Book of the Week — Offering Time: Songs


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

N7433.4-K84-O35-2001-Closeup2 copy
“Let all the strains of joy mingle in my last song — the joy that makes the earth flow over in the riotous excess of the grass, the joy that sets the twin brothers, life and death, dancing over the wide world, the joy that sweeps in with the tempest, shaking and waking all life with laughter, the joy that sits still with its tears on the open red lotus of pain, and the joy that throws everything it has upon the dust, and knows not a word.” — Rabindranath Tagore

Offering Time: Songs
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Lincoln, NE: Blue Heron Press, 2001
N7433.4 K84 O35 2001

A reader of the New York Times Sunday Book Review wrote (April 16, 2017): In 1913, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Rabindranath Tagore. He was the first non-Western Nobelist. Tagore was a playwright and novelist, but also a musician and songwriter. He composed, music and lyrics, nearly two thousand songs. One hundred of these were collected into Gitanjali and published in 1913. The lyrics were published without music. Western critics called the songs “poems.” It was for this collection of songs that Tagore was recognized with the Nobel prize.

In Bangladesh, Tagore’s opus of songs became known as rabindrasangeet, a musical genre unto itself. Two of his songs were chosen as national anthems. His songs are still sung throughout the Indian subcontinent.

This reminded us of Karen Kunc’s Offering Time, a brilliant book designed to be hung, printed on one side of a single sheet made of several sheets glued together, folded to form pages.

From the colophon: “These prose translations were made by Rabindranath Tagore from his original Bengali songs, published in 1913, and in current publication by Macmillan India Limited, Madras. The text is 11 point Romulus, printed on a Vandercook SP15. The paper is Japanese Nishinouchi, and the woodblocks are birch. The production was greatly assisted by intern Amy Hutchinson throughout the fall, winter, and spring amid classes and entwining projects. All of the printing and production was done at the UNL studio of Karen Kunc…marking the millennium…edition of 50 impressions…”

Rare Books copy is no. 31, signed by the artist, Karen Kunc.

N7433.4-K84-O35-2001-Closeup1 copy


Photographs by Scott Beadles

Book of the Week — An Essay Towards a Real Character…


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“…Letters, the Invention of which was a thing of so great Art and exquisiteness, that…doth from hence inferr the divinity and spirituality of the humane soul, and that it must needs be of a farr more excellent and abstracted Essence that mere Matter or Body…” — John Wilkins

An Essay Towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language
John Wilkins (1616-1672)
London: Printed for S. Gellibrand, 1668
First edition

John Wilkins, Bishop of Chester, was the chief founder of the Royal Society and its first secretary. He was Master of Trinity College. Wilkins was acquainted with many of the great minds of his day: William Harvey, Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke. He married the younger sister of Oliver Cromwell. In 1662, he lost all of his library and scientific instruments to the Great Fire of London. He was interested in just about everything — from theology to cryptography, music to space travel. He worked on creating an artificial universal language to replace Latin as a means of clearer communication between scholars and philosophers.

In this book Wilkins discussed the origin of language and letterforms, as well as a theory of grammar and phonetics. He classified words by their meanings and assigned each class a set of typographical characters, in an attempt to create a rationally ordered language and system of symbols.


He divided the universe into forty classes, or categories, and subdivided these, and then subdivided these. To each class he assigned a monosyllable of two letters; to each subdivision he added a consonant; to each further subdivision, or species, he added a vowel. Each letter, or symbol, had meaning.


John Ray drew up systematic tables of plants and animals for the book. An index was created by Dr. William Lloyd. Joseph Moxon (1627-1691) cut the typographical characters Wilkins proposed for his language. Moxon was the author of Mechanick Exercises, the first comprehensive manual of printing and letter-founding in any language.

The first issue of the first edition appeared without any of the engraved plates. This copy, apparently a second issue, contains all of the plates, although two folded leaves of tables and diagrams that are in other copies are missing. Bound with Wilkins’ An alphabetical dictionary, wherin all English Words According to their various significations, are either referred to their Places in the Philosophical Tables, Or explained by such words as are in those tables. The second work functions as an index to the first.

University of Utah copy bound in contemporary paneled calf with covers ruled in blind.


