Archive for January, 2013

An Impromptu Concert for Students in Professor Bristow’s Ahmanson Seminar

January 30, 2013

This quarter, the Clark Library is hosting UCLA English Professor Joseph Bristow’s Ahmanson Undergraduate Seminar, the Wilde Archive. We could not be more thrilled to host Professor Bristow and the ten budding scholars as they dive into primary sources on Oscar Wilde and his literary circle.

But today we discovered that, indeed, we could be more thrilled. Laura Dang, one of the students in the seminar, paged sheet music from our Wildeiana collection. Inspired by the music she found, she asked if she could play a tune or two on the Clark’s piano.

The Flippity Flop Young Man MS Wildeiana 11.7

And thus the entire class and some of the library staff were treated to Ms. Dang’s lovely rendition of “The Flippity Flop Young Man.”

Piano playing of Flippity Flop Young Man

Consume coffee at the Clark! Announcing a new exhibit on coffee and coffeehouse culture in early modern England

January 30, 2013

The Clark has a new exhibition in our foyer and we hope this post might whet your thirst for a visit. Bittersweet Uprising: Coffee and Coffeehouse Culture in Early Modern England explores the ways in which the seventeenth and eighteenth century English viewed that exotic, Eastern plant and beverage, coffee, and how they began to converse, play, and even work in a new social institution, the coffeehouse. Through dictionaries, diaries,  pamphlets, and satirical plays, we examine the coffeehouses of London’s Exchange Alley, and their role in political discourse, business, and social change.

Map of Exchange Alley, Cornhill

Though the coffee plant was not cultivated in England, naturalists and physicians were interested in the tree, its leaves, and its berries. Illustrations of the coffee plant occasionally included captions noting that they were “drawn in Arabia from the Original” (and then, of course, engraved and printed).

Voyage to Arabia Felix DS206 .L33E 1732

Some writers noticed coffee’s energizing effects and thought it an herbal remedy against all manner of distemper, from digestive disorders to plague. Coffee lovers of today may be amused to note that there is no dearth of suggestions on the best methods for preparing the coffee bean into a beverage. The methods, however, are quite different than those used in today’s cafes. One particular favorite of mine is the recipe for artificial coffee in William Ellis, The Country Housewife’s Family Companion (1750), which features not much more than burnt bread boiled in water.

Coffee has its roots in Arabia and its route to England was through travelers visiting the coffeehouses of the Ottoman Empire. Many of London’s early coffeehouses had names such as “The Turk’s Head” and the image of a Turk was used to represent the coffee beverage. A particularly notable image, shown below, depicts three figures representing the three social beverages — coffee, tea, and chocolate. (And our regular visitors will know how popular all three of these beverages are at the Clark.)

Novi tractatus de potu caphe  TX817 .C6 D8L 1699          Novi tractatus de potu caphe-2 TX817 .C6 D8L 1699

In Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), a coffeehouse is defined as “[a] house of entertainment where coffee is sold, and the guests are supplied with news papers.” Coffeehouses were gathering places and entertainment spots, not just depots for refreshment. This description is not so different from that of today’s cafes, though we might exchange news papers with laptops and tablet devices.

Early modern English coffeehouses were put to many social, political, and business uses. Political and religious discussions were so common as to be satirized in pamphlets and, more seriously, led to attempts to suppress the institution of the coffeehouse itself. Less threateningly, entertainments of various kinds abounded, from book sales and auctions to performances of plays and Don Saltero’s gallery of unusual artifacts. (If you would like to learn more about Don Saltero and his displays of rarities, see Brooke S. Palmieri’s fascinating storyboard here.) Diarists of the time, such as Samuel Pepys and Robert Hooke, note their plentiful visits and evince the extent to which, for some, coffeehouses were woven into the fabric of daily life.

While there were coffeehouses for all sorts of professional and cultural groups, they generally were considered inappropriate places for women, who might risk scandal and loss of reputation were they to enter such establishments. Those engaged in publishing entered the debate with both general satiric pamphlets such as “The Women’s Petition Against Coffee” as well as satires on the lives of specific women coffeehouse-keepers, such as “Velvet Coffee-Woman” Anne Rochford. Coffeehouses of the period provided a kind of battleground in which many debates of the day, from politics to gender roles, could be discussed, satirized, and played out. Oh, yes, and they served coffee, too.

The exhibit is curated by Reader Services Librarian Shannon K. Supple and UCLA History Department Visiting Scholar Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft and will be up through 22 March 2013. Contact us to make an appointment to visit or join us on the afternoon of 21 February for a Clark Quarterly lecture on the myth of the French cafe with Thierry Rigogne of Fordham University and a coffee tasting courtesy of Verve Coffee Roasters. Here’s your chance to consume coffee at the Clark!

