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Putting the Hand back in Handpress

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While cataloging this title from the Cavagna Collection – Per la facciata del Duomo di Milano (ca. 1657) – I came across something I’ve never seen before in a book from the handpress period: a handprint embedded in the paper fibers! Is it the vatman’s hand, who scoops the cotton rag pulp into the mould? Or the coucher’s, who transfers the drained pulp from the mould to felt beds to be pressed? Or the printer’s, who dampens the dried paper slightly before printing? Handmade paper from this period already bears witness to the papermaking process, with laid and chain lines from the wire mesh of the mould, felt marks from the textiles used to press the paper, and the papermaking firms’ watermarks, but evidence of the craftsman’s hand is rarely so overt.

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By closely examining a blank leaf with a light sheet, many clues to the origin of the paper can be gleaned. The watermark with initials FB is unidentified, but the design is unsophisticated; given the book’s scope, it is likely that the paper came from a Milanese papermaking firm of middling standing. The blank leaf also reveals imperfections in the formation of the paper, such as undispersed bundles of coarse fiber, also indicating a lower quality papermaking firm.

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Alongside the handprint, the work also documents a very interesting time in mid-seventeenth-century Milan and in the history of its famous cathedral. t.p.The title page bears no imprint, as it is a collection of opinions and designs for the renovation of the façade of the Duomo, with each contribution likely originating independently before being gathered together under the collective title. Contributors included Francesco Castelli, Francesco Maria Richini, Carlo Buzzi, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Per la facciata del Duomo di Milano demonstrates that the cathedral’s façade was a major concern for the citizens of Milan and that architects were planning to demolish and replace the fifteenth-century façade well before actual work on it began in 1683. Over a century later a design was finally settled on—one that incorporated Carlo Buzzi’s seventeenth-century design—and work initiated by Napoleon began in 1791. The renovation of the façade was completed in 1813.

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Wait—there’s more. One of the six engraved illustrations has flaps that reveal alternate plans for the design of the façade! CMO

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Per la facciata del Duomo di Milano. Milan, ca. 1657.
Q. 726.645 P41: http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_1822959/Description

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Help Solve a Tudor Mystery at RBML

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King Henry VIII and his inner circle are once again in the public spotlight with the recent American premiere of the miniseries Wolf Hall, based on Hilary Mantel’s 2009 novel. The Rare Book and Manuscript Library proudly holds a piece of this fascinating Tudor history and we’re calling on our readers to help us find out what puzzle it belongs to.

Seven years after execution of Anne Boleyn and three years after the downfall of his advisor Thomas Cromwell, the protagonist of Wolf Hall, the King married his sixth and final wife, twice-widowed Catherine Parr. The marriage occurred about 17 months after Henry had his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, executed for adultery. By most accounts, Henry’s life with Parr was happier and less tumultuous than his previous marriages, though short-lived: the King died less than four years after they were wed, and Parr never bore him any children.

Born to a noble family in northern England, Parr was well-educated and had a zeal for learning. She spoke French, Italian, and Latin, and was learned in theology. It is therefore no surprise that she turned her talents to the written word, producing an English-language translation of John Fisher’s Latin Psalms shortly after her marriage to the King. In 1544 the translation was published by the King’s printer Thomas Berthelet under the title Psalmes, or, Prayers Taken out of Holie Scripture. With the publication, she became the first Queen to have a book in print. (A later religious volume Prayers, or, Medytacions also distinguished her as the first Englishwoman to publish under her own name.) The fifteen Psalms of Fisher are supplemented in Parr’s translation by “A praier for the kynge” and “A praier for men to saie enteryng into battayle.” Parr is thought to have written the latter herself, perhaps on the occasion of Henry’s third invasion of France in mid-1544.

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Copies of the book are scarce and it is not known how many may have been originally printed, but they appear to have been specially ordered from Berthelet in small batches at the behest of the Queen, and the surviving copies have distinct bibliographical differences. Most are printed on paper. From a bill from Berthelet dated May 1st circa 1544, we know that some of the Psalmes were “gorgiously bound” with “gilt on the letter.” A later bill tells us that other books ordered by the Queen, perhaps the Psalmes, were “printed in fine velim” [1]. Vellum was by its nature more labor-intensive to produce than paper and therefore a pricier commodity, so very few 16th-century books in England were printed on it.

Until this point, only two vellum copies of the Psalmes have been traced. One, at Elton Hall in Cambridgeshire, has annotations in King Henry’s hand and was later presented by him to his daughter Mary before he died. The other resides at Exeter College and bears the signature of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, husband of Catherine’s sister Anne. Both were probably gifts from Catherine [2]; presentation copies were sent to several members of the Queen’s inner circle.

