Archive for the ‘Illustration’ Category


It’s that spooky time of year again…

Illustration of baby skeletons from Physica Sacra, Johann Jakob Scheuchzer, 1731

And these weeping baby skeletons want to wish you…

a happy…

Physica Sacra, 1731, plate 23, detail





This creepiness courtesy of plate 23 from Physica Sacra (or Sacred Physics) by Johann Jakob Scheuchzer, published in 1731. This impressive work was created with the goal of explaining the bible scientifically and is famous for its 784 full page illustrations… including this illustration of Genesis chapter 1, verses 26-27 decorated with the stages of fetal development and infant skeletons.

Physica Sacra, 1731, plate 23, VII

Read Full Post »

Sometimes social media offers up random gifts to brighten your day. Recently I have been enjoying posts from a Facebook group called “We Love Endpapers.” Enthusiasts from all over the world share pictures of both modern and antique decorated endpapers, and occasional links to related blog posts, like this one from the National Library of New Zealand. The post, “Opening up the Covers,” has great information about varieties like paste paper and gilded paper, with useful resources at the end, including the database of images at the University of Washington. In the spirit of “We Love Endpapers,” I offer a few images from Amherst’s collection that have caught my eye over the past few months.

click on an image to see it larger,

click on a caption to view more information in the library catalog


Read Full Post »

Part of the back-to-school ritual in the Archives & Special Collections is meeting new faculty and trying to figure out what we have in our collections that they might use. Recently, we had a couple of new faculty ask about what resources we have about Latin America and the Caribbean.

For the course “The Colonial City: Global Perspectives” several people in the department went in search of maps and/or architectural illustrations of cities and towns in the Caribbean. We were confident we would have something for this course given our strong holdings of books, manuscripts, and maps from the era of the French & Indian War:

Plan of Bridge Town This document — “A Plan of Bridge Town, in the Island of Barbadoes”– is part of the Plimpton Collection of French and Indian War Items, 1670-1934 (Box 10, Folder 1).

A bound volume from the same era also has a lot of what we were looking for:

French Dominions 1760 title

The Natural and Civil History of the French Dominions of North and South America (London, 1760) is a very thorough survey of French territories, many of which had just been captured by the English during the French and Indian War. It includes numerous maps of Caribbean islands, like this one

French Dominions 1760 Hispaniola

And some of the maps include detailed city plans:

French Dominions 1760 Harbor

An even earlier book may also be a fruitful resource for this course:

America 1671 title

This copy of America: Being the Latest, and Most Accurate Description of the New World (London, 1671) once belonged to Amherst College alumnus, Dwight W. Morrow (Class of 1895), who served as US Ambassador to Mexico under President Calvin Coolidge. The Archives holds several books from Morrow’s library along with his personal papers. The illustrations in this volume include more maps:

America 1671 Jamaicae

In addition to maps, some illustrations give a very clear rendering of some of the architecture:

America 1671 Potosi

Others are less architecturally detailed, but we hope will be useful:

America 1671 Lima

A third item worth mentioning doesn’t have any illustrations, but may be useful to the Colonial City course as well as another new class on Race and Religion in the Americas. The professor for that course told me he was particularly interested in Guatemala, and it turned out we had a very interesting item that fit the bill:

Gage Survey of the West Indias

This copy of The English American, his travail by sea and land: or, A new svrvey of the West-India’s also comes from Dwight Morrow’s library. It’s the extraordinary narrative of Thomas Gage, an English Catholic whose travels included “Twelve years about Guatemala.”

One of the ways we like to teach with our collections is to get at least one or two relevant books or documents into the hands of the students, then we can point them to deeper online repositories where they may find much more material on their topic. In this case, it is likely that the Digital Library of the Caribbean may be quite handy. And for more material on Guatemala, there are a wealth of resources to be discovered via the Latin American Networked Information Center, the Latin American Open Archives Portal, and others.  Our hope is always that the experience of seeing seventeenth and eighteenth-century books and documents will enable students to make better use of digital resources and bear in mind the physical artifacts that these digital projects are based on.

