Category Archives: Printed book

A midsummer night’s dream

We have recently digitised two very charming items from the Rylands Children’s Collections, both of which lend themselves beautifully to a blog post.

The first is an item that I was very excited to come across through a customer enquiry. The volume is Hubert, the cottage youth; : being the sequel to Phoebe, the cottage maid. Hubert is the second in a series of ‘Elegant juvenile’ books of the early 19th century produced by S. and J. Fuller.  The first book is Phoebe, the Cottage Maid which details the daily life of a country girl and the series includes Ellen, or, The Naughty Girl Reclaimed and The History and Adventures of Little Henry. The books are examples of some of the earliest paper doll books, although truthfully, Hubert is less of a paper doll than a paper head who moves through a series of outfits that accompany his story.

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Hubert’s sartorial journey

As is so often the case with children’s literature, the series of books are morality tales where good or conforming behaviour is rewarded and less agreeable behaviours are discouraged and repented. As morality tales go, Hubert is relatively straightforward as a somewhat pastoral figure whose clean living, humble but productive life sees him attain his happy ending. Hubert’s dedication and diligence as a worker pays off, allowing him to afford buy the farm his father only rented and his story ends with Hubert enjoying a prosperous and respectable marriage. In fact Hubert marries Phoebe, she of the prequel to his own tale, Phoebe, the Cottage Maid. Unfortunately, Hubert is the only example we have from this series and sadly our copy is incomplete; wanting at least one outfit and a headpiece.

Unashamedly, we have become slightly obsessed with Hubert; we have digitised the entire story to be enjoyed here the plates and slip case are also available to view here. We have also been happily experimenting with making Hubert a little more animated…

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Careful Hubert!!

 

Our second enchanting item, tying in nicely with both midsummer (yes, it is!) and the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, is this wonderful Arthur Rackham illustrated copy of Shakespeare’s popular comedy A midsummer night’s dream.

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This particular volume is from the Alison Uttley Children’s collection. Uttley was the author of the popular Little Grey Rabbit Children’s books and was herself Alumni of the University of Manchester, reading Physics here and graduating in 1906. Here at the John Rylands Library we have the Alison Uttley Papers and a number of books from her personal library.

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Alison Uttley via Wikimedia Commons

Arthur Rackham’s illustrations are familiar to many and we already have a number of Rackham’s beautiful illustrations digitised already and available to view in our online collections. Well known for his illustrations of children’s books, Rackham’s distinctive and sometimes rather dark artwork produces some wonderfully ethereal depictions, entirely fitting for Shakespeare’s fairy realm.

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The entire volume can be viewed in all its loveliness here.

All images unless otherwise stated are copyright of the University of Manchester and can be used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike Licence.

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Early Medical Printed Illustrations

This month sees the commencement of the ninth annual Manchester Science festival and by happy coincidence we are unveiling in our digital collections images from a recently completed JRRI Seedcorn project ‘Illustrations in the Early John Rylands Medical Collection ’.

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The John Rylands Library holds over 3,000 medical books printed before 1701, however, the catalogue gives minimal information on visual material within the holdings. This digitisation project was instigated by Dr Cordelia Warr to improve the information available on illustrative material within the Rylands early printed medical collections, in order to facilitate teaching and further research.

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The images selected for the project represent a range of disciplines; midwifery, anatomy, surgery and the medicinal use of plants. Research assistant on the project, Dr Hannah Priest, has supplied detailed metadata which accompanies the digital images to further enhance the information available.  The work of Cordelia and Hannah on these fascinating early printed texts will undoubtedly inspire greater interest in the early printed medical collections held by Library. More importantly, it will further a better understanding of the place of illustrative material in medical publications generally, many of which, up to the nineteenth century, were not illustrated or were only minimally illustrated.

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All images Copyright of the University of Manchester.

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Early Medical Printed Illustrations

This month sees the commencement of the ninth annual Manchester Science festival and by happy coincidence we are unveiling in our digital collections images from a recently completed JRRI Seedcorn project ‘Illustrations in the Early John Rylands Medical Collection ’.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The John Rylands Library holds over 3,000 medical books printed before 1701, however, the catalogue gives minimal information on visual material within the holdings. This digitisation project was instigated by Dr Cordelia Warr to improve the information available on illustrative material within the Rylands early printed medical collections, in order to facilitate teaching and further research.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The images selected for the project represent a range of disciplines; midwifery, anatomy, surgery and the medicinal use of plants. Research assistant on the project, Dr Hannah Priest, has supplied detailed metadata which accompanies the digital images to further enhance the information available.  The work of Cordelia and Hannah on these fascinating early printed texts will undoubtedly inspire greater interest in the early printed medical collections held by Library. More importantly, it will further a better understanding of the place of illustrative material in medical publications generally, many of which, up to the nineteenth century, were not illustrated or were only minimally illustrated.

