Monthly Archives: August 2015

National Library of Scotland accepts Ed. 34 AND stores it with their Incunabula!

On the evening of August 13, I left Manchester and arrived late in Edinburgh during the fringe festival – a nearly obscene event schedule of dance, theater, comedy, music, and film. The streets were packed with viewers moving between venues and cafés and bars (they do this all day for three weeks?!?).
 My room was just a few blocks away from the library so I explored the city in the morning before my 3pm appointment.    Walking up their stairwell covered in plates of information, I learned that William Smellie edited the first copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica in Edinburgh – Edinburgh has a historical hive of thinkers. 

There I met with Anette Hagan (Rare Books and Music curator) and Andrew Martin (Literature and the Arts curator).  They, being curators, had selected some of their oldest and newest acquisitions. 

I saw the first Scottish printed Bible called the Bassandyne Bible.   The dedication to James VI is my favorite:  “thir daies of light quhen almaist in everie private house the buike of Gods lawe is red and understand in our vulgaire language”.    This book was designed for Self Teaching, with notes, chapter guides, maps, and other illustrations.   I am reminded of a book recommended to me by a mentor I acquired by self-imposition. Perhaps understanding my insecurity as a scientist pursuing art with no art degree, he suggested the The Ignorant Schoolmaster – five lessons in intellectual emancipation by Jacques Ranciere.  “There is no language of reason. There is only a control of reason over the intention to speak. Poetic language that knows itself as such doesn’t contradict reason. On the contrary, it reminds each speaking subject not to take the narrative of its minds adventure for the voice of truth.”

May we all be poets. 

Perhaps this digression comes from my hosts combination of presenting me with historical printing promoting personal study in 16th century Scotland and the free expression of contemporary Scottish books. 

Perhaps I say this now because my trip is over and I’m awash in the general experience of what a library really holds (I should be telling you about the first Scottish Encyclopedia by Hector Boece devoted solely to the history of Scotland – but in the notes Anette gave me it says “[it]… is basically a glorification of the Scottish nation based on legendary sources. It is more interesting as romance than as history. The plot of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is ultimately traceable to it.”  

 

This was later translated into Scots by John Bellenden as the Croniklis of Scotland.  I would like to point out that the unicorn is the National Animal of Scotland.) 

Sadly, I did not take notes of the authors of the contemporary books. But here are some images of books by Scottish artists or referencing Scotland in some way. 

An embossed alphabet book of ecological plight.    
A beautifully etched accordion book – I loved at the different grasses featured in the landscape. 


  A poem on gorgeous handmade paper.
  
  What I haven’t yet mentioned was my favorite experience during this visit: hearing Andrew recite a poem in Scots (about two crows!). I tried recording it with my phone but the quality doesn’t merit posting. English and Scots are sister languages derived from Anglosaxon (Anglosaxon and Gaelic are two distinct languages).  

In the 2011 census, a website was created to help citizens listen to different dialects and determine if they spoke Scots (in addition to speaking English- one can see how one sister language is absorbed by the other) . They shared some words:  

Kenspeckle=noteworthy. 

Skunner=fed up.

Blether=chatting

Storum=a storm that happens at the wrong time of year. 

There were more, but my notes are too slow for the wonderful litany of sound they shared. But I have just ordered a book Andrew suggested by James Robertson:  Smoky Smirr O Rain- a Scots anthology. 

Needless to say, they accepted Edition 34 on the spot with Andrew’s delicious ink and hand.Subsequent to my visit I received the best email message from Anette, indicating that the NLS has given Edition 34 my favorite shelf mark for the Addendum at an institution thus far: “Inc.Suppl15”

That is, my Addendum will be stored with the incunabula -Inc-(first printed books published between 1455 and 1500). Very satisfying position!

John Rylands library received Addendum, Edition 33.

   
 After leaving the British Library, it was a short walk to the Euston train station to catch a ride to Manchester to visit the John Rylands Library. Dr. Julianne Simpson was on holiday so I arranged to meet with Rebekah Lunt of Reader services.   

