William Woodville Rockhill’s Chinese Language Books

The article A Scholar Diplomat’s Legacy: William Woodville Rockhill and His Chinese Language Books at the Freer Gallery of Art Library, by Lily Kecskes, former Head Librarian of the Freer-Sackler Library, and published in the Journal of East Asian Libraries, number 146 (October 2008), describes an important donation in the history of the Freer-Sackler Library. The article details a 1927 gift of precious and rare Chinese language books to the Smithsonian Institution more »

Batter Up: Early Twentieth Century Baseball Equipment

This post was written by Rebecca Durgin and Shayla Wheat, graduate students in the Smithsonian-Mason History of Decorative Arts Masters Program. Rebecca and Shayla were also Graduate Research Assistants in 2015-2016 at the National Museum of American History Library. Play ball! With baseball season underway across the United States, let’s take a look at early baseball equipment featured in a catalog from the Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American more »

Shells and art in Recreatio mentis et oculi

The post was written by Daniel Euphrat, Digital Imaging Technician. The 1684 book Recreatio mentis et oculi by Filippo Buonanni is mainly a scientific text about mollusks. However, in addition to many informative illustrations of shells, there are a few more fanciful (and slightly terrifying) illustrations of Giuseppe Arcimboldo-style faces made out shells:  

Explore “The history of aquatic animals” this summer

As you head to the seashore or lakeside this summer, take a moment to consider the contributions of Ippolito Salviani to natural history. Salviani’s book on aquatic animals, Aquatilium animalium historiae (The history of aquatic animals), is one of a handful of 16th-century works that helped established ichthyology as a modern science. A professor of medicine at the University of Rome and physician to several Popes, Salviani collected fishes in the markets of Rome for more »

Fold-Outs: Unfolding and Unfolding…

As stated in the Fix’s previous post, “Fixing a Fold-Out Plate” fold-outs are commonly used to feature important illustrations and diagrams in books.  Unfortunately, they are also common sights in book conservation labs, as they are frequently damaged in the process of folding and unfolding  into and out of the book.     Recently a book with a uniquely large (and damaged) fold-out illustration that was in the process of being digitally more »

The Girl Who Changed Ornithology Forever

It’s rare for the questions posed by seven-year-olds to result in more than a hurried answer from mom or dad, let alone  anything with lasting beauty and utility. But seven-year-old Genevieve Jones is one of the exceptions. While making the journey to her grandmother’s house with her family, she encountered a bird’s nest. Showing it to her father, she posed a simple question: why wasn’t there a book she could use to more »

The Season of Caps and Gowns

Graduation season is upon us! Some students have already graduated. Others are just about to graduate. Ever wonder if academic regalia looked any different in the past? Let’s take a look at caps, gowns, and hoods in a Cotrell & Leonard trade catalog from the early twentieth century. 

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