Tag Archives: Behind the Stacks

Behind the Stacks: You had me at “charts”

Since my last “Behind the Stacks” entry on R. C. Shimeall’s A Complete Ecclesiastical Chart, I have been noticing more charts, awkward formats, and too-large items within our special collections. As a redux of that post, here featured is another circular chart of history and yet another exhaustive production from Shimeall. Enjoy the images!

Cover — James M. Ludlow. Ludlow’s concentric chart of history. New York : Funk & Wagnalls, [c1885]. (Union Rare HH95 L94)

Spread of leaves charting B.C. history and “Modern Quarter Centuries” — Ludlow’s concentric chart of history.

Spread of leaves charting A.D. history; chart is approximately 23 cm in diameter — Ludlow’s concentric chart of history.

Title vignette of chart “exhibiting in one view the… Posterity of every Person mentioned in Scripture” — R. C. Shimeall. A complete historical chronological geographical & genealogical chart of the sacred Scriptures from Adam to Christ. Philadelphia : Published by H.S. Tanner, 1832. (Union Rare CU S55)

 “Explanation of characters” and “Directions for the proper method of reading this map” — A complete… chart of the sacred Scriptures from Adam to Christ.

Full view; chart is approximately 50 x 61 inches — A complete… chart of the sacred Scriptures from Adam to Christ.

To learn more about viewing special collections material at the Burke Library, please visit our website at Burke Rare Books & Manuscripts.

Behind the Stacks: “At a single view” – Shimeall’s A Complete Ecclesiastical Chart

Close-up of the 15th and 16th century sections in Shimeall’s A Complete Ecclesiastical Chart, showing proximity of the advent of printing and the Reformation

One of the joys of my job as Collections Services Assistant is the ability to browse the closed stacks where we store our rare books and special collections. One item I happened to find recently was too large and unwieldy to simply peek at, and since there’s no telling when some reader will next request this item for it to see the light of day, I brought it down to our conference room to spread it out and admire the scale and detail of this chart.

Full view of the 3.5 feet wide circular chart

 

Created by Richard Cunningham Shimeall in 1833, and revised at the latest in 1853, this item may be best described by listing its full title:

A COMPLETE ECCLESIASTICAL CHART, From the earliest Records, SACRED AND PROFANE, DOWN TO THE PRESENT DAY; SHOWING ITS CONNECTION WITH CIVIL HISTORY AND PROPHECY: And exhibiting at a single view, the IDENTITY AND PERPETUITY of the CHURCH, IN HER ADVERSE AND PROSPEROUS STATES, UNDER THE Mosaic and Christian Dispensations, And embracing a detailed account of the Political Events, External History, Internal Government, Religious Observances, and growing corruptions of the Church; and of the REFORMATION: AND EMBRACING THE NAMES OF REMARKABLE PERSONS; Viz. Bishops, Popes, Martyrs, Writers, Doctors, Philosophers, Emperors, &c. And a general survey of Doctrines, Sects, Councils, and Prevailing Philosophy; The comparative Rise, Revolutions, and Fall, of the PRINCIPAL EMPIRES IN THE WORLD, And a complete Nucleus to the FULFILMENT OF PROPHECY OF THE WHOLE.

Section of chart showing figures and events of the “Æra of the Jewish Church”

In the accompanying key to the chart (also available in digitized form), Shimeall describes how the chart is to be read and how he has used shapes, colors, and placement to indicate the changing size or influence of the Church in relation to civil and political events.

Data visualization, 19th century-style: section of chart showing the “Æra of the Christian Church” and the use of widths of color bands to show comparative social forces in time.

Truly a feast of type, decoration, and illustration, the chart was engraved and printed by Samuel Styles of New York. Imagine composing and proofing for this job!

Close-up of the 1st century section, showing a box that seems to have been mistakenly left blank

Calling the chart his “Great Circle,” Shimeall chose the circular shape to “serve as an intimation of [the Church of the living God’s] final recovery to a state of eternal peace and glory.”

Close-up of vignette in the 19th century section, depicting an angel and a broken hourglass, seeming to herald the “Prelude to the close of time.”

The Burke Library’s copies of the key to the chart come with pages of contemporary testimonials and reviews, and many of the reviewers express the sentiment that they could not do justice to the exhaustive detail of the chart and recommend that the work be viewed in person. And indeed, we welcome and invite you to view this or other rare books held by the Burke Library.  To learn more about visiting our library or to make an appointment please visit our website.

