O Rare: An Examination of Ben Jonson’s 1616 Folio

By Rachel Makarowski

This post is part of a series written by students in ILS-Z681, The Book: 1450 to the Present. This course is taught by Lilly Library Head of Public Services Rebecca Baumann through Indiana University’s Department of Information and Library Science.

The 1616 folio edition of Ben Jonson’s plays does not get as many requests at the Lilly Library as its more famous successor, the 1623 first folio edition of Shakespeare. It is not particularly remarkable in appearance to the average eye, with a leather binding roughed and worn with age. From the outside, it looks relatively humble. Although this folio lacks fame and ostentatiousness, the riches within reveal quite a bit about the author and the world of English Renaissance drama in print.

At the beginning of the book, the reader can find an author portrait. This picture was not a part of the original 1616 printing of the folio, but was “tipped in”—that is, attached to the page during the binding process. Jonson’s fine clothes and large stature portrayed in the depiction allude to a man who enjoyed the finer things in life. A laurel crown rests upon his head, as if crowning his prestige and victory. Cnircling this picture are the words: VERA EFFIGIES DOCTISSIMI POETARUM ANGLORUM BEN: JOHNSONII (“A true effigy of the most learned of English poets, Ben Johnson”). This wording is far from humble; he is not just a learned poet, but the most learned. Being considered as such was important to him. But why is this so?

Engraved portrait of Ben Jonson
The engraved author portrait in the 1616 Folio.

Ben Jonson did not come from a prestigious family or a wealthy class. His stepfather was a bricklayer, and Jonson served as his apprentice for a number of years. Like many bricklayers, he did not have a formal education at the university level. Despite this disadvantage, he ensured that he knew Latin, the educated language of the time. He left his stepfather’s profession to join the military. It was at this point in his life that he gained an interest in the theater and became an actor and continued on in this capacity after his return home (Drabble 540).

During his acting career, his self-taught skills in Latin saved his life. He murdered another man during an argument and went to jail. The punishment for such a crime was death, unless the offender could prove he was a cleric and thus gain religious exemption. Jonson claimed to have such status, arguing that he should be released from his punishment. To prove his claim, authorities asked him to read from a Latin religious text. Jonson successfully did this and was then released. After this, he left acting to become a full playwright (Hartnoll 524).

Even after this incident, he still was determined to proclaim his familiarity and love of Latin and the classics. He included the language in several places throughout the 1616 folio, quoting untranslated lines from classical authors, including Ovid and Vergil. His love of classics can even be seen in the title page, which contains multiple figures, such as Comoedia (a personification of Comedy).

The 1616 folio conveys evidence of who Ben Jonson might have interacted with in the form of the cast lists that follow each play. Although these lists do not provide information on who played what character, these lists are still useful in that we have printed proof that these people were involved with Ben Jonson, at least nominally, if not personally. Some of the people on the cast lists are unfamiliar, even to scholars; others, however, are surprisingly well known. William Shakespeare, for instance, is included on the cast list for two of Ben Jonson’s plays.

It was common for authors and playwrights to have a patron who would pay a sum of money that would help to supplement the writer’s income. In return, the author would dedicate works to his patron or write something that relates to the patron’s life. The 1616 Folio exemplifies this practice. Jonson included letters to specific people before each play. Some of these would be to friends and fellow poets, whereas others would be dedicated to those who could or already did support him by becoming a patron of him.

He also included a series of advertisements written by contemporaries and friends at the beginning of the folio at the beginning. These express the wit and intelligence of Ben Jonson and his works. They were included to encourage readers who might appreciate these features to purchase his book, and to attract more elite patrons who could not only afford the book, but also afford to support him in his career. How he gathered these advertisements is unknown, though he was a charismatic and friendly enough person that he could have convinced his friends and contemporaries to do this on his behalf.

Image of letter to Mary Wroth
The letter as it appears before his play The Alchemist from Ben Jonson to Lady Mary Wroth, a contemporary author and patron to Ben Jonson. He also wrote a poem in her and her husband’s honor, focusing on their estate.

These are all elements that we can be sure were placed in the folio with Jonson’s approval, and maybe even his insistence, to gain a higher class of readership. Jonson was heavily involved in the creation of this folio. He took older quartos of his theatrical works and edited them to varying degrees before passing them off to be printed (Pforzheimer 573). Acrostic poems preceded each play in the 1616 Folio, which would not be a part of the play when acted but were intended for his higher class readers who would be familiar with the classical works that use this as an introduction for select plays. Jonson intended these higher class readers to enjoy reading his works. They would have the education and background to appreciate all that he had included in the folio, much more so than those of a lower background.

