Author Archives: jessyrandall

Dream interpretation made easy

madame  fruitdreams

Madame Le Marchand’s Fortune Teller and Dreamer’s Dictionary (1863) will tell you the meaning of everything in your dreams. Each fruit, for example, has a particular meaning: cherries “portend vexation and trouble in marriage”; gooseberries “indicate many children,” and filberts “forebode much trouble and danger.” (Has J.K. Rowling’s Sybill Trelawney been reading this book?)

The numbers after each entry are the lucky numbers your dreams have provided. Visit Special Collections and request the book to begin interpreting your own dreams the official 1863 way.

Postcard collages by Mary Chenoweth and the Pikes Peak Pen Women

Chenoweth postcardsOn Saturday, January 19, the Pikes Peak Pen Women visited Special Collections to learn about historical writers and artists in Colorado. They viewed the original handwritten manuscript of Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel Ramona, books by Ann Zwinger, artists’ books by Alicia Bailey and others, and postcard collages by Mary Chenoweth.

Special Collections is home to the papers of Chenoweth, an artist who taught at Colorado College from 1953 until 1983. She made sculptures, woodcarvings, woodcuts, watercolor and oil paintings, etchings, and more. Making art was an everyday activity for her, and she frequently created one-of-a-kind postcard collages and mailed them to friends and family.

Pen Women postcardsThe Pen Women usually do some kind of writing exercise at their meetings. This time, instead, they made their own postcard collages, using recycled materials such as scraps from magazines and catalogs. I hope the club members will do as Chenoweth did and mail their postcards to friends and loved ones. Perhaps we can start a home-made-postcard-making trend!

A looooooooooong Merwin poem

merwin1

Our anonymous donor surprised us this month with a gift of the Ninja Press edition of W.S. Merwin’s The Real World of Manuel Córdova (1995). When stretched out, this accordion-style production measures fifteen feet long. Here’s the dealer’s description.

We look forward to sharing all fifteen feet with book arts and poetry students and other researchers in the coming years, perhaps alongside our similarly-stretchable two editions of Carlos Oquendo de Amat’s Five Meters of Poems (one from Ugly Duckling Presse and one from Turkey Press).

Our anonymous donor strikes again!

With a money gift from a very kind anonymous donor, Special Collections has just acquired our fifth incunable! (Incunabula are European printed materials from pre-1501. A list of our incunabula and early printed books is here.)

This new one is a 1492 edition of Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ, printed by Anton Koberger in Nuremberg. It’s smallish, less than six inches tall and comfortable in the hands.

Owners and censors have been “refreshing” it in various ways over its five century life. Marginalia has been excised, leaves have been replaced, words have been struck out, owners have placed their signatures and stamps and bookplates in it. We know from its scent that at least one previous owner was a smoker. We know from the dealer that the clasp has been replaced. We look forward to scholars working with it and finding out much, much more.

So, on this day-before-Thanksgiving, we say: thank you, anonymous donor!  Thank you, Medieval Books, for the generous discount you provided in support of Colorado College’s minor in book studies! And thank you, book people everywhere, for loving books and caring for them so that they last and last.

Carleton College artists’ books

Hagstrom: Forces and Fossils

In September of 2012, Carleton College professor and book artist Fred Hagstrom was the Press at Colorado College’s Visiting Lecturer. Special Collections owns three of Hagstrom’s books: Deeply Honored, concerning a Japanese-American internment camp, and two newly acquired books: Standing Place, gift of the artist, a book about the marriage of a Maori man and a Greek woman, and Forces and Fossils, which was made using blown-up illustrations from Ernst Haeckel’s 1862 book on microscopic protozoa, Die Radiolarien.

Fay: Salton Sea

While he was here, Hagstrom showed us samples of books his students at Carleton had made.  We thought students here might benefit from seeing books made by students elsewhere, and have therefore purchased four artists’ books made by Carleton students and alumni: Holly Phares’s Important to My Sanity and Future, Myla Fay’s The Salton Sea Guide to Birds and Dune Buggies, Liz Giraud’s Love Hertz, and Heather O’Hara’s The Handbook of Practical Geographies.

Embroidered composition book by Candace Hicks


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.

Ethiopian “magic scroll”

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.

Leaf from a Chinese woodblock book

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.