Class Notes: 250 Years of Fairy Tales in Print

Professor Mark Ilsemann recently brought his class, German 3590: Special Topics–Fairy Tales, to Special Collections to see materials related to the European fairy-tale tradition. He asked if we could “give my students an idea about early collections of tales and the formation of ‘fairy tale’ as a genre; teach them about the importance/style of illustrations and other forms of book art; show them how fairy tale collections were ‘framed’ by their respective authors (through frontispieces, opening remarks, etc.); and to demonstrate to students the importance of the book object and of working with historical artifacts.”

Oh yeah, we could do that. Little did he know the extent of the riches at our disposal.

A selection of fairy tales (Photograph by Molly Schwartzburg)

A selection of fairy tale editions, anthologies, recordings, toys, and even finger puppets! (Photograph by Molly Schwartzburg)

Curator Molly Schwartzburg wowed his class with an eclectic selection of some of the fascinating and visually stunning fairy tales that comprise our collections. In turn, Professor Ilsemann provided a great deal of insight on the history of fairy-tale publishing, and his students jumped in with comments based on the knowledge they’ve gained so far this semester. As is often the case, we wondered if we gained even more from the session than our visitors!

Professor Ilsemann explains the likely origins of this unusual and beautiful moveable book. He noticed that the publisher was associated with the Waldorf School movement, based in Stuttgart, where the book was published. The book’s flowing text and images, seem to echo the Waldorf philosophy, which requires that classrooms contain no right angles. (PZ34 .S358 1926. Henry S. Gordon Fund, 2009/2010. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Professor Ilsemann explains the likely origins of this unusual and beautiful moveable book. He noticed that the publisher was associated with the Waldorf School movement, based in Stuttgart, where the book was published. The book’s flowing text and images seem to echo the Waldorf philosophy, which requires that classrooms contain no right angles. Hilde Langen, Schneewittchen (Stuttgart: Waldorf-Spielzeug & Verlad G.m.b.H., 1926). (PZ34 .S358 1926. Henry S. Gordon Fund, 2009/2010. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Many of the items we discussed were from Special Collections’s remarkable Little Red Riding Hood Collection, generously donated in 2007 by collector Martha Orr Davenport.  The collection comprises approximately 480 books, a hundred pieces of print ephemera, fifty works of art, ten magic lantern slides, and more than a hundred objects, including tableware, figurines, vases, pottery, puppets, recordings, and more.

Detail of items from the Little Red Riding Hood Collection (Gift of Martha Orr Davenport. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Just a few of the items in our Little Red Riding Hood Collection. (Gift of Martha Orr Davenport. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

The students also were drawn in by several fabulous pop-up books from the Brenda Foreman Collection of Pop-Up and Moveable Books.

Molly and the students take a closer look at pop-up books. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Molly and the students take a closer look at pop-up books. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Hansel and Gretel from the "Pop-Up" Cinderella and Other Tales with illustrations by Harold B. Lentz, 1933.  (PZ92 .F6 L46 1933b. Brenda Forman Collection of Pop-Up and Moveable Books. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Hansel and Gretel from Harold P. Lentz’s  “Pop-Up” Cinderella and Other Tales, 1933. (PZ92 .F6 L46 1933b. Brenda Forman Collection of Pop-Up and Moveable Books. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Perhaps a student paper or two about these magical books will be in hand by the semester’s end, inspired by this wonderful introduction!

Virginia Festival of the Book 2013: Special Collections Edition

Every third week of March, hundreds of authors and bibliophiles sojourn in Charlottesville, immersing themselves in book culture at the Virginia Festival of the Book.  The Special Collections Library was well represented in this year’s festival.  Both of our curators (and fellow bloggers) Molly Schwartzburg and David Whitesell, as well as Honorary Curator and Director of the Rare Book School Michael Suarez, gave talks on a wide array of subjects, including the history of an abolitionist print, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Spanish dramas, miniature and artist books, and e-books.  U.Va. alum and former Special Collections student employee Lex Hrabe also made three appearances at the festival, sharing with area school students the inner workings of his young adult thriller, Quarantine: The Loners.

The Print That Changed the World: The Description of the Slave-Ship Brookes

The Rare Book School hosted this lecture by U.Va. Professor and Honorary Curator Michael Suarez, S.J., which described the circulation and history of the famous, or should we say, infamous, original diagram depicting enslaved Africans in the stowage of the British slave-ship Brookes. Special Collections’ copies of the print from 1791 and 1808 were on display.

