Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

More House Archive: finding aid complete!

November 2, 2015

Though you will have to wait until the Clark reopens in 2016 to be able to consult the material in person (sorry to be a tease), we are proud to announce that the finding aid for the More House Archive is now complete and is available online!  This collection originally came from More House, the home of the Hope-Nicholson family at 52 Tite Street, Chelsea (London), for over 100 years.  The home was first purchased in 1892 by Adrian Hope and Laura Troubridge Hope and the archive contains items created by them, their daughter Jaqueline Hope-Nicholson and son-in-law Hedley Hope-Nicholson, and their grandchildren, especially Felix Hope-Nicholson and Marie-Jaqueline Lancaster.  The Hope-Nicholsons – particularly Jaqueline, Hedley and Felix – made More House into a living museum, filled with artifacts from their lives and the lives of their ancestors and relatives (as well as things related to those they admired).  The artifacts and artwork were all dispersed after unsuccessful attempts to turn the house into a research center after Felix’s death in 1990, but the archive stayed in the hands of living family members, until we purchased it in 2013.

A suitcase of letters from the More House Archive

A suitcase of letters from the More House Archive

The Troubridge-Hope-Nicholson-Gurney-Cleghorn family that emerges from the More House Archive was extremely well-connected and the archive contains material related to a wide range of 19th and 20th century figures and movements. For example, not only was More House just down the street from Oscar and Constance Wilde’s home at 34 Tite Street, but Adrian Hope was a cousin of Constance’s and became the guardian of their sons Cyril and Vyvyan after Wilde’s incarceration. Similarly, artists such as Edward Burne-Jones and John Everett Millais feature in the archive because of Laura Troubridge Hope’s career as a painter, and lesbian writer John Radclyffe Hall and her partner Una Vincenzo Troubridge are included because Una was the second wife of Laura’s brother Ernest. Other people represented in the More House Archive include John Betjeman, George Kolkhorst, Queen Victoria and the Royal Family, Trelawny Dayrell Reed, C.K. Scott-Moncrieff, Lord Alfred Douglas, Edward Scott-Snell, Harold Nicolson and Ada Leverson, among many many others.


Because the More House Archive and the family it documents is so extensive, we created a couple of supplements to help researchers.  A family tree to the very extended family is online here and includes most of the family members who appear in the archive.  There is also a pdf attachment showing some images of what the archive looked like before processing, when items were bundled in old suitcases and trunks. Both of these resources have links in the completed finding aid as well.

We hope that you are as excited about the More House Archive as we are!

** All of the hard work on the More House Archive was done by Erin Hurley and Rebecca Fenning Marschall, with grant funding provided by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation **


A New Fund of Amusement: Annotating 18th-Century Word Games

March 25, 2015

Books of jokes and riddles have a long history. But it’s not too common to find annotated riddle books, with answers added in manuscript by historical readers. The Clark owns one such item, an exceedingly rare copy of a late-eighteenth-century Canterbury riddle book filled with “aenigmas, aenigmatical entertainments,” “one hundred rebuses,” “one hundred and twenty condundrums, twenty sentimental toasts, two acrostics, and six songs.”

title page

title page of The Aenigmatical Repository (1772)

In his preface addressed “To the Public,” pseudonymous author Charles Crinkum claims the “squibs of imagination” featured in his Aenigmatical Repository; or, New Fund of Amusement (Canterbury, 1772) “may perhaps rouse the genius, and awaken the inquiry of the puerile.” The Clark’s copy of this book—one of seven surviving today and the only copy in the U.S.—is also rare because of its contemporary manuscript annotations. These handwritten additions supply answers to the text’s many word games, as in the book’s first engima:

first enigma

First enigma

first enigma solution

First enigma with solution

“For I like man am made to toil …
One patch upon my face descry’d,
Denotes my consequence, and pride …
More might be said—but now I’ll ask
My readers to remove my mask.”

The answer, of course, is “The Ace of Spades.”

Sadly, the manuscript answers in the “Desert and Liquors” section are largely illegible, thanks to an inexpert trimming and binding job:

trimmed marginalia

Obscured marginalia

But answers in the “Geographical Rebuses” section came through fine:

geographical rebuses

Geographical rebuses

Apparently readers in eighteenth-century England would see the following—”A hero’s distinction, and that noted place / Where Hop-merchants harbour—a heavenly race!”—and immediately think: “Ah yes—Scarborough!” Modern readers (especially on this side of the Atlantic) have clearly lost the cultural context for deciphering and appreciating the content of some of these games.

