Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation
Your Library Needs You!

Posts from the Rare Books Division

What to Draw? A Turkey, of Course

Happy Thanksgiving to you! In honor of the holiday, here's a page from one of my favorite drawing manuals in the collection, 1913's What to Draw and How to Draw It by E. G. Lutz.

This turkey (along with his tiny companion, the fantail pigeon) is just one of dozens of possibilities — like owls, elephants, pelicans, pigs, castles, cats, and men and ladies — you'll find in these pages. Want to see the entire book? It's been digitized and you can

... Read More ›

Rare Books: Machinae Novae of 1595

We often get asked about firsts in printing history in the Rare Book Division. Machinae novae Favsti Verantii siceni (Venice, 1595) known as Machinae Novae, or New Machines, contains some of the first printed images related to engineering and machinery.

Machinae Novae was written by scholar-diplomat and scientist Fausto Veranzio in Venice; only a few copies 

... Read More ›

Made of Corn But Not Quite Edible

George M. Rommel, an early twentieth century animal husbandman and farm expert, was not one to shy away from novel solutions to agricultural challenges in America. In 1905, he championed the import from Bermuda of a breed of “woolless” sheep to address America’s “alarming appetite for lamb” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/5/1905). And he was always on the lookout for potential new uses for leftovers from agricultural enterprises. It should not, therefore, come as a surprise that his book on agricultural refuse industries, 

... 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 

... Read More ›

The Pompadour's Book: A Mystery Manuscript Owned by Madame de Pompadour

It's a small volume, neatly but unostentatiously bound in mottled calf. The gilt ornamentation is discreet, except for an impressive coat of arms on both boards. That becomes even more impressive when we identify it as the blazon of one of the standout personalities of 18th-century France, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, marquise de Pompadour — elevated from her haute-bourgeois background and a boring union with a certain M. Lenormand d'Étioles (nephew of her mother's lover) to become the official maîtresse-en-titre to 

... Read More ›

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 

... Read More ›

Emblem Books, or, What's Going On in this Engraving?

This is one of over a hundred such puzzling images you can find in Symbolorvm & emblematvm ex animalibvs qvadrupedibvs desvmtorvm centvria altera, a 1595 book printed in Nuremberg, Germany.

Emblem books like this one were common in 16th- and 17th-century Europe, and a typical example of this genre contained dozens of emblems — each made up of an image and some explanatory text meant to be approached as a small mystery to be solved by the reader (and often designed to impart a moral lesson). Because 

... Read More ›

Fancy a Cuppa? Tea in the Rare Book Division

"Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea."— A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith*

On the coldest winter days, I must say I agree with Smith. And while reading through a little 1863 recipe book called The Book of One Hundred Beverages in the Rare Book 

... Read More ›

The Boar’s Head in Hand Bring I

No, I’m NOT referring to the deli meat company. It’s the Boar’s Head Carol that’s on my mind. This traditional English holiday song, which celebrates the arrival at the feast of a greenery-garlanded boar’s head, has been sung for over 500 years. And it is still being sung today, even though my colleagues denied ever having heard it before. (They have since been subjected to a few versions on YouTube.)

The lyrics to 

... Read More ›

Christopher Morley's Christmas Salute

Perhaps it is not surprising, but lovers of printing have a long history of honoring the holidays in print. In December 1935, for example, rare book dealer Philip C. Duschnes published a limited edition of a small letterpress booklet called A Christmas Salute. This little printed keepsake incorporates glittery cardstock and bright red and green ink.

The text itself, by American writer

... Read More ›

Islam in Europe: A Resource Guide at NYPL

According to the BBC News, "Islam is widely considered Europe's fastest growing religion, with immigration and above average birth rates leading to a rapid increase in the Muslim population." There are currently over 15 million Muslims (Sunni and Shiite) living in Europe and Islam is currently the second largest religion in the world after Christianity.

This blog post will focus on NYPL’s rich collection on the history of Islam in Europe: past and present; the historical, political, cultural, and 

... Read More ›

Happy Families and Vintage Games

All Hands on Deck: NYPL Turns to the Crowd to Develop Digital Collections

Users are generating that reality every day at The New York Public Library through two landmark crowdsourcing endeavors, What’s on the Menu? and Map Rectifier. The former enlists the public in the transcription of historical menus, and the latter allows users to “rectify” historical maps by overlaying them on modern ones. Both projects stand out amid a glut of competitors as refreshingly guilt-free and subliminally educational uses of online time. 

... Read More ›

History on the Half-Shell: The story of New York City and its oysters

Blue Points, Saddle Rocks, Rockaways, Lynnhavens, Cape Cods, Buzzard Bays, Cotuits, Shrewsburys -- raw on the half shell. Fried oysters, oyster pie, oyster patties, oyster box stew, Oysters Pompadour, Oysters Algonquin, Oysters a la Netherland, a la Newberg, a la Poulette, oysters roasted on toast, broiled in shell, served with cocktail sauce, stewed in milk or cream, fried with bacon, escalloped, fricasseed, and pickled.  If you have spent any time transcribing for NYPL's What’s on the Menu? project, you’ve seen a lot of ways to 

... Read More ›

Know the Past, Find the Future: NYPL at 100

Thursday, May 19, 2011 6 to 8 p.m. Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal Free and Open to the Public

Grand CentralYou're invited! Join Jay Walder, Chairman, Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Paul LeClerc, President, The New York Public Library; and Kathryn Court, President and Publisher, Penguin Books; for a special book launch for Know the Past, Find the Future: The New York Public Library at 100, NYPL’s free Centennial book.

Enjoy a special guest appearance by the Harlem Globetrotters! 

... Read More ›

Hold the Applause! Testimonial Menus

Perhaps you’ve noticed a few more people joining the menu party lately. The Buncombe County Medical Association is here. As are our friends from the National Life Insurance Company. We’ve even extended an invite to our canine crew (and their owners) from the Philadelphia Dog Show Association.

Clubs, organizations, companies, and associations often hosted an 

... Read More ›

The Queen B: Miss Buttolph and Her Menus

If you've transcribed even one menu, you've likely seen her stamp. A blue oval bearing her name, "Buttolph Collection", as graceful as a branding iron over asparagus, Russian caviar, or Boston baked beans.

Miss Frank E. Buttolph stamped nearly every menu she collected for the New York Public Library, twenty-three years worth, amounting to roughly 25,000 menus under her tenure 

... Read More ›

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 

... Read More ›

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 

... Read More ›

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 

... Read More ›
Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Chat with a librarian now