March 25, 2011 by Maggie Kopp
One of Special Collections’ most recent acquisitions is a copy of the new facsimile of the Codex Sinaiticus issued by the British Library. The Codex Sinaiticus is a very important Greek manuscript dating from the 4th century. It is one of the two oldest manuscripts of the Bible in existence, and the oldest copy of the New Testament in Greek in existence. The manuscript was broken up during the 19th century and the fragments are in four different libraries. In the past decade, efforts have been made to reunite these fragments by digitizing them. The British Library has released the images of the entire manuscript both online and in print form.
The new facsimile bears the call number Rare Book Collection Folio BS 64 .S3 2010. Scholars may also wish to consult earlier facsimiles of the manuscript: the 1922 Old Testament facsimile (Vault Collection Folio 221.42 Si61L 1922) or the 1862 facsimile issued by the manuscript’s modern discoverer, Constantin von Tischendorf (Vault Collection Folio 220.42 Si61 1862).
March 7, 2011 by Maggie Kopp
BYU’s multi-year project to digitize its unique collection of French political pamphlets continues making strides. To date, nearly 1500 items have been scanned and posted online at http://www.lib.byu.edu/dlib/fpp/.
The collection includes works printed between 1547 and 1626 which cover such topics as French laws and statutes, economy, propaganda, religion, and social and cultural commentary.
February 22, 2011 by Maggie Kopp
At Brigham Young University, the spotlight is shining on the King James Bible, which was first published during the year 1611. To celebrate the King James version’s 400th anniversary, during the month of February BYU has hosted a university forum address by Bible scholar David Norton, and the Religious Studies Center will present a symposium on the role of the King James translation in the Restoration. In conjunction with this symposium, L. Tom Perry Special Collections will host a small exhibit of King James Bibles in our collections, including a first edition of the King James Bible and a Bible owned by Hyrum Smith. The Bibles will be displayed Feb. 23-Mar. 4, 2011 in Special Collections’ lobby area during our’ normal operating hours.
The Harold B. Lee Library will present a major exhibit celebrating the life and legacy of the King James Bible later this year. It is scheduled to run from August 2011-May 2012 on level 1 of the library.
February 7, 2011 by Maggie Kopp
Valentine’s Day greetings were just as popular with the Victorians as they are today. In 1865, the British postmaster general reported that 542,000 valentines were mailed annually within London and more than double that amount sent from London to the countryside. No wonder that in 1870, one newspaper noted that “[St. Valentine] is the terror and annoyance of postmen, as well as of men of business, whose letters are seriously delayed about the middle of February”!
The library’s Victorian Literature Collection contains an assortment of valentine greetings from the 19th century. They provide an interesting peek at the types of cards available to Victorians from different decades and different economic classes: cheaply-produced woodcut valentines from the 1840’s; expensive, intricate three-dimensional cards from the 1860’s, and modern-looking illustrated greeting cards from the 1870’s and 1880’s.
Victorians produced an array of romantic or sentimental valentines, not unlike the sorts of greetings available today. More shocking to modern sensibilities are the Victorians’ “comic valentines,” which were not so much funny as they were rude or insulting. Comic valentines were especially popular in the early Victorian period and tended to be marketed and sold to the lower classes. Comic valentines would usually be sent anonymously. The recipient could be teased or insulted for their age, appearance, trade, hobbies, and other traits. Old maids were particular targets. The comic valentines pictured here date from about 1840.
January 26, 2011 by Maggie Kopp
BYU’s Motion Picture Archive Film Series is screening the 1940 Errol Flynn movie “The Sea Hawk” this Friday. The film is set during England’s naval wars with Spain in the 16th century and stars Flynn as an English sea captain.
Special Collections owns primary documentary evidence of these wars from the Spanish point of view, a collection of letters dated 1591-1597 from King Philip II of Spain to the governor of Spain’s northern coast. These letters document Spain’s naval offensive and related intelligence regarding England, Scotland, and Ireland; shipping and smuggling; and ship-building. The entire collection has been digitized and placed on the library’s Digital Collections site, accompanied by full transcriptions and English summaries.
So after checking out these letters, come see King Philip II of Spain make an on-screen appearance in “The Sea Hawk”!
January 4, 2011 by Maggie Kopp
The Harold B. Lee Library has scanned and made available the British Social Periodicals held in the JFC Harrison collection online at the Internet Archive. The collection includes full-text scans of periodicals related to political, cultural, and social movements, including temperance, free-thought, and working-class educational associations. The digital collection also includes literary items related to Special Collections’ current exhibit, Literary Worlds.