Examples from the “one hundred and twenty condundrums” are more promising when it comes to the interpretive abilities of modern readers, though most of the answers are utterly stupid:



Q: “Why is a purse taken upon the highway like a clandestine marriage?”
A: “Because it is unlawful.” (Reminds me of the bad joke books I read in grade school.)

This one’s a little better:

Q: “Why is a public procession like the late Mr. Addison?”
A: “Because it produces Spectators” (With the obvious reference to Addison’s periodical The Spectator.)

The answers to one section of conundrums consist entirely of play titles:

play title answers

Play title answers

E.g., “A Nocturnal Vision, on the twenty-fourth of June” = “Midsummer’s [sic] night dream.”

Another page asks readers to fill in the appropriate “Dramatic Authors”:

dramatic authors

“Dramatic Authors”

Q: “What we are compelled to do when we are afflicted with an ague, and a warlike instrument among the antients.”
A: “Shakespeare”

It’s possible these answers were copied in part from A key to The ænigmatical repository (1772), published the same year. (There are only two copies of this even rarer Key, both in the UK and neither digitized on ECCO; thus I have not been able to determine whether the supplied answers were copied from A key or solved by the annotating reader.) A Key is advertised near the beginning of The Aenigmatical Repository: “A Key to the Aenigmatical Part of the following Publication, as also of the Rebuses and Conundrums, will speedily be Published.” But since a few pages have conundrums missing answers …

conundrums missing manuscript answers

Conundrums missing manuscript answers

… it’s very likely the book’s manuscript additions came from the mind of a clever reader, and were not copied directly from a book: those answer-less conundra may have proven a bit too “aenigmatical” to solve, as in,

“Why is a printer like the stock list of farces at the Theatres Royal?”

I’ll leave you to sort that one out.



Editorial Note: The Clark’s copy of Aenigmatical Repository (1772) was on display last week (March 20, 2015) for the ASECS Conference Reception, along with a select group of materials from our rare book, manuscript, and fine press collections.

Help them help us!

February 18, 2015

The Clark is working with students from UCLA’s information studies graduate program to optimize our website and online exhibits.  As a part of their work, they have written the below survey and we hope that you have time to take it and to help them with their strategic planning for the Clark!

In the context of our Information Architecture class this quarter, our team is in the process of developing a strategy for the implementation of online exhibits for the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, and we are seeking user and non-user feedback – in other words, feedback from you, dear reader – in order to most effectively broaden and reach the targeted audiences of the exhibits. We have created an online survey, which we would be most grateful if you would complete. Please click HERE to access the survey in your browser.

Thank you in advance for your assistance – we truly appreciate it!

Cecilia Platz, together with Erin Hurley, Diedre Whitmore, Maggie Clarke and Dvorah Lewis

photograph by Duff Tatian

photograph by Duff Tatian

A Christmas Clog

December 23, 2014

By Emily Meehan, Reader Services Student Assistant

Every year, when the day after Thanksgiving rolls around, I jump at the opportunity to put on a Christmas sweater, blast Christmas radio in my car, and truly embrace the holiday spirit. To tell you the truth, I find that the joy and anticipation of Christmas Day helps to alleviate stress going into the last few weeks of the school quarter – it may look bleak now, but just around the corner is joyful and triumphant! So, I thought I would incorporate my holiday mentality into my work at the Clark Library and discover what it has to offer on the true meaning of Christmas.

I found that our Fine Press Collection includes a few treasures from our featured unique California printers about the celebration of Christmas in California. In 1960, Lawton Kennedy, who had a strong printing relationship with the California Historical Society, printed a small book entitled “Christmas in California,” which includes two parts: “Christmas at Sutter’s Fort in 1847” and “Christmas Before the Americans Came” (“Americans” meaning white, non-Spanish settlers). The story on Sutter’s Fort details a grand Christmas feast that mirror’s Sutter’s recent success and then his foretelling at dinner of his own downfall if large reserves of gold were to be found on his property. “Christmas Before the Americans Came” tells of how members of a Spanish mission, Spanish settlers, and Native Americans all prepared and celebrated the holiday in different ways, all totaling to about a week of festivities and sharing between communities.

