What’s in a Motto?

Over the past seven years I have been a tour guide at the Salisbury House. In all that time, I am still finding objects that I have questions about. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, with over ten thousand artifacts in the museum!

The other day I was looking at the Weeks family crest or coat of arms. The Weeks crest is located in several places in the museum. They appear on the main stair runner, the Great Hall, in the Library on the light sconces, and also on the family’s finest dinnerware on display in the Breakfast Room.

The crest has three battle axes on a field of crosses. At the bottom of the crest is a motto: Cari Deo Nihilo Carent. At first I thought that the first and last words started with G’s. But on closer inspection, I realized that the words started with C’s. 

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Weeks crest on the family’s dinnerware

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Weeks crest on a wall sconce in the Library

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Weeks crest on stair runner

 

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Detail the Weeks crest on the stair runner

 

I had heard that Carl Weeks had made up his own family crest in the 1920s, but was this actually true? I had a real mystery to solve.

Did Carl, in fact, create his own Weeks family crest and motto? Or was there an existing Weeks family crest and motto that had been historically associated with the Weekses? Finally, what did the motto actually mean?

When I was in grade school I had taken Latin so I recognize some of the words. Also while being an altar boy, I had to learn all the payers for the Catholic mass in Latin – which, to this day, I can still recite. My next step was to go online and see if I could translate the Latin to English. 

I knew that Deo was God and Nihilo meant nothing. If you strictly translate the words the motto reads, Dear God Nothing Lacking. But Latin is not that easy. The position of the words can make that sentence mean something completely different. Additionally, certain prefixes or suffixes can give the word a different meaning and change the overall interpretation of the motto. 

During my search online, I came upon a site called “House Of Names,” and searched for the Weeks family crest. It was there that all my question were answered.

According to this website, the motto Cari Deo Nihilo Carent has long been associated with the Weeks family. In fact, the crest pictured on the website matches the crests included in the Weeks family collection.

from site

Here was the answer! Carl did not make up his own crest or motto – he used the historical Weeks family logo and crest in his design of Salisbury House. The full meaning of Cari Deo Nihilo Carent reads, “Those dear to God want nothing.”  

As you can see we are constantly learning new things about Salisbury House. Sometimes what we thought was true is, in fact, not the case. 

The Black Sun Press and Harry Marks at Salisbury House

They were christened the “Lost Generation” by Gertrude Stein – the extraordinary creative generation in the 1920s and 1930s, including James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Igor Stravinsky, Isadora Duncan, George Gershwin, Aldous Huxley, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, Pablo Picasso, and many others.  Most of them lived around Paris and southern France, most were expatriates, and many became the core of what is known as “Modernism.”  Particularly among the writers, many were American.  One major port of call for the Lost Generation was the Parisian English language bookstore Shakespeare & Co. run by an American woman named Sylvia Beach.  Beach is best known as the publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The Library and Rare Documents Collection at Salisbury House provides a fascinating survey of significant works to emerge from the creative energies of Paris during the 1920s and 1930s.

A young and wealthy American couple, Harry and Caresse Crosby, joined the expat crowd in Paris by the early 1920s. He was a nephew of J. P. Morgan, and both were aspiring, but marginally talented, poets.  The Crosbys were regulars at Shakespeare & Co.  Most of their early work consisted of love poems written to each other.  This photo of a bust of Harry by his wife was the frontispiece of the Black Sun Press edition of Poems for Harry Crosby written by Caresse after Harry’s death.

Harry Crosby bust

Salisbury House Library & Rare Documents 

Realizing that they had little chance of getting their poems published elsewhere, the Crosbys decided to use their own money to publish them themselves in finely-made and hand-bound editions.  This was the start, in 1925, of the Editions Narcisse, which soon became The Black Sun Press.  This title page is typical of many subsequent books, with the combination of red and black ink.

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Salisbury House Library & Rare Documents

 

The frontispiece was a drawing by Lawrence – and, in the Salisbury House copy, with Lawrence’s signature – as shown below.

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Salisbury House Library & Rare Documents Collection

The Crosby’s had found an eccentric, but perfectionist printer named Roger Lescaret who printed almost all of their books (their office was upstairs from his shop.)  His work was matched by the perfectionism of Harry and Caresse – their books have the effect of “elaborate care rather than wasteful expense, of delicacy rather than elaboration.”

The second player in the Black Sun Press story at Salisbury House was, naturally, Carl Weeks: the builder of Salisbury House and the collector of its magnificent library.

The third major player in the story of the Black Sun Press was their United States distributor – Harry F. Marks.  Marks was a New York book dealer (with, by 1925,  a shop on West 47th St.) who was known for fine bindings and high-end “sporting books”, i.e. erotica.  He openly listed such books in his catalogs, yet he was never arrested – probably because of his affluent and respectable clientele.  He also dealt in the avant-garde literature of the time, as did his close neighbor, the Gotham Book Mart.

Marks was one of the two favorite book dealers of Carl Weeks, (the other being the New York dealer Philip Duschnes) and Carl was a favored customer who was offered many rare items, many of which still reside in the Salisbury House library.

Harry Marks had attempted to get a signed agreement with the Crosby’s making him the sole US distributor of the Black Sun Press books, but they would not sign such an agreement.  They did, however, provide him with nearly complete print runs of many of their books and even printed Marks as the source for many books as shown in this page from the 1931 Poems for Harry Crosby.  Note that this copy has a signed presentation from Marks to Carl.

