Reminder: Clark Book Club tomorrow!

October 22, 2014 by

Dear all,

A reminder to join us, if you can, for the inaugural meeting of the Clark Library Book Club tomorrow at 4pm in the North Book Room. We’ll be discussing An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears. Feel free to come no matter how much you’ve read–there won’t be any quizzes or assignments!

We’ll kick off our discussion by looking at original editions of texts written by the real-life versions of characters in the story like John Locke, Robert Boyle, and Richard Lower. Bring your questions and comments or send them in advance to Rebecca Munson (rgmunson@ucla.edu). Hope to see many of you soon!

 

Mark your calendar for our future fall meetings:

November 20th – Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor

December 18th – Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies

A Very Happy Birthday to You, Mr. Wilde

October 16, 2014 by

From Reading Room Assistant Katherine Monroe

Oscar Wilde

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

-Lord Henry Wotton, from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray

October 16th marks the 160th birthday of Oscar Wilde, poet, author, lecturer, and well-known face of the Aesthetic Movement in both England and America.  The Clark Library’s own collection of books, manuscripts, letters, and other materials relating to this man is the most comprehensive in the world, making this library a must-see for anyone interested in Wildeiana.

Ravenna, *PR5820.R251 c.3

Ravenna, *PR5820.R251 c.3

Included in the collection is a first edition of his poem, “Ravenna,” which won the Newdigate Prize in 1878.  This book is even more precious for the hand-embroidered cover made by his wife, Constance, which depicts pomegranates (the fruit of love) and tiny gold sequins, interspersed with the title of the work, Oscar’s byline, and the initials AH and CW.  Also of note are two inscriptions inside, one by Oscar Wilde and the other by Constance, who gave the book to Arthur Humphreys, the AH of the initials on the cover.

Ravenna inside whole

A pen and ink drawing mounted on cardboard, captioned, “Aesthetics v. Athletics,” is particularly applicable to this sport-crazed season.  Aes v Ath wholeThe Aesthete, a caricaturized Oscar Wilde, remarks, “This is indeed a form of death, and entirely incompatible with any belief in the immortality of the soul,” while a crowd of bugling men race off in one direction behind him.

Salomé, *PR5820.S173E 1927G

Salomé, *PR5820.S173E 1927G

One of the Clark’s copies of Salomé, a play Wilde wrote in 1893, is an especially beautiful Art Deco edition, printed in 1927 by the Grabhorn Press, with wood block illustrations designed and cut by Valenti Angelo.  The frontispiece is especially vivid, with a nude Salomé, statuesque and elongated in true Art Deco form, gazing down upon the head of Iokanaan which has been offered up to her on the sword of the executioner.

Art Dec recto

Oscar Wilde’s lecture tour in America is well-represented at the Clark, as well, in the numerous pamphlets and programs advertising his route around the country.  One program for “Art Decoration,” a lecture he gave in Philadelphia on May 10th, 1882, is especially interesting for its printing technique.  A sheer sheet of paper, folded in half, has the program information on the front and a portrait of Wilde on the inside of the back fold.  When viewed together, the faint portrait supplies the background to the red lettering, providing a beautiful memento of the lecture that happily made its way to the Clark’s collection.

This is not even the tip of the proverbial iceberg for what the Clark has to offer anyone interested in the life of Oscar Wilde or his circle of friends and family.  Manuscripts, letters, trade cards, and even scripts from movie adaptations of his literary works fill the shelves of the collection.  For a man who spent his life seeking fame and attention, the collection stored at the Clark Library attests to his success.  Happy 160th birthday, Oscar Wilde!

Woodcuts (and Engravings) Captioned by Early Readers

October 15, 2014 by

by Philip S. Palmer, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow at the Clark Library

Some of you may be familiar with Twitter’s “Woodcut Wednesday,” when users share xylographic images from early modern European books, typically coupled with humorous captions and commentary. Woodcut-captioning, it turns out, has a long history. Illustrations in three books from the Clark’s early printed book collection feature caption-like manuscript notes, and in each case the notes tell us something different about the interaction between text and image in early modern England.