On arrival, I foolishly decided to walk to “see” the town on route.  

 I got lost and called a cab at a coffee house. The cab took me to an university library, not John Rylands. So I hustled to a Main Street and tried hailing NYC style. One civilian car went by shaking his head, suggesting I’d never find a cab ( or something so I grinned and remained hopeful). But one finally picked me up and I made it to the Proper library by 4:30. I had a charming but brief conversation with Rebekah. She will share it with Julianne Simpson when she returns.   I regret losing time. Rylands had an exhibit of Exploring the Gothic.  Look at the kind of stuff I missed!?!

 

British Library received Edition 31 & 32

The British Library is on Euston, so on the morning of August 13, I caught the 168 bus down from Val Oriens charming garden flat. I had a 20 minute appointment with Phil Hatfield of the British library.   He works in the US, Caribbean and Canadian collections department. One can begin to see how my nationality begins to structure where my Addendum to the Gutenberg Bible fits in their catalog. Phil was able to tell me briefly about the founders.    Behind Phil, Left to right are: Robert Cotton, Joseph Banks, Thomas Grenville, and Hans Sloan. 

Banks went on voyages with Cook and was a great botanical collector. Greenville was in Parliment and collected rare books of North America. Hans Sloan was a doctor that inherited a plantation in Latin America. There he had chocolate for the first time -thought it tasted horrible but had medicinal properties. So he brought some back to England, added milk and sugar and sold the recipe to a company that would later become Cadbury’s.  He also had some fine 16th and 17th century maps of the new world. 

Phil’s favorite item this week is the King George copy of Von Humbolts Scientific expeditions to South America. He printed 20 volumes with color plates and it bankrupted him.  Of note, were plates of Aztec hyroglyphs of deep red, green, and gold leaf. Due to weather and time, Phil thought the actual hyroglyphs probably look very different now. 

Phil is changing roles, but I will follow up with him to see where the Addendum lands if the British Library accepts both copies. 

Russian State Library accepts Edition 30!

I was unable to identify an appropriate contact on the English version of the Russian State Library website, so I had no advance appointment. 

I asked the guy at the hotel to translate a simple note, stating I was an artist, I was here to donate a piece of art to their Special Collections. Could (the reader) please direct me to an appropriate person, or someone who speaks English. 

I left the day, August 7, entirely open to winging my delivery to this library. I am persistent if nothing else.  

  In minutes, I was there! An imposing building.     That’s a really poor photo of a statue of Lenin out front.  I entered the first door and handed my paper to the guard. He directed me to a little room with two women. They directed me with fingers to door number 3 and told me to go to the 4th floor.   Inside door #3, I met three guards and re-presented my note while holding up 4 fingers. They let me in. On the 4 th floor (a beautiful museum dedicated to all the crafts of the book – how to make etchings/lithographs and examples, quills vs letterpress, little books vs big books, bindings, tooling, etc. I was not allowed to photograph the examples but they were wonderful and diverse.), I was met by two women.  I presented my note again and one woman called her English speaking husband to assist. The situation was clarified when a third woman arrived and asked did I want my Addendum actually placed at the back of their Gutenberg. 

I smiled widely, shook my head knowingly No, (relief spread across their faces) so I quickly changed my eyes to mischief and enquired  if there was the remotest possibility of Actually inserting it in The book, and we all chuckled. Ah, the simple joy of connecting. I am addicted. 

I had asked for a catalog number and they said the museum couldn’t do that, so they called another woman, Svetlana Artamonova from the Art Prints Department to join us. Svetlana (right in photo below) had fantastic English and we enjoyed each other immediately. 

She called another Svetlana (Petrunina, left in photo below) from acquisitions and it was formally accepted!     Svetlana A then asked me if I would like a tour of the library. Of course!

The main entrance.    
   
Some reading rooms.   