The 1616 folio was both immense and important at the time of its creation, if only because of the hand the author had in its creation. It gives valuable insight to both scholars and casual observers about Ben Jonson and the larger scene of the theater in the English Renaissance. However, if what can be gleaned from this book is combined with the other plethora of English Renaissance material, anyone interested in this time period would be sure to find a treasure house replete with information.

Manuscript cast list for The Alchemist.
Manuscript cast list for The Alchemist.

Works Cited

Drabble, Margaret, The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 6th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Hartnoll, Phyllis. The Oxford Companion to the Theatre. 3rd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1967.

Pforzheimer, Carl H., Emma Va Unger, William A Jackson, Frederic Warde, Bruce Rogers, and Josiah Kirby Lilly. The Carl H. Pforzheimer Library: English Literature, 1475-1700: Volume 2. New York: Privately printed, 1940.

Rachel Makarowski is currently completing her Masters in Library Science with a specialization in Special Collections in Indiana University’s Department of Information and Library Science. She has an interest in medieval manuscripts, early modern print culture, and the book in East Asia. She hopes to find a full time position in public services at a special collections institution.

Rachel Makarowski with the Ben Jonson folio.
Rachel Makarowski with the Ben Jonson folio.

Ten Things You Never Knew About the Lilly Library

The Lilly Library, 1960.

Everyone knows that the Lilly Library is home to countless wonders. From Shakespeare to Spider Man, our wide-ranging collections bring together materials from around the world and throughout the history of the written and printed word. Perhaps you’ve stopped by to see one of our exhibitions: medieval manuscripts, puzzles, vegetarianism, and books printed in India are just a few of the topics we’ve covered recently. Perhaps you’ve done research in the Reading Room for a class or a personal project. Maybe you’ve stopped in for a Friday tour or been to a class session or one of our special First Thursday presentations. Maybe you couldn’t resist asking us if you could take a selfie with our Academy Awards.

We love all of our guests, from the casual visitor to our superfans. To celebrate IU Day, we put together some facts about the Lilly Library that may surprise you. There are no greater fans of the Lilly than the librarians who work here, and we enjoyed digging through our own archives to come up with these treats. If you have memories of the Lilly Library that you would like to share, please post them on our Facebook page, tweet us, or comment on Instagram: @IULillyLibrary.

  1. The exterior of the Lilly Library was once covered with ivy.
The Lilly Library, covered in ivy.
The Lilly Library, covered in ivy.

If you’ve been on campus for a few decades, you probably remember that the Lilly Library was once a bit more “Ivy League” than it is now. Although our collections still rival the Ivies, our building has been pruned. We’re not sure when the ivy was finally nixed, but we suspect the potential damage to the building played a role in giving the Lilly its current look, focusing on the beautiful Indiana limestone.

  1. One of the library’s vaults was once a bomb shelter.

The vault on the first floor was once a designated Civil Defense shelter, in the event of an air raid. It’s certainly a frightening thought, but we can think of worse places to be trapped than among some of the most beautiful and interesting books ever printed. Tinned beans would taste great eaten over the Gutenberg Bible.

  1. There is a set of doors in the Main Gallery that don’t go anywhere.
The mysterious doors to nowhere…

If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably been in our Main Gallery at some point. Did you ever notice the mysterious set of doors with darkened windows? Did you ever wonder where they lead? As much as we would like to say they lead to a magical and hidden room, they lead… nowhere at all. The doors were added to the gallery to provide symmetry and balance to the room.

 

 

 

  1. The Lilly Library has three working fireplaces.
The Lilly Library Ellison Room.
The Lilly Library Ellison Room.

The Lilly Library’s Ellison Room, Ball Room, and Lilly Room all contain a fireplace. Many visitors have commented upon them, but few realize that these fireplaces do work. Although no current staff members have seen them blazing, there is photographic evidence that they have been used. It may seem odd to have fire so prominently featured in what is essentially a House of Paper, but the library’s designers were creating rooms which were splendid enough to house the collections they contained. In more recent years, the chimneys have been blocked to prevent the campus’s flying squirrels from finding their way into the building. Who knew that squirrels were such fans of great literature?

  1. Smoking was once permitted in the library’s Lounge.
The Lounge (now the Slocum Puzzle Room). Note the ash trays!

As with the fireplaces, it is difficult to believe that cigarette smoke would be allowed anywhere near rare books and manuscripts. Smoking has always been prohibited in most of the library, but the Lounge (now the Slocum Room) was an exception; staff could smoke during breaks.

