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Posts from the Arents Collection

Charles Dickens and His Christmas Stories

A Christmas Carol continues, year after year, to be reworked, adapted, dramatized, enjoyed at home, and read in public settings. Perhaps less familiar are the dozens of Christmas stories that Charles Dickens penned in the twenty-five years that followed its publication. Read More ›

A Birthday Huzzah for Mr. Ford Madox Ford

December 17 marks British author, editor, and all-around literary icon Ford Madox Ford’s 141st birthday. To celebrate the occasion, I explored his writings in the Rare Book Division—and found some fascinating glimpses into his life and work.Read More ›

Ben Franklin on Cooking Turkey... with Electricity

The options for cooking a turkey are seemingly endless, but leave it to founding father Benjamin Franklin to invent one more — electrocution.Read More ›

Imagining Ichabod Crane: Illustrated Editions in Rare Books

While the initial printing of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow contained no illustrations, the tale has since inspired many artists to create works evoking the strangely funny but frightful events in the story.Read More ›

Medium Rare: Ghostly Stories from Rare Books

On Halloween, we pull back the curtain between real and unreal, reveling in the spooky, mysterious, and inexplicable. What better way to celebrate the holiday than communing with the spirits and ghosts who reach out to us from the pages of the Rare Book Division?Read More ›

Iceland Moss and Charles Dickens

Thanks to bibliophile George Arents, the Rare Book Division's holdings include an extensive collection of nineteenth century books in parts, and they are fascinating artifacts of their time. Little did I know, however, that I'd learn about a healthful and tasty lichen drink while reading 

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Hough's American Woods

Romeyn Hough (1857-1924) was single-minded in his devotion to trees. He was also a New Yorker, and when he embarked on The American Woods, he turned to the trees of his state first in what would eventually grow to be a 14-volume masterwork. The American Woods remains invaluable today due to the range and age of the tree samples Hough included, and the Library's Rare Book Division holds a complete set of this delicate and 

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Happy Families and Vintage Games

Ladies of Fashion - An Insult At One Time?

I ran across the following book while doing research the other day. Written by H.D. Eastman in 1853, it's called Fast man's directory and lovers' guide to the ladies of fashion and houses of pleasure in New-York and other large cities.

What strikes me is the understanding that "ladies of fashion" is a term for prostitutes. I didn't know that! I recall that high end courtesans and prostitutes in England were called "fashionable impures" in the early nineteenth century, but didn't know about this American 

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Team photos and the press

At first glance, this picture looks like it has seen better days. To a trained eye, it looks like a remarkable survival.

Which is it?

This picture of the Atlantic Base Ball Club in 1869, from the Albert G. Spalding Collection, is an albumen photographic print, mounted on thin paper board.

Two words come to mind, “fugitive materials.” Because of the albumen photographic printing process, the image will fade every time it is exposed to light. Imagine how many times this picture has been viewed since it was printed in 1869! The

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