“From what hath been said it may appear, that the measure and capacity of the Ark, which some Atheistical irreligious men make use of, as an argument against the Scripture, ought rather to be esteemed a most rational confirmation of the truth and divine authority of it. Especially if it be well considered, that in those first and ruder ages of the World… men were less versed in Arts and Philosophy, and therefore probably more obnoxious to vulgar prejudices than now they are… — John Wilkins

On Jon’s Desk: Annals of the American Revolution, celebrating Patriots’ Day


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Title page of the Annals of the American Revolution.








“Immediately upon the arrival of the tea-ships in the harbor of Boston, the first step taken was to request the consignees to refuse the commission. The inhabitants warmly remonstrated against the teas being landed in any of their ports, and urged the return of the ships without permitting them to break bulk. Resolved not to yield to the smallest vestige of parliamentary taxation, however disguised, a numerous assembly of the most respectable people of Boston and its neighborhood, repaired to the public hall, and drew up a remonstrance to the governor, urging the necessity of his order, to send back the ships without suffering any part of their cargoes to be landed. His answer confirmed the opinion, that he was the instigator of the measure.

Within an hour after this was known abroad, there appeared a great number of persons, clad like the aborigines of the wilderness, with tomahawks in their hands and clubs on their shoulders, who, without the least molestation, marched through the streets with silent solemnity, and amidst innumerable spectators, proceeded to the wharves, boarded the ships, demanded the keys, and without much deliberation knocked open the chests, and emptied several thousand weight of the finest teas into the ocean. No opposition was made, though surrounded by the king’s ships; all was silence and dismay.”

– Jedidiah Morse, Annals of the American Revolution, pages 176 & 177

Illustration (frontis piece engraving) of the Annals of the American Revolution, showing a depiction of the Boston Tea Party.






Title: Annals of the American Revolution; or a Record of the Causes and Events which Produced, and Terminated in the Establishment and Independence of the American Republic

Author: Jedidiah Morse, D.D.

Printed: Hartford, CT: 1824

First Edition

Call Number: E208 M88

Fold out plate (engraving) of the Battle of Saratoga from the Annals of the American Revolution.








Happy Patriots’ Day! Unless you are from the New England area, you may not know what Patriots’ Day is. It is the commemoration of the first battles of the American Revolution (Lexington and Concord) and is observed on the third Monday of April in some states (Maine and Massachusetts, for example). Each year the Boston Marathon is run on Patriots’ Day, linking the Athenian and American struggles for liberty (the twenty-six mile race being so named after the Greek Battle of Marathon). For those of us who want a link to the past that does not involve the pain of running twenty-six miles, a book about the American Revolution provides just such an opportunity. So while some people may show their Patriot-ism in Boston via running shoes, let’s take a look at Jedidiah Morse’s Annals of the American Revolution.

Preface to the Annals of the American Revolution.







Morse’s Annals of the American Revolution is a compilation of accounts relating events leading up to and through the Revolutionary War. The book also includes an index with descriptions of the notable military leaders of the time. The accounts begin with the establishment of the British colonies in North America in the 16th century and end with General George Washington’s resignation of his commission as the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in front of Congress on December 23rd, 1783.

Jedidiah Morse was a geographer and pastor. Born August 23, 1761 in Woodstock, Connecticut, Morse attended the Academy of Woodstock and then Yale University (M.A., 1786), and later graduated with a Doctor of Divinity from the University of Edinburgh (D.D., 1795). His writing career began after starting and teaching at a school for young women. He saw the need for a geography text book and wrote Geography Made Easy (1784), followed by American Geography (1789). Morse was a pastor in the Calvinist Congregational Church, but remained active in education and geography throughout his life (died June 9, 1826, age 64, New Haven, Connecticut). He published sixty-three works during his career, most of them religious.

~Contributed by Jon Bingham, Rare Books Curator

Book of the Week — Cilantro, sage, rosemary and thyme


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“What we saw of the country leaves us no doubt of its fertility, and that it is capable of producing all the plants of Europe. In most of the gullies of the hills there are rills of clear and cool water, the sides of which are covered with herbs (as in the meadows of Europe) of both agreeable verdure and smell. Amongst these were Castilian roses, smallage, lilies, plantain, thistles, camomile, and many others. We likewise found strawberries, rasberries, blackberries, sweet onions, and potatoes, all which grew in considerable abundance, and particularly near the rills. Amongst other plants we observed one which much resembled percely (though not in its smell), which the Indians bruised and eat, after mixing it with onions.”
— Daines Barrington translating Don Francisco Antonio Mourelle’s Journal of a Voyage, in 1775, to Explore the Coast of America, northward of California