Cover of Christmas in California, published by the California Historical Society and printed by Lawton Kennedy

Cover of Christmas in California, published by the California Historical Society and printed by Lawton Kennedy

Lawton Kennedy printed another early California Christmas story with the California Historical Society called “Christmas at Rancho Los Alamitos,” by Katharine Bixby Hotchkis. Hotchkis was the daughter of the last private owners of the ranch and describes the yearly Christmas parties that grew to be grand in scale with the attendance of both the owner’s and all of the ranch employees’ extended families. Through these personal memories, the importance of Rancho Los Alamitos is brought forth by making allusions to its past and founding as a large commercial ranch. Another edition of the book printed over a decade later by another famous California printer (Anderson, Richie, & Simon) makes mention of the donation of the ranch to the city of Long Beach for it to avoid demolition by land developers and be preserved as a historical site.


Cover of Christmas at Rancho Los Alamitos by Katharine Bixby Hotchkis, printed by Lawton Kennedy


As these books are about California history and printed by a historical society, one would think the contents would be more historical and factual in their telling. Instead, they read more as personal stories that seek to describe and remember in vivid detail what Christmas was like in these different settings. I think this signifies the fact that there is no one Christmas “history.” The amazing thing about Christmas is that even when one does study the cultural foundations of the holiday, there are so many different traditions and ways to celebrate – not just in different larger cultures and communities, but in different families, even individuals. There were definitely some similarities found between the stories, like the preparation of a large feast, anxious waiting on the arrival of guests, and after-dinner entertainment in the form of stories, dances, magic acts, etc. However, the only thing that was truly constant throughout all of the stories was the different communities coming together and sharing their traditions and resources to celebrate the holidays, regardless of background. I think that’s the true meaning of Christmas, don’t you?

Illustration by Gene Holtan in Anderson, Richie, and Simon printing of Christmas Eve at Rancho Los Alamitos

Illustration by Gene Holtan in Anderson, Richie, and Simon printing of Christmas Eve at Rancho Los Alamitos

The last book I found in our Press Collection on Christmas in California was Remembered Christmas: Los Angeles in the 1930s, written and printed by Vance Gerry of the Weather Bird Press located in Pasadena. Again, the title makes you think that this is going to incorporate some historical facts, but it is instead a short retelling of Christmas memories of Gerry as a child growing up in Los Angeles. I was particularly drawn to this book because its simple, delicate, hand-crafted form embodies the holiday nostalgia of making Christmas crafts as a young child.

Cover of Vance Gerry’s Remembered Christmas

Cover of Vance Gerry’s Remembered Christmas

Yet, it was the descriptive words of Gerry that brought me closer to his (and therefore, my own) Christmas memory. He talks of walking down a main street in LA with the shops fully-decorated with toys and lights in the window as such a sensory experience as he says, “the essence of the dreamlike sequence has never been erased from my mind.” We quickly jump from the bustling street to his warm home on Christmas Eve, which he remembers as “the close approximation of a Norman Rockwell painting.” But it was the last lines of the book in which I felt completely justified in my search for the meaning of Christmas at the Clark:

“As the Christmas fire that we really didn’t need died down an aunt played a carol on the piano and in that contented room everyone seemed wrapped in affectionate warmth and happiness, the texture of which I never felt again.”

Some people may read these lines as depressing, but in my optimistic holiday spirit, I see them differently. One never feels the same way at Christmastime ever again because each time is so unique and different, even if your family practices the same traditions every single year. And it’s special because that unique, warm feeling you get from your loved ones or just by drinking a huge mug of peppermint hot cocoa only happens for such a short time once a year. That’s why I cherish the holiday season. I know some say that it has turned into a commercial holiday that has destroyed its true meaning, but based on these personal stories I found at the Clark, I still think it has some value.

Wishing you the warmest of holiday feelings from the Clark!

