Author Archive

The British Merlin and losing at cards

September 17, 2014

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 had not been cataloged until this past week, probably because it presents some complexities the Clark’s past catalogers apparently did not feel like tackling.

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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.

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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…

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… 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.

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All of the above features are interesting and notable, but probably aren’t what caused the Clark’s catalogers to shy away from working on this book when it was purchased.  The thing that probably was the least appealing to those catalogers was the account book written on most of the blank pages at the front and back of the book.  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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

Mexican Manuscripts at the Clark

August 14, 2014

By Reading Room Assistant Stella Castillo

A lesser known holding here at The Clark is the Mexican Manuscripts Collection comprised of documents dating from 1579-1828 regarding the Spanish settlement and colonization of California, New Mexico, and one document from 1802 concerning Louisiana. The collection of 29 manuscripts written in Spanish cover issues relating to establishment of missions, Native American unrest, expeditions, travels, and political events in Alta and Baja California. Although the dates of the collection range from 1579 to 1828, the bulk of material is from 1750-1799. Included among the 29 manuscripts are estimates of voyage costs in and around the new colonies. Here a contract proposal from Don to sail a small ship from Acapulco to Alta California which notes conditions and estimates for the voyage.

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The collection includes various first hand descriptions of California and the process of colonization, missions, and interactions of the Spanish missionaries and government with the native people. The descriptions of the discoveries include those made along the west coast from the lower section of California nearly to Alaska along the coast prior to 1776. Within some of the descriptions are Spanish perspectives on interactions both contentious and friendly with various groups of Native American people including Comanche, Apache, Yumas and Pecos. In particular there are reflections on the war against the Apache Indians throughout the provinces of New Spain.

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Above is a portion of a document outlining the military and civil governments of Upper and Lower California in September 1829 which is said to be written in the hand of Augustin Juan Vicente Zamorano, who was then Secretary to the Governor of Alta California, Jose Maria de Echeandia, whose signature appears on the document. As a point of interest: Zamorano established California’s first printing press at Monterey in 1834 and it is from him that the Los Angeles club of book collectors took its name.

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Of interest as well is a contract between Don Juan de Oñate, who would go on to become the first governor of New Mexico, and Don Luis de Velasco who was the Viceroy of New Spain in 1595. The contract details what provisions would need to be taken and what laws are to govern the expedition. The collection is an interesting window into the colonization process by the Spanish government and the religious establishment as there are documents written by both Jesuits and Franciscans included in the collection.

Reading Your Future at the Clark

July 22, 2014

By Reading Room Assistant Stella Castillo

The riddle of your future may be solved at The Clark! Recently, I was wondering what the future may hold, so I decided to look into fortune telling and came across several books detailing how to read your palm among other things (like your moles!) to determine your future. Palmistry, also known as chiromancy, is the art of reading lines on the hand to forecast the future.

palm

One book, in particular, the True Fortune Teller or Guide to Knowledge… (Call Number: BF1851 .T86 1698*) tells the reader in Chapter 2 that: “…first you must understand, that of all of the members of the body, none so plainly exposes our Fortunes or Fates as the Hand; for in that the God of Nature has ingraven legible Characters, to be read by the studious and industrious, to whom it is his pleasure to reveal such secrets And those are the lines and joynts, & c. apparent in the Palm, Thumb and Fingers, which have an immediate intercourse, though by devious ways, with the chief feats of life, having diverse Names.”

 

The method of evaluating a person’s character or future life by reading the palm of that person’s hand involves decoding the various lines and bumps. The lines have names like the life line, the head line, the heart line and the Saturne line. The palmist may begin by reading the person’s dominant hand which, according to some traditions, represents the conscious mind. According to various traditions of palmistry, the non-dominant hand may carry hereditary traits or information about past-life or karmic conditions.

palm2

The history of palmistry is hazy but it is thought to have originated in India with Hindu astrology and spread through the traditional fortune-telling practices of the Romani people to China, Tibet, Persia, Egypt and Ancient Greece. The earliest books on the topic appear in the 15th Century. During the Middle Ages the art of palmistry was actively suppressed by the Catholic Church as pagan superstition due to its associations with magic and witchcraft and it was used to detect witches. In Renaissance magic, palmistry was classified as one of the seven “forbidden arts,” along with necromancy, geomancy, aeromancy, pyromancy, hydromancy, and spatulamancy. It was believed that certain spots on the hand indicated one had made a pact with the Devil. Palmistry saw a resurgence during the 17th century, when scholars began to attempt to find rational and scientific foundations for the practice. However, palmistry was outlawed in Britain during the reign of King George IV.

palm3

I could tell you more about what your palm might say, but perhaps you should come down to The Clark and have a look at how to read your palm yourself.