Daines Barrington (1727-1800)
London: Printed by J. Nichols, sold by B. White, 1781
First edition
AC7 B34 1781

Daines Barrington was an English barrister and naturalist. After filling various posts, he was appointed a judge in 1757, in Wales. He was noted for his observations on the Statutes, chiefly the more ancient, from Magna Carta to 21st James I (1766). Many of Barrington’s writings were published by the Royal and Antiquarian Societies, of which he was a member. Some of these papers were collected by Barrington in this volume.

Miscellanies contains the first publication of Don Francisco Antonio Mourelle’s Journal of a Voyage, in 1775, to Explore the Coast of America, Northward of California… translated from a Spanish manuscript. This is the only contemporary source in English of the voyage exploring the northwest coast of America.

Also in this volume is “The Probability of Reaching the North Pole” (1775), a tract reporting on the results of the northern voyage of discovery undertaken by Captain C. J. Phipps, who later became Lord Mulgrave. The report discussed the floating ice found in high northern and southern latitudes. For this and other reasons, it was especially helpful to whaling captains who frequented the coasts of Greenland and Labrador.

Included in Miscellanies is a biography of Mozart, various essays on natural history, and a discussion on whether the turkey was known in Europe before the Columbian Encounter. Barrington concluded that it was, as were tobacco and potatoes, contradicting the great French naturalist and encyclopedist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788).

“If M. de Buffon had not thus excluded Asia and Africa, the controversy would have turned out, as if the point to be discussed was, whether tobacco and potatoes were not peculiar to the New World. Now it is certan that both these plants are of American growth, but not exclusively so, for in 1584, Cavendish received potatoes from the inhabitants of Capul, which is an island not far from Manilla; and in 1616, Schouten was supplied with tobacco from the coast of New Guiney.”

Science was and is as political as war — England was at war with France during this time. And it never occurred to either de Buffon or Barrington that indigenous peoples might have crossed oceans long before the Europeans did.



Book of the Week — Dictionnaire des Proverbes Francais


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“L’esprit qu’on veut avoir gâte celuis qu’on a.”

Pierre de La Mésangère (1761-1831)
Paris: Treuttel & Wurz: 1823
Third edition
PN6451 L3 1823

Published anonymously in its first and second editions, Pierre de La Mésangère’s Dictionnaire is still in print today. Professor of literature and philosophy at the college of Flèche, Mésangère lost his job during the Revolution and made a living by writing. In 1797, he went into partnership with Sellèque, another unemployed college professor turned bookseller. Together, they began a successful fashion magazine. Journal des dames et des modes was published from 1799 until Mésangère’s death. The magazine, reflecting the elegance of the Old Regime, became a staple of Parisian fashion. Well-known artists of the time, such as Debucourt Philibert-Louis, C. and H. Vernet, and Louis Marie Lante Gavarni contributed to the magazine. Mésangère collected the prints from the magazine and published them separately. The prints continued to be published through the early twentieth century.

We think this marbled paper covering the boards of our Proverbes is very stylish.


“The Books Opened My Eyes to New Possibilities:” A Visit From Utah State University Students


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


“It was nice being able to get lost in someone’s work and to look at books in a way that I never have before. Being able to actually hold and handle the books teaches us many things. ”

Early in the cold, wet month of February, students from Utah State University made the perilous journey from Logan to the Marriott Library to visit Rare Books. Professor Denisse Gackstetter brought her Introduction to Book Arts class for a tour of the Book Arts Program Studio, after which the students spent two hours looking at forty of our books.

Prof. Gackstetter asked her student’s to respond to their visit. Here is some of what they saw and what they had to say about it.