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Salisbury House Library & Rare Documents Collection

One of the Black Sun books from 1929 that is discussed in more detail in another blog entry is James Joyce’s Tales Told of Shem and Shaun. That book includes a colophon (an inscription at the end of a book usually with facts about its production) showing its availability at Marks’ bookshop

What follows is a survey of the other Black Sun Press books in the Salisbury House library in rough order of publication date.

One of the early Black Sun books from 1928 was  Letters of Henry James to Walter Berry.  James was, of course, the well-known novelist and Walter Berry was an American lawyer living in Paris who was a good friend of Henry James, Marcel Proust, and Edith Wharton.  He willed his library to his cousin – Harry Crosby.  The Salisbury House copy of the Letters is unique in preserving the original holographs of two of the letters from the book – number three and number ten; the first page of number ten in Henry James hand is shown below.

Walter Berry 1

Salisbury House Library & Rare Documents Collection

Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy was published in 1929 and again the colophon shows Marks as the US dealer.

Laurence Stern end

Salisbury House Library & Rare Documents Collection

 

Harry Crosby died on 10 December, 1929 in New York in a probable murder-suicide with a woman with whom he was having an affair.  He had combined his sun-worship with a fascination with death for many years.  Now, Crosby would probably be diagnosed with PTSD from his traumatic experiences as an ambulance driver at Verdun in World War I.  Caresse, Harry’s wife, continued the publishing activities of the Black Sun Press for many years after  her husband’s death.

In the Salisbury House collection, Sun, Tales Told of Shem and Shaun, Secession in Astropolis, New Found Land, Einstein , Imaginary Letters, and A Sentimental Journey show the Harry Marks addition to the colophon in nearly identical style.

One of the interesting questions about the Harry Crosby, Harry Marks, and Carl Weeks connections is when Carl started collecting the Black Sun Press.  One answer, albeit a little confusing, comes from a dedication from Harry Marks to Carl in Sleeping Together, one of the parts of the 1931 first volume of Harry Crosby’s posthumous Collected Poems.

As Carl’s adjacent note (left of the bookplate) points out, this is from 1931 (and “introduce” is clearly present tense) and yet it seems likely that Marks was selling Black Sun books to Carl long before then, but who knows?

Harry Marks inscription to Carl in Sleeping Together

Salisbury House Library & Rare Documents Collection

Secession in Astropolis by Eugene Jolas is an experiment in mythic and abstract language somewhat in the style of Finnegans Wake, but without the genius.  It is interesting in that it establishes another important connection in the close-knit modernist group in Paris; Jolas was the founder and editor of the literary journal transition.  This was probably the most influential little magazine in Paris, publishing nearly every major name in early 20th century English literature, including the first major serialization of James Joyce’s Work in Progress (later published as the book Finnegans Wake.)  It is hardly surprising that Harry Crosby was involved there too – as an associate editor and financial backer.  Sleeping Together was reprinted in transition #19/20 in a memorial section after Harry Crosby’s death. The Gotham Book Mart was the sole US distributor of transition.

One of the other major publications in 1929 was The Escaped Cock by D. H. Lawrence.  This book involves a very complicated story, discussed in more detail below.  1929 also saw the publication of another book by Harry Crosby, The Transit of Venus.

1930 saw the publication of a number of important books as well, including a finely printed edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland with color illustrations by Marie Laurencin.

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Salisbury House Library & Rare Documents Collection

Ezra Pound’s Imaginary Letters was also published in 1930 and Salisbury House has one of the fifty limited copies signed by Pound.

Ezra Pound signature

Salisbury House Library & Rare Documents Collection

Other Black Sun books from 1930 in the Salisbury House library include New Found Land by Archibald MacLeish, Harry Crosby’s Shadows of the Sun, and Crosby’s Aphrodite in Flight.  The last is his memoir of learning to fly an airplane.  The last in this general survey (but much less than half of all the Black Sun titles) is the 1936 edition of the Collected Poems of James Joyce.  This is notable for the very fine 1930 Augustus John portrait of Joyce used as a frontispiece; the Salisbury House copy was also signed by Joyce.

Joyce Collected Poems image and signature

Salisbury House Library & Rare Documents Collection

At this point, it’s time to return to the 1929 first edition of The Escaped Cock by D. H. Lawrence, with this frontispiece by Lawrence.

DH Lawrence Black Sun Press frontispiece

Salisbury House Library & Rare Documents Collection

This novella is a different interpretation of the resurrection of Jesus; it was later re-published as The Man Who Died.  Salisbury House has three copies of the first edition and is fortunate to have the complete hand-written manuscript of the novel. The travels of this manuscript – from the hand of Lawrence to the library of Carl Weeks – are the first mystery of the book.  The first page is shown below.

 

DH Lawrence manuscript

Salisbury House Library & Rare Documents Collection

The idea and title for the book derive from a toy rooster escaping from an egg displayed in a shop window in Grosseto, Italy.  Lawrence saw it in 1927 and remarked to a friend that it inspired the title.   The book was written in two parts and both parts were eventually sent by Lawrence on September 2, 1928 to his long-time family friend Enid Hilton.  On May 20, 1929 he instructed Enid to send it to Caresse Crosby, but NOT as a gift.  After the book was published, Lawrence complained to Caresse about the low price she had asked for the print run for – who else – Harry Marks, and about the large profit margin Marks was making.

