at Grinnell College Special Collections & Archives

Author: Laura Michelson

Book bound-with mysteries

Volpone: or, the Fox 
Ben Johnson
London: T. Johnson. 1714 
97.4606

This book was gifted to Carl Weeks “in memory of Rotary [Club] friendship” from B.R. MacHatton. Within the simple leather binding are a few surprises—it is a bound-with (or sammelband) meaning multiple, disparate works were bound together. This was a common practice for historical books when items were bought directly from a printer; a number of titles of the same size could be collected over a number of years before going to a bindery, which makes for some interesting finds! A 1714 copy of the Ben Johnson play Volpone, or The Fox, is followed by a 1713 Discourse of Free Thinking, and a 1720 printing of  another play, The Siege of Damascus by John Hughes. And at page 55 of the second title, a pressed butterfly! How long this butterfly has been pressed in the pages remains a mystery. Can you help identify what type of butterfly it is? When this book visits a book conservator, we will remove the specimen to have it further examined and encased in preservation safe material to not cause any further damage to the book.

Image of open book, illustration of a classic scene and flower petal laid in, overlapping text.

Petals in the pages

Paging through a book during a preservation edit, you never quite know what you’ll find. A fun find this week: flower petals!

Pressed in the pages of a 1774 edition of The Pantheon, Representing the Fabulous Histories of the Heathen Gods … for the Use of Schools by Andrew Tooke, Laura (Project Archivist) discovered flower petals pressed into the pages. How long these petals have been pressed in the pages is hard to determine! Researching more about its history coming to Salisbury House–and if flower petals were laid in then–may tell us more. Did this flower come from the Salisbury House Garden?

 

Welcome to the Salisbury House Library Collection at Grinnell College Libraries online. Acquired in 2019, the collection is open for researchers and hosts books and manuscripts from the 12th century to the 1960s. The collection is being processed, but is fully open to researchers and visitors. For inquiries, please contact Grinnell College Special Collections and Archives staff.

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