This Weekend: Eric Gill Exhibition Opening at Loyola Marymount!

January 24, 2013

From Jennifer Bastian, Visual Resources Specialist.

This Saturday, January 26th, an expansive exhibition of British artist Eric Gill’s work will be on view at Loyola Marymount University’s Laband Art Gallery.  Over 100 works will be featured, including original drawings, engravings and paintings.  The Clark Library is very pleased to be involved in this exhibition so soon after our own celebration of Eric Gill.  We have loaned out one of our most prized Gill pieces: a 5-piece woodblock depicting Our Lady of Lourdes.

courtesy Bridgeman Art Library

This block was originally separated into 3 pieces, which allowed for a 2 color print.  At some point, Gill cut the block into 5 pieces, giving him the ability to create a 4 color print from it.

Lady of Lourdes blocks 2

Here is an example of what the original prints from the full block looked like, and a photograph of our 4-color print.

From Eric Gills Book of Engravings, published by Douglas Cleverdon, 1929

From Eric Gills Book of Engravings, published by Douglas Cleverdon, 1929


As you can see, the carved block alone is a work of art to be appreciated.  It will be on display at the Laband Gallery adjacent to original sketches and drawings created in planning for the carving and subsequent prints.  While we will be paying special attention to our item on display, the dozens of other prints and drawings are a sight to behold.

For a preview of the exhibition, the press release and accompanying images may be viewed here. There are several public programs related to the exhibition that are not to be missed, including a lecture this Saturday.  I will be there, soaking up Gill imagery that both complements and adds new meaning to the Clark’s own collection.  I hope some of our Clark regulars will join us on the other side of town to support this wonderful event!

Laband Art Gallery Presents Extensive Exhibition of British Artist Eric Gill

On View January 26 – March 24, 2013

Opening: Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lecture by curator Thomas Lucas, S.J.: 3pm with reception to follow, 4-6pm


Thomas Jefferson’s Account Book

January 18, 2013

By Kathleen McSweeney, Reading Room Assistant

Although Thomas Jefferson is well known for his roles in early United States government, he was also a business man, producing products using slaves at his mansion and plantation, Monticello. Among our Thomas Jefferson manuscripts is an account book of Jefferson’s nail business.  The book contains tables with information about the productivity of slaves producing nails at Monticello from 1796 to 1800.

Nail Book cover

Nail Book cover

Jefferson started his nail business in 1794 in order to provide additional income for Monticello.  At the nailery he used slaves that he felt were not useful elsewhere on the plantation as well as children from the ages of 10 to 16.  The nailery successfully generated profit.  Two months of earnings covered the annual bill for groceries for the Jefferson household.   Slaves were encouraged to be productive with rewards of meat, molasses, and fish.  Younger nail workers were whipped if they refused to show up for work.

page 1

page 1

The most productive slave working at the nailery according to this account book was Isaac, later known as Isaac Jefferson when he took the Jefferson name sometime after earning his freedom.  On the first page of the account book, Isaac is used as a standard of measuring an efficient worker.  Isaac was twenty years old in 1796 when he was recorded by Jefferson as the most profitable worker at the nailery.  Before working as a nailer, Isaac worked as a tinsmith and blacksmith at Monticello.


page 6

page 6

Thomas Jefferson, “Nail Book”, MS Box J, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA.



Stanton, Lucia. Free Some Day: The African-American Families of Monticello. Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2000.

Wiencek, Henry. “Master of Monticello.” Smithsonian 43.6 (2012): 40-97. America: History & Life.




Our 1613 King James Bible on exhibit

January 17, 2013

From January 24 through February 22, the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University is delighted to host a traveling exhibition that explores the social, cultural, literary, and religious influence of the King James Bible over the four centuries since it was published. We were one of forty sites across the country to be selected to display this exhibition, which is partially funded by a small grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Manifold Greatness: The Creation & Afterlife of the King James Bible will be on display in the library’s level 3 atrium, just adjacent to the department of Archives & Special Collections, which is hosting a companion rare book exhibition called Singular Wisdom: The King James Bible and Early Printed Bibles, which includes a second edition of the King James Bible (1613) on loan from the William Andrews Clark Library at UCLA.

All events are free and open to the public; Manifold Greatness is accessible from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. M-F, and 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and Singular Wisdom is open 8 – 5, M-F. You can find information about visiting LMU and parking here.

