New Acquisitions 2022

Magnencij Rabani Mauri De Laudib[us] sancte Crucis opus. erudcione versu prosaq[ue] mirificum. Edited by Jacobus Wimpheling. Phorçheim. [Pforzheim : In ædibus Thom[ae] Anshelmi., 1503.  

This is a sixteen century edition of De Laudibus Sancte Crucis (In Praise of the Holy Cross). It is the work of Hrabanus Maurus (b. 780/781, d. 856), one of the greatest teachers and scholars of the Carolingian age. Maurus became known as the preceptor Germaniae (Teacher of Germany) and was in charge of the imperial abbey school of Fulda, in central Germany, and was later archbishop of Mainz. While in Fulda he composed this poem. The elaborate work comprises a set of verses where the words both embody and celebrate the cross, drawing on an antique tradition of arranging words and phrases within figures. It is one of the earliest books printed at Pforzheim and earliest examples of figurative poetry (carmina figurata). It includes preliminary verses by Sebastian Brant, Wimpheling, Johann Reuchlin and Georg Simler and Joannes Tritemius.

ChanceryFolio 31 x 21cm. signatures: Aa6 Bb4 a-k6; A, B6 C4. [Complete] Types 3:109R, 4:180G; 40 lines of transcribed verse + headline, 40 lines of commentary + headline, red and black printing throughout, calligraphic woodcut initial (Proctor, fig. 24) M on title page, woodcut initials printed in red, and a figured prefatory poem, 28 carmina figurata, the first entirely xylographic, the remaining poems combining printed and xylographic letters with the versus intexti printed in red (except fig. xvi), enclosed by either woodcut figures (of the emperor, Christ, the Evangelists, Cherubim, etc.) printed in black or by Christian symbols and characters, most defined by metal rules in red.

This copy is bound in a quarter bound vellum spine over a 15th century printed leaf of a part of Luke from a Latin Vulgate Bible over boards with central gilt arms of Signet Library to covers, Provenance: Signet Library (gilt arms to covers); and then Alan G. Thomas. The text is divided in two books. The first, preceded by some poems praising the author of the book, consists of figures-poems typed out on the opposite page of the illustrations with following comment and explanation. The second part consists of remarks on each figure. In this copy the final 3 signatures (part II) were supplied from another copy.

Johnson, Samuel. A Dictionary of the English Language: in Which The Words are Deduced From Their Originals. Illustrated in Their Different Significations by Examples From the Best Writers, To Which Are Prefixed, A History of the Language and An English Grammar. Published by For W. Strahan for J. & P. Knapton, T. & T. Longman, C. Hitch & L. Hawes, A. Millar, and R. & J. Dodsley, London, 1755.

“Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language was first published in 1755, the dictionary took just over eight years to compile, required six helpers and listed 40,000 words. Each word was defined in detail, the definitions illustrated with quotations covering every branch of learning. It was a huge scholarly achievement, a more extensive and complex dictionary than any of its predecessors.

In all, there are over 114,000 quotations in the dictionary. Johnson was the first English lexicographer to use citations in this way, a method that greatly influenced the style of future dictionaries. He had scoured books stretching back to the 16th century, often quoting from those thought to be ‘great works’, such as poems by Milton or plays by Shakespeare. Therefore the quotations reflect his own distinct literary taste and political views. And yet, if Johnson didn’t like a quotation, or if a phrase didn’t convey the exact meaning he required, he did not hesitate to chop, twist around, or rewrite a few words – Johnson famously scribbled all over his books, underlining, highlighting, altering and correcting…

2021 Additions to the Roger and Marlene Peattie Collection

The Roger and Marlene Peattie Collection

Jones, Owen. The Preacher. London: Longman & Co. 1849.

Wilde, Oscar. Salome. London: John Lane, the Bodley Head, 1907.

Jones, Owen (illuminator). Gray’s Elegy (Thomas Gray). London: Longman & Co., 1846.

Humphreys, Henry Noel (illuminator). Sentiments and Similes of William Shakespeare. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1857

Ruskin John. The Seven Lamps of Architecture. London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1849.

