December 2016: Theatreworks at UCCS is putting on a production of A Christmas Carol this holiday season, and they’ve borrowed a couple of books from CC Special Collections for a display to accompany the show. Shown here: an 1843 first edition of the story and a facsimile of Dickens’s original manuscript.
Last month, science fiction author and io9 founder Charlie Jane Anders visited Colorado College as part of our Visiting Writers series. Writers usually meet with students in CC fiction and poetry classes, and Anders was no exception. This time, though, we held the student session in Special Collections, so that we could look at rare and valuable science fiction publications with her.
It was a blast. I put out an 1869 edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a first edition of George Orwell’s 1984, an Arion Press edition of H.G. Wells’s Tono-Bungay, issues of SF zines such as Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Pandora, pulp paperbacks of Slaughterhouse-Five and Doctor Who, a 17th century history of monsters, and more. We spent a happy hour or so talking about reading and writing science fiction, and as I said goodbye and gathered up the books from the tables I realized it was the first time I’d ever had all my department’s science fiction stuff in front of me at the same time. Glorious!
(Anders is standing in front of a humongous painting by Sandy Kinnee, on loan to the library for one year while we renovate.)
In August of 2016, a generous anonymous donor provided CC Special Collections with $18,000 for this important text on monsters:
Ulysse Aldrovandi (1522-1605). Monstrorum Historia (Bologna: Typis Nicolai Tebaldini, 1642).
We purchased the book from Paul Dowling’s Maryland bookshop, Liber Antiquus. After a telephone conversation invoking Liceti, Piso, and Pokemon, Paul sent us a couple of snapshots from the Aldrovandi Studio in Bologna, showing bones and woodblocks displayed together — a sort of 17th century Pokedex, if you will (those of you who are playing Pokemon Go probably will; the rest of you probably will not).
I told our anonymous donor that I couldn’t wait to show the book to students because it was going to blow their minds.
I was right. Listen to the reaction of the first students at CC to see the book, a new student tour on August 10, 2016:
Interest in monsters goes back a long way and shows no sign of stopping. See Allison Meier’s A Visual History of Society’s Monsters for a nice overview. Her article includes a marvelous animated gif of the Aldrovandi monsters made by Kurosh ValaNejad, a film student at the University of Southern California (low-res version below, better version at Meier link):
Unfortunately, no English translation of this text exists. A project for CC Latin students and faculty, perhaps? It would probably only take about twenty years to complete…
It’s not often that an affordable, teachable incunable comes available on the antiquarian book market, so we snapped this one up!
Ovid. De arte amandi et de remedio amoris cum comento [Ars Amatoria]. Venice : Johannes Tacuinus, de Tridino, 1494.
Ovid’s erotic love poems are sure to be a hit with CC’s Latin classes, and this particular copy, with its annotations and bookworm damage, will be of interest to book studies scholars.
Most of the library renovation work happening in Tutt Library is noisy, messy, dusty, and not much fun for the people in the building. But here’s a brilliantly shining silver lining to the project: artist Sandy Kinnee has loaned two of enormous, gorgeous abstract paintings for the duration of the renovation.
Special Collections has had many incarnations over the years. The space shown here:
The paintings are numbers 2285 and 2290 from his Stepping Stones Perhaps series of March 2016 (images courtesy of the artist):
Each painting in the series is about 14 feet long and 8 feet high, with some variation.
Where are all the books, you ask? Where are the cabinets and shelves? The books and files have been moved to non-browsable areas of Special Collections, mostly the “cage” across from the curator’s office. The college donated the cabinets and shelves to Queen Palmer Elementary School, where the students have become quite fond of them already as stand-up desks. We hope the Woman’s Educational Society will be pleased that the furniture they donated in 1977 is having a second life in a new kind of educational setting.
Starting this summer, the Sandy Kinnee Room (so dubbed by curator Jessy Randall) will be open for general study whenever the library is open. Special Collections researchers will work in the curator’s office, which now seats eight. We will use the Kinnee Room when we have more than eight researchers at a time and whenever we perform class instructions (about once a week during the school year).
Addendum, July 18, 2016: the Pokemon Go craze has come to Colorado College, and the creatures are everywhere. A visitor snapped this photo of a Diglett in in front of Kinnee’s work:
In December of 2015, just before we left for winter break, the Buddy Taub Foundation (Dennis and Jill Roach, directors) donated $75,000 to Colorado College Special Collections. The foundation slated the money for a particular purchase: a small collection of extremely rare Bauhaus materials.
