A Donation Makes Poly Poly’s


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The Salt Lake City Public Library donated a sixteenth century book to the Rare Books Division, thanks to the well-trained eye of City Library staffer Barbara Chavira. Barbara worked part-time in the Rare Books Division for many years. Her passion for the art of books, in all forms and over the centuries, brought us this important and welcome addition to the rare book collections. Thank you, Barbara ! Thank you, City Library !










Romae, apud haeredes antonij, Bladij, Impressores Camerales: Anno. M.D. LXXVI (1576)

Polydore Vergil (ca. 1470-1555), an Italian priest, spent much of his life in England. He is recognized for his history of England, a work that Shakespeare is known to have used as one of his sources. Vergil used critical analysis in his narration of historical events. His thesis that King Arthur was little more than fable, for instance, shocked contemporary readers.

It is his second published work, however, for which he was best known in his time. First printed in 1499, De rerum inventoribus (On Discovery), was a work unlike anything that had been published before. An inventory of historical “firsts,” it combined a wide array of subjects in an attempt to determine which individual or culture first invented things such as the alphabet, astronomy, magic, printing, libraries, hunting, festivals, writing, painting, weaponry and religion. Vergil culled much of his work from a wide range of ancient and contemporary writers. He focused on the genius of man in the origin or invention of all things – heretical thinking at the time.

In Book I he investigated the creation of the world, the origin of religion, the origin of the concepts of “god” and the word “God.” He suggested that much of Christianity had been adapted from Judaism or Roman paganism. Books II and III were studies of a wide-range of topics, mostly concerning the practical and mechanical arts including anatomy, astrology, law, medicine, commerce, mathematics, mineralogy, music, pharmacology, physics, trade, agriculture, architecture, sports, theater, navigation, and winemaking. The work was translated into French in 1521, German in 1537, English in 1546, and Spanish in 1551.

In 1521, more than two decades after he wrote the first three books, and at the dawn of Martin Luther’s protestant reformation, Vergil added five more books concentrating on Christianity. Vergil reworked his discussion of Christianity in deference to the Roman Catholic Church, which objected to Vergil’s reference to religion as a matter of scientific investigation. In spite of this concession, Vergil anticipated the scientific approach to religion that would become the norm a century later. The intended salve to the church failed when Vergil criticized monks, priestly celibacy, and indulgences. In 1564 the work was declared heretical and all editions were added to the Index of Forbidden Books. However, the work was so popular that two censored editions were printed after the ban.

This 1576 expurgated edition was sanctioned by Pope Gregory XIII in its front matter.



It is significant that this edition was printed by the heirs of Antonio Blado’s shop.



Blado worked in Rome from 1515 to 1567 as a printer in the service of the papacy. He was well-known for his scholarly works in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; and a 1549 document in Ethiopic type for the Ethiopian Church. Blado is also known for his use of an early italic type created by Ludovico Arrighi. The Rare Books Division holds five books printed by Antonio Blado.

This 1576 edition of Vergil joins an edition from 1570 and another from 1671, already in the rare book collections.


Polydore Vergil (1470? – 1555)
Basilea: 1570

Printer Thomas Guarin (1529-1592) was born in Tournai. He worked in Lyons as a bookseller, but by 1557 was in Basel, where he married Elizabeth Isengrin, the daughter of a printer. Guarin took over his father-in-law’s small press at Michael Isengrin’s death. Michael Isengrin had printed one of the many editions of De rerum inventoribus to be published in Vergil’s lifetime. Each of these editions contained significant variations. Isengrin printed Leonhart Fuchs’s sumptuous De Historia stirpivm. Along with the reprint of classical works, Guarin issued several editions of the Bible, published in both Latin and German, and one in Spanish. His printer’s device was a palm tree.











Polydore Vergil (1470?-1555)
Amstelodami: apud Danielem Elzebirius, 1671

Daniel Elzevir came from a distinguished family of booksellers, bookbinders, printers and publishers. Louis Elzevir (1546-1617), a Protestant émigré, began the business in Antwerp in about 1565, after he left a job with Christopher Plantin’s print shop. The Elzevir enterprise became one of Europe’s largest printing houses. Louis’s sons expanded the business with branches in The Hague, Utrecht, and Amsterdam. The Amsterdam branch was established in 1638 by Louis III. His partner was Daniel Elzevir, son of Bonaventura Elzevir, son of Louis. Daniel continued the family reputation for fine typography and design work. This edition of De Rerum inventoribus also contains another of Vergil’s works, Prodigiis, written in 1526 but not printed until 1531. The engraved frontispiece for this edition includes the invention of printing as one of its main themes. Numerous carved initials and vignettes. Bound in contemporary vellum.

