If Books Could Kill: A Deadly Secret in the Cullman Library

The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History’s 1602 edition of Ulisse Aldrovandi’s De animalibus insectis has always been a favorite of mine, and the rest of our special collections staff. Aside from being the first European work dedicated solely to the natural history of insects and featuring numerous incredible woodcut illustrations, it also retains its beautiful contemporary binding. But this binding is just as dangerous as it is lovely: the 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 »

‘So you don’t have to go to the trouble of reading:’ Indexing, note-taking, and correction-making in Pliny’s 1491 Naturalis Historia

  “Do your reading!” and “Don’t write in your books!” are two oft-echoed directions from schoolteachers. A 1491 edition of Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia housed in our Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, however, challenges both of those commands: not only did Pliny write it in such a way that doesn’t necessitate reading it cover to cover, but readers in centuries past have added notes, reactions, and even corrections more »

Soldini’s Commentary on the Souls of Animals

This post was written by Daniel Euphrat, Digital Imaging Technician and Leslie K. Overstreet, Curator of Natural-History Rare Books. The title of the book De anima brutorum commentaria by Francesco Maria Soldini translates to Commentary on the Souls of Animals in English and the text is about exactly that topic. When it came to the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History in 2015, it was a rather unusual and curious more »

“The Curious Mr. Catesby” Receives 2016 Annual Literature Award

Congratulations to Leslie Overstreet! The Catesby Commemorative Trust’s The Curious Mr. Catesby: A “Truly Ingenious” Naturalist Explores New Worlds book has been awarded the 2016 Annual Literature Award by the Council of Botanical and Horticultural Libraries. Leslie, Curator of Natural-History Rare Books in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, authored the chapter titled “The Publication of Mark Catesby’s The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands.”

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:  

When New England was New

This post was first featured on the Biodiversity Heritage Library blog.     It is a small book, palm-size, with pages of less-than-fine paper, the well-worn letters of the type sometimes carelessly inked. The sparse woodcut illustrations are child-like in their simplicity and straight-forwardness. Yet John Josselyn’s New-Englands rarities discovered, printed in London in 1672, drew me in as I went about cataloging the work. Intrigued by the title and the early more »

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