Now through early March, an edition of Storiella as She is Syung by James Joyce will be on display in the Salisbury House Library. This edition is a part of the Weeks family’s book and document collection, and is one of 175 copies published in 1937 by Corvinus Press and printed on handmade mulberry paper. The paper has oxidized over the years, creating small dark spots throughout the book. This edition is bound in a bright, almost neon, orange vellum and housed in a custom box of the same color.
For those unfamiliar, heraldry is the study of family crests and coats of arms, and like anything else deeply studied, it can be a bit complicated. From understanding the rule of tinctures to scrolling through rolls of arms, we at Salisbury House have been doing a deep dive into the crests and coats of arms found throughout the house.
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.
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
By 1927, Salisbury House neared completion. The Weeks family had moved in the previous year, although the house would not be fully finished until 1928. During this year’s interim, a photographer captured images of the new home’s interior. These photographs, particularly when paired with exterior construction images, make a fascinating early study of the property.
Carl Weeks was a man of action. “If you dream it,” he once declared, “you can build it.” Weeks achieved a considerable amount of success in his life: a magnate of the cosmetics industry, his business made him a millionaire by his mid-forties. Salisbury House itself stands as a testament to the man’s financial success and purposeful vision.