An Informed Consumer… Shopping with Thérèse Bonney in Paris.

The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library owns over 4,000 photographs by American photographer and journalist Thérèse Bonney, (1894-1978), who documented life in Paris from 1925-35. In 1929, she and her sister Louise created A Shopping Guide to Paris,  for the “350,000 Americans who visit Paris every year.” The foreword says, “dozens of books have been written telling you what to see, but we are writing about where to buy, … buying is as important as sightseeing in this enchanting city.”     An American woman shopping for Paris fashions might have felt overwhelmed by the many small boutiques and fashion houses. Thérèse and Louise Bonney outlined in great detail the procedure and etiquette of visiting couturiers and buying dresses and coats, as well as the separate boutiques for hats, gloves, leather goods, and other accessories. These tips made shopping less intimidating and reassured the American traveler that they could be as knowledgeable, sophisticated and as chic as the French woman. Advice on who the top name fashion houses were, the chapters devoted more »

The Fix: Repairing Kaigara Danmen Zuan

In the Book Conservation Lab we sometimes treat books requiring intricate repairs. In November,  Kaigara Danmen Zuan printed in Kyoto in 1913 and authored by Yoichiro Hirase came to us for repair work. It was recently adopted through an Adopt-a-Book event hosted at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.  The book itself is from that museum’s library. Hirase was a prominent malacologist (mollusk scientist) in Japan who collected over 3,500 seashells, 1,000 of which more »

Picasso’s Signature & Joe Hirshhorn’s Bow Ties: Gems in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library

This post was contributed by Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library intern Marisa Herandez. The Smithsonian Libraries celebrates its 50th Anniversary with a year-long series of festivities and I remain bubbly and in awe from the recent March 6th Adopt-a-Book Evening soirée, where the Smithsonian Libraries branches showcased gems from their diverse holdings under the anniversary theme All that Glitters: Smithsonian Libraries’ 50th Anniversary. The Adopt-a-Book Program provides preservation, acquisition, and digitization more »

It’s Your Deal. Five Card Stud, or… Whist?

  The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Library owns books like Researches into the history of playing cards (1816) that support research into the objects in the museum’s curatorial departments.  In studying this book, I was able to make a connection between the book illustrations and some playing cards in the Cooper Hewitt Museum’s Drawings & Prints collections.  This book is an in-depth research into the history of playing cards, with black more »

Porcelain Designs as Propaganda

This extremely rare 1940 trade catalog the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum Library,  Katalog farforu fa︠i︡ansu i maĭoliky, represents the production of not any one company. It is the output of 10 state-owned ceramics factories all over the Ukraine in small towns and villages, after industry was nationalized in 1918. This is a primary source document for the decorative arts and for studying the material culture and political history of the Ukraine and more »

You’re Invited: Adopt-a-Book Evening

On November 7, we invite you to join us for an evening celebrating the scintillating collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library at our Adopt-a-Book event in New York City. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library is the nation’s premiere resource for books, trade catalogs, serials, pictures, and archival material on design and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the present. The Library features more than 8,000 rare treasures.

The Fix: Preservation and “Principles of Beauty Relative to the Human Head”

Principles of Beauty Relative to the Human Head by Alexander Cozens was published in 1778 by James Dixwell in London. It is a large book measuring 55 by 38 centimeters (21.5 by 15 inches) and is part of the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library collection. It came to the Book Conservation Lab as part of Smithsonian Libraries Adopt-a-Book program. The content includes printed drawings of women’s heads and their various facial more »

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