Friday, July 6, 2012

A Body in Motion

During the late nineteenth century, a hotly debated topic among horse racing aficionados was whether all four of a horse's feet left the ground during trotting and galloping. Leland Stanford - former governor of California and a proponent of the "unsupported transit" theory - hired Eadweard Muybridge to settle the issue. This was the start of Muybridge's fascination with and exhaustive study of animal and human locomotion which culminated in his famous 11 volume Animal Locomotion. An Electro-photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1887).

Muybridge's photographs documented specific sequences of motion - typically performed in front of a gridded background to provide for quantitative comparison. The human actions captured in these images were wide ranging: walking up and down stairs, hammering on an anvil, playing cricket, and many everyday activities. Most of these actions were performed by nude or very lightly clothed models - presumably to allow for the study of individual muscle movement. However, the often bizarre and contrived actions in some sequences (most often those depicting women) do lead to speculation that some of these images may have also been used as light erotica. Muybridge used many different models and included himself in at least one sequence swinging a pick.  His assistant Thomas Eakins was also posed for several studies.

Animals were also photographed in the same deliberate fashion: typical motions of a wide range of domestic and wild fauna including horses, goats, cats, dogs, various birds, monkeys, bison, and many other species were documented.  Horse studies occupy an entire volume while the rest are split into one volume of domestic animals and one of wild.

Ask for Rare Book QP 301 .M8 to see the entire set.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Live Free or...

What are the first things a newly formed state does after declaring itself no longer a colony? Establish a government and pass some laws. We have the first Acts and Laws of the State of New-Hampshire published in 1780 that codifies all of the state laws passed between July 1776 and 1780. Given current debates in Concord, it is ironic that among the first Acts passed were ones to enable the state to raise taxes and to regulate marriages.

But it is the title page that is most interesting. Transcribed in full, you can see the book working to establish the authority of the state and declare full independence: Acts and Laws of the State of New-Hampshire in America. By Order of the General Assembly. To which is prefixed, the Resolution of the American Congress, For Establishing a Form of Government in New-Hampshire; and the Resolve of the Provincial Congress, For taking up Government in Form. With the Declaration of Independence. America, Printed at Exeter, in the State of New-Hampshire. M.DCC.LXXX.

The Declaration of Independence casts off New Hampshire's status as a colony, and the Resolution of the American Congress appeals to broader authority. "America," referenced twice, places the state within its larger context as the Revolutionary War was waged.

Our copy is in its original side-stitched paper wrappers as issued in Exeter in 1780. To see it ask for Rare KFN1230 1780 .A22.