 

 

 

  1. There have been some famous visitors to the Lilly Library.

The Lilly Library has been host to several dignitaries, celebrities, and other notable visitors. One of the most interesting visits was from three of the original “Munchkins” from the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz. Clarence Swensen, Myrna Swensen, and Donna Steward-Hardway (the youngest Munchkin to appear in the film) visited in conjunction with the library’s 2000 exhibition of our Oz-related collections. Although the exhibition opening event, which drew over 500 guests, was certainly memorable, we have been unable to locate any photographs of the Munchkins’ visit!

4. J.K. Lilly, Jr. only visited the Lilly Library twice.

Herman B Wells and J.K. Lilly at the groundbreaking of the Lilly Library
Herman B Wells and J.K. Lilly at the groundbreaking of the Lilly Library, March 7, 1958. We still have the shovel held by Mr. Lilly in our collections!

Of course the Lilly Library would not be possible without the generous donation of over 20,000 books and 18,000 manuscripts by J.K. Lilly, Jr. Mr. Lilly’s generosity was combined with the vision of Indiana University President Herman B Wells, who realized the need for a building to preserve the collection and make it available to students, faculty, and the community. Mr. Lilly later believed that the gift of the books was “the most satisfactory thing he ever did.” However, he only visited the site of the library twice, once upon the groundbreaking and once for the dedication. In many ways, this was Mr. Lilly’s final gift: he trusted the recipients of his marvelous collection to care for it and to nurture it into something much bigger. From 20,000 books and 18,000 manuscripts, we have grown to over 450,000 books and over 8.5 million pieces of manuscripts. And we hope that we have made Mr. Lilly proud.

3. A Lilly Library book was once exhibited in the Tower of London.

Lilly Librarian David Randall brings Sir Walter Raleigh’s History of the World to London to go on exhibit in the Tower.

In 1971, a book from the Lilly Library made the long journey to the Tower of London’s Raleigh Room. The book, Sir Walter Raleigh’s History of the World (1614), was written while Raleigh was a prisoner in the Tower. The loan came about as the result of Lilly Librarian David Randall’s visit to the Tower. He noted that the furnishings were authentic, save for the thirteenth edition of World History on display, published more than fifty years after Raleigh’s death. A special case with a plaque identifying the book’s provenance was added to the room, and the book stayed in the Tower for several years. After its trip around the world, it is back in our collections and can be requested to view in our Reading Room: https://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/10097537

 

  1. There was once a car on exhibit inside the Lilly Library.
This is the only photographic evidence we have of the car parked inside the Lilly Library in 1978!

There are many strange objects in the library’s collections; we have Edgar Allen Poe’s hair, Tennyson’s pipes, and a life mask of Abraham Lincoln. But one thing we don’t have in our collection is an automobile. There was, however, a car exhibited inside the Lilly Library’s Lincoln Room in 1978. The car, a 1930 Austin Bantam, was loaned by Bloomington resident Norman Deckard for an exhibition titled “From the Donkey to the Jet: Man’s Experience with Travel from the Fifth Century B.C. to the Present.” A ramp was placed over the steps so that the car could be driven in through the front door.

  1. The Lilly Library has always been open to everyone.
A recent class session at the Lilly Library.
A recent class session at the Lilly Library. We have over 300 class sessions per year for undergraduates, graduate students, K-12, and community groups.

With so many curious and fascinating items in our collections, there is no one person who has seen everything that we have. Visitors and researchers, as well as our own librarians, make exciting discoveries in our collections every week. The library is an organic, living entity combined from the collecting passions of the past and the forward-thinking caretakers, donors, and university administrators of the present. Visitors often ask us to reveal the “secrets” of the library, hoping perhaps for some dusty tome that has remained hidden from view. We have tried to reveal some lesser-known facts about the library in this blog post, but our greatest secret… is that we have no secrets! Our collections are available for anyone to research and enjoy. Stop by and see our exhibitions or contact us at liblilly@indiana.edu to make an appointment to use our Reading Room.

If you enjoyed learning a bit more about the Lilly Library, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @IULillyLibrary. We’ll be posting #VintageLilly photos all day to celebrate IU Day and the Lilly Library!