Michael Suarez gives his talk on the publication history of the printing of the stowage of the slave ship Brookes to a packed audience in the Harrison-Small Auditorium, 21 March 2013. (Photograph by Nicole Bouche)

Special Collections has three plates of the “Stowage of the British Slave Ship Brookes.” Featured is our 1808 print, originally from volume two of Thomas Clarkson’s The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the Slave-trade by the British Parliament (HT1162 .C6 1808 v.2. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Audience members view Special Collections’ “Stowage of the British Slave Ship Brookes” prints and the books from where they originated. (Photograph by Nicole Bouché)

Lope de Vega Meets Shakespeare: Spanish Golden Age Drama Bibliography Considered

David Whitesell’s lecture, which was hosted by the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, focused on the bibliography of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Spanish drama.  He provided an introduction to Spanish Golden Age drama, explained some key challenges of the genre’s bibliographers, described how proponents of the New Bibliography have addressed these challenges, and closed with a case study of how the methods of analytical bibliography might advance the understanding of Spanish Golden Age drama and its reception.

David Whitesell gives his well-received talk on viewing bibliography through Spanish Golden Age drama in the Harrison-Small Auditorium, 22 March 2013. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Special Collections Director Nicole Bouché and Associate Professor of English Andy Stauffer chat as audience members view examples from David Whitesell’s personal collection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Spanish plays. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

David Whitesell, Michael Dirda, and G. Thomas Tanselle share a laugh after the talk (in foreground from left to right). Michael Dirda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic for the Washington Post, and G. Thomas Tanselle is the President of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

The Codex is Not the Only Book: the iPad, the Poet, and the Artist and Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books

Molly performed at two Virginia Festival of the Book events on the same day: first as a panelist and second as an exhibition guide.

The panel, “The Codex is Not the Only Book,” featured Virginia poet Mary-Sherman Willis, Charlottesville publisher Katherine McNamara, and Molly. The three discussed the 2012 ebook of Willis’s poem Caveboy, illustrated by Collin Willis and designed and published by McNamara at Artist’s Proof Editions. It was published around the same time as a limited-edition print book, which contains the same text but a radically different overall design; this volume was designed and produced by Collin Willis for Artist’s Proof.

As a panelist, Molly discussed her long-standing interest in how readers perceive e-books and how special collections libraries should begin thinking about preserving examples for the long term—a project that the field is just beginning to consider. She spoke about the ways that reading an ebook like Caveboy raises questions in the reader about the lines between the roles of the writer, publisher, and the software platform—in this case, Apple’s iAuthor. And she described some of the questions special collections librarians are asking themselves about creating a historical record of the digital revolution in book production—could a library actually acquire an ebook, rather than simply purchase access to a file? If so, where would that ebook end, and the interface begin? How will researchers look back at the early ebook phenomenon in twenty, fifty, or five hundred years?

Hosted by the member artists of Virginia Arts of the Book Center, Molly gave an engaging exhibition talk on Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books, a travelling exhibition that features 87 miniature books by artists from eight countries.  In her talk, she discussed the artistry of books and the relationships between miniature books, altered books, and artists’ books.

Molly Schwartzburg discusses Envelope Journal No. 3 by Jesse Alan Brown with exhibition viewers. Brown’s work is made of No. 3 coin envelopes, magnetic clasps, and PVA adhesive. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Insects by Sarojini Jha Johnson is featured in the foreground of the case. (Photograph by Tessa Currie)

Stefanie Dykes’ altered book, Querl, and Alicia Pelaez Camazon’s artist book, Esperando, appear prominently in the foreground of this case. (Photograph by Tessa Currie)

Unlikely Heroes in Youth Adult Books

U.Va. graduate (Class of 1999), former Special Collections student employee, and author Lex Hrabe was a panelist for the Saturday session at the book festival. During the week, he had given talks to two schools, including his alma mater St. Anne’s-Belfield (Class of 1995), and was a panelist for Unlikely Heroes in Youth Adult Books.  Lex is one half of Lex Thomas, the pen name for the writing team of Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies.  The duo wrote the young adult thriller Quarantine: The Loners, which was the subject of his talks.  Lex’s proud mother Margaret Hrabe is the reference coordinator for the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library!