"a shipe"; Gregor Reisch, Margarita philosophica (Basel, 1508)—Clark Library AE3 .R37*

“a shipe”; Gregor Reisch, Margarita philosophica (Basel, 1508)—Clark Library AE3 .R37*

In many cases the manuscript “caption” functions simply as a label identifying elements of an image, as in the example above from Gregor Reisch’s popular sixteenth-century text book, Margarita philosophica (“pearl of wisdom”). While “a shipe” is not the most interesting caption, it nonetheless tells us something about the annotator’s intentions in adding words to image. The woodcut appears in a section of the book on astronomy and maritime navigation, a section dense with astronomical diagrams labeled in Latin. Here our reader supplements the more technical labels on the diagram (“oculus inferior,” “oculus superior,” and “signum in littore”) with a simple, plain-English identification of its main image: “a shipe.” Following the same pattern, this early English reader added manuscript notes to several other woodcuts in the volume.

"thes is the sone and a Reg [rain] bowe wth xxvi ti [six and twenty] steres"

“thes is the sone and a Reg [rain] bowe wth xxvi ti [six and twenty] steres”

"thes is a woman blowinge of a fyere"

“thes is a woman blowinge of a fyere”

"These be fishes of the seae"

“These be fishes of the seae”

"thes be peakockes and yegeles and a puthawk [?]"

“thes be peakockes and yegeles and a puthawk [?]“

Besides demonstrating the oddity of early modern spelling (“yegeles” = “eagles”), each of these manuscript labels asserts English as the choice language for image description. There is also a certain immediacy and familiarity to the formula “this is/thes be” that contrasts with the technical language of the book’s Latin. Since there are other manuscript annotations in the volume written in the same hand in Latin, we know that choosing English for the woodcut “captions” was a self-conscious decision for this early reader.

Illustrated literary texts in early modern England were also sites for manuscript captioning. Some of the early printed editions of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, for example, are adorned with woodcut images of the pilgrims; in a few cases those images are coupled with manuscript text. The Stowe edition of 1561 contains woodcuts of the pilgrims, several with accompanying banners featuring letterpress text, throughout the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales. An early reader of one of the Clark’s two copies of this edition has added manuscript mottoes in Latin and English to a few of the pilgrim woodcuts.

"Fortuna non omnibus una"; Geoffrey Chaucer, The workes of Geffrey Chaucer (London, 1561): Clark Library  f PR1850 .A1 1561 *

“Fortuna non omnibus una”; Geoffrey Chaucer, The workes of Geffrey Chaucer (London, 1561): Clark Library f PR1850 .A1 1561 *

“Fortuna non omnibus una,” or “fortune [is] not one and the same for all,” accompanying a woodcut of “The Marchant.”

"Tu supplex ora"

“Tu supplex ora”

“Tu supplex ora,” or “You, kneeling, pray!” This phrase is part of a Latin proverb “Tu supplex ora, tu protege, tuque labore” (“you, kneeling, pray, you protect, and you work”) that addresses each major class of medieval society (those who pray, fight, and work). This motto accompanies the “Parson” woodcut.

manuscript poem with woodcut of the Sergeant at Law

manuscript poem with woodcut of the Sergeant at Law

To the Sergeant-at-Law woodcut the annotator has added a poem in English and Latin:

Lex is laid a downe
Amor is very smalle
Charitas is out of towne
& Veritas is gone to all

(Variations of this verse appear in several Middle English manuscripts; see the entry in the Digital Index of Middle English Verse.) Lastly, our annotator has added the phrase “as true as a Theefe” to the Miller’s woodcut. Why the Miller receives an English motto and the other woodcuts receive Latin (or a mix of the two) is unclear, though considering the general absence of Latinate words in “The Miller’s Tale,” the choice seems appropriate.

"as true as a theefe"

“as true as a Theefe”

Jumping forward nearly a century, the Clark’s copy of John Vicars’s England’s worthies (London, 1647) bears extensive manuscript notes in Latin and English on its engraved portraits of Parliamentarian military and political leaders. Vicars’s sympathetic chronicle of Parliamentarian exploits is repeatedly undermined by the manuscript notes, which are staunchly Royalist in character.