After Harry Crosby’s death in December, 1929 (and probably after Lawrence’s death in March of 1930), Frieda Lawrence (David’s widow) wrote in 1930 to Caresse Crosby asking for the return of the manuscript, saying, in part, “I won’t give you another word of Lawrence’s to print if I don’t get the ms. of The Escaped Cock. Yours in disgust, Frieda.”  I can find no mention of any further Black Sun books by Lawrence and it is clear that Frieda did not receive it from Caresse, because she expressed surprise in a letter of Dec 1, 1934 to Carl Weeks on finding that Carl had it!  Carl had likely purchased the manuscript from  Harry Marks.

Therein lies the mystery – how did Harry Marks get the manuscript?  One possibility is that Caresse sold it to Marks, possibly out of anger at Frieda, but the biography of Caresse does not show her as vindictive and, despite the death of her husband, she didn’t really need the money.  Another story is part of the Salisbury House oral tradition, but seems a bit far-fetched.  IF Harry Crosby had taken the manuscript with him to New York, and IF the dinner party that had been expecting Harry Crosby (including Harry Marks, of course) when they were informed at the theater of Harry’s suicide had rushed to the suicide scene, and IF Marks had “liberated” the manuscript as part of cleaning up the crime scene – then Harry Marks had it.  If I were a gambler, I’d bet on the first possibility.

The second oddity with this book is the fact that Harry Marks, somehow, eventually obtained the copyright for The Escaped Cock and published it with that copyright.

 

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Salisbury House Library & Rare Document Collection

Salisbury House has an unique archive relating to this edition, consisting of a marked-up copy of the Black Sun edition showing the changes that Marks made to the colophon in preparation for his edition.

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We have seen that there is an intimate connection between the Lost Generation in 1920s and 1930s Paris, The Black Sun Press, Harry Marks, and Carl Weeks.  Some of the connections are a bit murky, but that only adds to the extraordinary Library and Rare Documents Collection at Salisbury House.

 

A Detective Story at Salisbury House

One of the intriguing aspects of the collections at Salisbury House is the opportunity they present for research about the many interesting objects in the house.  A case in point is a very unusual prayer rug displayed in the first floor west hallway, outside the Dining Room.

The rug is a “saf” or “saph”, which is a family prayer rug – in this case, with six niches for a man and his five sons or other male family members.  In use, the points of the arches would be pointed toward Mecca.  Safs are fairly uncommon, and this layout of side-by-side niches is only one of the possible arrangements of the niches.

 

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Prayer rug at Salisbury House

 

The rug has been hanging in this location since at least 1928.  It is listed in a 1928 appraisal inventory as 16th Century with “thousand knots gold field,” but with no location of origin specified  On the other hand, the standard object inventory for the house lists it as from Hamadan in western Iran, but dating from 1880.  That is almost 3 centuries difference – which is correct?

In addition to the design, I originally became interested in the rug when I noticed that the construction is extremely unusual. Nearly all Persian rugs are constructed over the entire surface with the so-called Persian knot with the ends of each knot forming the rug surface (Turkish rugs generally use a different knot).

 

Senneh

 

There are generally warp threads between the knots that help hold the rug together, but they are usually not visible from the front.  The construction of this rug is different in that only the figural design elements are knotted pile of this type, while the background is woven with a herringbone pattern of flat weave. 

In the image below, the raised pile design is in blue, faded red, and a line of light brown, while the woven background is clearly different.  Some of the lighter specks in the background are traces of metallic gold thread.  The rug clearly belonged to a wealthy man!

 

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Prayer rug detail – woven background and pile design

 

While on a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, I noticed a so-called “polonaise” carpet which had many features in common with the rug in Salisbury House.  The palette was similar, the age was given as circa 1600 (nearly the same as one description of the Salisbury House rug), and the construction combined woven and pile elements.

There were differences, of course – the Victoria and Albert rug is not a prayer rug, it is silk rather than wool, and the background is a brocade rather than a weave.  Nonetheless, the similarities led me to contact the Victoria and Albert to see if they could clarify the background of the Salisbury House rug.

My email was very promptly answered by Dr. Moya Carey, Iran Heritage Foundation Curator for the Iranian Collections at the Victoria and Albert.  This was something of a surprise, in that Dr. Carey, a distinguished scholar of Iranian art, almost certainly experiences many demands on her time. After sending her some images of the Salisbury House rug, she sent me images of a 1986 museum catalog from the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna, AustriaThis museum is known for its collection of oriental rugs.  The rug on the cover of this catalog is very nearly identical to the one in Salisbury House, as shown in the following image.  The Salisbury House rug is on the left.

 

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Salisbury House Rug ~ Vienna Rug

 

 

Based on the catalog description of the Vienna rug, the flat woven background is not in a herringbone pattern, but the rug has the same combination of woven and pile techniques.  Clearly, the palette and design are nearly identical.As far as the dating discrepancy, the Vienna rug is a late 19th Century carpet from Khotan, which is in what might once have been called Eastern Turkestan on the Silk Road, in what is now western China. 

