Wednesday, May 02, 2012 11:55:00 AM
Ottavio Farnese (1598–1643). Quaestiones definitae ex triplici philosophia, rationali, naturali, morali, in Parmensi Academia publicè triduum disputatae. Parma: Anteo Viotti, 1613. Purchased on the L. C. Harper Fund, 2012.
Ottavio Farnese was the natural son of the duke of Parma. Unable to produce a male heir, the duke legitimized Ottavio, groomed him to be head of state, and gave him a princely education. His studies culminated in a three-day academic marathon, during which he defended 2370 philosophical theses laced with citations to Aristotle and other reputable authorities. This lavish volume commemorates the performance of that precocious youth, then at the age of fourteen. It contains an engraved title page after the court artist Giovan Battista Trotti and an extraordinary series of calligraphic allegorical vignettes by one Brondulus, perhaps one of his tutors. Unfortunately, Ottavio fell out of favor with the duke, who disinherited him after the birth of another son with better dynastic credentials. He conspired against his father, and after he was found out, he was thrown into prison for the rest of his life.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 12:45:00 PM
Russell Maret. Specimens of Diverse Characters. [New York, N.Y.]: Russell Maret, 2011. Purchased on the Henry S. Morgan Fund, 2012.
This bravura display of letterpress typefaces demonstrates the wit, ingenuity, and typographical prowess of Russell Maret, one of the most gifted and enterprising fine printers in New York. It is his most ambitious work to date, an impressive folio printed in several colors on handmade paper with specimens of his new proprietary typeface, Iohann Titling. Maret designed Iohann Titling and had it cast in lead by one of the last remaining typefoundries in the U.S. This is one of fifteen special copies bound in morocco and accompanied with a portfolio of progressive proofs. The book and portfolio are elegantly packaged in a clamshell box with a compartment containing actual lead type, a reminder that “type is something you can pick up and hold in your hand.”
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 3:56:00 PM
My Own Mag (Barnet, England: Jeff Nuttall / Homosap, Inc., -1966). 17 nos.
Some of the strengths of the twentieth-century holdings at the Morgan include the Carter Burden Collection's important association copies belonging to William S. Burroughs, and the comprehensive range of modern British poets in the Kenneth A. Lohf Collection. A recent acquisition in the Printed Books department extends these holdings with Jeff Nuttall’s mimeographed periodical, My Own Mag (1963-1966).
At the height of the 1960s British Poetry Revival, My Own Mag was a nexus of underground writing and counterculture literature. It featured irreverent poems, prose, and comics, and attracted submissions from a small coterie of the international avant-garde, including William S. Burroughs, Anselm Hollo, Carl Weissner, Claude Pélieu, and Sigma founder Alexander Trocchi. Burroughs in particular was inspired by what he viewed as Nuttall’s experiment in “reader participation.” He took an active editorial role, publishing his own magazine-within-the-magazine called The Moving Times, and sent copies to Brion Gysin and Allen Ginsberg, among others. For Nuttall—a poet, artist, and musician—the mimeo served as “a paper exhibition in words, pages, spaces, holes, edges, and images.” Its anarchic experimentation captures some of the activities that occurred in the basement at London’s Better Books and that synthesized with Ginsberg’s appearance at the 1965 International Poetry Incarnation at Albert Hall. Notorious for its rarity as much as its cut, stained, and burnt pages, this run of My Own Mag is only the second complete set recorded in American institutions.
Friday, February 17, 2012 11:29:00 AM
George Bickham (1684?-1758?). The Universal Penman. London: Robert Sayer, [ca. 1760]. Purchased on the Henry S. Morgan Fund, 2012.
Eight years in the making, The Universal Penman was the most ambitious writing book of the eighteenth century. Twenty-two scribes contributed to this compilation, containing more than two hundred calligraphic specimens adorned with high rococo headpieces and vignettes. For suitable texts, many of them turned to the fashionable authors of the day — Dryden, Pope, Addison and Congreve — culling sententious aphorisms they could use to display their skills in round hand and other scripts graced with a profusion of pen flourishes. The frontispiece is by Gravelot, who was living in London at that time.