Behind the Stacks: Acts of the Saints

A piece of waste paper stuck to the verso of the title page in a volume of the Acta Sanctorum

In the course of preparing more of Burke’s rare books for preservation boxes, I came across a set of the Acta Sanctorum (published from 1643 to 1794) with each volume holding a small piece of waste paper behind the title page. It’s not unusual to find random scraps of paper stuck in the pages of our rare books, but this was curiously consistent in this 53 volume set. Looking closer, I realized these had been used to blot the ink from a library ownership stamp.

Underneath the waste paper is a stamp

Close-up of stamp that reads “Duplum bibliothecae Univers. Friburg. Brisg.”

The blotter has done its job

Reverse of the paper piece shown above, with signature marking “G7”

Another piece of waste paper used to blot the stamp ink

Reverse of the paper piece shown above, with signature marking “G6”

Another view of waste paper used to blot the stamp ink

Another view of waste paper used to blot the stamp ink

From the stamps, it appears these books were formerly duplicates in the library at the University of Freiburg. I can’t help but picture someone, years ago in Germany, going through these books, stamping and conscientiously placing a piece of paper to blot the ink in each of the 53 volumes. Now, at the Burke Library in New York, we’ve carefully measured and fitted these books into sturdy clamshell boxes that will help preserve them for today’s and future generations of scholars. The pieces of waste/blotting paper are still there for now.

We welcome and invite you to view this or other rare books held by the Burke Library; to learn more about visiting our library or to make an appointment please visit our website.

Behind the Stacks: Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor

Cover of bound volume. -- The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, 1888. https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/5254942

Cover of bound volume. — The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, 1888. https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/5254942

Children’s missionary periodicals have some of the most charming, amusing, and eyebrow-raising content I’ve come across in the Burke Library’s collections. The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor is one in particular that caught my eye with the delightful cover shown above. The Burke has fairly comprehensive holdings of this periodical, which was published in London by the Church Missionary Society from 1842 to at least the 1950’s in various title permutations. The images below give a glimpse at the editors’ efforts to engage their young audience with a visually arresting publication, a conversational tone, and encouragement of reader participation.

Green cover of bound volume; the periodical was known as the “Green Book.” -- The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, 1871. https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/5255257

Green cover of bound volume; the periodical was known as the “Green Book.” — The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, 1871. https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/5255257

Title page of New Series Volume 7. -- The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, 1871.

Title page of New Series Volume 7. — The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, 1871.

Editor’s letter noting the “prettier” cover, new title page illustration, and a non-change in price. -- The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, Jan. 1871, p.[1].

Editor’s letter noting the “prettier” cover, new title page illustration, and a non-change in price. — The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, Jan. 1871, p.[1].

Red cloth cover of bound volume. -- Juvenile Instructor / Church Missionary Society, 1880. https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/5255258

Red cloth cover of bound volume. — Juvenile Instructor / Church Missionary Society, 1880. https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/5255258

Title page of 1880 issue showing price has remained at a halfpenny. -- Juvenile Instructor / Church Missionary Society, Jan. 1880, p.[1].

Title page of 1880 issue showing price has remained at a halfpenny. — Juvenile Instructor / Church Missionary Society, Jan. 1880, p.[1].

Editor’s letter introducing green-tinted paper. -- Juvenile Instructor / Church Missionary Society, Jan. 1880, p.2.

Editor’s letter introducing green-tinted paper. — Juvenile Instructor / Church Missionary Society, Jan. 1880, p.2.

Editor’s letter noting objections to the green paper. -- Juvenile Instructor / Church Missionary Society, Dec. 1880, p.134.

Editor’s letter noting objections to the green paper. — Juvenile Instructor / Church Missionary Society, Dec. 1880, p.134.

Illustrated cover of bound volume (the endpapers inside are green). -- The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, 1884. https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/5254942

Illustrated cover of bound volume (the endpapers inside are green). — The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, 1884. https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/5254942

Call for entries for “Prize Clock.” The periodical frequently held this kind of design contest. -- The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, Jan. 1884, p.12.

Call for entries for “Prize Clock.” The periodical frequently held this kind of design contest. — The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, Jan. 1884, p.12.