The two rugs are so similar that there is little doubt that the Salisbury House rug is also from 19th Century Khotan.Thus, the 1928 appraisal was incorrect.  Even the experts can be wrong!  But the object inventory is also wrong about where it was made, although the date is roughly correct, if a bit too specific. 

In all, it makes a fascinating detective story!  Salisbury House is fortunate to have such an interesting and unusual rug.The rug on the Vienna catalog cover also has an interesting history, which can be found here

I would like to again thank Dr. Moya Carey for providing the definitive research that solved this particular Salisbury House detective story.

Getting Stoned at Salisbury House

If you think that the title of this post is in reference to biblical punishments or the drug culture of the 1970s, you’d be wrong. I am talking about a little known area of Salisbury House called “Friendship Hall.”

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Friendship Hall

Between 1923 and 1928 when Carl Weeks was building Salisbury House, he was also engaged in one of his favorite hobbies: rock collecting. Whenever Carl was traveling, he would bring home a rock from the area he had visited.

During this time he got an idea. Why not start a Rock Club? Since he had over 45,000 retailers selling his Armand Cosmetics products, he could ask them to join his Rock Club. Thus, Carl suggested that they each send him a rock from their part of the world. This was the start of the “American Rock Club.”

Carl also had a monthly newsletter for his cosmetics business called “The Armand Broadside.” This paper went out to all of his retailers, promoting his business. He decided to utilize this existing network for his rock collection as well. It was a perfect plan.

Was Carl successful? Like most things in his life, he knew that the only way to find out was to try it. Within a year, his collection had grown to over 250 rocks. Some of the rocks sent were accompanied by a letter explaining where it had come from.

Now, Carl had a problem. How should he display such a large collection? Being in possession of a creative mind, he got another idea. Why not incorporate the collection into the walls of the house he was building?

In a little known area of Salisbury House, there was a hallway being planned. It would connect the main house to the garage. This was the ideal place for the rocks. Carl had his workmen inlay the collection into the walls of this hall. He called it “Friendship Hall,” after those who had answered his call for rocks.

Years later, after the family left the house in the 1950s, no one could identify any of the rocks. A plot map was never made. This is where I come in.

My name is David Ross and I hold a degree as a “Certified Gemologist -AGS.” I have always been fascinated by rocks and gemstones. As a tour guide at Salisbury House, I saw the rocks and learned that the stories of the stones had all but disappeared. I thought, I can help with that. Little did I know that the adventure I was about to take would lead me to discover wonderful things.

I received permission from the director of the museum to examine the rocks, identify them, and match them with their corresponding letters. This task, though I didn’t know at the time, would take over four months.

I felt like Sherlock Holmes. I let the rocks tell me their stories. By using the process of elimination, I was able to identify most of the rocks and match some of written correspondence in the Salisbury House archives to the stones. I took pictures of each section of the walls. Then I numbered the rocks, identified them, wrote a report and cross referenced the stones with the letters.

I found a piece of the Rock of Gibraltar, marble from the Temple of Jupiter in Athens, two stones from the Temple of the Sun in Mexico, a piece of copper ore, basalt or lava from Idaho, pipestone from Minnesota, an Iowa geode, water stones, and to my surprise, marble from the Parthenon in Greece.

The privilege of getting to examine the collection, for me, was the thrill of a lifetime. I hope when you visit Salisbury House you will experience the thrill of discovery too. I hope you get to see this wonderful collection for yourself. Get stoned at Salisbury House.

Rock from Gibraltar

Rock from Gibraltar

 

Temple of Jupiter

Temple of Jupiter

 

Temple of the Sun

Temple of the Sun

 

Pipestone

Pipestone from Minnesota

 

Geode from Iowa

Geode from Iowa

 

Water Stones

Water Stones

Preservation Notes from Under the Oaks

Textile preservation is underway at Salisbury House. The pair of Louis XVI style armchairs currently residing in Edith’s Dressing Room has certainly seen better days. The sunshine from the nearby window has not been kind to these two lovely ladies over the years. With the new curtains being installed in this room by the end of December, it was time to stabilize the chairs’ upholstery and preserve what remains of it.

Pair of Louis XVI style chairs.

Pair of Louis XVI chairs from Edith’s Dressing Room. The one on the left has had its upholstery stabilized.

The upholstery of the chair on the left has already been stabilized and originally looked very similar to the one on the right, though more faded. We began with a gentle, low suction vacuum, carefully avoiding all areas of loose threads. Next, polyester organza in a soft buttercup color was inserted under areas of loss on the front of the seat and the top of the back. Using a curved needle and 100% cotton thread, loose edges of the original textile surrounding the loss area were stitched to this sheer underlay. Loose warp threads were straightened as much as possible and secured to the organza to prevent them from moving and retangling. A fine nylon net was then laid over the top and secured around the edges, essentially sandwiching the loss areas and stabilizing the rest of the textile. One more gentle vacuum and the preservation of this Louis XVI style chair was complete.

Close up of underlay
Stitching the historic fabric to the polyester organza underlay.

Two wonderful things about this textile stabilization is its complete reversibility and use of inert materials. If, for whatever reason, we needed to remove these repairs, it would be easy (if not time consuming) to do so and return the chair to the same state it was in prior to the stabilization process. Additionally, polyester organza and nylon are neutral materials that will not harm historic fabric, are inexpensive, and come in a variety of colors, which was perfect for this project. Though cotton thread is not chemically neutral, when paired with acidic silk it will fail before the silk will, provided that we continue to protect these pieces from light damage. After all, we would much rather our repairs fail than the historic fabric!

