Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Beautiful Old Books

Sorry, still no pictures of books I'm actually making. Books are dominating my life however, as I claw my way to the finish line of finals, shelve books, and mend books. Here is a series of pictures of the fascinating or beautiful books I've been handling, fixing, and encountering this semester.

whoa this is a beautiful spine. American history books don't generally have so much attention paid to their spine so this one caught my attention. Since it is pretty old (turn of century), it needed to be mended with a bit of glue...

such a striking cover! (which hides broken hinges)

I also appreciated the artwork in the midst of labor books

rough cut pages of rag paper, beautiful cover, and only minor repairs needed. Italian Castles book

an oddity I found in the Dewey stacks (the stacks in our library that are notorious for the age and poor repair of the books...well, amongst those who know they exist) It was a copy of Martin Luther's catechism in Algonquian Indian. This map fold out shows the Schuylkill River, helpfully labeled.

I love it when we find inscriptions in the books from the donors. This one begins, "A half century since this book was given to me..." It was a book on Cree grammar.

What continues to fascinate me about these old books is in their construction. To keep the textblock together and separate from the spine pieces, these book publishers (seems to have been standard practice) grabbed scrap paper and glued it on offering us tantalizing scraps of text, pictures, advertisements, etc. Sometimes the paper matches the book's content, often it's completely random.

"An English-Japanese Dictionary for Military Translators" with its textblock held together with Japanese printed scrap paper. (Now binding is split down the middle...sadly)

Another oddity that I found and the library didn't know we had. A handwritten grammar of Old Bulgarian in German.

Beautifully hand-written.

Another beautiful imprinted cover

even the more modern books can have interesting things in them, like this deacidified book.

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