at Grinnell College Special Collections & Archives

Category: Featured items

Salisbury House Library Collection feature

Tilting at windmills

The Second Part of the History of Valorous and Witty Knight-errant, Don Quixote of la Mancha.
Miguel Cervantes. 
London: Edward Blount. 1620. 

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! 

Book bound-with mysteries

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

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?


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