"a bould villain & a bitter enemy to ye king," engraving of Robert Rich, second Earl of Warwick (1587–1658), in John Vicars, England's Worthies (1647): Clark Library DA415 .V62 *

“a bould villain & a bitter enemy to ye king,” engraving of Robert Rich, second Earl of Warwick (1587–1658), in John Vicars, England’s Worthies (1647): Clark Library DA415 .V62 *

"A demure Rogue"

“A demure Rogue”

In the first two cases the manuscript captions are strategically placed before the engraved captions, forcing the reader to engage with the images (and historical figures) polemically before their heroic deeds can be read. In another portrait the annotator not only augments the engraved label with a manuscript caption but also adds a mark of opprobrium to the figure’s forehead—”R” for “Rogue.”

"and ye greatest of the Northern Rogues True"

“and ye greatest of the Northern Rogues True”

Recalling the manuscript mottoes added to Chaucer’s pilgrim woodcuts, some of the engravings in England’s Worthies are marked with Latin phrases and descriptions, as in the image below.

"homo singulari nequitia praeditus"

“homo singulari nequitia praeditus”

“Homo singulari nequitia praeditus omnium nequissimus,” or “the man gifted with unique wickedness is most wicked to everyone,” is reserved for the engraved portrait of Oliver Cromwell, greatest of Royalist foes.

Woodcut (and engraving) captioning—clearly alive and well in 2014—has a long history, and these examples demonstrate only a few of the many ways early readers engaged with images through text.

Introducing the Clark Library Book Club!

October 8, 2014 by

Dear all,

It is my pleasure to invite you to join us for a new series of events open to anyone and everyone with an interest in literature, history, and the Clark collections. The Clark Library Book Club will meet monthly to discuss a book chosen for its ability to bring to life an aspect of the library’s holdings. We’ll spend time with spies and alchemists, witches and traitors, printers and players, and many famous figures in literary history.

Our first meeting will take place on Thursday, October 23rd at 4pm in the North Book Room. In honor of Halloween, we will be reading Iain Pears, An Instance of the Fingerpost. The full schedule of Fall 2014 meetings can be found below. Updates and information about future meetings will be posted here. To suggest future readings or ask a question please contact Rebecca Munson (rgmunson@ucla.edu). Hope to see you soon!

Clark Library Book Club

Fall 2014 Meetings

October 23rd – Iain Pears, An Instance of the Fingerpost

November 20th – Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor

December 18th – Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies

At 4p.m. in the North Book Room

 book-owl

The Art of Brewing

October 7, 2014 by

By Emily Meehan, Reading Room Assistant

A recent Clog article had to do with the lovely libation of wine, but there is yet another drink that all have loved (especially the Brits) since its conception: a nice warm pint of ale! In honor of Oktoberfest and the traditional beginning of the brewing season, it is interesting to examine the different artifacts the Clark holds on the brewing of beer/ale and the drink’s potential health benefits.

1

1751 engraving of “Beer Street” by artist William Hogarth, found in the 1889 book Curiosities of Ale & Beer: an entertaining history by John Bickerdyke. Designed to depict both the health benefits and thriving industrial/urban life associated with drinking beer.

Because much 17th century brewing was not yet a large commercial process, it was common for individuals or small independently-owned taverns to make their own beers and ales. Therefore, self-brew instructions were printed for the common man to create and enjoy his own homemade concoctions. In the pamphlet Directions for Brewing Malt Liquors, published in London in 1700 by “a Countrey Gentleman,” there are step-by-step instructions on the home-brewing of one’s own March or October beer (March being the end of the brewing season and October the beginning, both months in which beer was traditionally brewed when it was intended to be kept for a few months at a time). It starts with the type of water best suitable for the brew (“Pond-Water and other Standing Waters…make a Stronger Drink,” p.3), then continues to comment upon which English counties have the best malts (germinated barley grains). Apparently, “Malt mixt of several kinds makes the best Drink,” (p.6). According to the pamphlet, hops were a relatively new ingredient used in brewing, first used in the process around 1540, and the quality of the hops to be used were to be “bright, well scented, well dryed, cured and bagg’d; and generally speaking are best about a Year old,” (p.7). After going over these basics, the author begins to explain the intricate process of brewing and fermenting with comments upon the different practices of the various regions of Britain.

