ounce of mace, the same of cloves and cinnamon, three large nutmegs, all beaten fine, a little ginger, half a pint of sack, half a pint of right french brandy, sweetmeats to your liking, they must be orange, lemon and citron.

Work your butter to a cream with your hands before any of your ingredients are in, then put in your sugar, mix it well together; let your eggs be well beat, and strained through a sieve, work in your almonds first, then put in your eggs, beat them all together till they look white and thick, then put in your sack and brandy and spices and shake your flour in by degrees, and when your oven is ready, put in your currants and sweetmeats as you put it in your hoop; it will take four hours baking in a quick oven, you must keep it beaten with your hand all the while you are mixing of it, and when your currants are well washed and cleaned, let them be kept before the fire, so that they may go warm into your cake. this quantity will bake best in two hoops.

Her "Butter Cake" seems somewhat simpler (except for having to beat the ingredients for an hour).

Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery. London, 1747. EL2 .G549a Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation

Take a dish of butter, and beat it like cream with your hands, two pounds of fine sugar well beat, three pounds of flour well dried, mix them in with the butter, twenty-four eggs, leave out half the whites, then beat all together an hour. Just as you are going to put it into the oven, put in a quarter of an ounce of mace, a nutmeg beat, a little sack or brandy, and seeds , or currants just as you please.

If you are tempted by her recipes, you can read a later edition of Hannah Glasse online.

To jump from the old to the new, in honor of Ben's birthday and as a great anticipation of our own upcoming exhibition Networking Before the Net: Sharing Information in the Pre-digital Age I wanted to share Visit Philadelphia's imagining of how Ben Franklin's Facebook page might have looked.

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

Friday, January 10, 2014

At the End of "In the Beginning"

First, I want to apologize to all Rosen-blog readers who subscribe via the Feedburner feed. It turns out there was a glitch which kept our feed from updating correctly for the past month, which also led to posts not appearing on Facebook. We have now resolved the problem and you should be getting your Rosen-posts as normal. You may receive several posts at once as the feed catches up with the past month of posting.

Now, on to this week's post. 

Do you know the answers to the following fascinating questions?
  • What is a box binding?
  • What does the Hebrew letter Lamed have to do with a camel and Charlton Heston?
  • Why is the Bay Psalm Book included in an exhibit of "Jewish Firsts"?
  • Where did Antonio de Montezinus believe he had found one of the lost tribes of Israel?  
  • How did Michael Gratz personalize his pocket almanac?
If you're stumped, hurry over to In The Beginning: Three Jewish Firsts in the Rosenbach Collection.

This is the last weekend for this amazing exhibition; come Monday we will be taking it down as we prepare to open Networking Before the Net: Sharing Information in the Pre-Digitial Age on January 29. So come in, take a look and enjoy--before In the Beginning comes to an end!


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


Friday, January 03, 2014

Networking Before the Net

Someone writes and circulates an opinionated piece on a hot political topic. A second person reads it and responds. A third and fourth person chime in. The original person responds to the commenters. The cycle repeats. Sound like the modern blogosphere? Or maybe, the pamphlet wars of the 17th and 18th century.

If you've been on the Rosenbach house tour, you've seen the Daniel Defoe collection in the third floor hall (they're the uniformly bound volumes in this photo) .

Defoe was a prolific pamphleteer and the similarities between the cheaply printed, strongly worded, and often anonymous pamphlets of his day and the modern back-and-forth on the Internet was one of the inspirations for our upcoming exhibit Networking Before the Net: Sharing Information in the Pre-Digital Age.

Networking Before the Net considers a number of activities that we now often perform online--saving and sharing favorite tidbits, sending short text communications, accessing news, sharing photos, maintaining and expanding our social networks of friends and acquaintances, debating hot topics--and looks at some of the ways these were carried out in the pre-digital age. Before news was posted to our Facebook walls, it was posted to physical walls in the form of broadsides and handbills.  The development of the cheap, easily reproducible, and easy-to-mail photographic carte-de-visite in the1850s led to a "cartomania" craze of image sharing and swapping.

Cash & Godshaw, carte de visite of Adolph Rosengarten. Louisville, Kentucky, 1862. Rush V:42:03

Obviously these are not exact parallels to the modern age and there are many differences as well as similarities, but we hope the Networking exhibit will offer a fun way to look at some of the traditional items in the Rosenbach collection from a new perspective. The exhibition will also include several items from the Free Library's collection, including bringing together their copy of Thomas Paine's seminal pamphlet Common Sense with the Rosenbach's copy of James Chalmer's rebuttal, Plain Truth. In keeping with an exhibit about information sharing, there will also be several opportunities for visitors to contribute their thoughts, in both digital and analog form. We will be using the hashtag #networkingexhibit for all exhibit-related material on our social media channels, so keep an eye out.

Networking Before the Net will open January 29 and run through June 16. While you're waiting (with bated breath, we hope), you might enjoy checking out your knowledge of modern social media through this quiz from ABC.

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