Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pope's Iliad Revisited

A printed and signed receipt.About a month ago, we announced on this blog the acquisition of the first edition of Pope's translation of the Iliad. That copy was one of 750 printed for the original subscribers who funded Pope's work. We now have in our collection an interesting piece of physical evidence regarding that edition: a receipt for the Duke of Argyle's subscription completed and signed by Pope.

Some people may be surprised to learn that Pope was responsible for managing the subscriptions rather than his publisher. But it was not the book that the subscribers were sponsoring so much as the project. The subscriptions gave the nobility of England an opportunity to practice a kind of national patronage by paying Pope directly and funding him while he completed the translation. That it was Pope they funded, and the Iliad they desired to see wrought into English, shows how the nobility saw themselves, Britain, and the young poet. This was, after all, a country that traced its mythical roots to the Trojan War and was in the midst of building its own massive empire. A truly English version of the Iliad by the nation's most promising young poet was a project worth their attention and patronage.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rudolph in Rauner

A cover for "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."70 years ago, Montgomery Ward Company issued a small paper bound book to its various stores around the country.  The book was a promotional item to be given away for free to kids who came to see Santa Claus.  It was the story of a little misfit reindeer named Rudolph who turned the deficit of a large shiny red nose to an advantage and saved Christmas by leading Santa's sleigh through a foggy Christmas night.

The original story was penned by Robert L. May, Dartmouth Class of 1926.  May, a copywriter for Wards, whose wife was suffering from cancer, conceptualized the story for his daughter Barbara to lift her spirits.  May had always felt that he was a bit of a misfit himself.  He was small and weak, was never picked first for sports teams as a child and never excelled socially, even as an adult.  While his Dartmouth classmates went off to take high-powered jobs, he labored away as a lowly copywriter.  May said that he modeled Rudolph on how he felt about his own life.

A red page reading "Montgomery Ward wishes you a Merry Christmas."May’s boss initially turned down the idea, but May persisted.  He went to his friend Denver Gillen in the art department and asked him to mock up the story. His boss loved the idea.  Wards began distributing the books on November 1, 1939 and quickly passed out 2,400,000 copies.

Production of the books ground to a halt during WWII, but Wards circulated them again in 1946, passing out an additional 3,600,000 copies.  During the writing of the story, May's wife passed away.  He later remarried, but was burdened by the debt he had accrued from his first wife's hospital bills.  At the end of the 1946 run, Wards decided they had milked Rudolph for all it was worth.  At the urging of a Vice President who knew of May's troubles, the Board of Directors turned the copyright over to May on January 1, 1947.
A typed letter on Dartmouth College letterhead.
But Rudolph was far from spent.  In 1948 an eight-minute animated film came out and in 1949, May's brother-in-law Johnny Marks composed the now classic song.  In 1964 the "Animagic" TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer aired for the first time.  It is still the longest running TV special in history.  In addition, May licensed hundreds of Rudolph properties including toys, pens, mugs, music boxes, pajamas and dishware to name just a few examples

In the end, May's own story was more like Rudolph's story then he would have guessed when he first sat down to write it 70 years ago.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Charter Day!

A handwritten charter.Or Why We are Dartmouth College, not Dartmouth Academy or Dartmouth University - The Rev. Eleazar Wheelock was a very pious, and ambitious, man. On August 22, 1769, he wrote to John Wentworth, Governor of the Province of New Hampshire, forwarding a draft of the charter for the institution he hoped to establish. In the postscript he wondered if it would be possible to use the word College rather than Academy in the document. Apparently it was; on December 13th of that year, Wentworth signed the royal charter that did "by these Presents will, ordain, grant and constitute that there be a College erected in our said Province of New Hampshire by the name of DARTMOUTH COLLEGE."

In 1816, the state of New Hampshire passed "An Act to Amend the Charter and Enlarge and Improve the Corporation of Dartmouth College" which, among other things, called for an expanded board of overseers and renamed the institution Dartmouth University. Not surprisingly, the existing Board of Trustees felt the act did not improve the corporation and filed suit against the state. This case ultimately resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of the College which has had long reaching impact on contract law, and most likely on the name of the institution.

Friday, December 11, 2009

World War II at Dartmouth

A black and white photograph of men in uniform on the lawn.What was it like on the Dartmouth campus on December 7, 1941?  The idyllic campus setting was shattered by the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the sheltered life of a Dartmouth undergraduate was about to be altered for the duration of the War and years beyond. 

