Check out a new feature in the Burling Lounge Magic Box! On display now are three special editions of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Learn more about the infamously evolving collection of poetry and more Whitman in the Salisbury House Library Collection. See the installation through October 2022.
Category: Featured items
Salisbury House Library Collection feature
Announcements of fall 2022 Special Collections & SHLC exhibits, events, and activities coming soon! Interested in scheduling a class or group visit or researching with the collection?
Grinnell College Special Collections is hosting a Salisbury House Library Collection open house on Thursday May 12 from 4-7pm, with opening remarks at 4:15 in Burling Gallery. Drop in and experience selections from the Salisbury House Library Collection to learn more about some our favorite discoveries from the stacks this year, SHLC in the classroom, current projects, and the next chapter for the collection.
Can’t join us? Open house items will be featured over summer 2022 online (here!) or contact us to schedule a visit to see material in person.
In November the reading room hosted Professor Guenther’s history course Britain in the Age of Enlightenment, a look at the “long eighteenth century” which brought drastic changes in industrial and social revolutions, scientific advancement, and a new culture of book culture. For an afternoon the Reading Room and Print Drawing Study Room transformed into 8 miniature libraries, each station inspired by the types of reading spaces where Enlightenment readers could be found.
Students explored the ‘Royal Society Library’, books of science and world exploration like would be found at this British society collection and dug into botanical books at the ‘Oxford Physic Garden’. The imagined country estate library featured beautiful books from a medieval illuminated manuscript to fore-edge paintings, books about genealogy, society life in London, and beautiful bindings. The ‘Burling Book Society’, a reading society library found moralized books and novels deemed ‘suitable’ for all readers, counter the risqué reputation of salacious novels and literature that could be found at lending libraries like ‘Lane’s Circulating Library’. Our lending library included contemporary works by Byron and Henry Fielding alongside a treatise on the art of dancing and guide for house keeping. A book shop challenged students to locate original prices marked on books and use a historical currency converter to learn more about the investment purchasing books was for Enlightenment readers. (Check it out at nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency-converter! An 1822 edition of Confessions of an English Opium Eater in the collection cost 5 shillings.) A corner of the PDSR transported to ‘Lloyd’s Coffee House’, an integral location for intellectual discussion and trade along with the circulation of political pamphlets and periodicals alongside art from William Hogarth, an English printmaker and satirist who immortalized London culture, including coffeehouses in scenes and satire. Hogarth’s father for a short time ran an unsuccessful London coffeehouse. The final imagined library was the ‘Royal Academy of Arts’ library, where books about art, collections, and instruction were complimented by a gallery wall of Enlightenment era artists like JMW Turner in the Museum collection.
Take a closer look: furniture, fashion, and fabric samples, oh my!
At the gallery and arts library station were three volumes of the Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, or Ackermann’s Repository. This periodical was published between 1809 and 1829 and distributed as single pamphlets. Many surviving today were bound into compendium volumes, such as these in the Salisbury House Library Collection. SHLC is home to 5 volumes with issues from 1810-1813. Among the pages of the magazines are reports of the newest fashions, advancements in architecture, and samples of literature. They include many detailed images that were hand tinted and samples of fabrics that have survived in excellent condition. See more from the Internet Archive.
We look forward to recreating these Enlightenment libraries - and more imagined libraries - to share in open houses and events coming soon!
A new feature from the shelves of the Salisbury House Library Collection is on display in the Magic Box. Stop by to see The institution, laws and ceremonies of the most noble Order of the Garter. Collected by Elias Ashmole with illustrations by Wenceslaus Hollar. London: 1672.
This 1672 folio details the history of the Order of the Garter, the oldest and highest chivalric order in Britain. It features detailed illustrations of architecture of St. George’s Chapel, a location at Windsor Castle associated with the group, garb and processions of ceremonies, and more. We don’t know much about its provenance before Salisbury House–the only section with traces of a reader marking the book are in the protocol if a knight of the order loses their membership in the case of treason. Today the order includes both men and women knights appointed in recognition of national service. We pulled it for a class visiting Special Collections this semester on the legacy of Saint George and were wowed by the detail of Hollar’s illustrations.
This week the Reading Room hosted an education course for two sessions examining historical perspectives on US education. Material from the SHLC joined Grinnell College Special Collections and Archives material in five stations covering course themes. One of the SHLC items students worked with was a 1685 excerpt from the Eliot’s Indian Bible, a touchpoint for class material on race, assimilation, and history of education. Alongside students this week, we learned more about the history one page from the collection carries and its context in history.
A leaf from the Eliot Bible, or Mamusse wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God. 2nd edition printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1685.
Alternate titles: Algonquian Bible. Eliot’s Bible. The Indian Bible.
About the Eliot Bible
The Eliot Indian Bible was the first bible printed in British North America. The work is a translation of the Geneva Bible into the indigenous Massachusett dialect, a branch of Algonquian language. The first edition was printed as New Testament only in 1661 and was followed in 1663 by a full translation of 66 books from the Old and New Testament.