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All images Copyright of the University of Manchester.

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Digitisation of Japanese Maps at The John Rylands Library

Digitised material is progressively being added to the Library’s imaging online collection – LUNA – It has grown to include another small but very important part of our Special Collections.

A number of Japanese Maps have recently been digitised with the support of the Library’s Digitisation Steering Group. The Japanese Collection, assembled by the 25th Earl of Crawford in the 1860s and 1870s and purchased by the John Rylands Library in 1901, is not large by international standards, but it contains a number of manuscripts and printed books of great interest and rarity. Amongst them are a number of 18th and 19th century maps together with topographical or geographical books and manuscripts.

Initiated by Erica Baffelli – Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Manchester – The aim behind this project was to select and digitise a number of maps and associated books and manuscripts of the Library’s Japanese Collection in order to preserve and make them available for teaching, research and study purposes. At this stage, 18 maps, predominantly published in Japan during the Tokugawa or Edo period, were selected; most of them represent the whole or parts of Japan. Because of their format and fragility comparing manuscripts side-by-side is very difficult; digitisation can be an ideal approach in making possible the close comparison and contextualisation of a range of maps with related material.

The majority of the maps are folded in original covers, and documents that have been kept folded for more than a century often need more careful handling in order to unfold them; placing the maps onto the photography stand for a few minutes allows the material to be relaxed in order to be flattened; weights placed on top of the surface facilitated the desired result.

In total, 49 images were produced including front and back covers and in some cases the back of the map (verso). Because of their extensive length, 2 maps of the world in scroll format (Japanese 118 and Japanese 118a) were photographed in parts and a single, amalgamated and immaculately stitched image for both items has been created by our skilled photographer Gwen Riley Jones.

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Japanese 118 – Shinsei yochi zenzu – Map of the world divided into two hemispheres.

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Japanese 118a – Shinsei yochi zenzu – Map of the world divided into two hemispheres.

Through digitisation, gradually more maps will become widely available and can be accessed through other sites. Our Collection will complement other digital collections by allowing related materials to be compared and contrasted; an example is the distinguished Japanese Historical Map Collection at the University of California housed on the Berkeley campus in the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. A large portion of this great collection has been digitized by David Rumsey and Cartography Associates and is available for viewing online at the Japanese Historical Maps website.

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Japanese 48: Kaihō Kyō Ezu – Map of Kyoto – Image No.: jrl15070831

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Kaihō Kyō Ezu – Map of Kyoto – Image No.: jhm000232a

Cartographically, The John Rylands copy, hand-coloured with numbers annotated in red ink (Image No.: JRL15070831) is similar to the one from the East Asian Library (Image No.: jhm000232a).

The digital records of the Japanese Maps are now uploaded into The University of Manchester Library, Image Collections – LUNA as part of the Maps Collection. They are freely available for research, teaching and learning purposes, as well as to those with an interest in cartography. Both metadata and images can be downloaded or printed directly from LUNA.

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William Caxton’s second edition of The Canterbury Tales Online

The John Rylands Library has the second largest collection of works printed by William Caxton, the man credited with bringing the first printing press to England in the fifteenth century. The very first volume to be produced at Caxton’s Westminster press was a copy of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in 1476 and although this particular digitised Rylands copy is the second edition printed c.1483, this is the first copy with additional illustrative woodcuts and with corrections to errors in the first edition text.

The entire volume can be viewed online in LUNA.

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Art of Thomas Bewick

Recent additions to LUNA include a number of examples of the wonderful wood engravings of master engraver Thomas Bewick.  Thomas Bewick (1753 – 1828) was an engraver and natural history writer who re-popularised wood engraving in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Major works include A History of British Birds  and A General History of Quadrupeds.   Amongst the images digitised are a number of examples of tail-pieces from A History of British Birds.  Tail-pieces are very small engravings used to fill the small spaces at the end of text sections; what is amazing about them is the great detail demonstrated in such tiny images and the obvious skill of Bewick who crafted them.  The image below is a tail-piece from The Fables of Aesop, and others, Bewick notably illustrated many editions of Aesop’s Fables throughout his life.