2

“A Perfite Platform of a Hoppe Garden” by Reginald Scot, 1574. Found in Curiosities of Ale & Beer

Of course, Britain is not known for having the warmest of climates, so warm beer as opposed to cold was a common way to alleviate the frigid weather that arrived in October. The Clark possesses on microfilm A Treatise for Warm Beer, a book which was published in the mid-17th century and subtitled “wherein is declared by many reasons that beer so qualified is farre more wholesome than that which is drunk cold.” The author, like many scholars of the time, promotes an Aristotelian view of health that proclaimed an even balance of the body’s main fluids (or humours) was the best way to keep in good health. In the Treatise, he argues that the body must have a good balance between warm and cold and because the British weather is so cold, drinking beer “hot as blood” was best to cancel out any cold fluids that threatened the body’s immunity. According to the author, a cold internal body was associated with weakness and the “stomach is an office of warmth” (p.110) that must be kept warm to prevent diseases such as consumption.

However, by the end of the 17th century, Thomas Tryon, a popular author of self-help books at the time, delved deeper into the health benefits of drinking beer. He published A New Art of Brewing Beer, Ale, and other Sorts of Liquors in 1691 that explained to the common people certain health risks that came along with brewing and consuming the drink. The book explains the typical brewing process, but also advocates for the clean practice of brewing and fermenting. Tryon makes a point on the necessity of boiling one’s water first before the brewing process (as opposed to Directions for Brewing’s use of pond water) and to drink newly fermented beer sooner rather than later as letting beer get stale is “consequently more prejudicial to Health…as it overheats the Blood….” (p.15) This advice also countered the author of Treatise, who did not specify the physical act of boiling before drinking beer warm, yet seemed to think that warm beer had the ability to boil meat in one’s stomach and therefore preventing any sickness acquired from eating raw meat.

3

Title page of A New Art of Brewing by Thomas Tryon

Like the author of Treatise, Tryon was also a believer in the Aristotelian balance of the human body, but instead of drinking more to prevent sickness and increase one’s health, Tryon recommended that one limit the amount of alcohol one drinks: “it clouds [the brain] with Vapors and superfluous Humours, and its noble Faculties are thereby interrupted…Reason muddled, and Judgment vitiated, and all the admirable Store house of Memory oppressed and confounded,” (p.7-8). Perhaps he’s speaking from experience? Regardless, Tryon was obviously closer to what we know today as healthy drinking practices.

If you’re interested in the old-fashioned, 17th century style of home-brewing, come by the Clark to read up on how it’s done! Remember to drink responsibly and boil your water beforehand!

Upcoming Events

October 2, 2014 by

Now that the UCLA Fall Quarter is underway, programming at the Clark Library is starting to rev up for the year. The full 2014-2015 event calendar is online at the Center’s website and below we highlight a couple of upcoming programs that you may be interested in attending!  If you are on Facebook, feel free to befriend Mr. Clark and join the Clark Library group  to get updates and reminders about programs and events at the Library and Center.

4c6fcf8a217fb40ffabb2006_531x141

October 18 & 19, 2014, 7pm:

Arts on the Grounds: Entre Marta y Lope (Between Marta and Lope), written by Gerardo Malla and Santiago Miralles

Fundación Siglo de Oro, a premier Spanish theater company focusing on the classical tradition, will present Entre Marta y Lope, a contemporary play on the last days of Lope de Vega, the foremost Spanish playwright of the Golden Age. The play is designed to introduce audiences to this key figure, whose corpus includes over 400 plays. The Clark Library and Fundación Siglo de Oro present theater about a man who was, all of him, theater itself.

Ticket price – $25 general admission, $10 students (must provide student ID)
More information and tickets:  www.c1718cs.ucla.edu/rakata14

 

November 5, 2014, 4pm:

The Tenth Annual Kenneth Karmiole Lecture on the History of the Book Trade:
“Publishing Easy Pleasant Books for Children: The House of Newbery, 1740­–1800”
Given by Andrea Immel, Curator, Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University

This lecture will revisit the question of whether the Newbery firm should still be considered the most important children’s book publisher of the eighteenth century.