Our new interim Head Librarian, Victoria Steele

July 18, 2014

Victoria Steele will be joining the Clark Library for a two-year appointment as Interim Head Librarian, beginning at the end of August.  Currently the Brooke Russell Astor Director of Collections Strategy for the New York Public Library, she was the Head of UCLA Special Collections from 2000-2009 and is no stranger to the Clark and its collections.  A more detailed press release is available here.

sasb_portrait_20140701_victoria_steele-3702r.

L’archive du tombeau de Louis Menard

July 3, 2014

Le tombeau de Louis Ménard and A propos du tombeau de Louis Ménard were among the first things I cataloged when I began working at the Clark 6 years ago and they were a great introduction to the wide variety of formats in the Clark’s manuscript collections.  Though these two companion volumes look like innocent codex manuscripts, bound in red morocco with fancy marbled endpapers, they are anything but normal bound manuscripts –

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– they are actually a bound archive.

In 1901 and 1902, French publisher and writer Edouard Champion compiled the book Le tombeau de Louis Ménard in honor of the writer, scholar and chemist Louis-Nicholas Ménard (1822-1901).  The published book itself is made up of letters from prominent scholarly, literary and political figures regarding Ménard and his legacy, and appropriately enough, Champion bound his copy of Le tombeau with an assortment of letters and calling cards from the book’s contributors and other well-wishers.  There was enough material in this archive to make a second volume of calling cards and letters, A propos du tombeau de Louis Ménard.  Individuals represented in the Tombeau archive include Georges Clemenceau, Remy de Gourmont, Robert Comte de Montesquiou, Léon Bloy, Jean Bertheroy, and Maurice Barrès, just to name a few.

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Sully Prudhomme’s calling card pictured in the front

As in any archive of correspondence, the letters and items gathered together by Champion range widely in size, making the job of binding a somewhat onerous task.  How do you bind together material that is so varied size-wise?  You could just paste everything in a scrapbook larger than the biggest piece of paper in the archive, but that would result in lost text when double-sided letters get pasted down (and most items in this archive are written on both sides).  The solution Champion’s bookbinder settled on was pretty perfect for this particular project.  Instead of trying to work with the pages of the archive itself, the bookbinder bound together a set of short stubby pages onto which the materials in the archive are glued.

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Of course, the easiest option would have been to keep all of these letters in a box, like a traditional archive.  But Champion clearly wanted to have these letters housed in a more bookish way (fitting, given his profession) and I am glad he did, as these two volumes are fascinating objects.  They are arguably easier to casually browse than a box of letters might be, and they easily fit on a shelf alongside other books.

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Edouard Champion, collector, Le tombeau de Louis Ménard and A propos du tombeau de Louis Ménard, MS.2008.004 and MS.2008.005, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA.

 

Henrique Medina’s Picture of Dorian Gray

May 23, 2014

In the 1945 film The Picture of Dorian Gray, there are actually two pictures of Mr. Gray — a “before” and an “after”– painted by two different artists.  The “after” painting by American artist Ivan Albright now lives in the Art Institute in Chicago, where you can find it on display.

Ivan Albright’s Picture of Dorian Gray

The other picture of Dorian was painted by Portuguese artist Henrique Medina, whose work should look somewhat familiar to Clark aficionados:

Henrique Medina's Picture of Dorian Gray

Henrique Medina’s Picture of Dorian Gray

Medina is responsible for the portraits of William Andrews Clark, Jr., Cora Sanders, and Robert E. Cowan that are prominently displayed in the library’s drawing room.

Henrique Medina's Picture of Mr. Clark

Henrique Medina’s Picture of Mr. Clark

Medina (1901-1988) spent several years in Los Angeles, where he was a favorite of society and Hollywood figures, including (it seems) Mr. Clark and his staff.  Works by Medina are housed in museums and collections around the world and there is a museum of his work in his native Portugal.  What Medina thought about the coincidence of painting Dorian Gray’s portrait after painting portraits of the founder and staff of one of the largest Oscar Wilde collections in the world is unknown — but hopefully he found it as interesting as we do.

Medina's Picture of Robert Cowan

Medina’s Picture of Robert Cowan

Apparently his portrait of Dorian Gray was at some point given as a gift to Hurd Hatfield, the actor who played Dorian in the film.  According to Hatfield’s Wikipedia entry, his art collections and other estate contents were sold at auction at his home in County Cork in 2007.  We’d love to know if Medina’s Picture of Dorian Gray was among those contents. If you can help us figure out more details about the auction and about who owns the portrait now, we would be very thankful!

Henrique Medina, from the University of Porto

Happy Birthday, Las Vegas!