Before After

Left: Before stabilization and vacuuming. Right: After stabilization and vacuuming.


*Many thanks to Camille Myers Breeze (museumtextiles.com) and the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies (campbellcenter.org) for their professionalism and excellence in preservation education and for providing me with the tools and knowledge to begin the journey of preserving the treasures of Salisbury House.

From Overalls and Shovels to Fedoras and Cuban Cigars: The Gilded Age Inspiration for Salisbury House

There were three distinct aristocracies in Washington. One of these, (nick-named the Antiques,) consisted of cultivated, high-bred old families who looked back with pride upon an ancestry that had been always great in the nation’s councils and its wars from the birth of the republic downward. Into this select circle it was difficult to gain admission. No. 2 was the aristocracy of the middle ground . . . No. 3 lay beyond; of it we will say a word here. We will call it the Aristocracy of the Parvenus—as, indeed, the general public did. Official position, no matter how obtained, entitled a man to a place in it, and carried his family with him, no matter whence they sprang. Great wealth gave a man a still higher and nobler place in it than did official position. If this wealth had been acquired by conspicuous ingenuity, with just a pleasant little spice of illegality about it, all the better. This aristocracy was “fast,” and not averse to ostentation.

The aristocracy of the Antiques ignored the aristocracy of the Parvenus; the Parvenus laughed at the Antiques, (and secretly envied them.)

-From Mark Twain’s The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today

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Carl and Edith Weeks, c. 1930

Before Armand – before Salisbury House – few would have assumed Carl Weeks to be any more extraordinary than any other Midwestern businessman of his era. In fact, when roaming the halls of Salisbury House, one tends to forget his humble and, at times, impoverished origins. Born the fourth child of a hog farmer and his wife on a farm near Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1876, Carl’s prospects were quite modest. When his father’s swine herd was wiped out by cholera around 1880, the Weekses were forced into selling their farm. They set off for Kansas in search of a new start. His father, however, still had trouble finding work and was often away from home. Carl helped out by picking up bison chips for use as fuel in their little sod house and once recalled how his mother had had to trade one of their bedsteads for a bag of flour. Eventually, his mother’s brothers, Lowell and Davis Chamberlain, brought them back to Iowa and settled them in Des Moines. Carl left public schooling at the age of 13 and it was only with his uncles’ financial assistance that he was able to attend Highland Park College of Pharmacy to obtain his pharmacist certification in 1892.

Little of Carl’s early life foreshadows the great success he would eventually achieve when he established what would become an international cosmetics empire in 1915. But he was born into an unusual era. One where American society had one foot planted deep in the agrarian soils of its hard-working, ancestral pioneers just as it was stepping into a quickly industrializing, burgeoning urban culture obsessed with leisure, pleasure and wealth. It was an era as rampant with corruption and materialism as it was entrepreneurial optimism where every man had the potential to become the next Carnegie or Rockefeller. This time period, known as the Gilded Age and sometimes referred to as the American Renaissance, spanned the years following the Civil War to the early 1900s with some historians extending it as far as the stock market crash of 1929. The term was lifted from Mark Twain’s 1873 satirical novel, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, that depicts the greed and corruption endemic in American politics and society in the late 1860s and early 1870s. This era, however, also laid the foundations of our modern, secular culture and shaped the minds of many Americans, including Carl Weeks.

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Cover of Mark Twain’s The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, 1873.

After the Civil War, industrialization and mechanization increased at a rapid rate in the United States. It centralized the economy in urban centers and concentrated wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer men. Immigrants and formerly-rural Americans descended upon the cities in search of new opportunities. Mass-produced goods, department stores and mail order catalogues brought the modern idea of shopping to the masses. The extension of the railroads connected the East and West coasts of the United States and new refrigerated boxcars allowed for fresh produce out of season, exotic fruits, Midwestern-raised beef, and beer to be transported to retailers all across the nation. Telephones and transatlantic cables knitted the world closer together through faster methods of communication. Amusement parks, dance halls, theaters, libraries and opera houses flourished, providing entertainment, education, and, at times, opportunities for vice to the burgeoning urban population.

Entrepreneurs were the driving force behind this explosion of modernity. A lucky few, however, through hard work, shrewd business decisions, and more than a little back-room subterfuge, succeeded in building business empires that reached far beyond their own little corners of the world. Many of these men, such as Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and John D. Rockefeller, arose from humble means to become industrial tycoons with massive fortunes. They were household names and served as role models for the businessmen of Carl’s generation. Several biographies of these infamous American entrepreneurs grace the shelves of the Library at Salisbury House and probably had a great impact on Carl as he made his way in the business world.

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The Rouge Room at the Armand Factory in Des Moines, Iowa, c. 1920.

