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 »

Welcome, Field Book Project interns!

The Smithsonian Libraries is thrilled to host over 20 interns this summer, in departments and branches throughout our system. The Field Book Project in particular is working with three students this summer. Please take a moment to help us welcome Nura, Allegra and Conal! The interns are primarily working on cataloging field book collections and expanding biographical descriptions for field book creator records. Field Book Project / Biodiversity Heritage Library cataloging intern: Nurganym Agzamova Nurganym (Nura) Agzamova is a Foreign Fulbright Scholar from Kazakhstan. She is currently a second year graduate student in the Library and Information Science program at Syracuse University. Prior to starting her Fulbright experience, she worked as a librarian at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan where she worked as a Subject Librarian for the Foundation Program. She started her library career at National Academic Library of Kazakhstan in Patron Services back in 2008. Nura is a native speaker of Kazakh and Russian, and was involved in translation projects as a freelance interpreter and translator. Nura sees the Field Book as 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. 

Bond, James Bond: the Birds, the Books, the Bond

It is well-known that author Ian Fleming appropriated the name of his Secret Agent 007 from a book in his library, Birds of the West Indies by James Bond. The first to connect the two in print was an anonymous reviewer of a then-new edition of the title (1960) in the sober Sunday Times (London), of all places. That writer had fun and ran with it: “To show maybe that his life more »

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