The YA novel Quarantine: the Loners is first in a trilogy, and was published in July 2012;  book two Quarantine: the Saints will be in bookstores on July 9th of this year. (PZ7 .T366998 Qud 2012. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Sign at St. Anne’s Belfield School announcing author and alum Lex Hrabe ’95 for his book talk (Photograph by Margaret Hrabe)

Lex Hrabe talks to students at St. Anne’s-Belfield. (Photograph by Margaret Hrabe)

We hope you all get to join us next year at the Virginia Festival of the Book.  Be sure to check out Special Collections’ involvement!


Exhibition Now Open: “Miniature Books and Money”

Come on by Special Collections to see our latest short-term exhibition, “Miniature Books and Money.” Drawing almost entirely from the McGehee Miniature Book Collection, the exhibition features almost 100 miniature books in just two exhibit cases, showcasing some of the ways that one topic–money–can be approached through this 12,000 item collection.

This exhibition is launched as a partner project to an exhibition currently on view at the Virginia Arts of the Book Center, Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books 2. Learn more about the VABC show here. You can visit the show at their space “Beneath the Art Box”  at 2125 Ivy Road, Charlottesville. Both exhibitions have been mounted in celebration of the 2013 Virginia Festival of the Book, which runs March 20-24.

Our theme was inspired by an artist’s book by Charlottesville book artist Amanda Nelsen, also featured at the VABC. Her book, entitled Fine Print, investigates the rhetoric of junk mail credit card offers with elegance, artistry, and humor.

“Miniature Books and Money” runs through April 18, and may be found on the First Floor Gallery of the Harrison Small building on the UVa Grounds during standard opening hours.

The exhibit features 79 volumes from the Winthrop Press, who provided tiny paperback editions of short stories to be packaged with cigarettes and other products in the 1910s. Come find out why so many of them are associated with the Catholic philanthropic organization, the Knights of Columbus.

If only we could make miniature labels for miniature books! But we worry about your eyes enough as it is…

One of seventy-nine publications of the Winthrop Press in the exhibit, this book’s gorgeous cover image is cheaply printed.



How to make miniature book mounts with everyday library supplies: An Amateur’s Guide

When you apply for a job as a Special Collections curator, the required skills do not include “arts and crafts.” But an ability to work with your hands comes in handy, so to speak, especially when it comes to putting on small exhibitions on short notice. One of my favorite parts of the job is learning new and unexpected skills that help me to share our collections–especially when it means I get to play around with paper.

London Almanack for the Year of Christ 1791 ([London]: Printed for the Company of Stationers, [1790]. (Lindemann 04137, Photo by Molly Schwartzburg).

This week, I was thrilled to receive a quick and dirty lesson on how to make these simple but effective display cradles, courtesy of our book conservator, Eliza Gilligan. After some mumbled curses and false starts, I had soon produced half a dozen mounts that I believe would make her proud. If you’d like to display your own miniature books, take my lead and follow Eliza’s instructions, which are straightforward and allow you to leave your book safe on the shelf for almost the entire process.

Step One: Gather Supplies

Photo by Molly Schwartzburg

Gather your supplies: rulers, bone folder, scissors, 20-point acid-free board (the weight used to make most collection housings), thin poly strap, narrow double-sided tape, and scissors. You’ll also need a photocopy machine. To get a nice clean cut when you slice your board, I recommend using a board shear, but scissors and a ruler will work in a pinch. Oh, you’ll also need a little book. Please note that these instructions apply only to miniature books, and may not succeed with larger books.

Step Two: Make your Template

Consult with your conservator to determine a safe and healthy opening angle for your book. Hold the book open at this angle, standing upright in your photocopier, so the angle is visible to the camera. Place a straight-edge where the base of the item will be, and photocopy the book. I also included the call tag in my images, since I was photocopying several books at once and didn’t want to get them mixed up.

You’ll end up with an image that looks something like this:

Photo by Molly Schwartzburg

Step Three: Prep your board

Cut a generous strip of board to the exact height of your miniature book. It must be the exact height so you do not place stress on the book’s edge when you strap it to the cradle later in the process. Don’t skimp on length until you know what you’re doing. The shortest of these pieces is plenty long.

Lots of minis, ready to go.  (Photo by Molly Schwartzburg)

Step Four: Make Your Six Folds

OK, now for the fun part. Put your miniature book somewhere safe (the little devils are easy to lose track of!) and clear your workspace. You will now use your photocopy as a template to determine the placement first for the binding to rest, and then for each of the six folds you will create.

Start by marking on either side of the spine–that is, whatever you do not want to rest on an angled surface. Then, use your ruler to mark a line that comes down at a 90-degree angle from just inside the edge of the book’s angled cover. If you line it up with the cover of the book exactly, your cradle will stick out and disrupt the view. Also be sure to keep your lines square with the top and bottom edge of the board. If you do not keep it square at all times, your cradle will be cocked.