Waiting for death

Waiting for death

 

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Locating Boccaccio in 2013

On the 700th anniversary of his birth the Rylands exhibition Locating Boccaccio forms part of a series of events around the world celebrating Giovanni Boccaccio in 2013. The exhibition seeks to locate Boccaccio in different times, languages and places showcasing many outstanding examples from our own collections. Images are now available in LUNA of some of the items currently in the exhibition. These images and others relating to Boccaccio can be found here.

   

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Giovanni Boccaccio

   

  

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HISTORICAL TYPES FROM GUTENBERG TO ASHENDENE

A while ago, CHICC carried out some interesting digitsation work of the Rylands copy of the Mainz Psalter, and a Gutenberg Indulgence for book which is now available.

Stan Knight has now published HISTORICAL TYPES, from Gutenberg to Ashendene, which is available from Oak Knoll here.

From Oak Knoll: “Historical Types stands a step above other books on the history of type because of the size and quality of its reproductions and its straightforward and clear exposition. For these reasons, it should soon become a favorite text for teachers and students of type design, as well as anyone interested in the history of the book.”

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Contesting the Supernatural in the Early Modern British Isles

The John Rylands Library has been exploring the Supernatural in collaboration with Dr Sasha Handley, Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Manchester.

As part of The University of Manchester Library’s Digitisation Strategy, the Heritage Imaging Team have digitised and published online a wide range of material which provides a unique insight into supernatural belief and practices in the early modern period.

The Methodist Collection provides one of the most famous accounts of supernatural activity in Britain. Epworth Rectory, home of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, and their children, reportedly experienced poltergeist activity for a brief time from 1716-1717. John Wesley himself was inquisitive about the events, so much so, that he took it upon himself to speak to all those in the house at the time of the disturbance.

The accounts from his family and servants tell of a disturbing and violent series of events that included eerie groaning noises, doors flying open and mysterious knocking on walls and doors. John Wesley’s handwritten account of these events was subsequently reproduced in various Methodist publications, including ‘The Arminian Magazine’.

Also included for digitisation were primary sources from the library’s Printed collection, including beautifully illustrated astrological figures from the 16th century ; accounts of miraculous healing by Valentine Greatrakes, a 17th century healer and complete texts containing magical remedies and herbal healing.

The material will be used in teaching as a set of primary source materials to support undergraduate teaching but will also be of interest to the general public and researchers.

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St Christopher Woodcut undergoes the National Gallery’s Infrared Imaging

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St. Christopher Woodcut being imaged using Osiris camera

    On Tuesday 15th January 2013 the Rylands were very pleased to welcome Rachel Billinge, from the National Gallery, and Ed Potten, Head of Rare Books at the University of Cambridge for some very exciting imaging.

Rachel brought with her an Osiris camera for high-resolution infrared reflectography. The camera was developed by Opus Instruments based on a prototype that was designed and built by the National Gallery‘s Science and Conservation departments. The Osiris camera records infrared light wavelengths from 900-1700 nanometres, reaching further in to the infrared light spectrum than a standard CCD sensor could. The camera takes many images of an item and automatically stiches each ’tile’ together, saving hours of post-processing time.

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St. Christopher Woodcut being imaged using Osiris camera

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View of Osiris capture as it happens, the camera automatically stitched together each ’tile’ to create a full high-resolution image of the page

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Rachel Billinge from the National Gallery working on a capture of the St. Christopher Woodcut using an Osiris camera

Rachel produced images of the St. Christopher Woodcut, in a bid to produce a legible image of the watermark to confirm, or otherwise, the dating of the Woodcut. The St Christopher woodcut, 1423, is the earliest dated example of European printing. It is preserved as an endpaper in a manuscript dated 1417 from Bohemia, the ‘Laus Virginis’. Rachel also imaged the Annunciation Woodcut, although no watermark is believed to be present in this print.

Members of staff from across the Library were on hand to support and analyse the images as they were produced. We await the results with bated breath… we will share the findings with you in a follow up post as soon as we possibly can.

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Analysing the results… watch this space!

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