5/14/2019 Staff

Hidden F&M: Rare Books Big and Small

This magazine article is part of Spring 2019 / Issue 93
  • "South Netherlands Book of Hours," published in 1450, is an illuminated manuscript. It is the oldest book owned by the F&M library. "South Netherlands Book of Hours," published in 1450, is an illuminated manuscript. It is the oldest book owned by the F&M library. Image Credit: Eric Forberger
  • Even after Napoleon's final abdication in 1815, Empire-style bindings such as this one in the College's collection of rare books continued to be produced throughout Europe and North America. Even after Napoleon's final abdication in 1815, Empire-style bindings such as this one in the College's collection of rare books continued to be produced throughout Europe and North America. Image Credit: Eric Forberger
  • "Poems of Felicia Hemans," published in 1852, is an example of a fore-edge painting, one of several in the College's collection of rare books. "Poems of Felicia Hemans," published in 1852, is an example of a fore-edge painting, one of several in the College's collection of rare books. Image Credit: Eric Forberger
  • "Remains of the Late Rev. Charles Wolfe ... With a Brief Memoir of His Life," an example of fore-edge painting from 1838. This includes a painting of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. "Remains of the Late Rev. Charles Wolfe ... With a Brief Memoir of His Life," an example of fore-edge painting from 1838. This includes a painting of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Image Credit: Eric Forberger
  • "Manassae Oratio, Esdrae lib. II & IV: Cun Indice Bibliorum Triplici" includes a fore-edge painting of Roman Ruins. "Manassae Oratio, Esdrae lib. II & IV: Cun Indice Bibliorum Triplici" includes a fore-edge painting of Roman Ruins. Image Credit: Eric Forberger
  • "The Smallest English Dictionary in the World," published in 1890 by David Bryce and Sons in Scotland, is part of the College's Helen & William E. Krantz '37 Miniature Books Collection. "The Smallest English Dictionary in the World," published in 1890 by David Bryce and Sons in Scotland, is part of the College's Helen & William E. Krantz '37 Miniature Books Collection. Image Credit: Eric Forberger
  • "Text of the Lord's Prayer," published in 1958 by Waldmann & Pfitzner of Germany, is part of the College's Helen & William E. Krantz '37 Miniature Books Collection. It measures approximately 6 millimeters square. "Text of the Lord's Prayer," published in 1958 by Waldmann & Pfitzner of Germany, is part of the College's Helen & William E. Krantz '37 Miniature Books Collection. It measures approximately 6 millimeters square. Image Credit: Eric Forberger
  • "The Whole Booke of Psalmes," published in 1636, is an example of embroidered binding. It has contemporary satin cloth binding richly embroidered with silver wire in raised floral motifs. "The Whole Booke of Psalmes," published in 1636, is an example of embroidered binding. It has contemporary satin cloth binding richly embroidered with silver wire in raised floral motifs. Image Credit: Eric Forberger
  • "Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi," by Charles Dickens, is an example of Cosway-style binding. Books in this style have miniature paintings on the covers of richly tooled bindings. "Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi," by Charles Dickens, is an example of Cosway-style binding. Books in this style have miniature paintings on the covers of richly tooled bindings. Image Credit: Eric Forberger
  • "Days Off," by Henry Van Dyke, and "Love Finds the Way," by Paul Leicester Ford, are examples of Margaret Armstrong bindings. Armstrong designed more than 300 cloth trade bindings between 1890 and 1940 for Scribner's & Sons, balancing the graceful symmetry and natural motifs of the Art Nouveau style. "Days Off," by Henry Van Dyke, and "Love Finds the Way," by Paul Leicester Ford, are examples of Margaret Armstrong bindings. Armstrong designed more than 300 cloth trade bindings between 1890 and 1940 for Scribner's & Sons, balancing the graceful symmetry and natural motifs of the Art Nouveau style. Image Credit: Eric Forberger

One book is bound in calf-covered wooden boards with brass corners, clasps and bosses. Another contains fine woodcut engravings and tooled leather binding. Several showcase the medieval art of illumination.

Tucked safely in the bowels of Franklin & Marshall’s Martin Library of the Sciences, home of the College’s special collections, these and other rare books comprise an extraordinary group of published works spanning several centuries. The College’s vibrant collection of rare volumes includes more than 8,000 titles, ranging from a 1450 South Netherlands Book of Hours (pictured at left) to modern limited-edition publications.

The Book of Hours, an illuminated manuscript, is attributed to the Utrecht school and the Dutch translation of Gerd de Groot. Handwritten and decorated on vellum, this type of religious work was commissioned by a family for home devotional use. In a typical plain Dutch binding of beech boards covered in calf, the book has a central panel of triple rules forming a pattern of blind lozenges. It has two well-wrought brass catches, each fastened with brass nails. This item is the oldest book owned by the F&M library and is now available in digital format.

F&M’s cache of rare finds contains several subcollections, including the Helen and William E. Krantz ’37 Miniature Book Collection (below). Each of the 220 miniature books is less than 4 inches in length, and many are less than one inch. William Krantz donated the books to the College in 2012.

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