Thank you to all Lilly staff members who helped with our IU Day “Vintage Lilly” Project: Joel Silver, Erika Dowell, Jim Canary, Isabel Planton, Maureen Maryanski, Sarah Mitchell, and Seth James. Special thanks to Zach Downey and Jody Mitchell for photography and digital editing. Thank you to Kristin Leaman and Julia Kilgore of IU Archives for making a valiant research effort to find better photographic evidence of the car. If any of our readers have photographs of Lilly history they would like to share, please contact us at liblilly@indiana.edu

–Rebecca Baumann, Lilly Library Head of Public Services

Cats in Miniature

By Katie Tyring, Special Collections Cataloger

The Lilly Library is currently home to a growing collection of over 16,000 miniature books.  This makes us one of the foremost collectors in the United States.  A miniature book, by definition, must be three inches or less in height and width.  Miniature books in the U.S. date back to 1690 and were primarily religious texts or children’s stories in their earliest forms.  Today, the genre has morphed into a much more artistic endeavor, exploring different methods of illustration, typeface, folding, pop-ups, etc.  A popular artist, author, and printer of the 20th and early 21st centuries that may be familiar to microbibliophiles is Lloyd L. Neilson, more famously known as Juniper Von Phitzer.

Juniper Von Phitzer is a penname created by Neilson inspired by his three cats—Juniper, Von, And Phitzer.  His cats are also the namesake for his private publishing house, Juniper Von Phitzer Press.  With this in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising to discover that at least 10 of his 89 miniature books are about cats.  Fortunately, the Lilly Library has recently completed the Juniper Von Phitzer Press cat collection!

For those interested in learning more about Juniper, Von, and Phitzer, Cats in Charge reveals the three personalities via poetic form.  Similarly, San Francisco Cats tells the stories of more unique cats who make their home in the city where Juniper Von Phitzer Press resides.

For more visually interesting mini books, Visions of Cats is an impressive work of art.  It is an accordion fold that, when unfolded, is more than seven feet of cat illustrations, facsimiles, poetry, and more, all inside a decorative wooden chest with a faux fur interior.  Another accordion fold, Pas de Chat, features mounted illustrations of dancing cats amidst a graceful background.

See below for a complete listing of Juniper Von Phitzer’s miniature cats in the Lilly Library collection.

 

IUCAT Records

Cats in Charge: http://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/164526

San Francisco Cats: http://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/15993239

Visions of Cats: http://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/16017024

Pas de Chat: http://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/16016413

Sun Cat: http://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/1409986

Catfish Fishcat: http://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/4931872

Celebrity Cats: http://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/16017119

Kitten’s Album: http://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/16017187

Punky Dunk & the Spotted Pup: http://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/16018581

Kiku: http://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/16018348

 

References:

Special Collections Cataloger Katie Tyring demonstrates how one of these miniature treasures unfolds.

Bradbury, Robert C. Twentieth Century United States Miniature Books: With Bibliographic Descriptions of each Book Arranged by Publisher. The Microbibliophile, 2000.

Bradbury, Robert C. Antique United States Miniature Books, 1690-1900: Principally from the Collection of the American Antiquarian Society and the Lilly Library, Indiana University. The Microbibliophile, 2001.

Happy “Bird-Day” to John James Audubon!

audubon-vol-1-plate_001J.K. Lilly, Jr.’s copy of the double elephant folio of John James Audubon’s Birds of America (1827-1838) is one of the most popular attractions at the Lilly Library today. Turning one page every week, it would take almost eight and a half years for us to feature all 435 beautiful hand-colored plates in the four volumes… and that’s just what we plan to do.

Many visitors have enjoyed the birds over the years, and since we launched our Twitter account @IULillyLibrary last year, many fans all over the world have enjoyed our “Flipping the Bird” feature. But we’ve been pecking around the plates sporadically, featuring a big bird here and a small bird there. We showed off the spectacular Pink Flamingo in honor of John Waters’ visit to campus and even discovered a “lost” plate for some cheeky April Fool’s Day fun.

But today, on what would be John James Audubon’s 231st birthday, we’ve turned back to Volume 1, Plate I—the Wild Turkey. And from now on, we’ll turn the page once a week in order until we see every duck, owl, songbird, and raptor. So whether you stop by our gallery every week or visit us virtually on Twitter, join us for the next eight years as we flip the bird and celebrate one of our favorite treasures!

Rebecca Baumann, Education & Outreach Librarian

The Golden Age of Pop-Up Books

The Golden Age of Pop-Up Books

by Carin Graves, Public Services Intern

pz8-l778-17858_1Movable and pop-up books became increasingly popular in the 19th century, as publishers looked for inventive ways to create and market books for children. Previously, movable elements like the volvelle (a turnable wheel of paper) had been used to demonstrate concepts in astronomy as well as concepts in scientific and religious literature, but only in the 19th century did movable elements become primarily associated with children’s literature and toy books.

