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Posts from the Rare Books Division

New Feature! Unlock Menus to Continue Editing

We've gotten a number of questions over the past week of What's on the Menu? about menus marked as "done." Do we really mean done? As in finished, vetted, archived for posterity? Fear not, we've cleared up this confusion with some new language. What we really meant to say was "under review."

On several occasions, a volunteer e-mailed us saying they'd spotted errors, or missing dishes, on menus marked as complete. I happily re-opened the menus in question (a facility only open to site administrators) and 

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Tricky Menu Tips: Ditto Marks, Prices, and More

Wow. We're sitting here with our mouths agape, simply overwhelmed --and thrilled! -- by the response to What's on the Menu? We knew you guys liked food, but holy (broiled) mackerel!

We launched WOTM very quietly, just three days ago, and, as of this typing, we have over 22K dishes transcribed! And it's evident, from the emails and tweets we've been receiving, that we have some very enthusiastic participants out there. Thank you!

But as you may have noticed, each menu is very different. Each has its quirks and 

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Doin' the Dishes!

Saratoga ChipsCorned Beef Hash.  Large Pot of Oolong Tea

Okay, so they’re not included in the works of Shakespeare (as far as I know), but that doesn’t mean these dishes aren't of value to researchers and scholars and the generally curious who read menus in order to learn more about the food served and consumed in restaurants throughout history.

But until now this kind of information (the food!) was 

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Spencer Collection Book of the Month: Kippenberger's Quixote

Kippenberger's Don Quijote de la Mancha book object (detail)When is a book not a book? For this month's Spencer Collection Book of the Month, I have a couple of answers in mind.

From the point of view of contemporary art, the answer might be, "When it's a book object."—"Art which makes use of the book format or the structure of the book; typically ... unique sculptural works that take the form of, or incorporate, 

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Sneak Preview: Special Collections in Progress

Miniature children's booksI might be old school, but my favorite way of picking what to read, watch, listen, or even do research on, is by browsing. Letting inspiration be a part of what I learn next. Unfortunately, browsing is out of the question when one deals with closed stacks, offsite storage, and of course special collections.

As a Specialist in the Library’s Special Formats Processing department, what my colleagues and I mostly work on making available to the public is exactly the kinds of materials one cannot find on the open shelves.

Recently, 

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Avian Inspiration

Do you plan to come to the next Handmade Crafternoon on March 5th to make your own tiny avian sculpture with artist Abby Glassenberg, author of The Artful Bird? Want to brush up on bird characteristics in advance?  Then the Library's Digital Gallery is a great place to spend some time.  Here 

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Valentine's Day Wishes from Helen Adams Masten

The Rare Book Division's collection of historic valentines has provided heaps of inspiration this month---in Martha Stewart Living's February issue, on the Martha Stewart Show, and at the latest Handmade Crafternoon event at which staff from Martha Stewart Living were our special guests and donated amazing supplies (you'll find a wrap-up of this event as well as a great gallery of images

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Radioactive Artist Lauren Redniss Talks of Love, Science, and Finding Inspiration at the Library

When artist and writer Lauren Redniss is asked why she created her new graphic biography Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout, her reply is as striking and powerful as her work: “I wanted to create a visual book about invisible forces,” Redniss said. “In this case, radioactivity and love. I was drawn to the Curies’ story because it is full of drama — passion, discovery, tragedy, scandal.”

In other words, this is the story of 

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Guardians of the Sacred Word

The first multilingual Psalter. Genoa, 1516. The New York Public Library, Rare Book Division.For very long time, Jews, Christians and Muslims have behaved toward one another like members of a dysfunctional family, like the competitors for an immense inheritance, the favor of Almighty God. But the current exhibition at the New York Public Library uncovers quite another strain of familiarity among the three, their devotion to the book.

Many cultures value the written word, the art of writing and a reverence for 

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Do It Yourself Fun, 1920s Style.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, this little book offered sage advice as well as entertaining distraction for those in England lucky enough to be able to be included in weekend getaways to the country. The Week-End Book was the work of Francis and Vera Meynell, who attempted to balance the competing interests of excellent book design and affordable production in the books they created for Nonesuch, their private press.

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A Book Arts Booklist.

If you were one of the nearly 80 crafty book artists-in-training who came out for Handmade Crafternoon last weekend, thanks for joining us as we folded and glued and cut our way to unusual pop-up paper garland book structures.  And speaking of books, a number of guests asked about getting a list of the Library books I brought along for browsing that day.  Your wish is my command.  Here are the titles I gathered to inspire us; each title links to its record in the

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Inspiring Books, a Little Bit of Sewing, and an Unforgettable Skirt!

Last Saturday's Handmade Crafternoon was full of fun and creative comradery, thanks to all of you who joined us and thanks also to our talented and friendly Modern Women of Sewing who shared their thoughts about what inspires them and how they turn what they find at the Library into stunning designs, patterns, illustrations, and more.

A few highlights for me were learning about how artists from Louise 

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The Creation of Christmas

I generally enjoy the Christmas season if I don’t allow myself to get sucked up in the frenzy. Of course, the frenzy is almost irresistible: the catalogs start coming right after Labor Day, store owners regard Halloween as the beginning of the holiday season, and the stability of the global economy depends on how free and easy you are with your credit card. As for me, I’ve always thought of Christmas as:

"a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open ... Read More ›

Happy Birthday, Voltaire!

Voltaire the author and father of the French Enlightenment—we know about him, of course. But this influential philosopher also loved handmade work. Voltaire has a place in my heart, and I have devoted time as a librarian to cataloguing eighteenth-century books in The Martin J. Gross Collection of works by Voltaire and his contemporaries for the Library’s

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