May 15, 2014

From Nina Schneider, Head Cataloger

auction_vegas

Photograph of Clark townsite auction sale, Las Vegas, May 15-16, 1905 From the collection of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries

In 1905 a two-day auction took place in Southern Nevada. On May 15th and 16th 1200 lots were up for bid. The area: Clark’s Las Vegas Townsite. The owner: William Andrews Clark, the former state senator from Montana.

 

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Las Vegas Land and Water Company Map of Clark’s Las Vegas Townsite, Lincoln County, Nevada, May 10, 1905 From the collection of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries

His activities weren’t limited to copper mining in Montana and Arizona. His fortune was already in the millions when he realized an opportunity to increase it even further. At the time, there was no railroad connecting Salt Lake City directly with Los Angeles, requiring a long trip through San Francisco. In order to shave hundreds of miles from this journey and take advantage of the shipping trades in San Pedro, California, Clark purchased nearly 2000 acres, along with the crucial water rights from Helen Stewart, the owner of a profitable ranch on the site of a former Mormon mission. Clark intended to build a train stop in Las Vegas. The rest is history. As James Hulse writes in “W.A. Clark and the Las Vegas Connection”:

The railroad laid out a town, Clark’s Las Vegas Townsite, and held a land auction on May 15, 1905. In two days, the 110-acres bounded by Stewart Avenue and Garces Avenue and Main Street and 5th Street (now Las Vegas Boulevard) were sold. The auction [on May 15 & 16, 1905] founded the modern Las Vegas Valley. … Clark’s Las Vegas Townsite became an incorporated city on March 16, 1911 when it adopted its first charter. Today the Las Vegas Valley is comprised of five jurisdictions: the city of Las Vegas; unincorporated Clark County; the city of North Las Vegas; the city of Henderson; and the city of Boulder City.*

Because liberal divorce laws were already in place and it was to be only two more decades before gambling was legalized and the Hoover Dam constructed, the city of Las Vegas thrived. Clark’s San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad was later known as the Union Pacific.

Senator Clark

Henrique Medina Pencil sketch of William Andrews Clark, 1932? From the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA

* Montana: the magazine of Western History, (Winter 1987):48-55

Marie Antoinette and Jacques-Louis David at the Clark

April 16, 2014

By Karie Jenkins, Clark Reading Room Assistant

You never know what great treasures you will come across at the Clark. When discussing the art collection with a colleague this morning, he informed me that we have two watercolor sketches of Marie Antoinette by Jacques-Louis David.  The Death of Marat, perhaps David’s most famous painting, has been called the Pietà of the Revolution.

Death of Marat

The Death of Marat

Intrigued and delighted by this snippet of information, I immediately had to see the drawings for myself. Within moments, I was whisked away to the Clark’s “French Green Room” where the sketches are hung adjacent to one another. Once we turned the corner and walked into the room we were greeted by the queen’s image, both faint and partial.

Both sketches seemingly accentuate Marie Antoinette’s exquisite sense of fashion and her imperial disposition. The first image I came across was of her standing and resting her hand gently on the back of a chair. The rendering of her attire and physique looks as though the sketch was taken straight out of a fashion illustrator’s notebook. Each garment is carefully labeled and assigned colors, thus demonstrating David’s creative process in composing this image. The second sketch is a portrait of Marie Antoinette. Detached and disinterested, she gazes away from the viewer with her head turned to the side. And naturally, her hair and head piece are piled high thus granting her the stature and royalty definitive to her essence. Of the two sketches, only the image of her standing is dated 1793, which was the ominous year she met her demise. Right above the date David wrote, “Marie Antoinette dans La Conciergerie.”

131125_07: [Portrait of Marie Antoinette] [art original]. 1793.

If you recall, Conciergerie was the infamous prison which Marie- Antoinette was brought before her trial. She was given less than a day to prepare and received no sympathy from the courts or the public. Once the verdict was reached, she was found guilty of treason and was immediately swept away to the guillotine. David had two months to sketch the queen while she was still alive and living in her cell. Even after she had long fallen from grace, David proceeded to imbue her image with the likeness of an angel or a saint. After all, she was the mother of France and what was a son to do?131125_12: [Portrait of Marie Antoinette] [art original]. 179-?

David’s sketches are fascinating and thanks to Professor Todd L. Larkin at Montana State University they have been the topic of discussion here at The Clark. Larkin contacted us requesting a reproduction of the sketches to which he encountered as a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara. On November 24th his request was fulfilled when a photographer came to The Clark to capture a couple of shots of the jail-bird queen. Unlike most pieces in our collection, the David sketches cannot simply be removed from their frames. A couple of years back, the library decided to bolt the frames to the walls in case of an earthquake to avoid any harm or damage to the sketches.

David’s Marie Antoinette sketches will permanently remain on display and we welcome our guests and scholars to stop by and admire them.

Napoleon (not at the Clark!)

Napoleon (not at the Clark!)

 


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