Andrea Immel holds a doctorate in English from UCLA and was a Clark Dissertation Fellow. She has been the curator of the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University since 1995 but got her start as a rare book librarian at the Huntington Library.

Registration Deadline: October 31, 2014

More information and (free) registration: www.c1718cs.ucla.edu/karmiole14-r 

 

Also:

And if you missed it, the Clark’s Oscar Wilde collection was the focus of a recent article on KCET’s Artbound blog.

The Clark will also be attending the LA as Subject 9th Annual Archives Bazaar on October 25th at USC’s Doheny Library.  We will be sharing a table with our friends at UCLA Library Special Collections, and hope you will visit us and our LA-collecting colleagues from all over town for this day-long free event!

2014_Bazaar_Save_the_Date

 

The British Merlin and losing at cards

September 17, 2014 by

In 1951, the Clark purchased a 1701 edition of Rider’s British Merlin, an almanac compiled by Cardanus Rider that was published yearly from the mid-17th century until at least 1830. Cardanus Rider was likely a pseudonym for Richard Saunders, an English astronomer and doctor who was born in 1613 and whose actual date of death is unknown.  This 1701 Merlin was sitting in our backlog until recently.

photo 5

 

The almanac is printed in red and black and the only annotations are little circles or small notations next to some dates. Though the bookbinder attached an extra inch or so to the bottom of each page, to make room for the owner to write notes, there isn’t any writing on them.  The bookbinder also added a few other things that make this book particularly interesting.

photo

The front and back covers, which are both decorated with gold filigree and little acorns (there are a lot of cute acorns on the spine too), also have metal bosses imprinted with a floral design.  When you turn the book to open it, you realize that these are attached to ring clasps that are fastened with a metal rod with a flat top…

photo 1

… which isn’t actually just a metal rod, but a stylus for writing on the erasable pages within the book.  Made out of specially coated paper, erasable pages and tablets were very common at the time this British Merlin was bound.

photo 3The page on the right is an erasable one and you can still see some traces of notes even though they have been erased.  There are only 4 erasable pages in this volume, but you can see from traces like those above that they were used quite heavily.

photo 4

All of the above features are interesting and notable, but one of the most interesting things about this item is the manuscript account book written on the book’s blank pages.  Kept by what appears to be a young (or young-ish) man living somewhere outside of London, the account book often records destinations visited and the costs of renting horses or coaches to get there – you can see a number of place names on the page above.  This page also records 2 shillings and sixpence “for chocolate,” 17 shillings “for a sword” and 5 shillings “lost at cards.”  Unfortunately enough for the book’s owner, “lost at cards” or “lost at tables” are recorded many times and “won at cards” isn’t recorded anywhere that I could find.

The Clark owns many hybrid volumes like this one (like the winegrower’s journal/bookseller’s catalogs featured last week) and our current practice is to catalog both the printed Rider’s British Merlin and the account book separately, so researchers looking for either one will be sure to find this item.

Cardanus Rider, Riders (1701) British Merlin, London: Edw. Jones for the Company of Stationers, 1701 and [Account and memoranda book], 1700-1707, Call no. AY751 .R52 1701, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA.

From Rebecca Fenning Marschall, Manuscript & Archives Librarian

 

Books and wine at the Clark

September 12, 2014 by

With the summer winding down and the harvest season fast approaching it seems like a good time to highlight a treasure at The Clark which directly observes harvest seasons of the past.  This hybrid manuscript is both a record of a vineyard’s yield as well as a look into a bookseller’s catalog.

1

This hybrid manuscript is comprised of several printed catalogues from 18th century Geneva booksellers Fabri & Barrillot dating from 1725-1728.  Some of the catalogs here are fragmentary but do exhibit annotations which appear to have come from booksellers who had may have had this collection in 1728 in order to conduct inventory work.

2

This manuscript gets even more interesting when you look at the many unprinted pages found throughout the bound fragments of the booksellers’ catalogs.  Here, an anonymous land-owner and winemaker from the Burgundy region of France has hand-recorded details of his business and accounts including: tenants, harvest yields, wine sales, and livestock.  The vintner’s records specifically include details of his grape harvest year after year.  This book of record includes entries dating from 1765 into the revolutionary era with 1795 as the last date noted.