Read Full Post »

Equinox pressmark (designed by John Heins)

Equinox pressmark (designed by John Heins)

In 2010 the Library of America reissued all six of Lynd Ward’s “novels in woodcuts” (also called “novels without words”) in a two volume set. If you like graphic novels but have never read Ward’s work, these are a great introduction, and you can check them out from any of the Five Colleges libraries. If you like what you see, you can also visit the special collections at Amherst or Smith to compare the experience of reading one of the original editions. The Archives and Special Collections at Amherst owns a second printing (from December 1929) of Ward’s first, and probably best known, wordless novel Gods’ Man. Even though it was first published a week before the Stock Market Crash, the book sold so well that it went through five printings by October of 1930, with a sixth printing in 1933, totaling more than 20,000 copies.

A copy of the 1929 edition (left) and the 2010 reissue (right)

A copy of the 1929 edition (left) and the 2010 reissue (right)


Read Full Post »

Last month, Mike posted about a recent gift of books from alumnus Peter Webb. I have cataloged them and they can be found via this search. Mike mentioned in passing that the gift included copies of some of Charles Eastman’s books in their original dust jackets:

Since dust jackets on hardcover books are common today, these may not seem all that exciting. But dust jackets from the early 1900s and before are quite rare, even in special collections libraries. See this recent post from the University of Virginia about a collection of 19th-century books in original dust jackets, donated by Tom Congalton. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Etching by Wenceslaus Hollar, 1646

Recently cataloged: Muscarum scarabeorum vermiumque varie figure & formae / omnes primo ad uiuum coloribus depictae & ex Collectione Arundelian a Wenceslao Hollar aqua forti aeri insculptae (Antwerp, 1646) QL543.H65 1646

These 12 lovely little etchings of “flies, beetles, and worms” are over 350 years old, but look as crisp as when they were printed. The thin paper carries some foxing (the small brown spots that appear with age), and at some point in the past they were mounted onto newer leaves and bound. They are the work of Wenceslas Hollar (1607-1677) who, though born in Prague, lived and worked primarily in England. He may perhaps be best known for his views of London, especially those before and after the Great Fire of 1666.


Read Full Post »

Wandering through our stacks the other day, my eye was caught by a small collection of paperbacks with bold modernist cover art and the intriguing publisher “Paper Books” listed on the spine.

The Masters of the Day of Judgement (more…)

Read Full Post »

A page from this volume.

A page from this volume.

There was some celebrating back in early May, when we completed the cataloging of the 1,397 titles in the Younghee Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection. Thankfully, no one got Gatorade poured on them, as had been threatened. I thought I would share in this post a little bit of the detective work that the last few titles required, and suggest questions that may be worth further research.

At first glance, a collection of poetry, stories, and art created in 1969 by students at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) certainly looked as if it were a one-of-a-kind manuscript. Indeed, a note from the book dealer had called it “a unique collection.” Closer examination revealed that the text was printed (probably by silk-screening), although some of the artwork may have been done by hand before the printing. With no title page on our copy, I searched WorldCat in several different ways before I felt confident that there are at least two other copies of this work in libraries, one at the New Mexico State Library, and one at UC Davis. I suspect no copy has an actual title page, and this can lead to different libraries accidentally cataloging the same work in different ways. The copy at UC Davis was given a title based on the first poem in the book…which can be a valid choice according to cataloging rules, but sometimes is confusing for researchers.


Read Full Post »

Peterson, Roger Tory, and Virginia Marie Peterson. The Audubon Society Baby Elephant Folio: Audubon's Birds of America. London: Heinemann, 1981. Print.

Peterson, Roger Tory, and Virginia Marie Peterson. The Audubon Society Baby Elephant Folio: Audubon’s Birds of America. London: Heinemann, 1981.

The Amherst College Archives and Special Collections has an extensive ornithology rare books collection, containing many images of turkeys!

You can see a full listing of volumes from the Richard L. Soffer (Class of 1954) Ornithology Collection.

We also have an Audubon Double Elephant Folio on display in the Archives foyer.  Come check it out!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Archives!

Read Full Post »

It’s time for another visit to the bunker!

We’ve already taken a peek at a few 20th century and 19th century books in our backlog of uncataloged books, now let’s look into some of the many pre-1800 volumes. I find the title page illustrations in these very early volumes especially interesting, here are a few of my favorites:

civil wars in england detail


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »