Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Library Books

The Scarlet Button was published in 1945. This copy is from the library where I work in San Francisco. I wonder if the playful typography of the title page is not in fact reflecting a certain brief post-war euphoria?

The spines above belong to new books about to be cataloged and sent out into the collection. I only catalog the art books and literature. The political and business and spiritual books bore me, while the math and science books mystify me, so I stick with art and literature – and music and film and photography and fashion and architecture and typography. Plus whatever is older than the 19th century.

One of the tail pieces from a Venetian book printed in 1640 concerning the ongoing wars between the Holy Roman Emperor (and his allies) against Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden (and his allies). The Thirty Years War, people later came to call it. This is the sort of book I (or some other librarian or scholar) might still discover in the ordinary circulating collection – and then it would probably come to me to be transferred into the Rare Book Room – to give it a better chance of surviving longer.

The same book, closer to the beginning. The first hundred pages of this Venetian history of the wars with the Swedish king show dark irregular staining. Long-ago smoke damage?

The large woodcut initial G (at the beginning of the author's note to the reader) appears to contain a frilly tulip-blossom. Tulip-mania flourished across Europe just in these years.