Yes, those wavy lines were made with a ruler. I’m a bit embarrassed, but honesty is the best policy. (Photo by Molly Schwartzburg)

Fold up. I recommend using a heavy metal ruler for a nice solid edge. The board is stiff, so you’ll have to fudge with your lines to get the fold to rest exactly where you want it to (if this doesn’t make sense to you, try it and I think you’ll see what I mean). Folding is not an exact science. Did you remember to keep it squared up?

Don’t let that pesky cork get in the way of an accurate fold! Turn your ruler upside down for the best result. (Photo by Molly Schwartzburg)

Use your bone folder sharpen the edge of your fold.

I don’t know which paper tool I love more: the board shear or the bone folder. (Photo by Molly Schwartzburg)

After you make your first fold, place it over the template to mark the next one, then flatten your paper and mark a fold line, and fold again. Be sure to mark on the inside of your board, since all your marks will fold inward. If this is too difficult, you can mark on the outside and then transfer the mark to the inside.

Be sure that this first fold is at a 90-degree angle when you make your mark for the next fold. (Photo by Molly Schwartzburg)

You will make three folds on each side. Return to the first image in the blog post if you need a reminder of your final goal. Don’t try to keep the first or second fold in place as you go–just turn the whole strip of paper around the template image as you work. You will need to trim excess paper off as you prepare to make your final fold. Be careful not to cut off too much–you’ll want a generous piece to tape to the base. Here’s what you’ll end up with.

Photo by Molly Schwartzburg

Step Five: Adhere Double-sided Tape

Place a line of tape on each of your final sections, on the outer side of your cradle. Fold in and adhere, being sure that your final fold lines up with your spine markers.

Double-sided tape before final placement. (Photo by Molly Schwartzburg)

The next picture shows what your cradle will look like. Actually, it should look a lot better, as this was my first effort. Overall, this cradle is correctly assembled, but you can see the signs of my inexperience. On the right hand side, I did not achieve a right angle in my first fold, probably because I marked my folds inaccurately. The right side was not adhered squarely either; you can see that the folded section of board is not lined up with the edge of the base. As a result, the entire cradle is slightly cocked. I was less than consistent in my use of the bone folder, so the right-angle fold on the left is not solid. Finally, I made a marking error for my final fold on the left, resulting in an extra fold that had to be flattened out. You should expect to make all these errors and more your first time out!

So did I keep this first try for posterity? No way. Into the recycling bin it went. (Photo by Molly Schwartzburg)

Step Six: Strap Your Book

Place your miniature book in its cozy new cradle and strap it in, adhering the strap to the cradle. Most regular books require multiple straps to remain safely in a cradle without putting pressure on the text block, but many miniature books are very lightweight and only require one piece of thin strapping on each side. Use your judgment.

Double-sided tape adheres the strapping to your cradle. If you work in a shared space, be prepared to muffle your curses as you try to make this final step, as your fingers will seem too big and the spaces too small to ever get it all in place. Patience, grasshopper. (Photo by Molly Schwartzburg)

Step Seven: Admire Your Final Product!

This elegant little almanac is ready to go into the exhibition case, accompanied by its original matching carrying sleeve. Squee! (Photo by Molly Schwartzburg)

Warning: miniature cradle-making is addictive. (Photo by Molly Schwartzburg)

I hope this little tutorial is useful to you. Please let us know in the comments if you decide to use it for your own projects. Many thanks to Eliza Gilligan for her expert guidance. Now, go forth and fold!

Mini-Books in Small: A Photoessay

This week’s post is written by Anne Causey, Public Service Assistant at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library:

Local bookmakers and bookbinders involved with the Virginia Arts of the Book Center (VABC) in Charlottesville are gearing up for this year’s collaborative project:  creating a miniature book. In fact, each participant must make fifteen books. What better way to become inspired than to visit the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, which houses more than 13,000 miniatures?

Here the 15 bookbinders and bookmakers investigate several boxes of miniature books, primarily from the McGehee Miniature Book Collection. I pulled some older more traditional printed books and then some contemporary artists books that use a variety of materials, binding and art work. They were excited by many of the examples – and excited by the housings as well. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Miniature books are defined as smaller than three inches in each direction, and yes, they are “real” books – just printed on a smaller scale. The printer uses a text small enough to fit the size and form of the pages and sizes down the illustrations.

