iowawomensarchives

iowawomensarchives:

Sept. 17, 1918 - Tonight the big hospital train came in and every one was on duty until late bathing and dressing the poor boys. Such horrible wounds. How can any one of us complain after seeing the brave acceptance which the boys display…

Here’s a sneak preview from our upcoming World War I digital collection and transcription project, featuing the photo album and journal of Louise Liers, a Clayton, Iowa, native and Army nurse who spent 16 months in France treating wounded soldiers. Check back for links to the full items soon!

Iowa Women’s Archives: Guide to the Louise Liers papers, 1911-1983

View all Women’s History Wednesday posts

pittspecialcollections

pittspecialcollections:

PART II: HISTORY OF GILT                                                                       

BY: LAUREN GALLOWAY

Gold decoration on books has been around for centuries. From its past history to current use, on books both old and new, big and small, inexpensive and luxurious, Pitt Special Collections brings you a three part series on GILT.

Gilded books have a history of being luxury items, but at one point gilt was a decoration even bestowed on ordinary books. From the 1600s to the 1800s, books were bought as mere sheets, with only paper wrappers serving as a “cover.” This was the norm, as the owner of the book was expected to have the book bound later, under his or her specific desires. Often times, the wealthy would have their collections bound the exact same way so that their libraries would look uniform.  

Of course, gilt decorating on these books cost extra. By the late 1660s though, bindings were readily available with extra gilt on the spines and covers, and with gilt lettering. This became referred to as the "common" binding.

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This copy of Little Men by Louisa May Alcott is probably a common binding. Even children got gilt on their books, as shown on this copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

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As gilt became a more common decoration, people got more creative with it.

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Compare these two copies of She Stoops to Conquer. Even as gilt became a standard in bookbinding, using a significant amount to decorate books still cost a pretty penny, and still marked that its owner was a wealthy man or woman.

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Gold is known as the traditional and most beautiful method to decorate books, and was adhered to the cloth or leather by great pressure and heat. In the early days, this took a great deal of time, skill, and money.

In the 1660s and 1670s, bookbinders began to gild the spine, with or instead of the edges of books. This was because people started shelving their books with the spines facing outwards instead of the fore-edges, which are the edges of paper opposite the spine; they basically shelved their books backwards!

The gilt edges of books became unnecessary because they were less visible, but were still used for elaborate bindings. By 1830, printers figured out how to adapt an iron printing press to block an entire design to the sides and spine of a book. Look at these copies of Jane Austen’s books.

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Their gilt covers are exactly the same, except for the titles. If the title block was removable, it would make it extremely easy to use a printing press to stamp the same design onto these different books. It became a much cheaper process than to do every book by hand or to create a different cover for each title, and made them look nicely uniform.

Though gilded books used to be commonplace, in today’s world you have probably only experienced them first-hand if you have a new, fancy, expensive copy of a book, or if you have a very old book. If you get a chance to look at one yourself, you should take it; some are quite beautiful.

Next week: Booklovers’ Gilty Pleasures

Sources:

Bennett, Stuart. Trade Bookbinding in the British Isles: 1660-1800. First ed. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 2004. Print.

McLean, Ruari. McLean, Ruari. Victorian Publishers’ Book-Bindings in Cloth and Leather. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: U of California, 1973.  

Microscopic Miniature Monday!  

Few books in the world are smaller than this set: Calendar and Birth Stone: Toppan Micro Trio, from the Toppan Printing Company, 1979-80. This set includes: Birth Stone, Language of Flowers, and The Zodiacal Signs and Their Symbols. 2x2 millimeters, each with a copy 10x larger that is easier to read. From the Charlotte Smith Miniature Book Collection.

Can’t get enough of tiny books?  It was just over a year ago that another Toppan book in our collection made news in The Atlantic after we posted here on Tumblr about trying to identify a micro-miniature Bible, which was revealed to be a Toppon Bible from the 1960s.  But the Toppan company did not stop at 2mm.  Here is a link to read about the 0.75 mm book they made just last year!

Enjoy the beloved books in your life, large or small :)

See all Miniature Monday posts.

 

iowacitypast
iowacitypast:

Students in Mechanical Engineering shop, The University of Iowa, 1920s
Photographer: Frederick W. Kent
Source: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/ictcs/id/9245

Thanks for posting this!  I had it on my mind from your post so I chose this photo for an exercise to analyze historic images for a visiting class of high school debate camp students. They were a bit suspicious that maybe it was shot as a promotional image. 

iowacitypast:

Students in Mechanical Engineering shop, The University of Iowa, 1920s

Photographer: Frederick W. Kent

Source: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/ictcs/id/9245

Thanks for posting this!  I had it on my mind from your post so I chose this photo for an exercise to analyze historic images for a visiting class of high school debate camp students. They were a bit suspicious that maybe it was shot as a promotional image. 

erikkwakkel

erikkwakkel:

Smart page with string

These pages from a late-16th-century scientific manuscript share a most unusual feature: they contain a string that runs through a pierced hole. Dozens of them are found in this book. The pages contain diagrams that accompany astronomical tracts. They show such things as the working of the astrolabe (Pic 1), the position of the stars (Pic 4), and the movement of the sun (Pic 6). The book was written and copied by the cartographer Jean du Temps of Blois (born 1555), about whom little appears to be known. The book contains a number of volvelles or wheel charts: revolving disks that the reader would turn to execute calculations. The strings seen in these images are another example of the “hands-on” kind of reading the book facilitates. Pulling the string tight and moving it from left to right, or all the way around, would connect different bits of data, like a modern computer: the string drew a temporary line between two or more values, highlighting their relationship. The tiny addition made the physical page as smart as its contents.

Pics: London, British Library, Harley MS 3263: more on this book here; and full digital reproduction here.