Salad Days (and Months) in Rare Books

My salad days, when I was green in judgement This common, if well-worn, phrase first appeared in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra of 1606. At the end of Act One of the play, recalling a youthful affair with Julius Caesar, Cleopatra refers to a time of innocence, silliness or indiscretions. Since May is National Salad Month, let us celebrate the greens by looking at the work of another Englishman, John Evelyn (1620-1706). His more »

The Fix – Manuscript Conservation

The conservation of manuscript pages can be very tricky. In the case of the McAuley Diary, from our Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, there were many issues. The manuscript consisted of multiple sized unbound sections housed together in a leather cover that was far too small for its contents. The pages were nearly all crumpled and torn and many pages had areas of loss. In this condition the text was more »

Did a Cat Help Decorate this Binding?

  The style of book binding above with mottled leather is called Cat’s Paw, appearing to have had little inked feline foot pads walk over its covers. But no, this design is actually made with various types of stains and colors, applied in the binder’s workshop without the aid of a willing cat accomplice. The Internet was leaping a couple of years ago with accounts of evidence of a no-doubt confident and more »

The Fix: Saving The Marine Atlas

When Smithsonian Libraries’ material is placed on exhibition, all selected objects are reviewed for display. In some cases, conservation treatment is required in order to make it possible for a book to be opened and pages turned without damaging the structure. Other factors such as conditions for temperature, relative humidity, and light levels in the exhibition gallery are reviewed before allowing items to be exhibited for any length of time. The Dibner more »

The End of the Tour – and Still No Hard Feelings

The Sailing Club of the Chesapeake, to commemorate the American Bicentennial, invited members of England’s Royal Yachting Association to journey to the Eastern Seaboard for the “No Hard Feelings Cruise.” Sixty-two British sailors took up the offer, and with more than 300 others, embarked on eighty-nine yachts to race and explore the waters of the Chesapeake Bay in 1976.

Eerie Anatomy: Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica

Want more creepy skeletons? Join us for a live Periscope tour on Thursday, October 29th at 1pm! Halloween is quickly approaching and with it come the traditional decorations of bats, pumpkins, ghosts and of course, skeletons. Back in the 1500’s, one man changed the way the medical world saw the skeletal and muscular systems of the human body. That man, Andreas Vesalius, illustrated anatomical features in his De humani corporis fabrica (On more »

The Concord Grape and American Wine Making

  Now that the season for harvesting grapes in New England is here, let’s raise a glass to Ephraim Bull, the originator of the all-time popular grape in America, the Concord. Readily associated with juice and jelly and long out of favor in viticulture, Concord grape is having a bit of resurgence with the interest in DIY home brewing and fermenting. If faced with an abundance of the easily grown grape on more »

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