December 26, 2010 by Maggie Kopp
Hunting has been a popular sport in Europe since the Middle Ages. Medieval manuscripts depict aristocrats hunting on horseback and on foot, with hawks and hounds, and provide insight into the methods and practices used in organized hunts. Over the centuries, printed books about hunting, falconry, and fishing have been popular with sportsmen and book collectors for their informational content and their illustrations.
The books pictured here include a facsimile of Henri de Ferrières’ Livre de chasse du roi Modus; Thomas Speedy’s Sport in the Highlands; and Charles Estienne’s L’agriculture et maison rustique.
These and other books can be located in the library catalog by performing a subject search using the terms “hunting;” “falconry;” or “fishing.”
December 8, 2010 by Kristi Young
Sinterklass is a Dutch tradition that is also popular in other areas in Europe, especially those with a Germanic background. One young mother from the Netherlands whose husband is from the United States recreates this tradition in her Santaquin, Utah home with her children. Generally on December 5, Sinterklaas and his horse and his servant Zwarte Piet visit homes during the evening leaving behind some gifts for the children in their shoes. The children leave carrots and water for the horse and a cup of milk for Sinterklaas.
The next morning the children are surprised with traditional treats as well as a present or two. In this picture the little girl is interested in the food, while her brother can hardly wait to open the presents.
The Wilson Folklore Archive contains accounts of Sinterklaas and the shoes–although not everyone is lucky enough to have wooden shoes. Sometimes it is a family tradition and other times it is a tradition picked up while serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Find more information at Customs 126.96.36.199.1 to 188.8.131.52.6.3.
November 22, 2010 by Maggie Kopp
Renaissance astronomy is in the news again, this time because a group of Czech and Danish scientists are testing the remains of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who died in 1601. Brahe’s astronomical observations provided the foundation for the work of Johannes Kepler and other astronomers, but he is also remembered for the rumors which swirled around the cause of his death.
Brahe, a Danish nobleman who served as Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II’s royal astronomer, was an irascible character who lost part of his nose in a duel over mathematics and is said to have kept a pet moose. Apart from his idiosyncrasies, he is remembered for his contributions to astronomy. He designed and constructed his own astronomical instruments. Tycho and his assistants made multiple observations using these instruments throughout the 1580’s and early 1590’s, compiling the most accurate data on stellar and planetary positions to date. After Tycho’s death, Kepler was able to use Tycho’s observational records to devise a new model of planetary orbits and the Sun’s influence on them. Special Collections owns a number of Tycho’s published works, including his Astronomiae instauratae progymnasmata (Introductory exercises toward a restored astronomy) and his Astronomiæ instauratæ mechanica (Instruments for a restored astronomy). These can be accessed via the library catalog or at Special Collections.
October 26, 2010 by Maggie Kopp
Now on display in Special Collections’ lobby is an assortment of printed versions of Aesop’s fables, from the 1400’s to the 2000′s. The books include Greek scholarly texts, verse translations, and adaptations for children. The majority are illustrated and range in style from crude woodcuts to detailed engravings and linocuts. Represented illustrators include John Ogilby, Walter Crane, and Eric Carle (who is perhaps best known for his children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar). This small exhibit provides an interesting look at the history of a text and how it has been interpreted over seven centuries, through the mediums of translation, typography, and illustration. The last day to view the exhibit is November 9, 2010.
October 13, 2010 by Maggie Kopp
The latest medieval manuscript facsimile acquired by L. Tom Perry Special Collections is a reproduction of a late 14th century manuscript of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The original manuscript is held by the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. The manuscript is one of the earliest extant copies of Dante’s poem and is highly illustrated.
This new facsimile joins several other facsimiles of other Dante manuscripts, including copies of manuscripts held by the Vatican Library, the Biblioteca Lolliniana di Belluno, and the Biblioteca Trivulziana Milano. The facsimiles reproduce manuscripts of the Divine Comedy and some of Dante’s correspondence. These facsimiles can be found in the library catalog by searching either author: “Dante Alighieri” or genre: “manuscripts, Italian – facsimiles.” Those facsimiles housed in the Rare Book Collection can be accessed at any time during Special Collections’ regular operating hours; facsimiles housed in the Vault Collection can be accessed Monday through Friday before 5 p.m.
