Archive for March, 2011

Item of the Week: Playing Cards at the Clark

March 31, 2011

From Library Assistant Lauren Zuchowski

The librarians at the Clark have plenty of gaming options with our playing card collection.  Our decks range from original artworks to facsimiles and each depict a historical event relevant to the collection at the library (bringing plots, revolutions, love, geography, reigns, war and more to life).  Originating in the East around 450 A.D., playing cards are thought to have initially consisted of a king, horsemen, camel and footman as the deck’s court.  It was not until the playing cards introduction in England was the queen incorporated into the pack and the court began to look like what we are familiar with today, although this didn’t happen until much later on.   When they were first introduced to Europe in the late 13th century the suits were more closely related to tarot cards (swords, staves, cups and coins).  By the end of the 14th century the use of playing cards had spread rapidly throughout Europe. Maybe the ghost of Mr. Clark could show us a card trick or two. Go fish!


These cards depict the fictitious Presbyterian Plot to kill King Charles II in 1679, created by fervent Catholics to discredit the Protestants and their power after the excitement of the Popish Plot (blogged about here) declined.  The original deck was produced in 1680 to chronicle the plot through political cartoons and the illustrations are thought to be designed by Francis Barlow (also credited with the design several other decks at the Clark, including our deck on the Spanish Armada and the reign of James II).

"Mr. Arnold assassinated" and "The sham Plott discovered"

"Protestants in Masquerade" and "Giles in the Pillory"


Below are images of original pictorial playing cards with love mottos circa 1700.  Each card has a traditional English phrase about love below the engraving.

"the softer Loves in combat meet" and "What can't the chilling streams of passion cool"

"the Silver disappears" and "sing praises to Ceres, the goddess of Corn"


This elaborately engraved original card deck illustrates the first Duke of Marlborough’s victories, the Spanish succession, royalty connected with the Duke of Marlborough’s overseas campaigns are depicted and other events during the reign of Queen Anne (from 1700-1706). The cards depict the key figures of the Spanish Succession and subsequent battle scenes and the suit of spades is specifically dedicated to denouncing Louis XIV and the French.

"My Grandfather before me was a Thief" and "The French King's Dream"

"George Prince of Denmark" and "Menin taken by D. of Marlborough"


Thomas Tuttell’s deck of cards, published in London around 1701, is dedicated to all the instruments used in navigation and surveying.  The four suits illustrate devices of both land and sea, portray curiosities of the time as well as display relevant charts and maps.

"Many useful Experiments" and "An Instrument with a Fee"

"Capable of any Employ" and "Know the use of both Globes"

If you’re as inspired to get out a deck and play as we are, you should come and view some of these decks in person!

A Day to Celebrate!

March 29, 2011

From library assistant Lauren Zuchowski

Bon Anniversaire, William Andrews Clark Jr.!

Today the Clark Library is celebrating the 134th birthday of its founder, William Andrews Clark Jr.  Because he spent his childhood years in France, we have decided to re-imagine what one of young Clark’s birthday parties might have been like.

In France, our birthday boy would have been expected to treat his guests to champagne and treats, rather than guests pampering him like a traditional American birthday party.  Gifts and cards are a nice gesture but are never expected at a French birthday party.  One thing would have been the same for Clark Jr.: the “Happy Birthday” tune we are familiar with is also sung at French birthday parties as well!

Joyeux Anniversaire
Joyeux Anniversaire
Joyeux Anniversaire… William Andrews Clark Jr.!
Joyeux Anniversaire

A very young Mr. Clark


Interestingly, the French also celebrate Name Day (called fête in France) in which you celebrate the day of the year associated with one’s given name and originating from the calendar of saints.  Gifts are usually exchanged on your fête and it is still celebrated all over Europe today.  William’s name day would correspond with Guillaume and would be celebrated on January 10.

We hope you will celebrate with us in spirit, and give a toast to our Guillaume today!

A Very Clark Wedding

March 24, 2011

This week, the Clark staff congratulates our own Manuscript & Archives Librarian, Rebecca Fenning, on her impending marriage.  She will be married this Saturday in a beautiful outdoor spot in Los Angeles.  As we daydream about how wonderful her day will be and the joys of marriage that lie ahead, we could not help but dig out several related items from the Clark collection to peruse on this very topic.

We’ve selected a few books of our books on marriage to show here, mainly the title page and a detail from one or two of the books.  They are quite entertaining!  Some of them are about the beauty and satisfaction of the institution, some are advice on how to keep your chin up while single, and one is even a directory to rich widowed women.

We wish Becky all the best, and know that her marriage will only be one of Happy Pairs and Loving Dialogues.  We cannot wait for her to return from her honeymoon with hundreds of photos of exotic, far-flung places.  Congratulations, Becky!!

Craft in America

March 24, 2011

Last weekend, we were happy to welcome Craft in America to the Clark.  They held a panel discussion in the drawing room, and created a wonderful artist’s book display in the South book room.  The discussion was lively, and the audience quite engaged.

Our Project Archivist and photographer, Jennifer Bastian, was there to snap a few pictures of visitors enjoying the artist’s books.  Here are a few:

Thanks to Craft in America for such a lovely event!

Item of the Week: Vyvyan’s Arctic Sojourn

March 15, 2011

In 1937, Oscar Wilde’s son Vyvyan Holland joined friend Richmond Temple, the manager of London’s Savoy Hotel, on a tour of Copenhagen, Helsinki and Arctic Finland.  He recorded their journey amongst the business and cultural elites of these places in a journal that the Clark was recently lucky enough to purchase.