Book of the Week – Storia Della Letteratura Italiana


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Storia Della Letteratura Italiana
Girolamo Tiraboschi (1731-1794)
Roma: Per Luigi Perego Savioni, Stampator Vaticano nella Sapienza…1782-1785

Girolamo Tiraboschi was born in Bergamo and studied at the Jesuit college there. He entered the order and was appointed professor of rhetoric and belles-lettres at Brera in Milan in 1755. In 1770 he became librarian to Francis III, Duke of Modena, at the Biblioteca Estense. There he collected material for his monumental Storia, the first significant history of Italian literature, first published from 1772 to 1782. A comprehensive work, extending from Etruscan times to 1700, Tiraboschi addressed literature in its broadest sense, including history, philosophy, fine arts, medicine, and jurisprudence. Beautifully written in a clear style, the entire work is heavily documented from sources in the Biblioteca Estense. Tiraboschi was inspired to defend Italian arts against the attacks of foreign critics, an early attempt at unifying the Italian political states through cultural bonds. Bound as issued in publisher’s flexible boards. Anonymous gift. Thank you, Anonymous!

Book of the Week – Direction of the Road


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Direction of the Road
Ursula K. Le Guin
Santa Cruz, CA: Foolscap Press, 2007

Short story printed on white linen paper made by Le Papeterie Saint-Armand paper mill in Montreal, Canada. Binding is Saint-Armand’s Green Umbrella cover paper. Woodcut by Aaron Johnson. The woodcut is seen by using a reflective polymer mirror in a technique called anamorphic art, first recorded in a codex of Leonardo da Vinci. Book, mirror and woodcut housed in cloth-covered portfolio box covered in green Japanese cloth. Edition of one hundred and twenty, signed by the author and the artist. University of Utah copy is no. 53.

Daily Utah Chronicle Article – WWI Exhibit Revels in History at the Library


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The Special Collections exhibition, “Here and Over There: The Great War, 1914-1918,” was featured in an article in the Daily Utah Chronicle, the University of Utah’s student newspaper.

WWI Exhibit Revels in History at the Library

Margaret Keller, a visitor at the exhibit, came because of her family’s ties to the military.

“My father served in WWI, my husband in WWII, and my great-grandson in Afghanistan,” she said. “As a military family, I think it’s important to revel in these experiences.”

The exhibition is on display through Sunday, December 7, in the Special Collections Gallery and the Special Collections Reading Room, Level 4, J. Willard Marriott Library.

Book of the Week – Nowhere to Go


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Nowhere to Go
Alan Loney (b. 1940)
Portland, OR: INK-A! Press, 2009
PR9639.3 L6 N69 2009

From the publisher: “This book…is an attempt at capturing the beauty, brevity, and fragility of life through words, image, and structure.” Poem letterpress printed from handset 14 point Joanna type. Illustrated with hand-processed photopolymer plates painted with watercolor on Hahnemuhle German Etching paper. Issued in linen-covered case. Book production by Inge Bruggeman. Edition of thirty copies plus five numbered artists proof copies. University of Utah copy is no. 15, signed by the poet and the artist.

Book of the Week – Good and Evil in the Garden


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Barbara Hodgson
Vancouver, British Columbia: Heavenly Monkey, 2003
First edition

Designed by the author. Illustrated with engravings by Shinsuke Minegishi printed from the blocks on gampi. Typeface is Garamont. Printed on damp HM Text, an all-cotton paper made by Reg Lissel with a Washington handpress by Rollin Milroy. Issued in slipcase made by Simone Mynen. Edition of fifty copies, signed by the author and the artist. University of Utah copy is no. 24.

Book of the Week – Madoc


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Robert Southey (1774-1843)
London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, and A. Constable and Co. Edinburgh, 1805
First edition
PR5464 M2 1805

Robert Southey was an English poet, a follower of the Romantic Movement, one of the “Lake Poets.” He was appointed poet laureate in 1813. Together with his good friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), he planned to found a utopian community on the Susquehanna River in the United States. While this plan never came to fruition, it is probable that Madoc was inspired by this dream. The four hundred and forty-nine page poem, accompanied by one hundred and four pages of notes is the story of a Welsh king, who, around 1169, settled on the Missouri River in America and founded a great race of Indians, the “Aztecas.” The legend of Madoc is more familiarly associated with the Mandan tribe of North Dakota. During the eighteenth century, white explorers and trappers heard stories of a small, peaceful tribe living in Western North Dakota, some of whom had blue eyes, blonde hair and spoke Welsh. It was believed that this tribe was descended from a Welsh settlement on the Ohio River in the mid-fourteenth century. Engraved title-page. Bound in contemporary three-quarter green morocco with marbled endpapers and edges.

Book of the Week – Ladies’ Companion


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Ladies’ Companion: containing first, politeness of…
Lyman Gale, compiler
Worcester: printed at the Spy Office, 1824
First edition
BJ1681 L15 1824

Sections include lessons on manners, education, religion, marriage and “Fables for the Female Sex.” From the preface, “In offering this work to the public, the compiler was actuated by a desire to place before the female sex, some rules of conduct, and traits of character, which she deemed essential, in order to render their lives useful and pleasant, and make them amiable and agreeable, to those with whom they associate here; and to point out to them, the inestimable value of religion and virtue…” Bound in contemporary mottled sheep with gild burgundy morocco label.