What we think of today as pop-up books were pioneered during the mid- to late-19th century.  During what is now referred to as the “Golden Age of Pop-Up Books,” the foremost publishing company was Dean & Son.

When George Dean joined his father’s publishing company in 1847 to form Dean & Son, he was already working within the decades-long history of Dean publishing. With George Dean’s arrival the company started selling toy books for children and later moved onto movable books. Between 1850 and 1900 Dean & Son published more than sixty movable books, dominating the market for several decades.

Dean & Son’s first forays into movable books were the Dean and Son’s New Scenic Books Series, which included titles like Little Red Riding Hood, Robinson Crusoe, Aladdin, and Cinderella. The Lilly Library owns the first of this series, Little Red Riding Hood.  The style of the Dean and Son’s New Scenic Books is reminiscent of earlier peep shows, which had three dimensional images created by separate layers of the scene folded into an accordion-style book. The foreground, middleground, and background of each scene in Little Red Riding Hood are pulled back by a single string to form a three dimensional picture. Dean & Son also created another version of Little Red Riding Hood titled Dean & Son’s Moveable Red Riding Hood.  This version featured individual movable parts, one of the first instances of such an innovation in pop-ups and movables.

Another type of movable developed by Dean & Son was the “dissolving view,” created using two images cut with slats.  When a tab was pulled, the first image would be replaced by the underlying second image.  The first instance of the dissolving view, Dean’s New Book of Dissolving Views is also owned by the Lilly Library and was first published in 1860.

The Golden Age of Pop-Ups coincided with a time of innovation and growth in Victorian England. Another Dean & Son moveable at the Lilly Library exemplifies this; A Visit to the exhibition: in eight changeable pictures showing its beautiful objects of art and how they were made … illustrates some of the exhibits that were on display in the Crystal Palace during the Great Exhibition of 1851. Each page displays an exhibition object on a stage with Victorian onlookers in the foreground. Once a tab is pulled down, a second illustration beneath the object reveals how it was made.

By the last two decades of the 19th century Dean & Son’s grip on the market had diminished as people like the artist and writer Lothar Meggendorfer and the artist Ernest Nister developed other pop-up publications. During the World Wars, the market for movables and pop-ups was further reduced and only saw a resurgence beginning in the middle of the 20th century.

Follow us on Twitter @IULilly Library to see gifs and videos of some of the books described here.

IUCat Records

Little Red Riding Hood: http://www.iucat.iu.edu/catalog/5100064

Movable Red Riding Hood: http://www.iucat.iu.edu/catalog/230545

Dean’s New Book of Dissolving Views: http://www.iucat.iu.edu/catalog/1409860

A Visit to the Exhibition: http://www.iucat.iu.edu/catalog/1403103

Works Consulted

DuLong, J., Baron, A., Boehm, A., Montanaro, A. R, Rubin, E. G. K, Sabuda, R., & Ziegler, R. (2004). A Celebration of Pop-up and Movable Books. Special limited ed. [New Brunswick, N.J.]: Movable Book Society.

Haining, P. (1979). Movable Books: An Illustrated History: Pages & Pictures of Folding, Revolving, Dissolving, Mechanical, Scenic, Panoramic, Dimensional, Changing, Pop-up and Other Novelty Books from the Collection of David and Briar Philips. London: New English Librar

Montanaro, A. R. (1993). Pop-up and Movable Books: A Bibliography. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press.

Andrew Lang’s Coloured Fairy Books

For the next two weeks, we’ll be posting images of Andrew Lang’s coloured fairy books on Twitter (@IULillyLibrary).

Andrew Lang (1844-1912) was a Scots literary critic, novelist, poet, essayist, folklorist, editor, translator, and anthologist.  A confirmed polymath and gifted polyglot, he was a true “man of letters” whose work in many fields made him an almost ubiquitous presence in the late 19th– and early 20th-century literary landscape.  Ironically, the books for which he is best remembered are books which he himself did not write.

These are the “coloured fairy books,” twelve volumes published by the London/New York firm of Longmans, Green, and Co. between 1889 and 1910, compiling a total of 437 fairy tales from all around the world, many appearing in English translations for the first time.  Lang selected the tales and edited the collections, but most of the translations and retellings were done by his wife, Leonora Blanche Alleyne Lang, and other collaborators.  In the final book in the series, The Lilac Fairy Book, Lang finally acknowledged that “the fairy books have been almost wholly the work of Mrs. Lang.”

