Archive for September, 2014

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.

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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 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

 

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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.

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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.

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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.