For all you book lovers, pictured here (from our 200th anniversary exhibit at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library), Harper’s New England School Library, published by Harper & Brothers in 1842-43. This set 75 volumes was issued and shipped in its own pine board cabinet fitted with shelves, a door with a lock and key, and a top piece on the back that allowed it to be hung on a wall.
Tales of knights and virtues that pulled readers out of the soot and smog of the industrial age were the ideal material for Arts and Crafts designers. This 1898 edition of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queenewas published by J.M. Dent and illustrated with woodcuts designed by Louis Fairfax-Muckley, who had previously worked for William Morris’s Kelmscott Press. This edition is remarkable for its binding decorations, which were hand-painted by Fairfax-Muckley and bound by Cedric Chivers, using a technique called “Vellucent.” With this process, artists painted and gilted directly onto the boards, before covering their artwork with an ultra-thin and translucent piece of vellum to protect the images. DB
Cover of The May Queen and other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Rubricated and illuminated. Colophon: “This manuscript, selected poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson, The May Queen, The sea fairies,The beggar maid, Hero to Leander, and Dora was designed, written out, and illuminated by Alberto Sangorski for Messrs. R. Rivière & Son bookbinders & booksellers to H.M. King George V. London. This manuscript will not be duplicated. This manuscript was executed by me [signed] Alberto Sangorski London A.D. 1912.”– P.  “The miniature illustrating the poem of The beggar maid was taken from the painting done by Sir Edward Burne-Jones in the Tate Gallery London. The miniature illustrating the poem of Hero to Leanderwas taken from the painting done by Lord Leighton, P.R.A. The miniature in the title page of Lord Tennyson was taken from the painting by Sir Hubert Herkomer, R.A. (and is copyright)”– P.  Miniature of Tennyson, three miniatures of the May Queen, miniature of the Beggar Maid, miniature of Hero, two miniatures of Dora are initial-signed by Sangorski, and some are dated 1912. Full blue morocco, inlaid and gilt in an over-all design with semi-precious stones and seed pearls, mounted on upper cover. Beige morocco doublures, inlaid with red, white and green morocco and gilt. Silk protective guards interleaved between some pages. All edges gilt. Stamp-signed on upper doublure: “Bound by Riviere & Son”. In silk-lined green morocco folding case.
Courtesy of Rare Book Collection, Detroit Public Library
This small insert was found in one of the books in our Special Collections. We don’t know the year or what library it came from, but we sincerely hope that the book in question was never used “in a room where there is any contagious sickness.”
The influence that the classics have had on the world is timeless. In MU’s Special Collections and Rare Books department, there are a variety of texts that have been translated and transmitted in order to carry so many of these classical stories through time. This has enabled artists and authors alike to be inspired by these texts and give their own interpretations to the stories.
A perfect example of this and one of my personal favorites from our signature collection is our copy of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. Published in 1934 by the Limited Edition’s Club and translated by Gilbert Seldes, this particular edition is illustrated by none other than Pablo Picasso.
The Limited Editions Club, founded by George Macy in 1929, was a publishing company whose goal was to give classical literature a new spin with limited illustrated editions. Macy hired many illustrators and artists of the time to participate in his projects such as: Arthur Szyk, Edmund Dulac, Thomas Hart Benton, Henri Matisse, and of course Pablo Picasso.
With fifteen hundred copies printed, Lysistrata is one of the more popular books published during Macy’s time containing not only Picasso’s illustrations but also his signature. The illustrations include six original etchings along with thirty-four line block reproductions of his work, and is the only example of an American publication of any of Picasso’s original etchings.
Macy had the following to say about Picasso’s work for Lysistrata:
“To illustrate Lysistrata, Picasso has given us six etched copperplates and forty pencil drawings. Each plate, each drawing, bears witness to his mastery of method and technique. His line is sure, confident; it cries out to the world that the man who drew it knows what he was about. And the line is pure, it is that sort of line of which even the Greeks used to say that this is “pure Grecian line.”
An artist from Malaga, Spain, Picasso created beautiful pieces reflecting many different styles. Though he is often remembered as an abstract artist and one of the founders of cubism, the time between the years 1918 and 1927 was deemed his “classical period”. During this time, he created works such as “Three Women at the Spring” (1921) and “The Pipes of Pan” (1923). A truly remarkable artist both of his time and still today. His contribution to this particular edition makes it a rarity worth checking out!
- Kayla T.
Lysistrata / by Aristophanes ; a new version by Gilbert Seldes ; with a special introduction by Mr. Seldes ; and illustrations by Pablo Picasso. New York : The Limited Editions Club, 1934. MU Ellis Special Collections Rare Vault PA3877 .L8 1934
The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in the University of Toronto
Inaugurated in 1973, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in the University of Toronto is named after Thomas Fisher (1792-1874), who played a significant role in the public life of the community from Yorkshire to Upper Canada.
(Photo by Casey Maggs)
The library houses rare collections of Shakespeare, and various twentieth century authors. Since 1973, it has acquired 700,000 volumes and 3000 linear metres of manuscripts.