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.