Immediately following Pearl Harbor, college and university professors, students and administrators all over the nation joined or were called to military service and America's traditional four-year college experience became a casualty of war. With the draft age lowered to 18, many young men could not enroll in college - much less earn a degree - before entering the military. Adjusting to the consequent shortage of college-educated commissioned officers, the U.S. Navy developed a way to combine college education with military service: the Naval Indoctrination Training School and the V-12 Naval Training Program.

Dartmouth became host to the largest of the Navy's V-12 units. On July 1, 1943, some 2,000 enlisted men and an officer staff came "on board" at the College, including 300 students from Dartmouth and 74 from Thayer School. The College and its three professional schools accelerated their curricula and shifted to three-term, year-round operation. Fraternities closed, Winter Carnival was canceled, the Daily Dartmouth ceased publication and rationing was put in place. Civilian students were outnumbered three to one on campus. Run on military time, with reveille at 6 am and taps at 10 pm, Dartmouth operated like a naval base for the duration of the war.

Listen to descriptions of life on campus during the war from the undergraduates who were here and who went to war -- the "Greatest Generation" -- at "The War Years at Dartmouth: An Oral History Project."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rauner Manuscript Codex 003203

A collection of photographs showing the cover and interior of an antiphonal.What is an antiphonal? How big could they make manuscript books in the 16th Century? What are some ways music was represented in the 16th Century? What might work well in a Harry Potter movie? We acquired an item that may answer several of those questions at once.

This antiphonal dates from about 1525-1575 and is approximately three feet by two feet. The original cowhide binding is sewn on seven bands of cords laced into wooden boards with decorative brass bosses with scroll-designed furniture and has two fore-edge metal clasps. The text is in Latin. The item presents staff notation with staves in red and bar lines in yellow.

Antiphonal, Antiphonary, or Antiphoner. Properly the Roman Catholic Church’s collection of traditional plainsong antiphons, but the use of the word has become more comprehensive and it now generally means the book containing all the traditional plainsong for the Divine Office, in distinction from the Gradual, which contains all the plainsong for the Mass.
(The Oxford Companion to Music, 9th ed.)

The Latin term antiphona was borrowed directly from Greek, where it meant the octave. In the first century C.E., antiphona was used in the East to describe singing of two choirs in alternation, one of men and one of women (presumably singing an octave apart), and subsequently it referred simply to psalmody consisting of the alternation of two choirs. By the 4th century, when the term was first used in the West and when St. Ambrose introduced antiphonal singing there, antiphona referred, as it has in general since, to a melody that accompanied the antiphonal singing of a Psalm.
(The New Harvard Dictionary of Music)

Rauner's BIG antiphonal.

Friday, December 4, 2009

John Brown and the "Secret Six"

The first page of a handwritten letter.150 years ago this week, the radical abolitionist John Brown was hanged for treason after his raid at Harpers Ferry. His views and subsequent execution made him a martyr for many in the North, and Harpers Ferry was one of the sparks that set the fires of the Civil War burning.

Rauner Library holds an extraordinary letter from Thomas Wentworth Higginson written to Brown in November 1859 while he was awaiting execution.  Higginson was a member of the "Secret Six," a group devoted to assisting Brown by raising money for the Harpers Ferry insurrection and, later, money for Brown's family. This letter reports on a visit Higginson paid to Brown's family and obliquely refers to a plot by the "Secret Six" to break Brown out of prison:
"God bless you, my friend. You know us and we know you. We have not given up the hope of seeing you face to face again. But should we never do it, we will not desert your children."

A handwritten page.Higginson was the only member of the "Secret Six" not to flee the country after Brown's capture. A 19th-century man-of-letters, he went on to lead an all-black regiment in the Civil War, become editor of The Atlantic Monthly, and, in later years, edit the first edition of Emily Dickinson's Poems.

Ask for Rauner Manuscript 859608 to see the original in Rauner.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Diamonds are Forever

A cover for Fleming's "Diamonds are Forever," showing the jaw and décolletage of a woman, with a large diamond in her dress's neckline. When you think of secret agents, who springs to mind?  For many it's James Bond, Ian Fleming's charismatic spy 007 with his "license to kill."  Diamonds are Forever (London: Jonathan Cape, 1956) is the fourth book in the series and follows Bond's escapades as he tracks down the leaders of a smuggling ring with the assistance of Tiffany Case - the obligatory "Bond girl."  The catch phrase "shaken, not stirred" makes its first appearance here in a dinner scene with Bond and Case.