Audiobooks and English Essayists

December 17, 2014

By Katherine Monroe, student library assistant

Have you ever read one of those books that just makes you want to stop everything else you are doing and delve into its pages?  I find this to be true even when I listen to audiobooks, an activity I have taken up in order to stay sane in the LA traffic on my way to work at the Clark Library.  As I listened to Mary Ann Shaffer’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society over a period of two weeks, I became enamored with all of the characters.  This fictional book is set up as an exchange of letters between a London writer, Juliet Ashton, and people on Guernsey; through these letters, it tells the story of how the islanders dealt with the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands that lasted from 1940 to 1945 and how their creation of a book club helped save them and also created long-lasting friendships in a time of such uncertainty.

One of my favorite characters, Dawsey Adams, initiates contact with Juliet because it is her copy of Charles Lambs’ The Essays of Elia of which he is now the proud owner.  Since I didn’t know who Charles Lamb was, and since I happen to work at a special collections library which specializes in works of 17th– and 18th-century British literature and history, I decided to search the catalog to see if I, too, could read Charles Lamb and find out what it was that had captured both Juliet and Dawsey.  Well, I am happy to say that I now understand the appeal of this English essayist and poet who was born in 1775 and died in 1834.  The Clark owns several works by the man, including a lovely little hand-colored children’s book, The King and Queen of Hearts, printed in 1805.

King and Queen

Another work that Lamb actually co-authored with his sister, Mary (who is herself an interesting, if not tragic, character) is Tales from Shakespear, Designed for the Use of Young Readers, published in 1807.  The two-volume work contains twenty of Shakespeare’s plays, converted into prose for the education of children, along with twenty engraved plates by William Blake.

Title and frontispiece

And then there is the humorously-titled Satan in Search of a Wife, published in 1831.


The Clark copy is a first edition with 6 lively woodcut engravings.  The first part presents Satan moping while his mother asks what ails him, until it is revealed that he has fallen in love with the tailor’s daughter while he was escorting her father to his fiery domain.  As Satan prepares to go off and bring her back, his mother asks: “But what will you do with your horns, my son? / And that tail – fair maids will mock it –”  To which Satan replies: “My tail I will dock – and as for the horn, / Like husbands above I think no scorn / To carry it in my pocket.”  The second part tells of how the maiden, already in love with Satan, resists at first (due to his too-human disguise) but then gives in; Satan carries her off where a grand feast attended by Medusa and overseen by “Bishop Judas” is held to mark the occasion.

Sad satan

While that poem was a lot of fun to read, especially in trying to figure out who was mentioned as being a resident of Hell, I still liked those Essays of Elia which had first inspired me to search the stacks at the Clark.

Elia binding 1

The beautiful red leather volume of Lamb’s witty recollections of his life, all published under the penname of Elia in the London Magazine and collected in 1823, bring to life early 19th-century London, along with scenes from his childhood.  In “Five and Thirty Years Ago,” he recounts how he hated to be forced to spend days outside of his horrible school, Christ’s Hospital, yet has almost fond memories of those moments:

How merrily we would sally forth into the fields; and strip under the first warmth of the sun; and wanton like young dace in the streams; getting us appetites for noon, which those of us that were pennyless (our scanty morning crust long since exhausted) had not the means of allaying – while the cattle, and the birds, and the fishes, were at feed about us, and we had nothing to satisfy our cravings – the very beauty of the day, and the exercise of the pastime, and the sense of liberty, setting a keener edge upon them! – How faint and languid, finally, we would return, towards nightfall, to our desired morsel, half-rejoicing, half-reluctant, that the hours of our uneasy liberty had expired!

In both his poetry and his prose, Charles Lamb shows himself to be an entertaining and engaging writer of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  It is easy to see why characters as wonderful as those in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, as well as real people such as myself, would enjoy reading the works of such a man.

The King and Queen of Hearts: with the rogueries of the knave who stole the queen’s pies: illustrated in fifteen elegant engravings (London: printed for Thomas Hodgkins, 1806) *PR4862.K41

Elia. Essays which have appeared under that signature in the London Magazine (London: printed for Taylor and Hessey, 1823) *PR4861.A1

 Tales from Shakespear. Designed for the use of young persons (London: printed for Thomas Hodgkins, 1807) *PR4862.T11

Satan in search of a wife: with the whole process of his courtship and marriage, and who danced at the wedding/by an eye witness (London: Edward Moxon, 1831) *PR4862.S21

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.


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.

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

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

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…

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