These volumes renewed British interest in fairy stories; they were also unique in that they were specifically edited and marketed for children, and many of our ideas about fairy tales being the special province of the young can be traced back to their popularity.  Especially concerned with the readability of the texts, Leonora Lang attempted to limit the vocabulary and sentence structure so that the collections were accessible to children with average reading abilities.  They were also made more appealing with numerous black and white and color illustrations by H.J. Ford.

The Lilly Library has one of the largest collections of Andrew Lang’s printed work in the world, including first editions of all of the coloured fairy books, many in their rare original dust wrappers, removed here to show the glorious cloth bindings stamped with gold illustrations of the witches, fairies, monsters, and heroes that curious readers can find within their pages.  The Lilly Library’s Lang collection was amassed by Frank Graef Darlington (1859-1918), who was the Superintendent of the Indianapolis Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad and an avid book collector.

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Color Our Collections: The Lilly Library Coloring Book

Lilly-coloring-book-2Coloring books are all the rage, and February 1-5 is #ColorOurCollections week on Twitter! Special Collections libraries around the world are posting images from their collections for people to print and color. This project was started by the New York Academy of Medicine; you can search Twitter for the #ColorOurCollections hashtag to find many other coloring books that will inspire you to grab your markers, crayons, and colored pencils and do what you could never do in our Reading Room — add your own color to images from our beautiful rare books. We’ve chosen woodcut images from a wide array of books; you’ll find Albrect Durer’s famous four horsemen of the apocalypse, flowers from a 16th-century herbal, and beautiful and intricate designs from William Morris’s Kelmscott Press. We hope you enjoy coloring our collections as much as we enjoy getting the chance to work with these marvelous books every day! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary.

Download the full coloring book here: http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/Lilly-Library-Coloring-Book.pdf

 

Halloween Countdown: Spooky Treasures of the Lilly Library, Part 4

To celebrate Halloween, we’ll be counting down thirteen of the weirdest, creepiest, and most unusual items found in the depths of the Lilly Library’s collections. Among the most beautiful and hallowed books treasured by collectors throughout generations, we’ve accumulated some objects that also excite the dark side of our imagination… and what better time to revel in the dark, strange, and fantastic than Halloween? We’ll be posting all thirteen here on our blog, but you can also follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooky treasures.

Number 4: Cat Marionettes

lilly-library_00118Sometimes there’s a fine line between cute and creepy—a very fine line. These cat marionettes are charming, whimsical—even downright adorable (just look at those cute kitty faces!). But over the years at the Lilly Library, they have frightened more than one staff member. What seems to unnerve people in particular are their hands—their white porcelain human hands. We’ve seen many a face move from “awwww!” to “ahhhh!” as the eyes drop from the figures’ faces to their hands. It’s the juxtaposition of the realistic human hands and bodies with the cat faces that creates an uncanny effect (and the many horror movies about dolls that come to life and kill people don’t help either!). Despite their creepy vibe (or perhaps partially because of it) these cat marionettes are a great favorite among the Lilly Library staff. They were purchased in Europe by former Library Director Bill Cagle because of the objects they hold in their hands—books for one cat and manuscripts for the other—representing the major parts of the Lilly Library’s collections. Originally intended as decorations (and hanging for many years in the Curator of Manuscript’s office), they have since become part of the collections. Current staff members have affectionately named them Becky and Saundra after two of the Lilly Library’s greatest librarians of the past.

 

 

 

 

Number 3: EC Comic Books (1950s)

comics-groupThe stereotypical view of America in the 1950s comes straight out of Leave it to Beaver. But can you imagine Wally and the Beav reading these comic books?! Believe it or not, these were among the most popular and successful comic books of the early 1950s. When William Gaines (later famed as the founder of Mad magazine) inherited “Educational Comics” from his father in 1947, he changed “EC” to “Entertaining Comics” and began publishing the type of comics that soldiers who had become hooked on comic books during WWII wanted to read—crime, suspense, horror, westerns, and science fiction. EC published such notorious titles as Tales from the CryptVault of HorrorCrime SuspenStoriesShock SuspenStoriesTwo-Fisted TalesWeird Science, and Weird Fantasy. Many of these comics were sexually suggestive, graphically violent, gruesome, and gory. They also tackled contemporary issues such as racism and drug use. They usually had their own bizarre morality as well—after a rousing bloodbath, the criminal elements were usually dispatched in an equally gruesome way, showing that “crime does not pay.” These comics were popular with adults and children; the latter audience caused a moral panic that eventually went all the way to the United States Congress. Psychiatrist Frederick Wertham published Seduction of the Innocent in 1954, a book that claimed that these type of comic books were the direct cause of juvenile delinquency; he also famously claimed that Batman was “obviously” gay and that Wonder Woman was far too strong to be a “natural” woman. The ensuing public outrage caused a Congressional inquiry into comic books in which publishers such as William Gaines were asked to defend themselves.  No laws against comics were passed, but instead the comics industry chose to censor itself.  They created the Comics Code Authority in 1954 which “certified” comics as being reasonably wholesome.  William Gaines, publisher of EC, refused to join, leading to the company’s ultimate demise, as distributers would not carry non-Code comics.  The “Code” banned the words “horror,” “terror,” and “weird” from covers.  Even though these comics were killed by censorship, their influence is enormous.  Writers such as Stephen King and directors including George Romero and Steven Spielberg read these comics as children, and their colorful, cinematic, and at times almost gleeful violence had an impact on their own work.

