An Unexpected Find in a Trade Catalog from 1882

Recently while searching for furniture catalogs in the Trade Literature Collection, I came across something very unexpected. The Smithsonian Institution was mentioned in one of the catalogs.

The charming world of Walter Crane

This post was written by Brittney Falter, a graduate student at George Mason University and social media intern at the Smithsonian Libraries. Walter Crane was born on the 15th August, 1845 in Liverpool, England. His father, Thomas, was a portrait painter, which allowed Walter to take an interest in art as a child. He would often work in his father’s studio and gained knowledge and experience of the artistic world. After his father’s death, Walter was offered an apprenticeship with William James Linton at his engraving shop.[1]

The Wondrous Winter Wonderland that was 16th-Century Sweden

An entry into this magical season can be gained through the Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (History of the Northern Peoples) by Olaus Magnus, first published in Rome in 1555. It is a work greatly valued by Smithsonian curators and researchers and other scholars, since the author – a true Renaissance man – wrote down his geographical, anthropological and naturalistic observations of a land unknown to much of Europe of the time. In more »

The Fix: Faith Congregational Church Loans Historic Pennington Pulpit Bible

Faith Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut has a 195 year legacy that includes a noteworthy collection of historical materials, including an extensive collection of historical papers and artifacts. This collection holds  several bibles dating back to the early 19th century, the most famous being the Rev. James W. C. Pennington Bible.  A fugitive from slavery, James Pennington (1807 – 1870) became an internationally known preacher, writer, and abolitionist. He was the first more »

Celebrating Our Man of Many Hats: William Henry Holmes

December 1st is the 170th birthday of William Henry Holmes, the Smithsonian’s own Renaissance man. Early in the Smithsonian’s history, Holmes served as the head of the Anthropology Department and later the first director of what would become the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Starting today, we’re celebrating his legacy.

Native American Heritage Month: Penn Treaty Wampum Belts

November is Native American Heritage Month. The Smithsonian Libraries has many intriguing resources about Native American history, especially in the Vine Deloria, Jr. Library, National Museum of the American Indian. I was recently reminded of this as I came across The Penn Wampum Belts by Frank Gouldsmith Speck (1925).

Setting the Table

The big Thanksgiving meal is fast approaching and for many that means a well-dressed table, perhaps with heirloom china. What would your dinner table have looked like for a nice meal or tea over a hundred years ago, maybe back when Great-great Aunt Agnes first started filling her china cabinet? The Trade Literature Collection includes catalogs illustrating dinnerware, glassware, cutlery, and cooking utensils which can give us a glimpse into the past. more »

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