   
The founder of the library- Count Rumiantsev.     When I asked her about some of her favorite pieces, she asked me if I’d like to see some Russian Avante Garde. Of course! Currently, They have a lovely show of ~1920’s film posters. They were bold and colorful and full of affect.  

    
  This last image, is a reprint used for a film series curated in 1989 in England. She gave me a copy and I will hang it in my apartment. Pola Negri in Bella Donna.   We hugged and I left!

Thanks all that helped me get there! A serious group effort!

Austrian National library accepts Edition 2; Bibliotheque national de France rejects Edition 17 & 18!

So, 

This is old news from this spring but I haven’t formally posted it- 

BnF rejected both Addendum from their collection, with the following email:

Madame

L’on m’a bien transmis les deux dossiers objet de votre don . Ainsi que je le fais habituellement , je les ai transmis aux deux départements concernés qui les ont refusés et me les ont retourné. Ils sont donc à votre disposition . A quelle adresse voudriez-vous que j’en fasse l’envoi ? 

                                                                   Tout en vous remerciant , je vous prie, Madame, d’agréer mes sincères salutations.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Michel Fani

But 

I received the contract from Monika Kiegler-Griensteidl, Deputy Director of Acquisitions at Osterreichische National Bibliothek. Edition 2 of the Addendum formally joined Gutenberg Bible with Hubay # 27 as of April. 

  

Moscow State Library Accepts Addendum, Edition 29

 On August 6, I landed in Moscow at 1pm and Anna Pantza, deputy director of the Moscow State University Science Library, had agreed to meet me before 5pm. After a long wait through customs, a quick realization that English would not be useful, and the initiation to the taxi network that befriended me by directing me to the ATM, their request for service was agreed to for 3000 rubles – to get me to my hotel room in central Moscow.   My taxi driver was a charming Turkish man named Jesus (pronounced e-sus). He taught me basic words: Spah-si-bah=thank you (my language progress is slow and I am resigned to the indifferent shrugs that no smile can fix).  Besides a marriage proposal, we stopped briefly at this blue beauty.     

    
 And as we hit traffic, I asked (it took 10 minutes – I’ll never buy Fodors again- it gives elaborate dessert vocab but not basic words like Time or Tickets or Cash or Could you please drive…) if he could change plans and take me directly to the University Library, because it was now 3:30 and there would be no way I’d make the 5pm.     We arrived at the library at 4!   This library was built in 2005 and is mammoth. Marble and gold glass. Sergey, my most gracious translator (he works on audio histories, for example, cataloging and transcribing Russians telling where they were when  Stalin died in 1953) met me and brought me to Anna. We then met with Larisa Drukarova of the acquisitions department where it was accepted after a brief description.   

 Had I only thought about it a bit more, I would have prepared a book list:  my latest fascination with Mendeleev and his brilliant progress in understanding an order of the elements and of course my beloved Winogradsky’s research on microbes. Anna glowed when I mentioned bacteria, told me they just had a show featuring bacteria from contemporary researchers. And get this, she exclaimed how beautiful they are.  We are in complete agreement Anna, you have no idea!

When I asked Anna her favorite item in the collection, she said they all were her favorite, like children. Considering their science holdings have more than 10 million, that is quite a responsability! And now, she has 1 more object – mine! Thank you.  

 As a beautiful gift, they gave me a book documenting one of their most precious objects.  

    
While the pages are gorgeous, what I most like about this book (which is a book about another book), is detailing the restoration process. Authorship has many stewards. 

    
 Unrelated but beautiful are these sculptures at Ploshad Revolyutsy metro station. While the station has farmers, mechanics, military, I thought it would be nice to bookend this post with the readers. 
 (There is a book on his knee)

Lambeth Palace likely to accept Addendum, Edition 28

 
So, I’m terribly behind in reporting, but  on Wednesday morning, August 5th, I walked to Lambeth Palace. Luckily the tube strike didn’t complicate my plans.   

