October through December 2020, a copy of the Den Geheelen Bibel – which translates from Dutch to Holy Bible – will be on display in the Salisbury House Library. This Bible was published in 1553 and was one of the oldest religious books in the Weeks family collection. Published after the Reformation (1517), this Bible was created during a time when Protestantism was gaining strength in the Netherlands. The book is bound in vellum or alumtawed and has red stamping around the foredge. Inside are multiple wood-cut printed pictures.
The American Chap-Book Christmas ~ 1904
Our annual holiday blog post turns this year to a “little magazine” from the Salisbury House Library, entitled The American Chap-Book: Christmas, A.D. MCMIV by William H. Bradley. As its whimsical cover suggests, this little book is a delight.
The Christmas Story, 1483-Style
As December 25th approaches, we wanted to share a significant part of the oldest bible in our Library and Rare Documents collection at Salisbury House: the traditional Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20. Our oldest bible dates to 1483 (for more on this and other incunabula in our collection, click here), and its text is, as one would expect, in Latin.
On 15th-Century Books
The term “incunabula” [in-kyoo-nab-yuh-luh] signifies the first generation of books produced in western Europe using movable type. Johannes Gutenberg’s bible, the signal achievement which heralded the advent of movable type among Europeans, rolled off his printing press in 1455. Later scholars settled on the entirely arbitrary date of January 1, 1501, as the cutoff point for incunabula: those produced after Gutenberg and before 1/1/1501 were outfitted with the fancy incunabula designation, and those produced on or after after that date were, for the most part, simply considered plain ol’ books.
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.
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.”
Last year’s Christmas post explored our remarkable collection of holiday cards, from those sent by the Weeks family to a Christmas postcard mailed by a twentieth-century literary legend. This year, we focus on a single classic: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. First published on December 19, 1843 – exactly 171 years ago today – Dickens’ aim in writing the book extended well beyond a simple celebration of the season.
Honoré Daumier, the nineteenth-century French artist, became most widely known during his lifetime as a skilled caricaturist. Indeed, he continues to be roundly considered the “Michelangelo of Caricature.” Daumier’s work for Le Charivari, a French daily newspaper, and for the journal La Caricature, both founded in the 1830s, remain at the apex of caricature as social satire. To draw a modern parallel, perhaps, Daumier might be considered the Jon Stewart of French satirical commentary.