The collection is made up of a handful of rather amazing items. First, the three-page Programm des Staatlichen Bauhauses in Weimar, German architect Walter Gropius’s 1919 manifesto for the Bauhaus movement. It is illustrated with the famous “Kathedrale” woodcut by Lyonel Feininger (image at right). This particular copy was a gift from Gropius to his student and colleague Chester Nagel. Fewer than ten copies of this fragile document are known to have survived.
Second, a test print of the “Kathedrale” woodcut, somewhat smaller than the print used for the cover of the Programm. This, too, was a gift from Gropius to Nagel. There’s a similar test print at the Museum of Modern Art.
Third, a copy of Satzungen Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar, the 1922 handbook for Weimar Bauhaus school, printed soon after the school’s adoption of Gropius’s maxim “Kunst und Technik – eine neue Einheit” (“Art and technology, a new unity”). One of only three known copies in the world.
Fourth, a pair of original Gropius designs in pencil. One is the name of his daughter, “Manon Gropius,” in shaded block letters; the other is a series of architectural sketches.
(Side note: printer of the Press at Colorado College Aaron Cohick tells us of an interesting Colorado/Bauhaus connection: Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer moved to Aspen after he left Germany; he had solo shows at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in 1947 and 1962.)
The Buddy Taub Foundation’s mission is to make funds available to museums and research libraries for the purchase of desirable materials they would not otherwise be able to afford. The Foundation hand-picks the institutions and items for purchase. Past recipients include the Pierpont Morgan, Huntington, and Lilly libraries, among others. Colorado College is thrilled to be in such illustrious company!
Special Collections student assistant Anna Wermuth blogged her experience in The History and Future of the Book half block class, January 2016:
(The dodo and flying squirrel illustrations are from our copy of Willem Piso’s De Indiae Utriusque re Naturali et Medica Libri Qvatvordecim, published 1658. Anna refers to them in her first post, “That Special Something.”)
After spending the incredible $10,000 gift from the Woman’s Educational Society, we here at Special Collections decided we weren’t quite finished acquiring important books related to women’s history.
Members of the faculty of CC’s Feminist and Gender Studies program had directed us to Duke University’s Project Vox, which in turn called our attention to Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet (1706-1749), an important and influential scientist. We were able to purchase two editions of Émilie du Châtelet’s Institutions de Physique: the first edition, in French, from 1740, which was published anonymously; and an Italian translation, with attribution, published in 1743.
If you’re not fluent in French or Italian but you’d like to know more about du Châtelet, you might try David Bodanis’s 2006 book Passionate Minds, which is subtitled “the great love affair of the Enlightenment, featuring the scientist Emilie Du Châtelet, the poet Voltaire, sword fights, book burnings, assorted kings, seditious verse, and the birth of the modern world.” It’s available at the CC library.
In December of 2015, Idris Goodwin directed a sold-out production of Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide … When the Rainbow is Enuf at Colorado College. He and the cast (Alexandra Farr, Lyric Jackson, Jazlyn Andrews, Jaiel Mitchell, Justice Miles, Brittany Comancho, Deaira Cooper, and Erica Willard) stopped by Special Collections last week to take a look at a first edition of the book, which was first published in 1975 by Shameless Hussy Press in 1975.
This is the fifth and final report on how we spent the $10,000 gift we received from the Woman’s Educational Society:
Irwin P. Beadle. Beadle’s Dime Book of Etiquette: A Practical Guide to Good Breeding. New York: Beadle & Adams, [ca. 1890]. Revised and enlarged edition. A manual for behaving properly in society, useful for understanding the history of gender. We learn that “some men have a mania for Greek and Latin quotations; this is a peculiarity to be avoided. Nothing is more wearisome than pedantry.” Ladies, on the other hand, should “always maintain a dignity of character, and never condescend to trifle” in conversation.
Robinson, William Davis. Memoirs of the Mexican Revolution: Including a Narrative of the Expedition of General Xavier Mina. Philadelphia: Lydia R. Bailey, 1820. First edition, edges untrimmed. Lydia R. Bailey (1779-1869) was the first woman printer in Philadelphia, inheriting her husband’s floundering press in 1808. (She was followed soon after by Jane Aitken (1810) and Ann Cochran (1812). Under Bailey’s management, the press thrived for five decades. At its peak, it employed forty workers and was one of the largest printing establishments in the city. (For more information, see Loena M. Hudak’s Early American Women Printers and Publishers, Scarecrow Press, 1978.)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Concerning Children. Boston: Small, Maynard, 1900. This is the fourth book by Gilman, best known for her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” and her novel Herland. In it, she argues that mothers and children would both benefit from group childcare centers. The decorative binding, signed “MLP,” is by Marion Louise Peabody.
THANK YOU, W.E.S.!!!