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 green paint adorning the vellum of the front and back boards is laced with arsenic.
Tag: rare books
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 were new discoveries at the time. The idea for this book came from his experimentation with cutting shells at different angles producing cross sections that, when inked, produced interesting stamps.
“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. more »
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 more »
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.”
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:
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 date of publication, I found myself reading an account of the landscape of my past, from Boston, “down east” (that is, up the coast as represented in the illustration above) to my place of birth, and points all around. That great bibliography, The Hunt Botanical Catalogue, notes that this book is “particularly interesting to people who are fond of Maine.” Indeed. The text provides a sense of place from the 17th century.