As with many of the Bond novels, the film adaptation features a radically revised plot and characters.  Ask for Rare Book PR 6056 .L4 D52 1956 to read the original and find out what was changed in the film version.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A French Perspective on the American Revolution

An illustrated page of text showing Liberty at the signing of the Treaty of Paris.This recently acquired collection of engravings commemorating the American Revolution was published as Recueil d'estampes representant les differents evenemens de las guerre qui a procure l'independance aux Esta unis de l'Amerique (Paris: Ponce & Godefroy, circa 1784). It depicts scenes of battle, highlighting those where French forces played a role and is the first French book to mention the United States in its title. Pictured here is Liberty being ushered in (carrying the banner of Louis XVI and Charles III) at the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

Ironically, our copy once belonged to Caroline, duchesse de Berry.  Caroline lead her own failed rebellion in 1832 against King Louis-Phillipe in an attempt to place her son on the throne. She was arrested and exiled to her native Italy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

American Cookery - Happy Thanksgiving!

The title-page for "American Cookery."The earliest known recipe combining turkey and cranberries appeared in Amelia Simmons' American Cookery: or, the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables. And the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes, From the Imperial Plum to Plain Cake. Adapted to This Country and All Grades of Life.  In this first cookbook written by an American for American consumers, Simmons calls for the use of ingredients specific to North America such as cornmeal from American maize. American Cookery also introduced the use of pearlash, an early non-yeast leavening agent and a precursor to baking powder.

This early edition (Walpole, N.H. : Printed for Elijah Brooks, 1812) provides the following recipes for some traditional Thanksgiving dishes.
To Stuff and roast a Turkey or Fowl
One pound soft wheat bread, three ounces beef suet, three eggs, a little sweet thyme, marjoram, pepper and salt, and some add a gill of wine; fill the bird therewith and sew up, hang down to a steady solid fire, basting frequently with butter and water, and roast until a steam emits from the breast, put one third of a pound of butter into the gravy, dust flour over the bird and baste with the gravy; serve up with boiled onions and cranberry sauce, mangoes, pickles or celery.
A color illustration of a turkey.

No. 1. One quart stewed and strained, three pints milk, six beaten eggs, sugar, mace, nutmeg and ginger, laid into paste No. 7, or 3, cross and chequer it, and bake in dishes three quarters of an hour.
Ask for NH Imprints, Walpole 1812b to see other early American recipes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Poems and Heaths of New England

A cover for Emily Dickinson's "Poems," stamped with a bunch of flowers.After Emily Dickinson's death, her editors, Mabel Loomis Dodge and T. W. Higginson, selected a sampling of her poetry from the voluminous manuscripts she left behind. In their introduction to Poems by Emily Dickinson (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1890), they described the poet as "a recluse by temperament and habit, literally spending years without setting her foot beyond the doorstep." They graced the cover of the book with a stand of indian pipe flowers stamped in silver. It was an conscious choice meant to convey a specific meaning that helped to establish the popular conception of Emily Dickinson.

This past week we acquired a contemporary description of the indian pipe in the privately printed The Heaths of New England.  Next to a dried specimen of the indian pipe the text, poetical in its own right, states:
Among the dark tall hemlocks this pale herb lifts its flower which is of the same hue as the stem.  Plants which have chlorophyll prepare their food from the crude inorganic elements of the earth and air.  This is therefore a root parasite, living on the juices elaborated by some other plant.
Ask for Val 816 D56L211 to see Dickinson's Poems; White Mountains QK495 E68 H35 1880z for The Heaths of New England.

Friday, November 13, 2009


An illustration of Winnie-the-Pooh in bed, as a heffalump holding a jug of honey floats above him.According to the introduction of A.A. Milne's classic story, Winnie-the-Pooh's name was a hand me down from a swan.  Milne writes "...we took the name with us, as we didn't think the swan would want it anymore.  Well, when Edward Bear said that he would like an exciting name all to himself, Christopher Robin said all at once... that he was Winnie-the-Pooh."

Here is Pooh from the first edition (London: Methuen and Co., 1926) dreaming of Heffalumps and honey.  Ask for Sine Illus S44win to see this favorite.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Woodcuts at the Hood

Two pages of woodcuts, showing many figures among a cityscape.Do these two woodcuts constitute the earliest printed image of Jerusalem? Recently acquired by the Hood Museum of Art, the prints are dated to around the 1460s. They are the only known surviving fragments of what was a much larger depiction of the cycle of the Passion, originally composed of twelve sheets measuring about 44 by 44 inches. The images and xylographic inscriptions refer to a number of scenes from the Life of Christ, other saints, and pilgrimage routes. The entire arrangement would have likely served as a visual aid on the walls of a church or convent to guide the viewer on a spiritual journey.

