WE CAN’T PUT IT TOGETHER. IT IS TOGETHER. Last semester a Lyman Briggs College class (LBC is a residential college here at MSU that bridges the humanities and the sciences with interdisciplinary teaching and research) used The Last Whole Earth Catalog as one of its texts. Students used an online version of the catalog, but …

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Aristotle Meditations

  If you’re in the habit of reading descriptions of old books—and why wouldn’t you be?—you’ve likely come across something described as bound in period style or in a sympathetic binding. This typically means the book was rebound relatively recently, but rebound in a style consistent with the time period of the book’s original publication. …

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New England Tavern Ledger Book, 1785-1788

Picture the scene: A bustling New England tavern, December 1785. Two patrons sit at the bar, swapping war stories and discussing nascent U.S. political philosophy over mugs of… of what, exactly? MSU Special Collections recently acquired an early American tavern keeper’s account book that can help answer that question—recording what American revolutionaries and their contemporaries …

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Salvaging Wet Books

Earlier this month, the MSU Libraries’ Disaster Response Committee practiced our procedures for salvaging wet books.  We took advantage of the nice weather to get outside, get some books wet, and then do our best to salvage them (don’t worry, we used withdrawn materials!). Eric Alstrom, Head of Preservation and Conservation, showed us how to …

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Poster preservation

Posters, posters, and more posters! A recent donation of several hundred movie posters (not all are shown above) recently invaded the conservation lab. The posters had been rolled for storage, and while a few unrolled easily, those printed on heavyweight paper didn’t want to be flat. I knew that trying to humidify and flatten each …

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American Cookery

First published in 1796, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons is considered the first true American cookbook, with recipes for such indigenous foods as pumpkins, cranberries, and cornmeal. Cookbooks published here previously were English in origin with food and recipes written for English audiences. American Cookery is the bedrock for all important cookbook collections and MSU Special …

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A Book of Cyphers, or Letters Revers

A Book of Cyphers, or Letters Reverst (1683)Our somewhat damaged copy of this 17th century work on cyphers or monograms features wonderful hand-coloring throughout. Some of the colors have faded with age, but this artistic personal touch still adds a layer of beauty to this fascinating little book.     Tweet

Contremech : Notes About Machiavelli

In preparing for the purchase of another title by the Italian Renaissance philosopher, Niccolo Machiavelli, I found this sixteenth century rebuttal of the principles of Machiavelli by the French jurist Gentillet. In his book, Discours sur les moyens de bien gouverner, Gentillet analyzes the character of a ruler, rights of parliament, and capacity of councilors among …

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Seige of St. Augustine, 1740

This “map” shows a view of St. Augustine at the beginning of its 1740 siege by the British. I thought the most interesting thing about it was this one ship called the Squirrel (see close up from the map’s index), which is a pretty hilarious name, especially beside its other companion ships with impressive names like the …

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Cure for Love

Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us! And while it can be a time of joy for many, for some it is more bittersweet, recalling memories of past heartache. If you fall into the latter camp this year, don’t fret—we uncovered the remedy you might need in an old manuscript recipe book. “A Cure for Love” was …

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Just Cocktails

This recipe book has a fun wood cover with brass hinges and rawhide leather thong binding.  Unfortunately, the acidic wood cover has irreversibly stained the first and last pages, creating a mirror image of the wood grain.  I’ve never seen anything quite like this, and find it fascinating! Want to see this book in person?  …

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Ulysses by James Joyce

We’ve probably all done this before. While out and about, perhaps while traveling or shopping, we lay a scrap of paper inside a book. Maybe it’s a receipt for the book’s purchase, or perhaps it’s a plane ticket. Whatever it is, we probably don’t give it much thought at the time. But decades later, or …

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Exhibit Tips and Tricks

staff.lib.msu.edu Exhibit Tips & Tricks + Dos and Don’ts Bexx’s Exhibit Tips and Tricks for Library Materials Recently, I’ve posted a few tips tips for exhibit library materials: Tip #1 – Support the Neck Tip #2 – Support the Plate Tip #3 – Support the Textblock These tips (and more) were part of a recent …

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Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)

The Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) is renowned for its fantastic woodcut illustrations. A total of 1,809 illustrations adorn the book, but only 645 woodblocks were cut.  Most of the illustrations are re-used throughout the book – some as many as 11 times! Above are six instances of the same illustration, as seen in the copy owned …

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  A nightmare before Christmas? Our copy of Elsie’s Hallowe’en Experience, an 1888 collection of children’s stories from author Mary Dow Brine, was apparently given as an Xmas gift in 1908. It’s not as strange as it sounds—the work does contain a couple of Christmas stories in addition to the titular tale of a spooky Halloween …

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Vellum : Before and After

Vellum is a hygroscopic material, which means that it has the ability to attract and hold water molecules from the surrounding environment. Vellum will expand in humid conditions, and contract in dry conditions.  Even normal fluctuations in temperature a humidity can cause vellum bindings to warp.  Over time, this book became badly warped.  At it’s …

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Giant Manuscript Antiphony

Here are some close-up shots from the giant manuscript antiphonary we wrote about a few months ago.  Last Wednesday was the MSU Libraries Open House, and this was one of the wonderful items Special Collections set out to entice passers-by. Some of the students who stopped by affectionately referred to it as a “Harry Potter book,” …

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Is this 17th century collection of German criminology woodcuts one of the world’s first comic books?

      Is this 17th century collection of German criminology woodcuts one of the world’s first comic books? The book, dated 1686, is made up of 20 or so woodcut illustrations showing the administration of criminal justice, including images of defendants before judges and scenes of punishment and torture.  All of the illustrations have been …

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