John Yau (b. 1950) and Max Gimblett (b. 1935)
New York: Granary Books, 2012
PS3575 A9 B66 2012

John Yau wrote this poem in 2009 in response to several translations of the “Tao Te Ching” given to him by Max Gimblett. In response to Yau’s manuscript, Gimblett created a series of more than one hundred drawings and collages incorporating rare and unusual handmade papers from around the world. This publication contains the twenty-four part poem and twelve of the illustrations. An original ink drawing by Gimblett in black ink on silver is on the cover of each copy. Produced by Diane Bertolo, Steve Clay [founder and owner of Granary Press] and Susan Mills. Typography is by Steve Clay, the binding by Susan Mills. Philip Galo letterpress printed the text and images on double leaves at the Hermetic Press. The collages incorporate gold-leaf, photography, photocopy and drawing. The collages were made at Max Gimblett’s studio with assistance from Matt Jones, Giovanni Forlino and Kristen Reyes. The papers used include Kincami black, Cal Ling autumn, Tamashiki orange, Kingin Furi tan, Sunomi silver, Sunomi kraft, Yuzen cream, Kyoto M25 white, Tairei #1 white, Philippine Banana Bark alabaster and Gampi Smooth 43. Bound in black board covers, open spine with exposed stitching, a non-adhesive binding. Folded and coupled, the pages are gathered together and sewn to cloth-backed boards. Housed in handmade silver cloth-covered clamshell box with spine label. Edition of thirty-three copies, signed by the poet and the artist.

The Book of the Anonymous by John Yau made the greatest impression upon me. I remember specifically pondering how the images or lack thereof contributed to the concept. I was intrigued by the questions Yau asked the reader, and I was inspired to read more into them by the beautiful pages and illustrations. The form made me want to understand the content.”

“The paper has lots of fiber and shimmer in it. One of the pages has string in the paper. The contrast in texture is very dramatic.”

“I can’t remember the imagery or the poem in that book because the handmade papers are so beautiful I could not stop looking at them. The pages were assembled in an interesting way where the two sheets of paper would sort of pocket-fold into each other. This gave the pages a very thick and substantial feel when turning them.”

Heather Weston
London: Heather Weston, 2000
N7433.4 W467 B56 2000

Author and artist Heather Weston holds a degree in Book Arts and works in the mental health profession. She uses the book form to explore both emotional experience and psychological structure. In this context she explores the inextricable link between form and content. Here, book structure says something about the experience of schizophrenia that text alone could not. The book is double spiral bound at right and left edges with the pages splitting down the center. Four separate narratives – one pictorial, two textual, and one structural – unravel concurrently. A calico wrapper, with a padded but rigid back panel gives the floppy book the firm containment of a strait jacket.

“I thoroughly enjoyed Binding Analysis: Double Bind by Heather Weston. Weston uses French doors to present an analysis of a schizophrenia patient through the recordings of a medical care provider. I only became aware of the patient’s recorded words, on the backside of the structure, midway through the book. The form informed me about the concept.”

Maureen Cummins
High Falls, NY: M. Cummins, 2003
N7433.4 C853 G46 2003

From the colophon: “…[B]ased on a handwritten letter discovered by the artist in the archive of Weir Farm in Wilton, Connecticut, during a residency in the spring of 2001. The letter was written in 1807 by a former Revolutionary War officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathon Rhea, to his children on the anniversary of his wife’s death. The [5] images that accompany the text are original vintage glass negatives that date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” Glass panels hinged in accordion format. Issued in collapsible black box with a tie string. Edition of twenty-five copies. University of Utah copy is lettered and signed by the artist.

“It uses a simple accordion structure, but utilizes it in an inventive way. The panels are see-through which coincides with its subject matter. A wonderful example of form and content informing each other.”

Chandler O’Leary
Tacoma, WA: Anagram Press, 2012?

From the colophon: “Illustrated, designed, printed and bound by Chandler O’Leary, through freak snowstorms, record heat, and a thousand gentle rains in Tacoma, Washington. Each of the book’s 120 image flats is illustrated and compiled from sketches, photographs and data collected in person, on location, from September 2008 to October 2010. All text and images were letterpress printed in Hokusai’s indigo ink, down the street at Springtide Press. Images and topographic map patterns are hand-drawn and water-colored. For making it possible to turn this crazy idea into an even crazier reality, many heartfelt thanks to [the Tailor*], Jessica Spring, [Zooey*], Sarah Christianson, the Tacoma Arts Commission, the University of Puget Sound Collins Memorial Library, and the Book Arts Guild. Thanks also to the weather, for always, despite a notorious reputation, seeming to hold just long enough for me to grab the camera and jump in the car. Produced with the support of a Tacoma Artists Initiative Program grant from the City of Tacoma Arts Commission…Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1759-1849) is perhaps best known for his seminal works, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji and One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji. The two series of woodblock prints, published from 1829 to circa 1847, depict the sacred peak within the context of landscapes and scenes of daily life. At the heart of the series is Hokusai’s own obsession with immortality, and his fascination with Fuji’s eternal presence. Therein lies the rub: Fuji is anything but eternal. Beyond the usual, abstract geologic transience of eroding rock and drifting continents, Fuji is an active stratovolcano. Its days – and those of the lives and lands at its base – are numbered. Here in Washington state, just forty miles southeast of my home, lies Fuji’s taller, more volatile, American twin. Variously named Tacobet, Tahoma, and Ti’Swaq’, amont others, by the region’s indigenous peoples, or simply “The Mountain” by contemporary locals – its most arbitrary…”