Robots in the Clark Library

January 10, 2013

Nina Schneider, Head Cataloger

automata old and new cover

While cataloging my way through the Sette of Odd Volumes, I ran across number 29 of the Sette’s privately printed opuscula, entitled Automata Old and New by Conrad William Cooke, Mechanick to the Sette. Delivered at a meeting of the Sette held at Limmer’s Hotel on November 6, 1891, this essay made me wonder about additional robotic treasures at the Clark.

automata old and new p1

The word “robot” is derived from the Czech word robota, or labor, and first used by Karel Capek (or perhaps his brother, Josef, depending on whom you ask) in a play published in 1920. When we think about robots today, we think about mechanical and programmable laborers helping us complete mundane, repetitive, or precise tasks. Sometimes we think of emotional therapy, the Mars landscape, or evil killing machines when we think of robots, but robots are as ancient as ancient Greece.

According to Mr. Cooke, automata was described in Homer’s Iliad, by contemporaries of Plato, and by Hero in his Spiritalia. These early inventions and experiments were designed to be useful and entertaining. Movement was made possible with water and air pressure. Athanasius Kircher began using magnets in the mid-17th century (see his Magnes, sive, De arte magnetic in UCLA’s Special Collections [call no. QC751.K63m 1654]) and a century later, wheels, gears, and tracks prompted elaborate and curious mechanical works that proved profitable.

Image of automaton from v. 4, no. 4 of Jay's Journal of Anomalies"

Image of automaton from v. 4, no. 4 of Jay’s Journal of Anomalies”

Ricky Jay, a modern scholar, collector, actor, and sleight-of-hand artist, published a number of essays on the history of some of these automata in a quarterly periodical Jay’s Journal of Anomalies that started in 1994 (Press coll. Reagh). This is how I first became aware of these wonders.

jays journal

For those of you who worry about modern robots taking over and enslaving the human population, rest assured Isaac Asimov figured out how to prevent such a thing from happening. The three laws of robotics, explicated in his 20th century novel, I, Robot, are written to prevent such a scenario. At least we hope so.

Image of closed book

Image of closed book

Image of closed book

Image of closed book

Cooke, Conrad William (1843-1926)
Automata Old and New by Conrad William Cooke, M.Inst.E.E.
London: Imprinted at the Chiswick Press, 1893
Privately printed opuscula issued to members of the Sette of Odd Volumes; no. XXIX
Call no. SOV Opuscula 29

Jay’s Journal of Anomalies
Los Angeles: W. & V. Dailey Rare Books
Vol. 4, no. 4 (2000)
Call no. Press coll. Reagh

I, Robot: Three Laws of Robotics
Loket, Czech Republic : Jan & Jarmila Sobota, 2007
30 numbered and signed copies.
Call no. Press coll. Sobota

Wilde in the Market Place

January 3, 2013

Please join us on Thursday, January 31st at 4pm for 2013’s Clark Lecture on Oscar Wilde, which will feature Rick Gekoski speaking on “Oscar Wilde in the Marketplace.”

From the very start of his career, Oscar Wilde wanted to be noticed. He was the leading literary celebrity of his day, honed his epigrams, and ensured that his books were issued in beautiful limited editions, which would be attractive to collectors. Following his death an enormous market in Wilde books, manuscripts, letters and memorabilia developed, and a number of unscrupulous forgers took advantage of the burgeoning market for Wilde items. In the 1920s and 1930s a number of major collections were formed, of which William A. Clark, Jr’s holdings were the most significant. Oscar is still avidly sought after, and, as a rare book dealer, Dr. Gekoski has been able to help several collectors put together noteworthy collections.

Dr. Rick Gekoski is one of the world’s leading bookmen: a writer, rare-book dealer, broadcaster and teacher. He is the author of three books which trace his major enthusiasms, Staying Up: A Fan’s View of a Season in the PremiershipTolkien’s Gown and Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books and Outside of a Dog: A Bibliomemoir, as well as a critical study of Joseph Conrad and a bibliography of William Golding. An American who left for England in 1966, he was for some years a member of the English Department at the University of Warwick, and chair of their Faculty of Arts. He has established two private presses, The Sixth Chamber Press and The Bridgewater Press, which issue finely printed editions of leading writers, novelists and poets. As a broadcaster, he has written and delivered two series for BBC Radio 4: Rare Books, Rare People and Lost, Stolen, or Shredded: The History of Some Missing Works of Art.

This biennial lecture on Oscar Wilde is made possible by a generous endowment founded by Mr. William Zachs.

Please register for this free event at the website for the Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies.

Oscar Wilde by Frank Miles

Oscar Wilde by Frank Miles