Results of “The Bible Clock Competition.” -- The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, Apr. 1884, p.48.

Results of “The Bible Clock Competition.” — The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, Apr. 1884, p.48.

Note regarding cover options for the year’s bound volume. -- The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, Dec. 1884, p.137.

Note regarding cover options for the year’s bound volume. — The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, Dec. 1884, p.137.

The items pictured in this post are from both the open stacks and special collections at Burke. To learn more about visiting the Burke Library, please see our website for General Library Access or Special Collections Access.

Behind the Stacks: literally

plough marks

Freshly hewn blocks of wood? Or roughly ploughed fore-edges of the collected works of Christian Scriver from among Burke Library’s rare books?

Sometimes the most interesting views are not the front of bookshelves with all the book spines facing outward, but rather the back, where you can find various edge decorations, hardware, and conditions that make for a visual treat. I often find these during shelf maintenance tasks that involve removing a range of books from a shelf, thereby revealing the backside of another shelf. Literally from behind the stacks, here are some choice reverse views of Burke’s special collections shelves:

marbled edges

Some classic marbled edges

tartan pattern edge

A simple tartan pattern for edge decoration

tube

A solitary tube

Green ribbons

book closures

Book and box closures, old and new

blue edges

Blue colored edges (with neighboring green)

gauffered edges

Gauffered edges

tidy shelf

Protective enclosures are good for the books and make it easy to keep a tidy shelf… but they do hinder chance discoveries of other interesting reverse views!

Behind the Stacks: Manuscript facsimile

In youth, I spent interminable hours copying out by hand long passages of the Bible for Sunday school. I also remember dutifully copying out lecture notes in school and feeling grateful for mechanical pencils (no sharpening!). These days, I use my phone to snap a picture of some text, printed or handwritten, and in a few moments have an OCR (optical character recognition) converted text file to save, share, or copy-paste however I want. The motivations behind these actions are different, but I had reason to reflect on the far cry between such modes of copying when I happened upon this title in Burke’s Special Collections:

Eröffneter Weg zum Frieden mit Gott und allen Creatüren, dürch die Publication der sämmtlichen Schrifften Christiani Democriti

Eroffneter Weg title 1

Produced in the 18th century, well into print culture, this very long manuscript copy of an already printed publication is an intriguing item that was quietly posing as a printed book among thousands of others in our special collections. I happened to open it in the process of measuring a number of our rare books for preservation boxes, and noticed that it was not actually print. We’ve since reclassified it into Burke’s manuscript collection.

Eroffneter Weg praefatioEroffneter Weg caput

The 2 volumes contain over 2,000 hand-written and -drawn pages, painstakingly copying not only the text but the printed ornaments from its source.

Eroffneter Weg orthodoxieEroffneter Weg ende

Even the frontispieces are drawn in imitation of [probably] etchings.

Eroffneter Weg frontispiece 1Eroffneter Weg frontispiece 2

(For comparison, a printed copy of the title held by Princeton University can be viewed here: https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/9377442)

We welcome and invite you to view this or other special collections held by the Burke Library; to learn more about visiting our library or to make an appointment please visit our website.

 

Behind the Stacks: Unheard-of Curiosities

As the Collection Services Assistant at the Burke Library, I am constantly in and out of the stacks and handling materials from both the special and general collections. In the course of my work, I frequently stumble across interesting items, images, or views that may otherwise go unnoticed or are even inaccessible for the public. It’s my pleasure to start sharing some of these finds through the Burke blog.

One the most common finds I make among the special collections items are foldouts with fun illustrations. For today, I’ll share images from this 1706 publication of Jacques Gaffarel’s Curiositates inauditae. An unassuming exterior contains some delightful illustrations of “unheard-of curiosities”:

Jacques Gaffarel's Curiositates inauditae, 1706

Jacques Gaffarel’s Curiositates inauditae, 1706

Triton. Siren.

Triton. Siren.

Dagon

Dagon

Diana

Diana

Cherubim

Cherubim

Moloch

Moloch

Theraphim. Averruncus.

Theraphim. Averruncus.

We welcome and invite you to view this or other rare books held by the Burke Library; to learn more about visiting our library or to make an appointment please visit our website at Burke Rare Books & Manuscripts.