“What left the greatest impression on me was the box with different scenic areas layered upon one another. It made me want to go home and create one of my own. The intricate images mixed with the soft pastels are gorgeous. I think it is interesting that the viewer is able to arrange the book how they please. The book is really their own story to tell.”

“This book intrigued me. It is so different from a normal book, and so unconventional, it inspired me to think more outside the box.”

“I like the three-dimensional aspect.”

“This book has three drawers to pull out and a ton of different different pieces of scenery. I love how I could mix and match the different scenes. There were so many possibilities to create. I liked the facts that I learned about Mt. Rainier, as well. I could have read and played with this book for hours.”

Julie Chen
Berkeley, CA: Flying Fish Press, 2012
N7433.4 C44 M46 2012

From the colophon: “The text that appears on the woven token in triptych was taken from the preambles to the constitutions of the United States and Iraq. The image that surrounds the token is of a bookseller’s stall on Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad prior to the bombing in 2007, and is used by permission of the Al-Mutanabbi Street coalition.” Letterpress printed. Designed by Julie Chen. Copper locket fabricated by Christina Kemp, based on a design by Julie Chen. Edition of fifty copies. University of Utah copy is no. 43, signed by the artist.

“Blew my mind.”

Sibyl Rubottom and Jim Machacek
San Diego, CA: Bay Park Press, 2000
N7433.4 R73 N49 2000

A flecked, navy wrapper is folded in three, housing the primary sheet which is, in turn, folded into three, unequal sections. Letterpress from Bodoni and Times Roman on Fabriano Rosaspina Bianco and Fox River Confetti wrapper. Images created using polymer plates, monotypes, linocut, and screen printing. Edition of forty-five copies. University of Utah copy is no. 19.

“Looking at New Rule helped my own making for my next project. It is a good example of a poem in a book, without lots of pages, but with a creative structure. I like how it hides the colophon inside the back cover by folding inward.”

Macy Chadwick
Portland, OR: In Cahoots Press, 2013
N7433.4 C414 C66 2013

A sequential, narrative story with abstract imagery and no text, a conversation using only symbols. From the artist’s website: “…a two-person conversation using a vocabulary of stencils and hand-drawn symbols shown in a key. What is said and what is thought, works spoken in a jumble without stopping, a rational response and an activated imagination are all carefully plotted and diagrammed. Two different communication styles clash, merge, and ultimately influence each other as one person finally speaks her mind.” Mulberry paper, Micron pens, book cloth, pochoir. Edition of five copies.

“This book was assembled very simply, hand drawn on a single sheet of mulberry paper and folded into a book with a thin book cloth cover. What really pulled me into this one was the concept behind it. The artist took the words out of a conversation and replaced them with symbols to show the structure of a conversation. It made me see that as an artist we don’t have to ‘write the story’ our viewers see, we can create a scaffolding of an idea that gets filled in with what the viewer has already experienced. It was very powerful. The book is a great vessel for this concept because it is such a personal experience turning the pages, touching the conversation with my own fingers. I learned a lot from that small book and from this whole experience.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photographs of books by Scott Beadles.
Photographs of readers by Dennise Gackstetter. Thanks, Dennise!

On Jon’s Desk: The Generall Historie of the Turkes, a beautiful book linking the past and the present


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


photograph by Scott Beadles

photograph by Scott Beadles

“What small assurance there is in mens affaires, and how subject unto change even those things are wherein we for the most part repose our greatest felicitie and blisse, (beside that the whole course of mans fraile life, by many notable examples well declareth) nothing doth more plainely manifest the same, than the heavie events and wofull destructions of the greatest kingdomes and empires: which founded upon great fortunes, increased with perpetuall successe, exalted by exceeding power, established with most puissant armies, wholesome lawes, and deepe counsel; have yet grown old, and in time come to naught.”