 
I met with the endearing Naomi Percival and Hugh Cahill.   
Their library was founded as a “public library” but the definition then was perhaps different. Its collections began by the archbishops donating their collections – the first was Archbishop Bancroft. 

Theirs is a collection of early printed books with notable provenance. For example comments by Henry VIII, noting his disagreement with the texts.   Their Gutenberg Bible was mis-described as a manuscript in their 19th century catalog. It was recognized as a Gutenberg in the 20th century. What is special about this copy is it was likely commissioned for someone in England as this copy is decorated in 15th century South England style. 

Naomi told me about her current project to catalog the papers from the Mothers Union. A church group founded in the late 19th century intended for “social improvement”. They published guides and sent out missions to encourage families to educate girls, discourage child marriage, and develop health clinics for children. 

Naomi showed me books others were currently cataloging. One was a gold tooled edge (my first!) stating:  the fear of God keeps his commandments.  

   
 She showed me a room with translations of the bible into seemingly every language. Including Eskimo, which was created using the syllabic system used for the African system. Here is Genesis, in Swahili.     
And she even had a copy of the bible in Cockney: that nasty piece of work-satan! 

   
 One of my favorite things was to see a fig tree that had been stewarded since the 16th century. The original tree was brought from Italy to England by Cardinal Pole. The tree I saw was planted from a slip in the 19th century. And just recently when the current archbishop visited pope Francis, a slip traveled with him and so the tree returns to its original soil. It’s not just the ideas in books that are being tended.  

 We visited a building built in the 1490s. There I met Ian Watson, a conservator. I asked his favorite book he worked on. He said Captain Blys diary of the 18th c. Apparently, his crew set him free (they say he was unpleasant) in a boat. But the mutineers allowed him a journal and as a result, his was a diary of maps discovering islands around East Timor. 

Recently, the conservators are working on over 600 volumes of stolen books. These are of course politely referred to as “returned books” — ah librarians, it redefines period of loan. What was so effective about this “borrower” was he took the catalog cards when he took the volume, effectively erasing any record.  

Perhaps in a moment of paranoia, the seal of ownership, was rather Ungracefully removed from the cover.  So the conservators have made a zinc plate to amend what is lost, though will do it in simple black rather than the traditional gold to indicate something went awry In the history of the “returned” volumes.    

 
The last room they showed me was just lovely. It had a gorgeous and complicated table and huge catalogues of historic marriage licenses.  Naomi opened one catalog, and by chance, opened to a license accounted on August 5, 1818.  So we called it a day of good fortune and parted ways.  

 

Eton College received Addendum Edition 27!

So jet lag thundered into my bones today but I made my 3 pm meeting with Dr. Stephanie Coane, at Eton College.

  
   
 The library was exquisite. Raw wood. No oil, no varnish, no paint. It held such a soft armiture for the books to rest. It’s perhaps the gentlest library I’ve seen. The rooms had a quiet grace. 

 Apparently the College Library had 42 books in 1465. But the space I experienced was designed by Thomas Rowland and completed in 1725, when the library had 2 to 3 thousand volumes, with the capacity for ten times that number. They were looking to grow leaves. 

And between 1731 and 1792 five private collectors began donating works.  Stephie elaborated on two:  Richard Topham and Anthony Morris Storer.

Topham was a “grand tourist in Rome”.  He collected drawings of antiquities of Rome that have since been lost or moved from Rome. And, as part of his agreement to donate, he required this previously restricted library to grant open access to scholars.

Anthony Morris Storer was an MP and bibliophile. His hobby was to buy books and “extra-illustrate” them — that is paste in cutouts. This is called “grangerizing” or “pennantizing” named after James Granger and Thomas Pennant. For example, Granger was the author of “A biographical history of England”, and Pennant wrote some account of London.  With the illustrations added, theses books grow many times thicker on the shelf. 