RBML holds a third copy, whose significance was not realized until recently. A mere four inches in height, its vellum leaves are richly illuminated. Girding the title is a faded gilt border suffused with blue scrolls and flowers. The royal arms of Henry himself are emblazoned on the title page verso. Gold lions and fleurs-de-lis once adorned its escutcheon, though only gilt traces of the charges remain. The escutcheon is encircled by a garter with the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense, which is the motto of the Order of the Garter. Above it flies a banner bearing the royal motto Dieu et mon droit. The columns and beams of the architectural border are traced with delicate veins of silver. The first letter of the book’s opening line “O lorde of lordes . . .” has within it a red Tudor rose. Other rubricated initials appear throughout

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The book’s provenance is a tantalizing mystery. At one point, it was owned by members of the Pickering family. “James Pickering” is written in an italic hand on the first front flyleaf verso, then again in the margins of leaf C5r: “James Pickering booke.” “Richard Pickering” is twice written on the verso of the final leaf. James’s hand would seem to date from the early to mid-17th century, while Richard’s inscription is earlier–from the late 1500s, perhaps. There is also a couplet, visible only under ultraviolet light, in the margins of the last leaf. It reads:

Love doth remaine whil money doth [ ]
When money is gone then love [ ]

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Who the Pickerings are and whether they had a connection with Henry’s court is unknown. The earliest inscription occurs on leaf D1r. The first name is, quite clearly, Henry. The surname–if it is a surname–is harder to make out. The final three letters are “-rry.” It is preceded by another word ending in “-nn” or “-m.” One possibility is “Carry.”

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Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, is a plausible candidate for one of Parr’s lavish presentation copies of the Psalmes. He was the son of one of Henry’s favorite attendants and courtiers, William Carey. His mother was Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn and Henry’s mistress for several years. In fact, there is still some debate over whether Henry Carey was the illegitimate child of Henry and Mary, though many historians think this is unlikely due to Henry’s desperation for an heir and the recognition he paid to his illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy. In Wolf Hall, Mantel has Mary Boleyn speculating that the reason her son remains unacknowledged as the King’s is because Anne Boleyn assumes she will give the King male heirs and thus does not want any competition from her nephew.

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Henry Carey was married in May 1545, to Anne Morgan. It is conceivable that the book could have been presented to him as a wedding gift, though it does not bear any annotations to that effect, at least any that survive; the book is lacking the blank rear fly-leaves and perhaps a front fly-leaf or two. “Henry” is also written in different script, though not necessarily a different hand, on the page opposite the possible “Carry” inscription. 1-IMG_4089 (1)

Finally, there is a leaf, somewhat faded, of devotions in an early hand at the front of the book. Though we have not fully transcribed it, certain phrases stand out: “hayll marye”; “most noble”; “holy gost”; “most desyrable.” Could they have been written by Henry or Catherine? We open up the question to our readers. We also welcome suggestions on the Henry inscription and information about Richard or James Pickering. SL

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Psalmes, or, Prayers taken out of holie Scripture. ([London] : Imprinted by Thomas Berthelet …, anno Domini MDXLV [1545])
MINI00213: http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_5192240/Description

[1] See: Rose-Troupe, F. “Two Book Bills of Katherine Parr.” The Library. S3.II (1911): 40-48.
[2] See: Mueller, Janel, ed. Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

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Paul Laurence Dunbar illustrated bindings

We’ve talked in past Tumblr posts about the history of bookbinding. In the early years of book production it was incumbent upon an owner to have the book bound after purchase, but by the 1800s publishers were issuing books in pre-made, plain-cloth bindings. Some bindings were more extravagant, with gilt accents and blind-tooled designs on the covers. These more elaborate bindings reached their epoch between 1870 and 1930. Designs were rendered in full color on front covers and spines, and often reflect the aesthetic trends of the era: Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco. The illustrations can be pictorial in nature as well, featuring people and animals. They also frequently include the monogram of the artist. In fact, some artists were so popular that publishers even used their names to market books.

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These three poetry collections by poet Paul Laurence Dunbar exemplify illustrated publishers’ bindings. The colors are eye-catching and vivid, the floral designs symmetrical. Gilt offsets the titles and the author’s name. Publishers’ bindings are noteworthy as an industry in which women predominated. The bindings for Candle-Lightin’ Time and When Malindy Sings are by artist Margaret Armstrong, who produced over 150 illustrated bindings. Her distinctive MA monogram can be glimpsed in the upper-right corner of When Malindy Sings. The binding for Poems of Cabin and Field is by Alice Cordelia Morse, who once worked for Tiffany studios. Morse designed approximately 80 bindings over the course of her career. The illustrations do not appear to have any particular link with the theme of Dunbar’s books, since similar designs can be found for a variety of literary works.