– Richard Knolles, The Generall Historie of the Turkes

Title: The Generall Historie of the Turkes, from The first beginning of that Nation to the rising of the Ottoman Familie: with all the notable expeditions of the Christian Princes against them

Author: Richard Knolles

Printed: London, by Adam Islip, 1603

First Edition

Call Number: DR439 K74 1603

Title page of The Generall Historie of the Turkes









There are so many books in the world. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some people like bright, new books. Others like old, worn books. As much as I would like to say that I love all books I have to confess that books with a little experience draw me in more. They feel tried and tested to me. The best books in my book are those with at least a couple of centuries behind them. With that in mind you will understand the enchantment I have found myself under recently with a most wonderfully old book. It is a marvelous specimen from the early 17th century.

Printed in London by Adam Islip (d. 1639), this book was bound in brown calf leather, which must have been rich and sensual to the touch earlier in its life. The book now wears this leather like armor that has seen some tough days on the battlefield. Somehow, despite the cracks where the boards meet the spine, it is still elegant. Although the slightly decaying leather may leave a minor brown smudge on an unsuspecting viewer’s shirt, the outer accoutrements remain steadfast in their dual missions of beauty and protection. The front and rear covers offer to the viewer a framed pattern blind-stamped into the leather.

photograph by Scott Beadles

Along the spine large raised bands fit perfectly in the hand, but more importantly, these bands are the anchors for a hand-sewn binding that has lasted for centuries. Lifting the front cover, the board is heavy; not just a little heavy, but seriously heavy. Lifting the front board is like lifting a draw bridge. It is a reminder that this cover protects something worth protecting and warns the reader not to pass lightly.

The book itself is also heavy. Consisting of 1,152 pages, this book was not meant for fanciful entertainment while traveling. At approximately twenty-three centimeters wide, thirty-two tall, and eight deep, its size confirms that this book is profound and consequential. The reader opens to the title page and finds there an elaborate copper-plate engraving, drawing him in. We have Laurence Johnson (“Sculpsit,” Latin for “he engraved, carved, or sculpted it”) to thank for this image, wherein we see noblemen, one on each side of the page. On the left stands a European and on the right an Ottoman Turk. The beauty of this page makes the reader want to linger, but it is quickly observed that the font on the subsequent pages is delightful and there are many more engravings to examine throughout the book.

Dedication page of The Generall Historie of the Turkes.







As the reader opens this book the smell of it cascades gently over him or her. It is not an unpleasant smell, despite the book’s age. Rather, it is a wonderful smell. It is the smell of leather and paper that have soaked in their surroundings for four hundred years. This book has a clean mustiness that tells the story of owners who have lovingly cared for it through the long years since its printing.

The University of Utah’s copy was part of the Benjamin Heywood Bright library, which was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 1845. Bright, who became a well-known antiquarian and authority on Shakespeare, began collecting around 1809. Sometime in the 19th century, the copy became the property of Harold Greenhill, as evidenced by his bookplate.

Book plate present in The Generall Historie of the Turkes.









Just as the physical features of this book indicate, the subject matter is a weighty one. Written by Richard Knolles in the last decade of the 16th century, The Generall Historie of the Turkes is recognized as a major historical treatise. Written in English rather than the more scholarly and academically accepted Latin, the treatise consists of a compendium of accounts by historians in the 14th through 16th centuries. Like most European historians of the day, Knolles relied on earlier European works for his information and much of his viewpoint. He relied most heavily on Jean Jacques Boissard’s Vitae et icons sultanorum (1596), from which were copied twenty-eight engraved portraits of Turkish sultans, their wives, and European kings.

Copper plate engraving illustration of Turkish Sultan and Sultaness.







Knolles strongly edited the accounts, however, which resulted in the reader fully experiencing a propagandist diatribe throughout. The fact that Knolles chose to publish the work in English rather than Latin is noteworthy. It suggests the intent to reach a large audience and to sway public opinion. Due to the work’s role as a propaganda device it was important for common people to be able to understand it. The treatise was indeed influential. Later writers, such as Samuel Johnson and Lord Byron, read and commented on Knolles’ work. It is also widely accepted that The Generall Historie of the Turkes influenced Shakespeare’s writing.