September 22, 2010 by Maggie Kopp
Nicolas D'Orbelles, Venice, 1500
The most-printed titles of the early printed book market have little in common with today’s bestseller list. Renaissance printers supplied a huge demand for theological books, including the works of the early Christian fathers and devotional works like books of hours or The Imitation of Christ. Textbooks were also a best-selling genre in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Latin grammar books for young students were especially popular, though there is no way of knowing how many of these sorts of books were produced. Unlike well-known monuments of early printing, schoolbooks were rarely preserved by the people who owned and used them.
Of the more than 400 incunables (books and fragments of books printed before 1501) in Special Collections, the bulk fall into the category of theological works: Bibles, biblical commentary, devotional works, and collections of sermons. The incunable collection also contains several surviving textbooks which would have been used in universities. The liberal arts curriculum in the medieval and renaissance periods included grammar, rhetoric, logic, mathematics, and astronomy. Examples of textbooks from these subjects can be found in Special Collections — some with annotations from the scholars who used them.
August 30, 2010 by Kristi Young
It is true that tense situations are hotbeds for folklore. There is nothing like starting a new school year to expose insecurities. One way that these tensions are dealt with is through jokes. BYU students are no exception. Here are few lighthearted observances from BYU over the years. All are part of the Folktale/Joke collection in the Wilson Folklore Archives.
BYU is known for their beautiful manicured lawns. There are signs encouraging students to stay off the grass. The rumour goes that if you walk on the grass, you could get fined or even kicked out of school for a semester. FA 9 184.108.40.206.1
Students are trying to get back into the routine of listening to lectures on a daily basis. The definition of a lecture is the process of transmitting the lecturer’s notes to the student’s notes without going through the mind of either. FA9 220.127.116.11. At BYU learning of a higher sort is going on.
There are always some groups whose ability to do things is suspect. Groups like blondes, BYU coeds, BYU men, professors and football players all take their turn as the brunt of jokes. As you go to the first football game of the season, you might think about this: How many football players does it take to screw in a light bulb? One, but he gets three credits for it. FA9 18.104.22.168.1.
Finally, a good natured poke at the truly excellent library. Did you hear that BYU’s library burned down? All two books. It’s okay. Only one of them was colored in. FA9 22.214.171.124.1.
These jokes are also told about other universities and groups of people. It seems that back-to-school anxiety is not unique to BYU.
August 16, 2010 by Maggie Kopp
The History of Printing Collection contains examples of works by some of the top illustrators and book artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, including works by Arthur Rackham, Walter Crane, Beatrix Potter, Sir John Tenniel, George Cruikshank, and Aubrey Beardsley. Special Collections owns some especially fine examples of works by three of the leading figures in 19th century children’s book illustration, Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel, Randolph Caldecott, and Kate Greenaway.
Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel was a French portraitist and children’s book illustrator. His best-known book is a child’s illustrated history of Joan of Arc, published in 1896. Special Collections owns a deluxe copy of the work, which consists of unbound, color lithographs, as well as 1896 reprints in color and in black and white.
Randolph Caldecott (for whom the Caldecott Medal is named) had little formal artistic training, but became a successful illustrator for magazines and books. His most successful works for children were a series of toy books issued annually at Christmastime between 1878 and 1885. Wildly popular, the later toy books were printed in editions of 100,000. Caldecott’s toy books are still in print today. Special Collections has a full set of the 16 toy books, as well as many other titles illustrated by Caldecott.
Kate Greenaway is famous for her illustrations of young children clothed in late 18th and early 19th century Regency dress. Her images graced children’s books, magazines, calendars, and greeting cards, and even started a fashion craze in children’s clothes. Special Collections has examples of Greenaway’s illustrated books, calendars, and cards, including a set of illustrated almanacs inscribed by Greenaway to poet and book collector Frederick Locker-Lampson.
July 26, 2010 by Maggie Kopp
The bestiary was a popular literary genre of the middle ages. Bestiaries describe animals – both real and imaginary – and provide moral or allegorical interpretations of their characteristics or behaviors. Sometimes the descriptions are accurate, other times, fantastic. Bestiaries were usually highly illustrated, often with colorful, whimsical depictions of the animals in the text. Bestiaries and other moralizing texts describing the natural world, such as lapidaries (which treat the subject of gems and minerals), provided readers with both instruction and entertainment.
Special Collections has a number of medieval, Renaissance, and modern bestiaries which can be accessed in our reading room. These include facsimiles of early English bestiaries, printed versions from 17th century France and Italy, and a number of fine press bestiaries wedding the medieval text to modern illustrations. Special Collections’ bestiaries can be found in the library catalog using the search string “bestiaries” and searching with the genre/form button.