Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Special Collections

"To those with ears to hear, libraries are really very noisy places. On their shelves we hear the captured voices of the centuries-old conversation that makes up our civilization." -Timothy Healy

Monday’s blog was about the most beautiful libraries. However, a ‘library tour’ should also take into account what the library has to offer other than a beautiful, interesting or unusual building. Libraries' Surprising Special Collections, an article from the Smithsonian magazine, lists eight interesting collections, such as a chess collection in The John Griswold White Reading Room in Cleveland; America’s largest collection of Arabic papyrus, parchment and paper documents at the J. Williard Marriott Library in Salt Lake City; and, at the University of Delaware in Newark, you will find a collection of books, manuscripts and other materials on forgers, hoaxers and other literary frauds.

To me, the most interesting sounding collection is at the Boston Public Library. They believe they have the largest collection of fore-edge painted books. When a fore-edge book is closed, gold leaf hides an image that can only be seen when the pages are fanned in a particular manner. Because of the age of the books, I can’t imagine that anyone is allowed to touch them much less fan the pages. However, here are a couple of demonstrations I found on youtube. They only take a few seconds to watch. I found them fascinating.

Pictures of fore-edge books can be found here.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Healy, Smithsonian, fore-edge books,


Anonymous said...

That is fascinating. What a fabulous lost art!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've seen a couple books like that and think it's absolutely fascinating!

L. Diane Wolfe

Morgan Mandel said...

Wow, I never even heard of such a thing before. You amaze me by the things you discover. Lovely.

Morgan Mandel

Tom said...

Stay tuned... a new website highlighting ALL the BPL fore-edge paintings will be launched in mid-April.
Watch the BPL homepage for the link.

Helen Ginger said...

Wow. That's fabulous. Wouldn't it be something to see those in person!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Thanks for the heads up, Tom - I'm look forward to seeing more on these fantastic books.

And Marvin, L. Diane, Morgan and Helen, I'm glad you find these books as fascinating as I do.

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world