Though these nouveau riche Americans of the Gilded Age had the world at their fingertips and, at times, groveling on its knees before them, there was one thing money could not buy: pedigree. For much of recorded human history, wealth was concentrated in land and passed down through strict and often complicated inheritance laws and customs formulated to keep everything within one family line. But the world had been turned upside down by the Industrial Revolution. With advances in manufacturing technology in the late 18th century, hand production methods of textiles and other goods fell by the wayside as factories sprung up in urban centers and produced goods more cheaply and efficiently than ever before. People, once tied to the land and rarely traveling more than 50 miles from their places of birth, descended upon the cities in search of work. The European aristocracy and the “old money” families of the United States, whose income traditionally depended upon the productivity of the people who lived on their lands, saw their economic power shrink as an ever greater share of the world’s wealth flowed into the hands of the savvy factory owners and businessmen of the middle class.

Two things the European aristocracy and American “old money” retained, however, was their social position and status as the arbiters of good taste. An air of self-consciousness pervaded the newly wealthy and powerful as they sought to emulate the nobility in a subconscious effort to prove both to themselves and their “social betters” that they were worthy of their newfound elite status. Instead of seeking new forms of architecture, they copied styles long used by the European aristocracy. At first, Classical styles were mimicked as wealthy Americans embraced the notion of the United States as heir to the cultural traditions of ancient Greece and Rome and the European Renaissance. Later, especially during the time of the Weekses’ rise in wealth, many embraced the picturesque nature of the rambling, built-through-the-centuries styling of the houses of the medieval and Tudor nobility of England. Salisbury House, however, is unique in that it incorporates both stylistic influences in its interior furnishings.

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Classical and Renaissance style detailing: grille above Welte-Mignon Organ in the Common Room

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Classical and Renaissance style detailing: chandelier detail in the Dining Room. Both the Common Room and Dining Room are overall Elizabethan or late Tudor style in the architectural details and most furnishings but also include Neoclassical touches such as these.

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Tudor style detailing of 16th century fireplace surround in the Great Hall featuring a Tudor rose flanked by quatrefoils.

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Tudor style, 16th century carved door detail in the hallway outside the master suites featuring linenfold, which was a common type of carving to decorate plain panels in Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries.

In a time where what you owned was an unspoken announcement of who you were as an individual, collecting art and antiques from around the world became an obsession for the nouveau riche who wanted nothing more than to appear sophisticated, worldly, educated and powerful. The Weekses were no different. Much like J.P. Morgan, who had spent a whopping $60 million on art and rare books in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the Rockefeller family who splurged on artwork from around the world, Carl and Edith sought after all of the trappings of the leisured class. Carl was an avid bibliophile and Edith’s bachelor’s degree in Art History provided her with a discerning eye for both fine art and period-specific furnishings.

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Late 18th century alabaster urns with Classical style detailing in the Great Hall.

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Elizabethan style carving on Carl’s c. 1600 bed.

The economic devastation in Europe after World War I led to easy pickings for the Weekses and other wealthy Americans who snatched up whatever Europeans wanted to sell, including antiques, art, and architectural detailing. Though they did not spend anywhere close to what Morgan had, Carl and Edith did spend nearly $3 million to build and furnish their house. In today’s money, that would equal about $40 million.

Patronage of artists skyrocketed in the United States during the Gilded Age as well, continuing a centuries-old European tradition where artists relied on wealthy patrons for work and financial support. Artists were sought after as companions as well as for their ability to beautify the homes of the wealthy and public spaces. Rather than pushing the social envelope as many artists do today, the artists of this era reinforced the new status quo and soothed the egos of wealthy Americans through their attention and commissioned works. Architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson once said of Gilded Age artists that their social function was to “provide a setting of leisured elegance bearing the patina of class and taste for people who were frequently one generation removed from overalls and shovel.”

Like their Gilded Age predecessors, the Weekses too befriended artists and even commissioned Joseph Stella to create one work specifically for Salisbury House. This commissioned piece, Apotheosis of the Rose, still hangs in the Breakfast Room today.

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Apotheosis of the Rose by Joseph Stella, 1926. Oil on canvas.

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The Birth of Venus by Joseph Stella, 1925. Oil on canvas. Hangs in the Great Hall at Salisbury House.

Finally assembled at home in Iowa, the Weekses’ collections lent an air of aristocratic pedigree to their new home meant to look centuries old the day it was built. Like the entrepreneurs of the Gilded Age and the European nobility, Carl’s house and collections were a signal to the world that he had arrived and was a force to be reckoned with. A man born to a hog breeder and who had picked up bison chips on the Kansas prairie was now a social and business leader who was well-traveled, well-connected, and a man of noble bearing.

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Salisbury House in early spring.

The Gilded Age gave birth to Salisbury House. The ideals of the era – wealth, consumption, pleasure and leisure – reside throughout its history, collections and architecture. Carl Weeks was born into this era and persevered until he could finally emulate those whose names were on the tongues of every American entrepreneur – Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller. The result was Salisbury House: a grand mansion distinctly English in flavor and filled with treasures that reveal how Carl and others of his ilk wished to be seen – worldly, aristocratic, powerful. It represents one final expression of a bygone era in which America itself came of age.

 

Evolution of a Fable: Finnegans Wake at Salisbury House

The Salisbury House library contains an amazing collection of works by James Joyce.  One of these works is his last book, Finnegans Wake.  What is even more amazing in the collection are the preliminary parts of the Wake that Joyce published as he continued to revise the work from around 1924 until the final release as a book in 1939.  This essay will discuss the evolution of a small part of the book through these preliminary versions.  Most of them are found at Salisbury House. Below is the signed half-title of one of these early fragments – Tales Told of Shem and Shaun (Black Sun Press, Paris, 1929).