A woodcut showing a walled city.The iconography and identification of specific buildings, as well as the spatial representation of the city, are similar to the images and inscriptions published in the Liber chronicarum, also known as the Nuremberg Chronicle, of 1493—a copy of which can be found in Rauner Library. In each case the Dome of the Rock, the Qubbat as-Sakhrah (completed in 691 C.E.), is inaccurately identified as Solomon’s Temple. The woodcuts can be viewed by students and faculty members at the museum, while the early publication is available in Rauner Library.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pope's Iliad

A detailed illustration of the shield of Achilles, decorated with many figures.Dartmouth Special Collections Library recently acquired a first folio edition of Alexander Pope's translation of The Iliad. Published serially in six volumes between 1715 and 1720, The Iliad is among Pope's best-known works outside of his own poetry. In its day, these volumes added considerable polish to his reputation as the greatest poet of his age. Today this work offers considerable insight into early eighteenth-century English print culture.

Dartmouth's copy is among 750 printed for an elite subscription list. This edition is significant for its place in the Pope corpus and in his biography. Notable for the beauty and care taken in its printing and illustrations, the commercial success of this publishing venture that made Pope a wealthy man. Proceeds of the folio edition allowed Pope to retire early and take up residence at his storied villa in Twickenham.

Pope was not the first to translate The Iliad into English. Several others, notably George Chapman in the sixteenth century, produced earlier works. Pope's version was well regarded in its day for historical-literary methods he employed. He consulted and cited the work of previous translators and commentators in his "Observations" section that followed each book of the poem. These considerations did not stifle the poetic inspiration that led him to diverge dramatically from the original text. Among his innovations, Pope converted the epic poem into then-fashionable iambic pentameter. The result was a text distinctly his own -- decried by some as idiosyncratic or ill-conceived, celebrated by others, most notably Samuel Johnson, as an unparalleled 'performance.'

Pope's Iliad includes the poem, commentaries, several indices and illustrations including a depiction of the famous shield of Achilles, the shield used in his epic battle against Hector. The Homeric description of this shield wrought by Hephaestus, the Greek god of metalwork, is an example of the ancients' penchant for ekphrasis -- the rendering or referencing of one artwork in another. The etching in the Pope edition at Book 18 participates in this tradition, and is a stunning work in its own right.

One volume appeared each year over the six-year subscription cycle beginning in 1715. Printed by William Bowyer for Bernard Lintot, the first Pope edition sold out in advance of the first printing. In fact, the subscriber list appears in the text itself, a strategy that benefited patron and publisher alike. Pope's contract stipulated that he would receive a fee for each of the folio copies. Copies of the original contract still exist and form the basis for much of what is known about innovations in literary commerce in the eighteenth century. Lintot produced several subsequent editions in smaller versions at price points that enabled those who could not subscribe to the initial printing to purchase their own.

Posted for Mark Melchior.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Florence Nightingale

A color-coded chart showing causes of death by month, with death by disease leading over injury or other causes.With the health care debate raging all around us, it seemed like a good idea to mention Florence Nightingale, arguably the most famous nurse of all time. Her experiences in the military hospitals in the Crimea were first published in Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and hospital Administration of the British Army, Founded Chiefly on the Experience of the Late War (London: Harrison and Sons, 1858) in which she graphically illustrates that the chief cause of death during the war was not military action, but rather preventable disease. In the chart shown here, the blue represents death by disease, red is death by wounds, and black all other causes as recorded from April 1854 to March 1855.

Nightingale's observations formed the basis for her seminal work Notes on Nursing: What it is, and What it is Not (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1860). This was the first book of its kind and in it, she advocates for simple, modern rules of nursing and health care for both professionals and the lay person.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Occult Philosophy: Happy Halloween!

The figure of a nude man with his limbs positioned to overlap an enclosed pentagram. Various planetary signs a placed on the image.Published as a single volume in 1533, these three books, collectively known as De occulta philosophia libri tres (Köln: Soter, 1533), are the fruits of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's study of occult philosophy.  Written over a period of at least twenty years,  they outline Agrippa's thoughts on the theory, practice and history of ritual magic and it's relation to religion, medicine and other disciplines.  This volume was published without any indication of a printer's name or a place of publication as it had initially been denounced as heretical.

Shown here is one of several figures from book two which illustrates Agrippa's discussion of the perfection of man.  In a sequence of images he describes how man's physical form relates to perfect geometric shapes, significant numbers, astrological signs, stars and divine names.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Brut Chronicle Online

A color scan of a page from the Brut chronicle, including two decorative initials in red and blue.

We are happy to announce that Dartmouth's Brut Chronicle is now available online in two formats (one for easy browsing and one for closer inspection). The Brut Chronicle was composed in Anglo-Norman sometime after 1272, then extended to 1333, and, finally, in about 1400, translated into English. The Dartmouth copy includes second continuation, believed to have been written around 1430, that extends the account from 1377 to 1419.