John Eliot (1604-1690), an English Puritan minister, arrived to the Massachusett Bay Colony in 1631. In an attempt to evangelize and convert Native Americans, he spent fourteen years learning the Massachusett language and translating the Christian Bible into a language previously unwritten. Eliot and other English collaborators are credited on title pages of early editions of the “Indian Bible”, but omit his indigenous collaborators Job Nesutan (Massachusett), John Sassamon (Massachusett), Cockenoe (Montaukett) and James Printer (Nipmuk) who assisted in his learning the language, devising a written system, and translation. James Printer was a printer’s apprentice at Samuel Green’s press where original editions were printed.
About the second edition
Many first editions of Eliot’s translations were lost during the destruction of King Philip’s War (1675-1676) which decimated the indigenous population of southern New England. In 1685, Eliot and surviving collaborators assisted in a corrected second edition being published, again at the press of Samuel Green and with the assistance of John Printer. It is assumed about 2,000 second editions were produced; an unknown number of books exist today. A surviving copy of this edition is digitized at the Internet Archive. The Salisbury House Library Collection leaf is page 449/450 in the digitized edition; it comes from the book of II Chronicles.
The image at right shows the original title page of this edition; an English translation reads:
The Whole Holy His-Bible God, both Old Testament and also New Testament. This turned by the-servant-of-Christ, who is called John Eliot. [Nahohtoeu ontchetoe Printeuoomuk.]
Printed by Samuel Green. MDCLXXXV (1685)
Samuel Green was one of the earliest printers in the American colonies and was based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. James Printer worked in his print shop as a printer’s apprentice, then typesetter.
The SHLC Leaf: What we don’t know
The origin of the SHLC leaf–including when or from whom it was purchased–remains unknown as this item doesn’t have corresponding provenance information. It is housed in a paper folder with mylar (a preservation safe film) window cover with a mount that appears to be the second or third instance of it being displayed as a single leaf. Book breaking, or separating pages from books for individual sale was common among book sellers during the Weeks family era of collecting. One of the most infamous ‘book-breakers’ or biblioclasts, as he called himself, was Otto Ege who would assemble portfolios for sale. Who sold this leaf–was it from Otto Ege himself? Where have other leaves from this copy gone? Who were past owners?
The language today
The historical Massachusett language recorded in the Eliot translation is also known as Natick or Wôpanâak and associated with the Wompanoag tribe today. With great losses to the population during the 17th century from epidemics, violence, relocation, and assimilation inflicted by colonization, the language has been an endangered or “sleeping language” for over a century with lack of native and fluent speakers and communities of youth learning the language. The Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project (WLRP) began in the 1990s to revitalize the language and continues today. Learn more about the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project at www.wlrp.org or hear more about language reclamation from a March 2021 public radio highlight On Point.
This Saturday June 26, 2021 is International Kelmscott Press Day, marking the 130th anniversary of the founding of the prolific press and the 125th anniversary of the press’s most famous work: the Kelmscott Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. The Salisbury House Library Collection is home to volumes of Kelmscott Press and other of Morris’ contemporaries in the private press movement of the late 19th century. William Morris and Kelmscott Press were leaders of the arts and craft movement which challenged the mass production of the Industrial Revolution with an emphasis on aesthetics and beauty. Elements of the romantic era, medieval books, and appreciation of craftsmanship are prominent in their works.
From Salisbury, 20 full Kelmscott volumes join Grinnell College rare book holdings to total 26 Kelmscott works, including 2 Kelmscott Chaucers! Completed in 1896, the Salisbury Chaucer is one of 40 bound by Doves Bindery. The white pigskin binding was designed by Morris. This copy also has signatures laid in from William Morris, illustrator Edward Burne-Jones, and engraver W.H. Hooper.
You can learn more about William Morris and the Kelmscott Press and find digital events and projects from around the world to mark the anniversary online at The William Morris Society and learn more about the Kelmscott Chaucers around the world from the Updating the Kelmscott Chaucer project.
The Second Part of the History of Valorous and Witty Knight-errant, Don Quixote of la Mancha. Miguel Cervantes. London: Edward Blount. 1620. 96.4633
Printed in 1620 as the second part of the story of Don Quixote, this book has had a life! Although the text block is sewn, it is not bound, laying in what first appears to be a leather case. Upon closer inspection, the wrapper is even more of a surprise—it is manuscript waste! (Learn more about recycled materials in historical book bindings) The sewing of the book is visible and through some segments of the text block, there appear to be thin wooden pegs. Blank pages at the back of the book have notes dated from the 1770s, but taking a closer look at the manuscript waste wrapper, at least four different hands are visible. Where in the world are copies of it’s sibling, Part One? We can’t wait to learn more about this book!
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.
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?