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Salisbury House Library and Rare Documents Collection

Finnegans Wake is one of the most complicated works in literature; it consists of puns and portmanteau words in 27 languages, with the base being English.  An essay such as this can only discuss one tiny aspect of many recurring themes.  Mankind is represented in the book by a family consisting of a man, his wife, their daughter, and their twin sons, basically referred to as Shem and Shaun. The relationship and conflict between the two brothers is shown in many different guises throughout the book. One of the instances of this fraternal conflict is framed by the fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper – or, as Joyce wrote it, “the Ondt and the Gracehoper.”  In this title, he was playing on the Danish “ondt” meaning “evil” and note that the grasshopper is hoping for grace.  We will follow this fable from its first short version published in 1928 through to the final book.

Folklore is one of the frequently used frameworks in the book.  Joyce calls it “fokloire”, playing on the Gaelic “foclóir” meaning “vocabulary” – Joyce’s book was intended as a world of all languages.  The fable derives from Aesop’s “The Ant and the Grasshopper”, which pits the frugal, hoarding ant against the profligate but ultimately starving grasshopper.  Joyce evens the match by letting the grasshopper have the last word.  The first published part of the fable was in transition (note the lower-case “t”), a prominent literary magazine in Paris (#12, March, 1928.)  This snippet remained nearly unchanged from first to last.

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Norman Hills Collection

In Joyce’s scheme, the Gracehoper represents Shem, Time, the ear, and Joyce himself.  The Ondt represents Shaun, Space, the eye, and Wyndham Lewis. Lewis, who had attacked Joyce in his book Time and Western Man, had a long-standing feud with Joyce. Among the many interpretations of the overall intent of the fable, Eric McLuhan views it as a conflict between ages of technology.  Other critics emphasize the opposition and interaction between space and time, or the stages of the cyclic theory of history of the philosopher Giambattista Vico.

Joyce scatters various reference clusters throughout the fable, such as many names of insects and parts of insect anatomy.  There are many names of philosophers and words with repeated syllables recalling the stuttering of the brothers’ father.  It includes many references to the Egyptian Book of the Dead. There are other clusters, but we now turn our attention to our main concern: the revision history of the text as reflected in the Salisbury House library.

The original three hand-written drafts of the fable were written quickly – probably beginning in February 1928, and published the following month.  This transition version is quite short (less than one half of the length of the final text), so the obvious main method of revision was additive.  There were many levels of revision added to the transition proofs.  The editor, Eugene Jolas, had the same problem with endless revisions that had plagued Sylvia Beach when publishing Ulysses and later, Harry Crosby.  transition had been publishing parts of Work in Progress (as the draft Finnegans Wake was called) starting with the first issue in April 1927 and would continue with portions of it in almost all the remaining issues. A small amount of this text had been published earlier in other magazines, but most of it was new and transition provided the first extended publication.

The next published version of the fable was in the Black Sun Press Tales Told of Shem and Shaun in 1929.  The editor, Harry Crosby, started work on this edition by asking Joyce if he would agree to him publishing part of Work in Progress.  Joyce gave him heavily hand-modified sheets of the transition version (known, but not extant.)  Crosby produced a number of proofs, and each time Joyce added more text.  One of the last of these proofs (probably the next to the last) is in the Salisbury House library.  The following image shows a major addition to it in Joyce’s handwriting.

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Salisbury House Library and Rare Documents Collection

The following image shows this hand-written addition as it appears in the final Tales Told of Shem and Shaun.

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Salisbury House Library and Rare Documents Collection

The revision process was slow and frustrating for Crosby, as shown by this note accompanying the proof in Crosby’s hand urging Joyce to finish the changes. The final Tales Told of Shem and Shaun and this note are also in the Salisbury House library.

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Salisbury House Library and Rare Documents Collection

The final version of Tales Told of Shem and Shaun includes a commissioned “portrait” of Joyce by the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi.  This abstract drawing is a very loose interpretation of a “portrait”, but it is widely reproduced in the Joyce literature.

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Salisbury House Library and Rare Documents Collection

The next published part of this fable, which the Salisbury House library also has, is a very brief excerpt from Tales Told of Shem and Shaun in the Imagist Anthology, (Chatto & Windus, London, 1930.)  This edition has no significant textual changes.

The next-to-final version was published as a small book entitled Two Tales of Shem and Shaun, (Faber and Faber, London, December 1932). This re-prints two of the three fragments from the earlier Tales Told of Shem and Shaun including “the Ondt and the Gracehoper.”  Although the text was re-set, I could find no textual differences between the two.  The cover of this book is shown below.

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Norman Hills Collection

The fable’s final version is in the book published as Finnegans Wake (Faber and Faber, London, May 4, 1939.)  It was followed very shortly also in May 1939 by the American first edition (Viking Press, New York.) The fable is on pages 414.19 to 419.20 (the number after the period of each is the line number.)  The text throughout the book has been greatly expanded from earlier versions with many additions of major blocks of text.  Some of these are within previously published fragments, but many are completely new. The following image shows the beginning of the song that ends the “the Ondt and the Gracehoper.”  This is from the first edition/first printing included in the Salisbury House library.

