|Books and manuscripts on
different subjects are displayed periodically to expand viewers' knowledge of rare,
scarce, and uncommon items, the extent of the Library's collection, and also to satisfy
the curiosity of the amateur.
The Stinehour Press: The Works of the FIrst 50 Years
Currently on exhibit
in the Rare Books Exhibition Room is a wonderful collection of the
work of the Lunenburg Vermont Stinehour Press. Founded in 1952 by
Roderick Stinehour, the press has flourished over its first fifty
years in the North Country and is today still a prominent producer
of fine quality books. Books printed during its early years to the
present reveal the growth of a Press in pursuit of high quality
printing and scholarly productions. The beautiful works on display
celebrate the fine craft of printing.
Centuries of Movable Books
The current exhibit
in the Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts is part of a Library
exhibition entitled: Five Centuries of Movable Books. A peep into
cases on the first floor of the McKim Building and tours through
both the Rare Book Exhibit and Jordan Rooms on the third floor will
provide you with a delightful feast for your eyes. Books published
from the fifteenth through the twenty-first century with movable
flaps, pop-ups, volvelles, dissolving pictures, transformations,
tunnel and panoramic books, paper sculpture, mechanical movements,
and paper dolls from the collections of the Rare Book Department,
the Alice A. Jordan Collection and private collector and co-curator
of the exhibition, Lin Sasman are on display. Rare material dates
as far back as 1485.
The Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the BPL has some
wonderful examples of early 'movable' books including examples of
volvelles or revolving disks found in books from the 15th and 16th
centuries. Other Rare Book items include a first and second edition
of Repton's work on landscape gardening with flaps that once lifted
reveal Repton's suggestions for landscape design, Little Henry's
adventures (1811) and Metamorphosis. Five Centuries of Movable Books:
books published from the fifteenth through the twenty-first century
from private and library collections will be on display from
June 23-September 5, 2003 in the McKim first floor lobby cases,
in the Rare Book Exhibit Room and in the Jordan Room.
Quijote & Other Books of Chivalry: First, Rare and Illustrated
On display were:
First edition of Part I (1605) and of Part II (1615) of Don Quijote;
First edition of the first English translation (1620); the first
French translation (Paris, 1633); an early German translation (Weimar,
1775); the first edition with plates (Ambers, 1672); the first Tonson
edition of 1738 which is the first printing in England of Don Quijote
in the original Spanish; there are several modern illustrated editions
perhaps the most evocative is the Paris edition of 1863 with drawings
by Gustave Dore. We got to peek into Don Quijote's library where
we found some of the novels that set his imagination ablaze with
extravagant adventures, such as: Amadis de Gaula, Esplandian, Don
Belianis, Primaleon and Palmerin de Inglaterra.
Almost all the books
selected for display were from the George Ticknor collection.
This exhibit was
courtesy of our former Manuscript Curator, Bill Faucon who generously
donated his time and expertise to create and mount this wonderful
Dickinson at the Boston Public Library
Dickinson fad will soon die out
" so predicted an early
critic writing in The American Bookmaker for January 1892. The current
exhibition in the Rare Book and Manuscript Exhibition Room certainly
debunks that prediction. On display through the end of June are
examples of the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Copies of original manuscript
poems are shown along side early printed versions, first editions
and first times in print. From 1852 when her first poem appeared
in published form through a 1999 Bow and Arrow fine press edition
of one of her poems to a selection of 20th and 21st century publications
on Miss Dickinson, Emily's poetry has most certainly not faded from
Endpapers: An Exhibit of the Art of the Book
An exhibit of decorative
endpapers from books published over the past three centuries. The
display featured marbled papers, gold, floral patterns, art nouveau
and other artistic decorations.
Mode, 1795 to 1920 Fashion Plates
Rare and precious
fashion plates from the Boston Public Librarys collection.
In their delicate and beguiling pages, youll find 125 years
of high fashion. This exhibition
begins in 1795 with dresses inspired by classical Greece and Rome.
It ends in 1920 with fashions based on modern art principles of
cubism and abstraction.
Greets the World
A selection of international treasures
chosen and installed for the IFLA Conference. Each display case is devoted to a
different country. The countries represented include: Ireland, England, France, Spain,
Italy, Germany, South Africa, Morocco, Armenia, Israel, Iran, Iraq, India, Japan, China,
Mexico, Canada, Russia and Cuba.
Meeting of Image and Word: Emblem Books from the Collection
The emblem book is a West European
phenomenon that presents symbolic pictures combined with a brief motto or title and a
passage of related prose or verse to deliver a moral or amusing message. Emblem books
began appearing in the fifteenth century with the publication of Andreas Aliciati's first
book in 1531. Success was immediate. These little books continued to be popular well into
the nineteenth century. This exhibit will focus on the "best" period of emblem
books from the middle of the sixteenth century through the end of the next.
This form's origin is found in the medieval world's taste for allegory as well as its
assumption that the entire universe, physical as well as metaphysical, was a mirror of
life and death. The symbol upon which the emblems are based became the best way to express
the unseen reality on which the visible world was based. In fact, one might say that
emblems are allegory in its most succinct form.
Many of the early emblems were playful and amusing, drawing initially upon mythological
themes that were so popular during the Renaissance and later on amorous sayings and genre
scenes. Over time, however, many began concentrating on presenting and teaching moral
themes and truths in a way that was more effective than simple rote memorization generally
used in religious education. These books served as guides to moral and religious
understanding and conduct beginning in the seventeenth century and continuing through the
Roman Letter: From Monastery to Modern Revivals
The exhibit traces the use of the roman
letter from manuscript to the printed page for a period of over a thousand years,
beginning with a lectionary from a Benedictine monastery written in the 10th century to
examples from modern fine printing inspired by William Morris, Bruce Rogers and others.
The historical survey of printed
examples of roman type begins with the R-printer of Strasbourg, then to the first printing
press in Italy at Subiaco. The city of Venice calls for special attention with a
look at books printed by Nicholas Jenson and Aldus Manutius. A quick stay in
Florence to view an interesting work by Dante Alighiere and then we are off to France to
look at a few works designed and printed by the Gallic combo Geofroy Troy and Simon de
Colines. From England in the eighteenth century we have some examples from the work
of John Baskerville. From the modern period we will see use of the roman letter in
such fine presses as the Kelmscott, Ashendene and Doves. We end our survey closer
to home with the work of Bruce Rogers in Cambridge and William Addison Dwiggins in
John Hancock: Merchant King and American Patriot
John Hancock is perhaps best remembered
today for his bold signature on the Declaration of Independence. He was also, however, one
of Colonial America's most extraordinary business and political leaders, an influential
Boston Selectman, the first president of the Continental Congress, and the first governor
of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Hancock began life as a Tory patrician, but his
commitment to freedom transformed him into a fiery rebel and a leader on the road to
independence and shaping the destiny of a new nation.
This exhibit draws from the department's
extraordinary collection of colonial and early American papers and printed documents.
Through them, it explores Hancock's life, from his early days at Harvard College, to his
business dealings with his uncle and the House of Hancock, through his initiation into
colonial politics, and finally to his assent to high political office in both the
Continental Congress and his home state.
Documents on exhibit include a rare Paul
Revere hand-colored print of the scene of "The Bloody Massacre" of 1770; a
letter written by John Hancock in 1765 accepting the high honor of being elected a
Selectman for the town of Boston; another letter written by Hancock on July 6, 1776 to
John Bradford that includes a P.S.: "Included is a Declaration for your
amusement." The grouping also includes a letter from John Adams relating the joyous
activities in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, the day the Continental Congress adopted the
Declaration of Independence; another letter written by John Hancock as Governor of
Massachusetts and Commander-in-chief of the Massachusetts Militia urging the Commonwealth
to contribute men, arms, ammunition and money to Washington's Continental Army; as well as
a document in Hancock's hand stating the importance of maintaining the neutrality of the
various Indian tribes in the on-going conflict. Other documents record Hancock's business
activities both in Boston and abroad, his participation in resolving the Stamp Boston Port
Acts, the activities leading to the Boston Tea Party, and Hancock's nine terms as governor
of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Included in the last grouping is his letter of
resignation in 1785 due to ill health. Hancock had suffered from gout from an early age. A
mere two years later in 1787, Hancock was re-elected to the same post by an overwhelming
majority; the citizens of Massachusetts simply would not let this charismatic leader
retire in peace. The letter notifying Hancock of his victory is signed by Samuel Adams.
The final case contains two of the most poignant items in the exhibition -- the official
order of participants in Hancock's funeral procession held on October 16, 1893, and a lock
of his hair cut from his head two days before he died at age 57 on October 8, 1893.
Libris: Books and Their People
On the supposition that books, more
often than not, out-live their various owners, the present exhibit illustrates this
through ownership marks such as signatures, bookplates, or special bindings on books from
the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries.
A highlight of this exhibition is the
oldest known printed bookplate (about 1475) on a book belonging to Hilprand Brandenberg, a
native of Biberach, Germany, that illustrates his family coat-of-arms in a beautifully
hand-colored woodcut. Another book from about that same time in history comes from the
library of William Caxton (1422?-1491), the first English printer. This compilation of
fifteenth century manuscripts contains his signature in three places within the volume; no
other known examples of this important printer's signature exist.
Along side this volume is a set of books
with the bookplate of Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831), the most important publisher in
eighteenth century America. Thomas not only owned this set but also was the printer, as is
shown on the title page.
Also on exhibition is a volume believed
to have belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots as well as one with the armorial binding of Henry
the Fifteenth, King of France. Important public figures such as Henry Vane -- a 17th
century governor of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin, and presidents of the United States
from George Washington to Ulysses S. Grant are well-represented as are English and
American writers from Charles Dickens and George Gordon, Lord Byron to Mark Twain and
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Art of Book Covering: Five Centuries of Bookbindings at the BPL
The Rare Books and Manuscripts
Department of the Boston Public Library is featuring an exhibition of fine and unique
bookbindings from its collections.
Shown in the Rare Books' Exhibit Area on
the third floor of the McKim Building, the exhibit includes examples of bindings from
medieval to modern times.
Beginning with examples of the
extraordinary bindings found on many of the Library's manuscripts and early printed books,
the exhibit features embroidered bindings, fine silver work, as well as examples of
stamped bindings. Follow along with us as we chronicle the revolution work of the master
craftsmen of the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Take a peek at the
formalistic but brilliantly executed work of late nineteenth century craftsmen, and note
the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, including the techniques of such
binders as Edward of Halifax.
We also share with viewers the
introduction of cloth binding and complete the tour with a look at the divergent
directions taken by the designers and creators of the bindings of the twentieth century.
the History of Printing:
an Exhibit of Treasures in Print
The exhibit in the Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts features examples of the
art of printing that trace the evolution of the printed word and image. The volumes on
display present a picture of the quality of printing at the various stages of its
development from its infancy in the mid-fifteenth century with an early piece from the
press of Johann Gutenberg (The Catholicon - 1460) to the productions of the fine
presses of today including the magnificent facsimile reprints of the unique manuscripts of
our past (The Book of Kells a fine art facsimile photographically reproduced from
The library is extremely fortunate to have acquired over the years through donations by
generous supporters and through wise purchase, a wealth of beautiful and historically
important books. The Bay Psalms Book, the Nuremberg Chronicle, Shakespeare's First Folio
and the Columbus Letter of 1493 are only a few of the early treasures.
We are proud that we can include names
such as Caxton, Aldine, Baskerville, William Morris, and Cobden-Sanderson, just to name a
few, in our exhibit. We invite you to sample the work of contemporary and local private
presses, and book designers including the Grabhorn and Janus Presses, Dwiggins, Updike,
and Rogers here as well. And, in a slightly different approach, we present as printing
treasures various editions or issues of famous titles such as Aesop's Fables,
Audubon's Birds of America, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe(from the Trent/Defoe
Collection), Cervantes' Don Quixote (part of the Thicknor Collection) and Camera
Work(purchased at the time of publication).
We are pleased to share these rarely
seen volumes from the many diverse collections of the printed book at the Boston Public
The exhibit opened on Monday March 24th, and ended on Friday May 30th 1997.
Life: Visual Responses to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection
at the Boston Public Library
This semester's Exhibitions, Concept, Context, Audience class,
taught by John Giordano (Massachuetts College of Art) has been working
with the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department of the Boston Public
Library on two exhibitions in which students and invited artists
have created visual responses to the Boston Public Library collection.
The project was initiated in response to a visit by the class to
the Boston Public Library's Rare Book collection last Spring. The
Keeper of Rare Books, Roberta Zonghi, invited the class to curate
an exhibition for spring 2004. The Project is entitled "Shelf Life: Visual Responses to the
Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection at the Boston Public Library".
The class, along with invited Boston artists, examined the rare
book collection and chose books or objects on which to base visual
responses. The work in the exhibitions at the Boston Public Library
and the Arnheim Gallery at MassArt range from artists' books, to
painting, sculpture and more
The Boston Public Library show opened Tuesday, March 30th from 4-5:30
and ran until May 26th.