In the summer of 2012 we acquired one of Candace Hicks‘s unique embroidered composition books. Ours is “Volume XXXIII,” with a green cover. Like others in the series, it is a sort of personal reading journal, with all the text embroidered by hand. Authors mentioned in our volume include J.K. Rowling, Janet Evanovich, Jonathan Lethem, and Gary Shteyngart. The book is soft and floppy and a pleasure to handle, and several students have already admired it in our reading room.
KRCC’s Noel Black gave our endpapers a little love in A Big Something today (May 17, 2012).
In March 2012, Special Collections purchased a 20th century Ethiopian “magic scroll.” According to the dealer’s description, it is on parchment, probably goatskin, and in the language of Ge’ez (pronounced guh-UHZ, sometimes known as Ethiopic). It’s about 55 inches long and rolls up to the size of one of Wonder Woman’s wrist cuffs.
The scroll provides healing and protection for the person for whom it was made, and its length often matches the height of that person. (Ours is 55 inches long.)
We don’t know a lot about these scrolls, but according to this book, available at Tutt Library, each one is made for a particular individual, and the scrolls mix elements from Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Another useful source on the topic is Harry Stroomer’s chapter “Magic parchment scrolls from Ethiopia,” available here.
In March of 2012, Special Collections acquired a single leaf from a 19th century Chinese woodblock printed book. This leaf, mounted on heavy paper, is a bifolium (two-page spread) from the Zizhi Tongjian (Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government), and was probably printed in the 19th century. The first edition of the text was produced in the 11th century using the same kind of printing technology.
We will use this leaf in conjunction with our other manuscript and printed leaves when we talk about the history of the material form of the written word in support of CC’s thematic minor in book studies.
Another book acquired in February 2012 through a gift from our anonymous donor: the first solo printing of Sappho’s poems. Up until Abraham Vandenhoeck printed this book in Hamburg in 1733, Sappho’s poetry had appeared only in multi-author collections like this one from 1600. 1733 may seem awfully late for a solo Sappho, but not when you remember — as CC Classics Professor Owen Cramer reminded us — that the majority of her known work wasn’t discovered until the late 19th century.
Our new book has Greek and Latin on opposite pages and an elaborate frontispiece with a bust of Sappho surrounded by ancient coins. We don’t know how the editor, Johann Christian Wolf, was able to compose a 32-page biography of Sappho (born ca. 615 B.C.), but we commend his effort.
With the ownership signature of Michael Wodhull (1740-1816), poet and translator of Euripides. Colorado College students, faculty, and staff have access to much of Wodhull’s work in paper at Tutt Library or via Eighteenth Century Collections Online.
In February of 2012, through another generous gift from our anonymous donor, we purchased the library’s fourth incunable. (Incunabula are European printed materials from pre-1501. A list of all of our incunabula and early printed books is here.)
Our new acquisition is a 1489 edition of Jacobus de Voragine’s Aurea Legenda, i.e. the Golden Legend. It’s in Latin and tells the life stories of Christian saints. The printer is Georg Husner of Strasbourg. (If you’re wondering why a book published in Strasbourg has “Argentine” in its colophon and on its spine, the answer is that the Romans referred to Strasbourg by its military name, Argentoratum, which became Argentina in medieval Latin.)
This particular copy is in a later binding and has almost all its hand-done initial letters. At least one previous owner made marginal notes on several pages. It will be useful to scholars of medieval history (the text was originally written in the 1200s) and to anyone interested in book history.
We could afford our new incunable because it lacks four leaves and has stains and other flaws — all of great interest to anyone interested in books as objects, so we’re very pleased with the bargain! We know faculty and students will make good use of it in the years to come.
More soon on other purchases made with this same anonymous gift!
This 1917 train ticket from our Denver & Rio Grande Railway file has a hole-punch area for a physical description of the passenger. The conductor would mark whether the passenger was male or female; tall, medium, or short; and slim, medium, or stout. The purpose of this, presumably, was to cut down on ticket-stealing and ticket-transferring, not to humiliate the passenger. One hopes.