 

Number 2: Weird Anatomy (1701-16)

qm21-r9_00001This engraving is found in Dutch anatomist Frederick Ruysch’s Thesaurs Anatomicus. Ruysch was a professor of anatomy at Leyden and Amsterdam, notable for his developments in anatomical preservation. The engravings in this volume are exquisitely whimsical and delicate. Infant skeletons are posed in quaint attitudes—playing a violin or weeping into a tissue—surrounded by human organs arranged in landscapes that resemble deep sea flora. Although they do not serve an educational or anatomical purpose, these fold-out engravings are not only spooky but stunningly beautiful.

Stay tuned the #1 Spooky Treasure in our countdown on October 30 and be sure to follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooktacular items.

Rebecca Baumann

Education and Outreach Librarian / The Vault-Keeper

Halloween Countdown: 13 Spooky Treasures of the Lilly Library, Part 3

To celebrate Halloween, we’ll be counting down thirteen of the weirdest, creepiest, and most unusual items found in the depths of the Lilly Library’s collections. Among the most beautiful and hallowed books treasured by collectors throughout generations, we’ve accumulated some objects that also excite the dark side of our imagination… and what better time to revel in the dark, strange, and fantastic than Halloween? We’ll be posting all thirteen here on our blog, but you can also follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooky treasures.

Number 7: The Muller Mouse (ca. 1945-1964)

muller_01723I bet you didn’t know that there’s a mouse in the Lilly Library. While we have never spotted any live rodents (save the flying squirrels that occasional come down the chimney), there is a mouse skin in the Lilly Library’s collections. The mouse resides among the papers of Hermann Joseph Muller (1890-1967) geneticist and Nobel prize laureate. Among numerous other prestigious appointments, Muller was a Research Professor in the Indiana University Department of Zoology from 1945 until his retirement in 1964. A year after his arrival at IU, Muller received the Nobel Prize for his discovery that genetic mutations can be induced by x-rays. He received many more awards and tributes over the years, including the Bossom Award, the Kimber Genetics Award, and several honorary doctorates. In his work in genetics, Muller worked with innumerable mice and fruit flies; we don’t know why this particular mouse was so special that his skin was preserved. It was kept with Muller’s papers and the material from his desk along with a genetic pedigree (seen in photo). You can learn more about Muller and his papers here.

 

 

 

Number 6: Momento Mori (late 15th century)

ricketts-130_00002The extensive collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts at the Lilly Library are usually described as “beautiful,” “breathtaking,” and “inspiring”–seldom as “spooky.” However, some medieval texts contain images called “Momento Mori,” a Latin phrase meaning, “Remember you will die.” These are reminders that all beauty and all things are transient and earthly life and material objects are, in the end, mere vanity. This skull wearing a belled hat (the symbol of the fool) and spitting blood is found in Ricketts 130, a late 15th-century French Book of Hours. It is not part of the intentional design but rather a doodle added by an owner or reader.

 

 

 

 

 

Number 5: Postmortem Photograph (19th century)

woodward_00014Postmortem photography is the practice of taking pictures of the recently deceased. While this may seem horrendously morbid today, in the 19th century, the practice helped families to remember the beloved dead and move forward in the grieving process. It was an especially common practice for infants who died in the home; these photos would be the only image and record for a family to remember a departed child. Infant mortality was high, but families still wanted to remember those who were with them even for only a short time. The photo here comes from the papers of the Woodward family of Buena Vista, Monroe County, Indiana. Learn more about the collection here.

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned the next installment of Spooky Treasures on October 27 and be sure to follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooktacular items.