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Salisbury House Library and Rare Documents Collection

The subsequent publishing history of Finnegans Wake is quite brief.  Surprisingly, the book has remained in print for the last 76 years with no textual changes of any kind. This is partly because of the refusal of his heirs to allow any change as long as it was under copyright and because of the difficulty in determining what in the text constitutes an error.  One exception is a 16-page list of corrections compiled by Joyce before his death on January 13, 1941, though not published until 1945 (Faber and Faber, London, printed in the U.S.A.)  These corrections were incorporated into the text starting with the eighth edition in 1958.  None of these corrections affect the Ondt fable. The upper part of the pamphlet title page is shown below.

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Norman Hills Collection

In 2010, Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon edited The Restored Finnegans Wake, which included thousands of changes.  Most critics have not liked this version and their Penguin trade edition of it is no longer in print.  A hypertext version is supposedly in preparation, although it will likely meet the same fate.

James Joyce is widely considered to be the greatest prose writer of the 20th century.  Ulysses regularly appears as the head of lists of great 20th century novels.  The distinguished critic, Harold Bloom, has said that “if aesthetic merit were ever again to center the canon, the Wake,…, would be as close as our chaos could come to the heights of Shakespeare and Dante.”  Given the extraordinary literary value of Joyce, it is not surprising that Carl Weeks, as a collector living in the time of Joyce, would collect the major works, such as first editions of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.  What is truly astonishing is the depth of the Joyce collection in the Salisbury House library, including early printed pamphlets, a corrected proof, and many secondary items that are found only in the best of Joyce research libraries.  Central Iowa is indeed fortunate.

Tonight We’re Going to Pickle Like It’s 1797

We like to keep things light in August. It’s hot. It’s humid. And we’d all prefer to be sitting with our feet up, enjoying an adult beverage and some tasty snacks. To that end, our blog post last August explored a book from our collection that extolled the virtues of drunkards. This year, we turn our attention to the culinary arts: in particular, our 1797 edition of The Accomplished Housekeeper and Universal Cook, written by T. Williams and “the principal cooks at the London and Crown and Anchor Taverns.”

title page

 

First, a word on cookbooks more generally. The earliest cooking volumes found in America were, unsurprisingly, imports from England. Historians generally agree that Amelia Simmons’ 1796 American Cookery, or The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes….Adapted to this Country and All Grades of Life was the first cookbook native to the United States. Salisbury House’s own Accomplished Housekeeper fits into the former category of 18th-century British cookbooks published in London.

Prior to Carl Weeks, who first owned this volume? The inside cover provides a bit of information. First, this cookbook belonged to a gentleman named Samuel Coleby who likely purchased it in 1804. The inscription below also, upon first glance, seems to indicate that Samuel live in Charleston, but closer inspection leaves your correspondent not entirely certain of his location. At any rate, it is clear that Carl Weeks purchased the book in September 1928, perhaps for $12.50 (around $135 in today’s dollars). It also appears that Samuel did not often use the cookbook, as it remains in relatively fine condition today.

 

inside front cover

 

The Accomplished Housekeeper makes for some entertaining reading. Its author rightly puts food safety first, advising the novice cook that, “Before we enter on the practical part of the Cook’s business, it may not be improper to make a few general observations, which are as necessary to be attended to as any part of the culinary profession. The first and most important of all these is cleanliness, not only in their own persons, but also in every article used in the kitchen.”

Well said, T. Williams. Well said.

 

general observations

 

With the fundamentals of good kitchen hygiene in place (who knew that copper vessels and utensils were 18th-century deathtraps?!), the author turned to practical matters of food preparation. We’ve selected a few recipes to highlight below that seem appropriate for late summer cookery. First up: cherry pie and orange or lemon tarts.

 

cherry pie

 

If your palate is more adventurous, perhaps you might give mince pie or partridge pie a whirl.

 

more pies

 

Another summer favorite – homemade ice cream! With apricots “beat fine in a marble mortar”!

 

ice cream

 

Who doesn’t love seafood in summertime? The Accomplished Housekeeper has got you covered. Here’s the best way to pitchcock eels, fricassee oysters, and dress herring.

 

eels oysters herring

 

August offers an abundance of fresh, in-season foods, a phenomena not lost on T. Williams et al. To preempt any seasonal confusion, however, the authors kindly included a list of which foods were generally available during each month of the year.

 

in season_2

 

The authors also encouraged readers to take advantage of these “articles in season,” and included several pages of recommendations for how best to preserve the fruits (and vegetables) of summer. “To pickle cucumbers” is still a common pursuit, though the late eighteenth-century methodology differs a bit from today’s general practices.

 

pickle cucumbers

 

If pickling cucumbers doesn’t blow your hair back, why not try nasturtium buds? Or mackarel caveach? We should note that caveach, or escabeche, is back on trend today. The more things change…

 

pickle nasturtium

 

Are you harboring a secret desire to craft small-batch wines? These recipes are for you.

 

wines

 

Do your culinary plans include carving venison, hare, partridge, pig, or pheasant? If so, be sure to Pin this handy-dandy cheat sheet.

 

carving

If you are adventurous in the kitchen, try out one of these recipes! Let us know if you try your hand at elder wine or pickled nasturtium buds, and we’ll update this post with your photos and comments. Happy cooking!

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