Thursday, February 02, 2012 12:34:00 PM
Homer. L’Iliade, traduction nouvelle [par Charles-François Lebrun, duc de Plaisance]. A Paris: Chez Barbou, Moutard, Ruault, 1776. Purchased on the Gordon N. Ray Fund, 2011.
A rising star in the political firmament, Charles-François Lebrun published his translation of the Iliad anonymously, as if his civil service colleagues might have looked askance at his dilettantish literary pursuits. These precautions did not diminish his pride in this publication, some copies of which were printed on luxurious large paper with frontispiece engravings after designs by Charles-Nicolas Cochin. Collectors could buy the special copies at more than twice the regular price, and those in the know might receive one as a gift of the translator. Resplendent gilt-tooled red morocco bindings signaled the value and prestige of this three-volume, large-paper copy.
Thursday, January 19, 2012 3:36:00 PM
Bible. Latin. Vulgate. 1555. Biblia sacra ex postremis doctorum omnium vigiliis ad Hebraicam veritatem & probatissimorum exemplarium fidem. Salamanca: Andrea de Portonariis, 1555. Purchased on the Henry S. Morgan Fund, 2011.
The scholar-printer Andrea de Portonariis believed that some passages in the Latin Bible could be corrected on the basis of recent research by a professor of Hebrew in Paris. Attempts to go back to the Hebrew sources were viewed with suspicion by the authorities after a Paris printer had used the professor’s emendations in Bible editions with notes betraying Protestant sympathies. Portonariis appears not to have adopted very many of the disputed readings, but he realized he was in for trouble and took evasive action. He disguised the suspect origins of his edition by announcing that it had been overseen by a Salamanca theologian, who bridled at that subterfuge and complained to the Inquisition. Spanish censors placed the Portonariis edition on the Index of Prohibited Books and seized whatever copies were still available. Piled up with other banned books, they filled five rooms in the cardinal’s palace in Toledo. At first it was decided to burn them, but then they were allowed to rot in storage. Only four copies are known to have survived, this one, formerly in a private collection of Spanish Judaica, and three copies in libraries in Portugal.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 3:49:00 PM
The House that Jack Built: A Diverting Story for Children of All Ages. To Which is Added, Some Account of Jack Jingle. Shewing by Which Means he Acquired his Learning, and in Consequence Thereof Got Rich and Built Himself a House. With a Collection of Riddles Written by Him. The Whole Adorned with a Variety of Cuts by Master Collett. London: Printed and sold by John Marshall, at No. 4, Aldermary Church-Yard in Bow-Lane; and no. 17, Queen-Street, Cheapside, [between 1787 and 1798]. Purchased on the Elisabeth Ball Fund, 2011.
Bibliographers have been able to identify at least eighteen eighteenth-century editions of this classic nursery rhyme, most of them surviving in only one or two known copies. The Morgan has the earliest securely datable illustrated edition (1770) as well as many later editions. As yet unrecorded, this edition contains the backstory of the nursery rhyme, an account of young Jack’s rise to riches, along with a collection of riddles composed by Jack “for the amusement of his playmates.”
Wednesday, November 02, 2011 4:01:00 PM
Jean Chenel, sieur de La Chappronnaye (fl. 1614-1617). Les revelations de l’hermite solitaire sur l’estat de la France. Paris: Toussaincts du Braÿ, 1617. Purchased on the Gordon N. Ray Fund, 2011.
In a series of visions, illustrated here, a hermit revealed to the author that the French nation was suffering from a blight of dueling. Too many men of honor had lost their lives — and their souls — because of this debilitating vice. As a valorous alternative, Chenel proposed to found a religious order of high-born knights who would renounce single combat, take vows of chastity and obedience, and dedicate their mastery of the martial arts to more worthy purposes, defending the kingdom and delivering the Holy Land. Not a single nobleman enlisted in his order. Taking his own advice, Chenel retired to a peaceable hermitage in the forest of Fontainbleau, but not without first trying to drum up business with this publication, containing eleven full-page engravings and an emblematic title page. The engraving shown here is an allegory of treason. The hermit looks down on the city of Paris, where a runaway horse symbolizes an enemy of the crown, who is finally brought down by the loyal citizenry and is revealed not to be a horse at all but a far less admirable creature.