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Paul Laurence Dunbar, born in 1872, published over fifteen books before his death in 1906, and received acclaim from personalities such as poet James Whitcomb Riley, abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and William Dean Howells, who praised Majors and Minors, a volume of poems written both in standard and dialect English. For more on Dunbar, see http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/paul-laurence-dunbar and http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/paul-laurence-dunbar.

These books are drawn from the expansive Meine Collection, profiled recently. The Meine Collection includes numerous examples of illustrated publishers’ bindings, as well as other works by Paul Laurence Dunbar. SL

Dunbar, Paul Laurence. Candle-Lightin’ Time. (New York : Dodd Mead & Co., 1901)
MEINE 811 D91c: http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_4036915/Description

Poems of Cabin and Field. (New York : Dodd, Mead & Co., 1899)
MEINE 811 D91p: http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_3003862/Description

When Malindy Sings. (New York : Dodd, Mead & Co., 1903)
MEINE 811 D91w: http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_2917397/Description

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The Pamphlet: America’s First Social Media

Today, social media is king. According to a Pew Research Center study, nearly one in three Americans get their news from social media.1

How, though, did colonial Americans get their information? While newspapers were the main source of news, their content was often limited to local happenings and news from London. Pamphlets filled the gap. Ranging from five to forty-eight pages, pamphlets flew off the earliest presses in the American colonies and covered just about any topic. From weather to advice on planting crops to discussions of politics, pamphlets were a vital communication tool. Should a merchant in Boston want a slave trader in Charleston to know his opinion, for example, he published a pamphlet.

In the American colonies, pamphlets became especially popular after the end of the French and Indian War in response to parliamentary and royal actions. The Sugar Act, the Proclamation of 1763, or the much-hated Stamp, Townshend, and Tea Acts became hot topics. Colonists up and down the Atlantic published pamphlets to vent their anger and rally others to their cause.

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With the outbreak of war in 1775, independence became a very popular topic. Anyone could to make their opinion known through pamphlets. The most famous, of course, was Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. Published anonymously on January 10, 1776, it was an instant success. According to Paine, it sold 120,000 copies in three months. Paine hoped that its wide circulation would allow the two and a half million American colonists to hear his message. George Washington even had it read to all the soldiers of the Continental Army. Once exposed as the author on March 30, 1776, Paine donated all royalties to Washington’s Army. Eventually Paine would allow anyone to reprint Common Sense, ensuring an even wider readership.

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Just as social media today is used to influence politics, so, too, did the pamphlets of the Revolution get the word out—they even went “viral” sometimes, as Paine’s huge success illustrates. Pamphlets from America influenced both England’s Parliament and the Continental Congress. Widely-read pamphlets against the Stamp Act (combined with the violent ‘tarring and feathering’ of officials!) convinced Parliament to repeal the act. Paine’s Common Sense is seen by some as the greatest piece of political writing in what would become the United States and is often cited as one of the key factors in America’s declaration of independence in July 1776.

Pamphlets continued to impact events after the American Revolution. They played an important role in other social movements, such as Abolition, the Second Great Awakening, Workers’ Rights, Women’s’ Suffrage, Civil Rights and other social and political reform initiatives of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Whether pamphlets will survive in the age of social media remains to be seen, but the spirit of the pamphlet—now delivered electronically– certainly lives on in America. AV

1   http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/24/how-social-media-is-reshaping-news/

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πr², but Books are Rectangular

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Humans have long known that a special relationship exists between the diameter and circumference of a circle. As early as 2000 BCE, some had even found numbers to represent this relationship. By this date, the Babylonians knew that the circumference of a circle was always approximately 3 1/8 times larger than its diameter, while the Egyptians put the value at 4(8/9)2 (Beckmann 10). Hindu astronomy books known as the Siddhantas tell us that by 380 CE the Hindus had arrived at 3 177/1250, or 3.1416, as a constant value for the circumference/diameter ratio, and in the fifth century CE Chinese mathematicians determined that the constant must be greater than 3.1415926 and less than 3.1415927 (Beckmann 24-27). The Maya likely also knew of this ratio, and, given their sophisticated methods of calculation, had probably determined its value with a high degree of accuracy. However, it may be impossible to know for certain, as Diego de Landa, Bishop of Yucatan, burned most of the Mayas’ written records in the 1560s, believing that they were filled with “‘superstition and lies of the devil’” (Beckmann 33).