The participants looked at about 40 examples, including a Medieval Manuscript. A Parisian, miniature book of hours, dated from the 14th-century is the oldest such book in Special Collections. This tiny book contains five full-page illustrations and a vine design on every page, not to mention grotesques in the form of dragons and other beasts on some of the pages.

I am showing the group a 14th-century illuminated manuscript, a Parisian book of hours. Nicknamed “Baby,” it is 6.5 X 5 cm and 239 folios, or pages. The text is Gothic script on vellum and is in Latin except for the 12-page calendar, which is French. We had it rebound in a historically-correct leather binding with ties. The group was almost as interested in the 19th century red velvet binding that was removed but still kept with the book. (MSS. 382 /M.MS. W. From the Papers of Edward L. Stone, purchased 1938. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Books in miniature were made for various reasons. Some were made small so they were easy to carry, while some accompanied packages as advertisements. Some were made for children, and still others were made because the content of the book or its ownership was controversial.

The miniature books in Special Collections comprise a wide range—from traditional older printed books to more whimsical artist books. The collection includes more than 12,000 miniatures donated by Mrs. Caroline Brandt. Her collection has accumulated over 40 years, spans six centuries and contains volumes in more than 30 languages.  Mrs. Brandt donates more books to the collection every year.

The VABC is hosting an exhibition, entitled Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books 2: A Traveling Exhibit from March 1 – April 26 at the Virginia Arts of the Book Center, 2125 Ivy Road, Charlottesville, VA.

VABC will host a reception during the Virginia Festival of the Book on Sunday, March 24 at 2:30PM, including a discussion of the exhibit by Molly Schwartzburg, curator of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. During March, Special Collections will also have an exhibit from its holdings of miniature books to coordinate with this visit.

This group of miniatures were all designed and hand-written by contemporary bookmaker Margaret Challenger between 1999 and 2003. Several are accordion-style, and all of them have specialty hand-made papers and Challenger’s calligraphy. The book with the black cover and gold center medallion, which shows a knight’s shield and sword, is called “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.” Enclosed in the front cover is another smaller book, containing his prayer; her calligraphy, written in purple is, “an Anglo Saxon version of Italian Uncial, as used in The St. Cuthbert Gospels, written before 716 A.D.” Many of the books have interesting paper closures or boxes. I was hoping such variety would give the bookmakers inspiration for their own projects. (Lindemann 3747-3760. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

This red and gold miniature bookcase, which is the size of a more typical book (6 1/4 x 7 ½ in), holds 65 tiny volumes. They are each bound in colorful book cloth and have tiny text. The first one, “Aunt Faith’s Recipes,” does indeed contain actual recipes – for desserts, candy, and beverages. I only know this because the group wanted a book to be taken out to see if it contained text. Less than half of these are known as micro-minis, which are between 1” to 2” tall, while the rest are ultra-micro-minis, defined as smaller than 1” in any measurement (Lindemann 5766, no. 1-65. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

This accordion-style book has a bright orange cover and is enclosed in a black envelope stamped with a silver cross. It is entitled “Hildegard of Bingen: Her Music.” The calligraphy in green is “from Commentary by M. Fox on the text of Hildegard of Bingen: 1985.” Hildegard was a saint born in 1098 who composed over 70 songs. The book is a creation of Margaret Challenger, 2000. The colophon reports that she used Ingres paper and gouache calligraphy. (Lindemann 03747. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Miniatures are sometimes commentaries about the times in which we live. For instance, “Consumption Junction” a miniature created by Laura Russell in 2002, features painted corrugated cardboard covers, affixed by a single bolt. The book is a protest against modern consumerism. (Lindemann 05115. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

This manuscript from Ethiopia looks rather old, but is estimated to date from the twentieth century. The script is in black and red ink on vellum, and the vellum binding wraps around the accordion-style text block. There are 7 hand-painted illustrations. (Not yet cataloged, from the McGehee Miniature Book Collection. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

The “I, Robot” miniature is too cute! The group chuckled at this one. The robot “covers” or container is metal with a magnetized closing at the back of its head. The fun surprise comes in opening it and pulling out the pages. This creative miniature was made by Jan and Jarmila Sobota, in the Czech Republic, 2007. Ours is number 3 of 30. (Not yet cataloged, from the McGehee Miniature Book Collection. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Nutshell books are always a big hit. Some are still in stages of being cataloged (From the McGehee Miniature Book Collection. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)