Knolles’ Generall Historie was certainly a success, running through new editions seven times between 1603 and 1701, most with varying additions and abridgements. The first edition probably consisted of between 1250 and 1500 copies, the maximum number of copies allowed by a 1587 regulation.

The text itself, twelve years in the writing, demonstrates British animosity towards Islam. For example, author Richard Knolles refers to Muslims as “slothing and effeminate.” Knolles wrote this work to acquaint English Christians with an enemy. His demonization of the Turks made this hostility a religious struggle as much as a struggle for world position and power. During the 16th century, more works regarding the Ottoman Turks were written than on the “New World.”

Image of opening lines of The Generall Historie of the Turkes.





History repeats itself. However, each generation, I would hazard to generalize, feels as if it is forging ahead into uncharted territory. If a person (a pesky historian or even a curator of rare books) were to point out a historical example which perhaps might support an argument regarding the nature of history and its cycles, others may be quick to point to all the ways in which current events differ from those contained in the historical example. The Generall Historie of the Turkes is a marvelous portal which allows us to view how many of the modern western world’s most difficult issues were being treated at the turn of the 17th century.

In 1453 Constantinople, the capital city and last hold-out of the Eastern Roman Empire, fell to the Ottoman Empire. To put it mildly, this did not please the western Europeans. To turn this into an almost unforgivably simple tale, the Westerners (predominantly Christian) traveled to the Near East (what we now often refer to as the Middle East) and began to carve out little kingdoms for themselves. Religion played an important role in the impetus for these actions. Some may claim that today the impetus is oil, but religion or oil makes not a lot of difference in the grand scheme of things. The bottom line is, westerners (Europeans) showed up in the Near East and started telling the local people how things would run. Naturally, this (then as it is now) was hard for the local people to accept, so they pushed back. In the 15th century they pushed back right into Europe. In the 21st century it is no different. These two cultures have clashed repeatedly over centuries, and so it is that a four hundred year old book acts as a portal that looks suspiciously like a mirror.

I love that the physical attributes and the subject matter of this book are so at odds. This finely crafted, beautiful book is the physical medium of an aggressive topic. History is anything but pretty, yet the books (at least in this case) containing it can be. Perhaps that is not without intention. It just goes to show, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

~ Contributed by Jon Bingham, Rare Books Curator

Now is the night one blue dew.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


“…do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou has not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!”
— John Keats from Ode on a Grecian Urn

In Memorium — Kathleen Thompson

Kathleen Thompson of Michael R. Thompson Rare Books worked for several Los Angeles antiquarian booksellers, including Universal Books, Royer Art Books, and Zeitlin & Ver Brugge, before entering into a partnership with her husband, Michael Thompson, and Carol Sandberg in 1985. Hers was often the first face one encountered when visiting their shops on Melrose, Fairfax, and Third. We remember Kathleen for her warmth, sense of humor, thoughtfulness, and intelligence.

I had the pleasure of many conversations with Kathleen over the phone and by email. I will miss her soft Mississippi meter, which, thank goodness, she never did lose, even though she swore she had. We wrote to each other about cousins, music, poets and poems. Here are a few of her favorites.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
London: Essex House Press, 1899
PR2841 A2 E55

Printed in black and red. Illustrated with floriated initials and one full-page drawing. Bound in vellum with ties. Edition of four hundred and fifty copies. Rare Books copy is no. 274.

American Printing History Association
S. l.: American Printing History Association, 2006
Z250 V47 2006

Seventeen gatherings contributed by fifteen different presses in a variety of typefaces, colors, formats, papers, all letterpress printed, some illustrated. Contributors include Carolee Campbell, Jerry Kelly, Robin Price, Gaylord Schanilec, Jack Stauffacher, and others. Issued in blue cloth clamshell box with paper label. Edition of two hundred copies.

And this from Walter de la Mare:

All That’s Past

Very old are the woods;
And the buds that break
Out of the brier’s boughs,
When March winds wake,
So old with their beauty are–
Oh, no man knows
Through what wild centuries
Roves back the rose.
Very old are the brooks;
And the rills that rise
Where snow sleeps cold beneath
The azure skies
Sing such a history
Of come and gone,
Their every drop is as wise
As Solomon.

