Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2015
As we approach the 279th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, there's no better time to think about redecorating those boring walls in your home with something a little livelier: red-white-and-blue bunting, patriotic songs, or, best of all, hot dogs. If the idea seems appealing, we have the source book for you: The Great American Happy Birthday Book by Jack Denst Designs, Inc., published in 1975 and held in Watson Library Special Collections.
Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Summer has arrived at last and conversations naturally gravitate towards everyone's summer travel plans. Some are venturing to the world's great capitals, some are making the most out of "staycations," and some are heading straight for the beach. Still others prefer the breathtaking views and fresh air that can only be experienced high up in the mountains. Such was the case over a century and a half ago, when a group from the newly formed Alpine Club headed south from London on a summer-long mountain adventure. They documented their travels with words and sketches in How We Spent the Summer, or, A "Voyage en Zigzag" in Switzerland and Tyrol with Some Members of the Alpine Club, a second edition of which is held in Watson Library's special collections.
Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2015
In 2013 I wrote about a 1929 Met catalogue entitled Cinema Films: A List of the Films and the Conditions under which They Are Rented, a collection of educational "cinema films" that the Met used to rent out to various schools and cultural institutions in the New York City area. The films range from straightforward informational ones, like Pyramids and Temples of Ancient Egypt, to the patently bizarre, like The Spectre—a "Colonial fantasy" about "a malign apparition which appears to the superstitious eyes of a seventeenth-century New England family." The still from the catalogue (above), which shows a maniacally grinning man in a ten-gallon hat floating in front of shadowy latticed windows, is of this malign apparition, a character that would not seem at all out of place in a David Lynch film. Like all of these films, the majority of The Spectre was shot on-site at the Met.
Posted: Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Firmin-Didot, a family of French printers, punch-cutters, and publishers, gained renown for their illustrated editions of the classics, as well as for publishing inexpensive editions of scholarly texts. The former were illustrated by some of the most respected artists of the day, providing a wide audience with access to images that had only ever been available to those privileged few who had access to royal palaces and aristocratic chateaus. Making classic works—be they artistic, philosophical, or literary—available to a broad audience was only part of the family's influence, however. The family's most lasting legacy is the Didot family of fonts, designed by Firmin Didot, which influences typography to this day.
Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2015
On a recent Friday evening, Watson Library hosted a Special Collections "salon" for illustrators, artists, and designers affiliated with the science journal Nautilus. Co-organized by Special Collections Librarian Jared Ash and Nautilus Art Director Len Small, the event offered an opportunity to share a selection of notable titles from Watson's rare-book collections, and to provide an introduction to Watson's resources and public services.
Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2015
In early March, we began a project to conserve and rehouse 160 books from the Department of Drawings and Prints. The project, French Architectural Books: Renaissance to Art Deco, was made possible by the New York State Program for Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials. From the beginning of the project, it was apparent that many books, regardless of their size, materials, or age, had damaged or missing headcaps—an indication that prior to coming into the Museum's collection, the books were likely shelved too tightly and then improperly pulled from the shelf by their headcaps. Books are easily damaged in this manner, so here is some basic information to help you avoid such damage in your library, be it institutional or personal.
Posted: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
In an earlier post we discussed Watson's collection of nineteenth-century American trade bindings, purchased with funds from the Friends of Thomas J. Watson Library. We will continue to look at more of these trade bindings here, and explore themes not addressed in the previous post.
Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2015
In the first installment in this series on Les Artistes du Livre, we looked at folios that included illustrations of canonical works of fiction and standard texts. The folios described in this second installment include illustrations that demonstrate the surprising variety of mood and tone—from the morose to the sanguine—that can be found in this series.
Posted: Wednesday, May 6, 2015
January 2014 marked the first time that Americans used mobile apps more than desktop computers to access the Internet. Smartphone and tablet apps are increasingly tied into everyday tasks, from buying coffee to posting to Instagram to paying bills to . . . art research!
Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2015
I moved to New York from California five years ago, and one of the best parts about living and working in the city is that lots of friends and family come to visit. New York City is a dream vacation destination for many, but my guests have the added excitement of seeing the city from a "local's" perspective. I spend weeks planning each (fairly loose) itinerary, alternating visits to popular attractions with my personal favorites (DIA Beacon, The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, MoMA PS1), and planning activities tailored specifically to my visitors' professional and personal interests. Of course, these itineraries invariably include a trip (or several) to the Met and Watson Library.