Rebecca Baumann

Education and Outreach Librarian / She-Who-Lurks-in-the-Stacks

Halloween Countdown: 13 Spooky Treasures of the Lilly Library, Part 2

To celebrate Halloween, we’ll be counting down thirteen of the weirdest, creepiest, and most unusual items found in the depths of the Lilly Library’s collections. Among the most beautiful and hallowed books treasured by collectors throughout generations, we’ve accumulated some objects that also excite the dark side of our imagination… and what better time to revel in the dark, strange, and fantastic than Halloween? We’ll be posting all thirteen here on our blog, but you can also follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooky treasures.

Number 10: “As a hungry Eagle was Seeking for Prey…” (ca. 1734-1745)

johnson-j_00018The Lilly Library is well known for its vast collection of children’s literature, and most of this literature is delightful, whimsical, and charming. However, our modern-day view that children should be protected against the grimmer elements of life is not one that is always reflected in items crafted for children in the past. This card—handmade on Dutch paper by a mother for her children—shows an eagle swooping down on a helpless infant. The back of the card reads:

As a hungry Eagle was / Seeking for Prey, / He spy’d a young Child in / A Cradle that lay; / The Mother was absent, / And no creature by, / So the Baby he Seiz’d, and / Flew up to the Sky: / The Child cry’d and Scream’d, / But his Tears were in vain, / For his Life, was soon ended, / And with it all pain.

While it may seem cruel to read such a rhyme to a child, this card taught two important lessons to its 18th-century audience. First, don’t leave your mother’s side, and second, the inevitable end of life brings a release from pain and suffering. Even in wealthy families, infant mortality rates were high–childbirth was a dangerous undertaking for both mother and baby. Children needed to be taught to understand and accept deaths in their families. We can also imagine that a precocious child might delight in and even laugh at this rather morbid image.

This card comes from one of the Lilly Library’s most remarkable collections, the manuscripts of Jane Johnson, which consist of teaching tools made by hand by Johnson for the basic primary and moral instruction of her four children. They offer a rare peek into the life on an 18th-century family and portray a mother’s sense of how to entertain children as well as introduce them to the discipline and pleasure of reading. Read more about the Jane Johnson collection here.

Number 9: Stereoscopic Skin Clinic (1910)

rl81-r35-1910_00001Another of the Lilly Library’s major strengths is its collection of medical books, dating back to such landmarks in the history of medicine as the second edition of Johannes de Ketham’s Fasciculus Medicinae (1493) and the first edition of Andreas Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica (1543). More recently added to our holdings is a spectacular array of dermatological books and atlases. This item from the dermatology collections was devised by entrepreneur Selden Irwin Rainforth in early 20th-century America to aid American doctor in the diagnoses of skin disease. The stereoscopic device allowed viewers to see two nearly identical photographic images in 3-D. This set, the first edition of the device, includes 132 cards, each with a listing of the disease’s symptoms and notes for treatment. Ailments include psoriasis, eczema, acne, scabies, and syphilis. This device was invaluable to doctors who, without today’s methods of collaboration and knowledge-sharing, might very well encounter a patient with an ailment that they had never seen. Certainly photography revolutionized the literature of dermatology. See all books in the Lilly Library’s dermatology collection here.

 

Number 8: Manuscript of “The Ash-tree” by M.R. James (before 1904)

pr6019-a6-g6_00001Our list of spooky treasures would hardly be complete without at least one truly terrifying horror story… and no one wrote terrifying horror stories better than M.R. James, English antiquarian and medieval scholar best remembered for his chilling ghost stories such as “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,” “A Warning to the Curious,” and “The Ash-tree.” In “The Ash-tree,” Sir Richard Castringham inherits a country estate, only to discover that his ancestor condemned a woman to death as a witch, and she cursed the estate before she died. The root of the evil is in the ash tree outside his window. In one of the story’s most spine-tingling moments, Richard sees something abhorrent emerging from the tree:

“And now you would guess, so deceptive is the half-darkness, that he had several heads, round and brownish, which move back and forward, even as low as his chest. It is a horrible illusion. Is it nothing more? There! something drops off the bed with a soft plump, like a kitten, and is out of the window in a flash; another — four — and after that there is quiet again.”

You’ll have to read the story yourself to discover what these accursed things might be. The Lilly Library holds both the first edition of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904), in which the story was first published, and also the manuscript draft—with corrections in James’ hand—of the story itself. The manuscript can be found in the Lilly Library’s English Literature mss.

Stay tuned the next installment of Spooky Treasures on October 22nd and be sure to follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooktacular items.

Rebecca Baumann

Education & Outreach Librarian / Scream Queen