3

In a time when paper was harder to come by the wine merchant very cleverly re-used these catalogs and fortuitously created this fascinating manuscript blend. This manuscript is a small opening into the world of bookselling as well as farming in the early 18th century in France.  The Fabri & Barrillot catalogs of that time are rare and the annotations may present an original window into the booksellers’ world.  The vintner’s book of record as an artefact offers accounts of vineyards and the wine trade in the Burgundy region.  This curious assembly offers an interesting testimony on both the book and wine trade in the 18th century.

Clark Library Call Number MS.2008.007

 

By Reading Room Assistant Stella Castillo

Ce livre de compte: Dominique Richaud’s cipher book

September 4, 2014 by

The Clark recently added two 18th century French manuscripts to its small but interesting collection of schoolchildren’s arithmetic cipher books.  One in particular, that of Dominique Richaud from Aix-en-Provence, is particularly notable for its elaborate and colorful illustrations.

full page

 

The tradition of the calligraphic arithmetic notebook was well-established in Europe and in colonial North America during the early modern era and these artifacts of past educational practices are not uncommon in special collections libraries.  However, because until recently they have been little studied and because there is no standardized vocabulary for their description, they seem to fly under the radar.  Most of the arithmetic cipher books at the Clark were purchased in the 1950s and they do not appear to have gotten much attention as a collection until the current staff started recataloging the manuscript collections in 2008.

Dominique Richaud’s cipher book is a particularly beautiful and exciting example of this document genre, with its multicolored decorations and illustrations.

suite

Instead of working and  learning from math textbooks, students – and teachers – used cipher books like this as reference when it came to figuring out how to solve math problems both in the classroom and in the real world.  Students would copy correct answers into their cipher books and then illuminate the page with illustrations and embellishments.

division

 

Compared to the other arithmetic notebooks at the Clark, Richaud’s is much more colorful and much more elaborate.  It is also much larger – most are quarto and octavo size, while Richaud’s book is a tall folio.

a new mascot for the Clark?

a new mascot for the Clark?

We are excited about the addition of these two French cipher books to our collection, which until now consisted only of English examples of the genre.  You can find these new acquisitions and all of our other calligraphic cipher books in the UCLA Library Online catalog using the keywords arithmetic and calligraphy.

Dominique Richaud, Ce livre de compte a ete fait a Aix…, MS. 2014.008, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA.

“To make a Great deale of Ink Quickly and wth a Little Cost”: Manuscript Recipes in a Portable Art Book

August 19, 2014 by

One of the Clark’s most fascinating annotated books is The excellency of the pen and pencil (1668), a portable drawing manual containing hundreds of manuscript recipes for inks, colors, medicines, and poisons, including the recipe for ink listed in the blog title.

Title page, The excellency of the pen and pencil (1668)

Title page, The excellency of the pen and pencil (1668)

The text was “collected,” as the title page states, “from the writings of the ablest masters both ancient and modern, as Albert Durer, P. Lomantius, and divers others” and is “furnished with divers Cuts in Copper, being Copied from the best Masters.”

Engravings of ears, eyes, mouths, and noses

Engravings of ears, eyes, mouths, and noses

Besides offering instruction in the nuances of human anatomy, rules of shadowing, and methods of intaglio illustration, this particular copy  of the book affords its audience custom content in the form of interleaved manuscript additions. In fact, there is so much manuscript content in the book that its print/manuscript status is best described as “hybrid” (the volume also has two catalog records—one describing it as a printed book, the other as a manuscript).

Printed books throughout the hand-press period could be purchased or bound with interleaved blank sheets of paper to aid in the practice of manuscript annotation. As Heidi Brayman-Hackel notes, “the interleaf radically expands the margin, shifting the proportion between printed text and annotatable space to accommodate the most prolific readers” (Reading Material in Early Modern England: Print, Gender, and Literacy, 142). In the case of the Clark’s copy of The excellency of the pen and pencil, the “radically expand[ed]” margins of the book play host to dozens of contemporary manuscript recipes, many of which relate to the printed text’s emphasis on methods for preparing inks and colors. Here, for example, is the recipe from the title: “To make a Great deale of Ink Quickly and wth a Little Cost”:

"To make a Great deale of Ink Quickly and wth a Little Cost" (page one)

“To make a Great deale of Ink Quickly and wth a Little Cost” (page one)

"To make a Great deale of Ink Quickly and wth a Little Cost" (page two)

“To make a Great deale of Ink Quickly and wth a Little Cost” (page two)

“Take of ye black that Curriers or Tanners doe black their skinns with, for you may haue much for mony: Then Take ye Gaule of a fish Cal’d a Cuttle, which Costeth almost nothing, & Cheifly in places neare ye sea side, & in eating ye said fish at Divers Times you may keep ye Gaules To Gather. Then mingle ye Gaules with ye Tanners Colour and without Any Other thing you shall haue a perfect Ink. To make it yet better Put to it ye Powder Made of ye Coales of Vitriel, of Gaules, & of Gum. & ye saide Ink, Shall be very Good To print in Copper, Puting to it, a Little Vernix & a Little oyle of Li[m]e, so that it may be Liquid & fitting of it of it self [sic], for to pearce ye better into all manner of Ingravings, & that it may well Abide well vpon ye Paper, without Running Abroade;”

While the quality of this ink may be suspect, the text nonetheless illuminates the resourcefulness of early modern recipes: buy a black dyeing substance cheaply from the leather-tanners, collect galls whenever squid’s on the dinner menu, and if planning on intaglio printing, add a few more specialized ingredients to the ink so it can “pearce ye better into all manner of Ingravings.” Anyone researching the early modern economics of ink manufacture would do well to consult this volume, as it contains several additional recipes for ink, including “Printer’s Ink” and “A very good Receipt To Make Red Ink by,” which is appropriately written in the very red ink it describes.

"A Very Good Receipt to Make Red Ink by"

“A Very Good Receipt to Make Red Ink by”

Yet the manuscript recipes do not simply instruct readers how to create ink; they also offer guidelines for its recovery.

"For Recover old Deeds or Manuscripts"

“For Recover old Deeds or Manuscripts”

“Take half a pint of Vinegar, add there to Thirty Gaules Well Bruised and pounded then mix therewith ye Juice of Two Lemmons & foure Onions, & before you make use of them Lett them so stand for Three days you must Use it in this manner. Dipp a feather in ye Bottle & therewith wet that part of ye Writing or Record that is most Illegible & you will soone finde ye Appearance of ye Letters.                  probat[um]: est: Ja: Godfrey.”

As with several of the volume’s manuscript recipes, the instructions to “Recover old Deeds or Manuscripts” ends with a piece of testimony: “probat[um]: est: Ja: Godfrey,” or “it is proven, [by] Ja: Godfrey.” In other words, “this recipe works, I tried it.” (Whether we are dealing with a “Ja[mes]” or “Ja[ne]” Godfrey is unknown.)

Some leaves, of course, simply provide space for doodling.

Illustration of a head

Illustration of a head

This later doodle seems to make a facetious reference to the formulaic “How to …” phrase found in many of the book’s manuscript recipes: “How to draw,” with the sketch of a face.

"How to draw"

“How to draw”

The binding of this volume, finally, offers several clues for understanding the book as a physical object.

Lower cover

Lower cover

Upper cover

Upper cover

Brass belt hook

Brass belt hook

The vellum binding, complete with fore-edge flap, has a brass strip at the lower edge of the upper cover, looped to form a belt hook. The volume, in other words, was not only portable in size but physically built to be carried around, its printed and manuscript recipes easily accessible on the go.

Inscription of Samuel Steele

Inscription of Samuel Steele

It seems likely that the person responsible for both the book’s portable structure and some of its manuscript content is the Samuel Steele who wrote this inscription on the inside of the vellum fore-edge flap: “Samuel Steele his hand and pen deus Omnipotent.” Whether the “Graf Crow” signature on the title page (see image above) refers to another owner who added manuscript content to the volume is unknown, though it is unlikely Steele was the only contributor. Rather, the multiple hands that inscribed the book’s recipes point to a social tradition of manuscript culture built around the volume, a tradition in which recipes were compiled, tested, and transcribed to create a hybrid book of portable knowledge.

—Philip S. Palmer, 2014–16 CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow at the Clark


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