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Posts from the Rare Books Division

Unlikely Beach Reads

We asked our experts: “What’s your recommendation for a long, dense, serious beach book?”Read More ›

New York on the Front Line: The Black Tom Island Explosion, July 1916

On Sunday morning, July 30, 1916, at 2:08 a.m., one of the worst terrorist attacks in American history took place at Black Tom Island, New Jersey, a shipping facility located in New York Harbor. Read More ›

Despotic Characters: Researching Shorthand at the New York Public Library

Through multiple gifts over the years, The New York Public Library has gathered an outstanding and extensive collection of shorthand material. These items can help answer such wide-ranging questions as: What was the eruption of Mount Vesuvius like? Why are some of the lines in Shakespeare’s King Lear so weird? and How can I take faster notes in my classes and work meetings?Read More ›

The Internet Loves Digital Collections: April 2015

What was the most viewed image on NYPL's Digital Collections platform in April 2015?Read More ›

The Case of the False Quixote

I recently came across a third volume of Don Quixote. Cervantistas among you know that this novel, the full title of which is El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, consists of two parts only. What’s more, the author listed is not Cervantes, but “the Licentiate Alonzo Fernandez de Avellaneda.” So what exactly is going on here?Read More ›

Remembering (the Hardly Trivial) Sam Houston: Rare Texana at the Library

April 21 is the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. As any grade school student in the Lone Star State will proudly tell you, the leader of the Texan forces was Samuel “Sam” Houston, a.k.a. the President of the Republic of Texas. He is well-represented in NYPL's collection of Texana.Read More ›

The Union Remembers Lincoln

Upon learning of the president’s death, the nation responded with shock, confusion, outrage, and sorrow. This tumultuous period was captured by the printing and photography of the time: both in immediate ephemera and later, more contemplative works. Read More ›

30 Days of Poetry: A Kid's Eye-View of WPA-Era New York City

The Doughnut Boy and Other Poems offers a glimpse of New York City through the eyes of a sassy little beret-wearing, doughnut-loving, public-transit-taking, library-visiting child.Read More ›

Madame du Châtelet and Fighting the Invincible Force

Madame du Châtelet was a French noblewoman of the Enlightenment who came from a wealthy family, married into a position of prominence, raised several children, and studied as a member of the Republic of Letters. However, in her native France, the Academy of Sciences, universities, and many intellectual gatherings excluded women. She was forced to pursue a path of independent study.Read More ›

Love Letters 101: Epistolary Lessons from Rare Books

Universal letter-writers were guidebooks meant to teach young men and women the art of writing and speaking fluently on a variety of subjects—including love.Read More ›

Beyond the Title Page: Watermarks, Colophons, and Publishing Dates

What started as a simple comparison of beautifully illustrated books on fashionable dress, trades’ dress, and ethnic costume held in both the Art and Architecture Collection and the Rare Book Division turned into an open-ended bibliographic exercise with many rabbit holes to get lost in. Read More ›

Short-Term Research Fellowship: Evert A. Duyckinck's Social Network

A look at the papers of two brothers who were at the center of New York publishing in the mid-1800s.Read More ›

Glimpses of Alice

To celebrate Lewis Carroll’s upcoming birthday—and my un-birthday!—let’s venture down the rabbit hole to explore depictions of Alice, his most famous creation, here at the library.Read More ›

Aylmer Bourke Lambert and the Most Princely of Pines

Evergreens, pines, conifers. As the year draws to a close, many of us have welcomed these needly trees into our homes as part of long-established Christmas tradition. But before this tradition took root in England (via Germany), one Englishman devoted his life all throughout the year to the genus Pinus. Read More ›

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 ›

Where Did Times New Roman Come From?

An interesting footnote to the development of Times New Roman trickles down to us in the present day. The original hardware for the typeface—the “punches” that helped create the molds for casting type—were created jointly by the Monotype Corporation and the Linotype Company, the two main manufacturers of automated typesetting machines and equipment at that time. Both companies subsequently made sets of the type 

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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 ›

From Stage to Page with the Cranach Press's Hamlet

The Cranach Press enlisted the help of an international stable of artists and scholars to produce hand-made books that doubled as works of art. My favorite is an edition of Hamlet based on the text of Shakespeare’s Second Quarto. 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 ›
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