Author Archive

A Very Happy Birthday to You, Mr. Wilde

October 16, 2014

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!

The Art of Brewing

October 7, 2014

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.


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.


“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.


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

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.


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:


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: 



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!



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 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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 –

photo 3

– 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.

photo 3

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.

photo 5

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.

photo 4

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.



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