Although knowledge of the constant ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter—the ratio we now call “pi”—is ancient, the use of the Greek letter “π” to represent it is not. Use of the π symbol is usually dated to William Jones’ work Synopsis Palmariorum Matheseos: or, a New Introduction to the Mathematics, published in 1706 and shown above. After spending some time in the Royal Navy as the mathematics master on a man-of-war, Jones worked as an itinerant teacher and then private tutor in London, and later edited and published editions of several of Isaac Newton’s works. His Synopsis Palmariorum Matheseos consists of two major sections, the first dealing with “Numeral and Literal Arithmetick” and the second with the “Principles of Geometry.” Jones uses the π symbol several times throughout the second part, in both diagrams and equations. Although Jones is generally credited as the first to clearly set the letter π equal to the value 3.14 . . ., he may actually have borrowed this use of the π symbol from the writings of the astronomer John Machin, who had calculated π out to one hundred decimal places, and whose work Jones cites elsewhere in his Synopsis (Arndt and Haenel 166). Regardless of which man used the π symbol first, mathematicians adopted the symbol as standard only after the noted mathematician Euler used it in his writings, approximately thirty years after the publication of Jones’ work (Beckmann 141). BS

William Jones, Synopsis Palmariorum Matheseos: or, a New Introduction to the Mathematics. London: Printed by J. Matthews for J. Wale, 1706.

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Selected Bibliography

Arndt, Jörg, and Christoph Haenel. Pi –Unleashed. Trans. Catriona Lischka and David Lischka. Berlin: Springer, 2000. Print.

Beckmann, Petr. A History of Pi. 2nd ed. Boulder: Golem, 1971. Print.

McConnell, Anita. “Machin, John (bap. 1686?, d. 1751).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Web. 13 March 2015.

Wallis, Ruth. “Jones, William (c.1675–1749).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012. Web. 11 March 2015.

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Three Euphonic Emmas

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library has finished processing an archival collection of French opera autographs donated by Illinois alumnus and operatic sound recording producer Robert Zarbock (’52). The Robert Zarbock collection of opera autographs [Post-1650 MS 0657] is largely composed of letters written by opera singers famous on the Parisian stage in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Also included are photographs, lithographs, and newspaper clippings, representing 47 opera personalities in total. The collection is open to researchers.

Today we highlight three well-known performers: Emma Albani (Canadian soprano, 1847-1930), Emma Calvé (French soprano, 1858-1942), and Emma Eames (American soprano, 1865-1952).

Emma Albani performed on stages in Italy, Paris, New York, and London. Perhaps her most famous role was Isolde in Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at London’s Covent Garden in 1896, alongside Jean de Reszke (Tristan), who is also represented in the collection. Albani studied in Paris under Gilbert Duprez (also in the collection) in 1868, and performed on the Parisian stage with the Italian Opera during the 1872-1873 season. The Main Library holds her French language memoir [780.923 AL13A], and the Music and Performing Arts Library holds a recording featuring Albani and fellow Canadian singer Pauline Donalda [DISC M1505A412 E47].

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Emma Albani’s signature on a letter dated 5 April, 1878. Zarbock Collection, Box 1 Folder 1.

Emma Calvé is perhaps best remembered for her performance in the titular role of Georges Bizet’s Carmen at the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 1894. In 1922, Calvé published an autobiography, available in English translation in the Main Library [780.923 C13]. The Music and Performing Arts Library holds a collection of Calvé‘s known recordings [CDISC M1611C24 E46].

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Emma Eames’s autograph on an undated letter addressed “Chère Madame.” Eames married painter Julian Story, and includes both her maiden and married names here. Zarbock Collection, Box 1, Folder 15.

American Emma Eames spent the first several years of her career performing at Paris’s Palais Garnier, where she debuted in 1889 as Juliette in Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. Eames also performed in New York (Metropolitan Opera), London (Royal Opera House and Covent Garden), and Monaco (Monte Carlo Opera), among other cities. The Music and Performing Arts Library holds recordings of Eames from the early 20th century [CDISC M1611 E25E57], as well as Eames’s 1927 memoir [780.923 EA62E1].

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An undated letter written by Emma Calvé and addressed to “Mon cher Directeur.” Zarbock Collection, Box 1, Folder 5.

Special thanks to John Wagstaff, Head of the Music and Performing Arts Library, for transferring this collection to the RBML.
– EM

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Crypto-Judaism and the Festival of Esther.

Last week on our tumblr, we featured our copy of the Book of Esther to mark the beginning of Purim. When the Spanish Inquisition was established in 1478, many Jews outwardly converted to Catholicism but continued practicing Judaism in secret. Known as anusim, or crypto-Jews, they inserted certain Jewish traditions into Catholic practices. One such syncretism involved transforming Esther into a saint. When the Catholic Church formally recognizes someone as a saint, that person is canonized; those not canonized (like Esther) but deemed to be “completely perfect in holiness” may be referred to as saints in Catholicism. Crypto-Jews took advantage of this loophole, and continued celebrating Purim by reinventing it as the “Festival of Saint Esther.”

These two works, a collection of poems and a broadside sonnet, are examples of Crypto-Jewish commemoration of Saint Esther in Turin, Italy in the 18th century. Descendants of anusim continue their practices to this day, especially in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and the American Southwest. NE

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