Very old are we men;
Our dreams are tales
Told in dim Eden
By Eve’s nightingales;
We wake and whisper awhile,
But, the day gone by,
Silence and sleep like fields
Of amaranth lie.


And this from James Agee:

Knoxville: Summer of 1915

(We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville Tennessee in that time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.)

…It has become that time of evening when people sit on their porches, rocking gently and talking gently and watching the street and the standing up into their sphere of possession of the trees, of birds’ hung havens, hangars. People go by; things go by. A horse, drawing a buggy, breaking his hollow iron music on the asphalt; a loud auto; a quiet auto; people in pairs, not in a hurry, scuffling, switching their weight of aestival body, talking casually, the taste hovering over them of vanilla, strawberry, pasteboard and starched milk, the image upon them of lovers and horsemen, squared with clowns in hueless amber.

A streetcar raising its iron moan; stopping, belling and starting; stertorous; rousing and raising again its iron increasing moan and swimming its gold windows and straw seats on past and past and past, the bleak spark crackling and cursing above it like a small malignant spirit set to dog its tracks; the iron whine rises on rising speed; still risen, faints; halts; the faint stinging bell; rises again, still fainter, fainting, lifting, lifts, faints foregone: forgotten. Now is the night one blue dew.


And this from the aunt of Kathleen’s “dearest old friend,” Joni Kay Miller (1945-2017):

It is peculiar mercy none can find
In this lost time where only losers dwell
Who lose the most, the ones who left behind
Wisdom and love and never knew them well
Or those who know too well and as they stay
Inherit silence and the vacant day.
— Luise Putcamp jr.

And I had the honor of being called by Kathleen “a kindred spirit, too.”
— Luise Poulton

Memory eternal!


26 March 2017

Friends Gather for Kathleen, 26 March 2017

Book of the Week — The Farmer’s Diary, or, Beers’ Ontario Almanack, for the Year of our Lord 1824


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


“This month is generally ushered in with boisterous wind and nipping frosts. The hapless mariner beholds his vessel wrecked upon the very rocks which bind his much-loved home. Vegetation perishes through severe and untimely ires!; and deluging rains, descending with impetuous force crush the springing blade, and despoil the beauty of the gay parterre. Even thus do the rude passions of man’s soul break forth with resistless force at this unsettled period of existence, wrecking the fragile bark of youth. The tide of dissipation sweeps away the principles of virtue, which have not had time to take root, and every noble energy is blighted by the influence of bad example.”

Happy Spring!

The Farmer’s Diary, or, Beers’ Ontario Almanack, for the Year of our Lord 1824
Canandaigua, NY: Printed and sold, wholesale and retail, by J. D. Bemis, 1824

For all their necessity, American almanacs in the early nineteenth century assumed that most farmers understood, without printed confirmation, events such as the beginning of spring. Nonetheless, warnings such as the one above about the ravages of early spring weather, not to mention the unsettling effect it has on the “fragile bark of youth,” pervaded these sage documents. As evidenced here, spring fever was alive and well in 1824.

Attorney Andrew Beers acted as chief polymath for several almanacs in New York City before he moved to Albany in 1797. He began working with printers in western New York towns wanting to issue almanacs particular to their areas. Newspaperman and publisher James D. Bemis of Canandaigua, nine miles from the home of Joseph Smith, turned to Beers for help with astronomical, monetary and other calculations invaluable to local farmers and businessmen. Bemus was the editor of the Ontario Repository and Genesee Advertiser. Ontario County, New York was home to Joseph Smith and his family between 1816 and 1830.



Rare Books Exhibition — Enquiring Minds


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Enquiring Minds: Fourteen Centuries of Questions and Answers

Humans have been compiling information to answer an infinity of questions for thousands of years. From Ptolemy to Izaak Walton, the best minds have annotated, edited, translated, measured, arranged, and defined what it means to live a life of wonder.

From facsimiles of medieval encyclopedias, almanacs and atlases to first editions of fifteenth through twentieth century dictionaries, manuals, lexicons, compendiums, and directories, Rare Books celebrates questions and the attempts to answer them.

Keep on asking!

March 17, 2017 — April 30, 2017
Special Collections Gallery
Level 4
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah

This exhibition is free and open to the public.