Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Woodcuts (and Engravings) Captioned by Early Readers

October 15, 2014

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.

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

August 19, 2014

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

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.

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

Pittsburgh (i.e. Milan)

May 15, 2014

Shannon:

Here’s more on lying books and false imprints from Mitch Fraas at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ Unique at Penn blog:

Originally posted on Unique at Penn:


Why was the first book printed in Pittsburgh written in Italian? Spoiler: it wasn’t!

Above is the title page of the 1761 Lettere d’un vago italiano ad un suo amico with its place of publication listed as the thriving metropolis of “Pittburgo” a classic case of what bibliographers call a false imprint. I first came across this example nearly a year ago when researching European books which falsely claimed to be printed in North America and this April a copy of the first volume came up for sale from the bookseller Garrett Scott and is now here at Penn (call#: DP34 .C35 1761).

In 1761, Pittsburgh was only a few years old and had a population barely over 250. The first printing press and locally printed book didn’t come to the city until after Independence in 1786.  Given this fact and thanks to the sleuthing of the Italian…

View original 286 more words

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.

 

vegasmap

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

The Ahmanson Undergraduate Seminar and Undergraduate Research

May 9, 2014

Congratulations, again, to Samantha Lusher and the rest of this year’s recipients of the UCLA Library Prize for undergraduate research. Read more about the prize and this year’s recipients here. We also want to congratulate Ms. Lusher’s professor, Dr. Alice Boone, who taught the Ahmanson Undergraduate Seminar (an English Department capstone course), “Legacies of The Castle of Otranto, 1764-2014″ at the Clark during the Winter Quarter and Professor Joseph Bristow, who advised Charlotte Rose, another recipient of this year’s award.

The 2014-2015 Ahmanson Undergraduate Seminar (a History Department capstone course), “Pirates of the Caribbean?,” will be taught by Professor Carla Gardina Pestana in the Fall Quarter. Students interested in applying for the course should apply by May 16. More information can be found at the link, above.

To give or not to give

April 11, 2014

By Cataloging Assistant Alejandro Sanchez Nunez

This week I had the opportunity to help catalog some of the Shakespeare books that Paul Chrzanowski recently donated to the Clark Library. Working with these books reminded me that whenever I am editing catalog entries, I inevitably stop and smile every time I see a field containing the phrase “gift of”.

The Clark is very fortunate to have had many generous donors over the years, and it is these gifts that have helped develop the wonderful collection we have today. In fact, its history starts with one such generous gift, Mr. Clark donating his books, library building, and home to the University of California in 1926.

I imagine that donating a personal library is not an easy decision given the sentimental and monetary value those books hold. But I think the feeling of reward that comes from knowing the books will be used and enjoyed by others far outweighs any feeling of doubt as to whether to give or not to give.

To Mr. Chrzanowski, Mr. Clark, and all donors to the Clark and UCLA Libraries… thank you!

Congratulations to Samantha Lusher, Winner of the UCLA Library Prize for Undergraduate Research

April 2, 2014

The Clark congratulates Samantha Lusher on winning the UCLA Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, incorporating materials from the Clark Library collections. Ms. Lusher and her fellow students just completed this year’s Ahmanson Undergraduate Seminar taught by Alice Boone. The UCLA English Department capstone seminar, Legacies of The Castle of Otranto, 1764-2014, explored the gothic past, present, and future of the novel, a theme that Ms. Lusher’s paper, “cyber!Gothic The Gothic Future from Frankenstein to Text-based Online Gaming,” so intriguingly evokes.

The UCLA Library Prize for Undergraduate Research awards ceremony will be held at UCLA’s Powell Library on Wednesday, 30 April 2014, at 4:00 p.m. If you’d like to attend, please secure your reservations by Friday, 18 April 2014, with an email to rsvp@library.ucla.edu or a phone call to 310.206.8526.

Qui me neglige me perd

February 28, 2014

Shannon:

Our fellow Claude Willan has written a lovely blog post on a slip of paper, and its many doodles, inside one of our commonplace books.

Originally posted on Claude Willan:

We all doodle. Studies have shown (nb, studies may not actually have shown, but I think they have) that doodling can help you think. But there’s a certain point at which doodling crosses over into daydreaming.

Here in Clark MS 1986.003, Miss Boyes, the second owner of this commonplace book after Catherine Springett, has left us a little slip of paper showing us the fruits of what looks for all the world like a marvellously frittered-away French lesson. (And who hasn’t done that?) Riddles, drawings, all sorts of stuff. Let’s start with this one:

qui me neglige me perd

It looks to me like this says ‘s/he who neglects me, loses me’. I’m not 100% sure how this maps on a book in a cage and a bird flying away, and we’re struggling here through the layers of history, Miss. Boyes’s command of French, my own, and the barrier of handwriting in deciphering this scene…

View original 313 more words


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