Typed (with some hand-written corrections) and illustrated by multiple photographs, postcards and newspaper clippings, Holland’s often comic account takes the two men from London through Nazi Germany to Copenhagen, where Temple is an unwilling guest of honor at the Carlsberg Brewery and where the two Englishmen are the toast of the town, Temple for his position at the Savoy and Holland for being Oscar Wilde’s son.

After a short time in Stockholm, the two spend time shopping and drinking (as they do everywhere they go) in Helsinki, where they make the acquaintance of Alvar and Aino Aalto (amongst others).  They then head up north to Rovaniemi, where they are taken on some simultaneously harrowing and fun proto-snowmobile rides and see the Northern Lights.  Their trip ends with a brief stay in Paris, with some lady friends.

Holland’s diary of this trip is a wonderful addition to the Clark’s collections on Oscar Wilde and his circle, as well as a fascinating and entertaining look at travel amongst the social and intellectual elite in the years just before the Second World War.

Vyvyan Holland. A new Arctic diary, or, The perils of northern Europe. MS.2011.002.  William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

Item of the Week: The Popish Plot at the Clark

March 9, 2011

From Library Assistant Lauren Zuchowski

Titus Oates was a clergyman with a knack for perjury and by the end of his life was known as a shame to mankind. Oates, the man behind the Popish Plot, was responsible for creating anti-Catholic hysteria in London from 1678-1681.  During this period fifteen innocent men were executed and Catholics all over the city we forced to flee London as well as the surrounding areas.  Oates and his partner in crime, Israel Tonge, created a large manuscript that accused the Roman Catholic Church of supporting the assassination of Charles II, listed 100 Jesuits that were in on the plan and continued to claim that the listed Jesuits were residing in London as sleeper cells to carry out the plan.  This manuscript was completely fictitious and a result of the Protestant community’s growing fear of the Roman Catholic Church’s influence in London.

At the Clark we have a wide variety of materials covering the Popish Plot, from pamphlets to letters and manuscripts.  A particularly interesting volume from our rare books stack is The dreadful apparition; or, The Pope haunted with ghosts. In relation to Sir Edmundbury-Godfrey’s murther, and the visitations of the late sainted traytors, who suffered for the Romish-cause. The figure being by the verses at large explained., covering the mysterious murder of Sir Edmundbury-Godfrey.  Unlike Oates, Edmundbury-Godfrey was a well respected man involved with Westminster’s justice of peace.  He was also awarded knighthood for his bravery and service during the Great Plague.  When Oates began his crusade against Catholicism in London he came to Edmundbury-Godfrey and asked him to take an oath that his Catholic conspiracy documents were true.  Edmundbury-Godfrey demanded the documents of him, eventually taking the evidence but also allegedly warning people of the accusations.  In October of 1678 Edmundbury-Godfrey did not return home and his body was found five days later in a roadside ditch stabbed with his own sword.  Oates used it to his advantage, claiming it was the work of the dreaded Jesuits.

The dreadful apparition is a memoir of the life and death of Edmundbury-Godfrey, focusing on the murder investigation, eventual trials and the lies that the Popish Plot presented to the public. This book is just one of the many treasures within our stacks that cover the completely fake conspiracy created by Oates.

The Pope haunted by the ghosts of Popish Plot victims

Sir Edmondbury Godfrey

W.A. Clark Lecture on Oscar Wilde

March 8, 2011

The William Andrews Clark Lecture on Oscar Wilde

Green Carnations: Wilde, Culture, and Crime”

given by John Wilson Foster

at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

Saturday April 2,  3:00 p.m.

Oscar Wilde’s fiction and criticism are laced with poison, both as theme and motif, both “real” and vicarious. Before his incarceration for criminal wrongdoing, Wilde provocatively pondered the compatibility of such a crime as poisoning with culture, and the desirability of sinfulness in the self-realization of the artist. His account of Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, the early nineteenth-century forger, painter, and poisoner, is Wilde’s most concise declaration of not just the congruity of crime with culture but also the conceivably beneficial influence of crime upon art, and art upon life. Yet for Wilde, literature embodying such beliefs as he attributes to Wainewright may itself be a poisonous (and in the case of Wilde’s character Dorian Gray, fatally poisonous) influence on the reader. Robert Hichens, author of The Green Carnation, a novel that Frank Harris believed poisoned Wilde’s reputation in the mind of the general public, later published Bella Donna and other romantic neo-Aesthetic novels that indeed seem to have proved lethal in the celebrated case of the alleged would-be poisoner, Edith Thompson, hanged with her young lover for the murder of her husband. Thompson was an avid reader, a woman in constant imaginative traffic with popular romance novels of the day (which she passed on to her lover), including the works of Hichens, Wilde’s erstwhile disciple and recorder. Thompson lived and died at a fatal intersection of poison and romance, culture and crime, giving a curious retrospective currency to Wilde’s pre-prison writings.

John Wilson Foster was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and educated at Queen’s University. His doctorate is from the University of Oregon. He spent his career at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. After early retirement in 2002 he was Leverhulme Visiting Professor to the United Kingdom and Armstrong Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto. He is currently Honorary Research Fellow, Queen’s University, Belfast. He has published books on Irish literature, culture, and natural history, and on RMS Titanic. His latest books are Irish Novels 1890-1940 (Oxford University Press, 2008) and Between Shadows: Modern Irish Writing and Culture (Irish Academic Press, 2009). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Registration form available at the Center for 17th- and 18th-century Studies’ website.