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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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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17th Century Bacteria?

  Nine months ago, we posted about these jars of water (http://msulconservationlab.tumblr.com/post/108193028342/this-row-of-jars-shows-how-much-discoloration) which hold samples from each subsequent washing of a book printed in the 1600s (http://catalog.lib.msu.edu/record=b2150582~S23a). I was making my merry way through the lab the other day when I noticed something growing in Jar 1. GROWING, you guys.  I fear we have awakened an ancient …

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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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Florentine Chronicle (1537)

  Florentine Chronicle (1537) Born in the late 13th century in Florence, Giovanni Villani was a notable Italian statesman and diplomat, remembered today for recording the history of Florence in his Nuova Cronica, or New Chronicles. Our 16th century reprint of Villani’s Florentine chronicle features contemporary marginal annotations on nearly every page, marking important lines and …

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