While I wasn’t allowed to photograph the contents of this box, it was filled with beautiful etchings of coins, individuals and coats of arms (many cut out of prior books as text was printed on their backs) all awaiting their proper re-position in some new book.   
   Stephie did her PhD in travel literature. So she shared a personal favorite called “Campi Phlegraei” or Fields of Fire, a book created by Sir William Hamilton in 1776, an English diplomat in Naples. Hamilton became obsessed with volcanos and his hobby was to watch Vesuvius which was very active in the 1770s. He climbed it 200 times!  In reporting his observations to the Royal Society, he realized the letters themselves were insufficient, so he hired a monk to make continuous observations and an artist to make renderings! This book nearly bankrupted him but is gorgeous science that is apparently still used today. 

The images range from specimens to landscapes, written in English and French, and show the destructive power, the fertile landscape, and economic activity of volcano living.  Stephie said one problem apparently discussed by natural philosophers at the time was the disagreement in the field between the neptunists and the volcanists- Was the source of the fire at the bottom or the top!? I do so adore how ideas can war so civilly on paper. 

And I appreciated The point that image and letter both work better together than alone. If only I had time or energy, I would head to the British Museum and see sample rocks from these expeditions that relate to this book connecting time, place, and material reality. 

In other notes, upon my arrival, I was told by the guard that Eton was the first boys school in England (though someone who read this post questioned this statement.).

  The schoolroom was delightfully marred by the hands of many boys over time.    Though, not myself Denny, I was oddly reminded of an Adrienne Rich poem “Hunger”: the passion to be inscribed her body.  

 

Bodleian Library considers Addendum, Edition 26!

  

   Well, of course I woke up happy, my adventure continues. Tho in my excitement I actually forgot the Addendum and had to return to my room (it was a fast elevator ride).But I made it to Oxford, and found the newly opened and gorgeous Weston library – part of the Bodleian library.   Before my appointment, I saw some gargoyles, visited the temporary show “Genius”, and then met up with the charming Alan Coates. He said one of the interesting things about their Gutenberg (Hubay #24) is its history of owners. They are not clear on all of them, but they bought it for £100 in  1793- likely as French Revolution authorities seized objects from aristocrats and disposed of them.  While in France it was re-bound from the traditional wood panels to gold tooled green morocco (goat skin).  By that time it had become an object. Previously it was owned by a count in Sweden.  And perhaps acquired from a German monastery during the Thirty Years War.  In the Genius exhibit, the Gutenberg was displayed next to an advertisement – one of Alan’s favorites.   When I asked why an advert by the publisher William Caxton was a favorite, he said with a smile, the advertisement remains, the book being advertised is lost forever (not exactly, apparently a fragment of the book -6 leaves- survives at the British Library).

These librarians have the best sense of humor and appreciation of the facts –in context! To note, the advertisement placed on a door (the first known ephemera of advertising in publishing -an odd kind of redundancy when you think about it) politely asks “Pray do not remove this notice”.  Indeed, Mr. Caxton, indeed.

Another favorite on view was Pliny’s natural history.  Besides being a “Nicolaus Jenson printing… sumptuous… parchment… elaborately beautiful binding (which sadly you cannot see)” it had these Historiated Initials. Inside the first letter of each chapter was a pictorial abstract of contents of that chapter. 

Inside the D of this first chapter is Pliny as a scholarly scientist. Other chapters illustrate things like bee keeping, trees, dolphins, countries! How I long to see the illustrated bee keeping!  These books were underwritten by a banker, Filippo Strozzi, in 1476 and as such at the bottom are lambs from the Strozzi family emblem and a portrait of Strozzi and his son (bottom right).  Someone else must review the donation and Alan will let me know if they officially accept Addendum, Edition 26 (they did! letter will be in my mailbox upon my return). 

In the meantime, I will savor the idea framed by this new architecture– colorful book covers catalogued as wall tapestry that are animated by readers that interrupt their seemingly static order. And yet, they ripple with thought, waiting for fingers and eyes.