Tara T. Bryan (1953-2020)

Such sad news, painter and book artist Tara Bryan has passed away. Tara was a vibrant presence in the art world, both in Newfoundland, her adopted home, and around the world. I learned a great deal from her. Not only did she teach me how to set type and print a page, she also introduced me to the wild world of artists’ books. She was unfailingly generous and supportive of my activities around building an artists’ book collection for Memorial University Libraries. The holdings of the Queen Elizabeth II Library are that much richer for her input. Thank you Tara. You will be missed. Tara Bryan’s obituary can be found here.


Playwright Joel Orton and his lover Kenneth Halliwell “were jailed in 1962 after spending years doctoring books from Islington libraries, the jackets of which they would alter with surreal collaged additions, before returning them to the shelves.” They were sentenced to six months in jail. Today some of these same book jackets are “framed and proudly put on show by the same Islington libraries that once retained them as evidence of wrong doing.” Gill Partington. “Dust Jackets.” in Book Parts (eds. Duncan and Smyth): Oxford University Press, 2019.

Some 2019 Acquisitions

RALEIGH, Sir Walter. Judicious and select essayes and observations. By that renowned and learned Knight. Sir Walter Raleigh. Upon The first invention of shipping. The misery of invasive warre. The Navy Royall and sea-service. With his Apologie for his voyage to Guiana. Published by London. Printed by T. W.[arren] For Humphrey Moseley [dropped y in imprint], 1650. Collation: Engraved frontispiece, A4 + dedication leaf (inserted between title and A2), A-G8 (G8 blank); A[4], B-C8, D4, A-D8 (A3 labelled A2), E4. 4 separate title pages. Separate pagination with some pages unnumbered.

UTOPIA: written in Latin by Sir Thomas Moe, Chancellor of England. Translated into English. Publisher: Richard Chiswell at The Rose and Crown in St. Pauls Churchyard, 1684. Collation A2-A8, B-Q8, P3 [A1 and P4 blanks, lacking]. Pagination: [22], 206p.

Milton, John. A Defence of the People of England. Publisher Np, Np. 1692. Collation: [A1-A2], A3-A8, a-a8 [a8 blank], B-Q8, R4 Final leaf R4 “An advertisement to the reader.”

New Additions to the Anne & Kevin Major Collection

The following works were added to the Anne & Kevin Major Collection in December of 2019.

1. Hiddeness – Richard Tuttle / Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge

2. Annie, Gwen, Lily, Pam and Tulip – Eric Fischl / Jamaica Kincaid

3. Circhi e cene / Circuses and Suppers – Joe Tilson / Andrea Zanzotto

4. Opera of the Worms – Judy Rifka / Rene Richard

5. Snow Country – Tadaaki Kuwayama / Yasunari Kawabata

6. Dream Work – Bruce McLean / Mel Gooding

7. A Tremor in the Morning – Alex Katz / Vincent Katz

As well, there is a separate 5-unit group called “Penguin Designer Classics”. For Penguin Books’ 60th anniversary in 2006, five hardcover books were crafted by five internationally known artists, most with no previous experience in book design. Each volume was released in an edition of 1000 copies, with a transparent Plexiglas (Perspex) box serving as the book’s slipcase, which also supplies protection for the curious designs. Each is complete, with book, plexiglas case, and publisher’s storage box.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover (Lawrence) designed by Paul Smith

Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky) designed by Fuel

The Idiot (Dostoevsky) designed by Ron Arad 

Madame Bovary (Flaubert) designed by Manuel Blahnik

Tender is the Night (Fitzgerald) designed by Sam Taylor-Wood

Here is a link with a Guardian article dealing with the five books in more detail:

Seeing Through Things: Graduate Research in Material Culture

“What stories do objects tell? Through the study of folklore, we looked at the role of things in everyday life, from the mundane to the extraordinary. Each of us conducted ethnographic research focussed on materials in landscapes and communities; within one’s home and in public ritual; through music and performance. In this exhibit, we present the objects from our research. Each object communicates multiple experiences, from a variety of perspectives. We understand people, places and traditions—our material worlds—through these things.”

Exhibition statement from Dr. Kelley Totten’s Folk6400, graduate students in Material Culture. November 26 to December 17, 2019.

Left to Right. Dr Kelley Totten, Katie Crane, Shannon Bateman, Ting ting Chen, Kiersten Fage and Ayda Dalvand