The Brut is a fascinating history of Britain starting with the exile of Brutus and his subsequent conquering of Albion. It establishes the lineage of the kings and includes historical information now considered factual alongside the legendary tales of Merlin and King Arthur.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dartmouth Night

A black and white photograph of a bonfire on a lawn.Started in 1895 by President William Jewett Tucker, Dartmouth Night was originally a recognition of accomplishments by alumni of the college and a time to initiate freshman into the community.  Over the years, the celebration has come to include the traditional bonfire, homecoming events, and a football game.  Shown here is the bonfire from 1911 - one of the earliest images of the event.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Flayed Angel

A color plate showing a seated woman from behind, glancing over her shoulder. The skin of back has been cut and pulled to the side to reveal the muscle and bone beneath.Art, science, misogyny, or all three? Whatever the verdict, there is something undeniably shocking and ghoulish about the "Flayed Angel" -- one of many plates found in Jacques Fabian Gautier d'Agoty's lavishly illustrated Suite de l'Essai d'anatomie en tableaux imprimés (Paris: Gautier, 1745). The juxtaposition of the detailed anatomical dissection and the corpse's almost coquettish glance over the shoulder leaves the viewer with a sense of unease and disquiet. Knowing that the corpse was almost certainly that of a convicted felon whose body was sold after death adds to the macabre nature of the illustration.

Ask for Rare Book QM 535 .G377

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wild Things in Rauner

A sketch of one of the Wild Things, inscribed to Alicia from Maurice Sendak.With Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are back in the news, it seemed like a good time to revisit The Morton E. Wise Collection of Maurice Sendak presented to the Library in 2007 in recognition of the tenth anniversary of the Roth Center for Jewish Life at Dartmouth College. The collection is filled with first editions of most of Sendak's works up to the the late 1970s and also includes some spectacular original art. But, some of the best treats to be found in the collection are the small illustrated inscriptions by Sendak that grace the flyleaves on many of the first editions. Pictured here is one of the "Wild Things" giving a Halloween "boo" sketched onto the front flyleaf of Sendak's 1963 classic.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Frankenstein Illustrated

An illustration showing Victor Frankenstein standing in a doorway, looking with alarm at his creature, a muscular, nude man reclining on the floor over a skeleton. One of the most familiar Halloween characters is that of Frankenstein's monster. The popular conception of the monster has changed over time from Boris Karloff's iconic portrayal to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. However, the first image of the monster dates to the third edition of Mary Shelley's classic (London: Colburn & Bentley, 1831) in which the monster is depicted by artist Theodor von Holst.

Come see Rauner's recent acquisition of the single volume "popular" edition, in which readers were first presented with a visual portrayal of an icon of modern horror.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Compendium Musices

A page of musical notation, set within the outline of a hand.Thanks to a generous donation three years ago, we have in Rauner Library a mammoth sixteenth-century antiphonal (a manuscript book containing the choir’s part of the mass). The manuscript, produced in Spain for export, has been affectionately dubbed "the fifty cow book" because it demanded so much parchment for production.

This week we acquired a very small companion piece: a contemporary instructional manual for learning choral chanting: Compendium musices (Venice: Lucantonio, 1513).  Besides giving us insights to how our antiphonal was sung, the book is also a fine example of early printing of musical notations.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Northwest Passage

An illustration of a ship stuck in ice.A few weeks ago, two German ships sailed from Vladivostok to Rotterdam via the Northwest Passage -- a trip envisioned for centuries but only made practical in recent years. The quest for this path to riches connecting Europe and the East occupied the imaginations of European traders for centuries. Our expansive Stefansson Collection on Polar Exploration now boasts a late-16th-century volume devoted to three voyages in search of the Northwest Passage by Willem Barentsz: Vraye Descriptions de Trois Voyages (Amsterdam: Cornille Nicholas, 1598). Barentsz, with Gerrit de Veer on board the third voyage, explored the north and made important observations on region’s climate and fauna with a special emphasis on Polar bears. He theorized that the sun's rays shining on the northern regions for six months each year would stifle any ice formation above a certain latitude and create an easily navigable open polar sea. The theory had currency for hundreds of years and fueled the search for a short, easily navigated trade route to the Orient.

The Northwest Passage was not successfully completed until Roald Amundsen traversed it over 300 years later in 1903.

Friday, September 25, 2009

13th-Century Manuscript Bible

A page from a medieval manuscript featuring an elaborately illuminated initial which runs the length of the page.This week we were fortunate to acquire an illuminated Vulgate Bible manuscript produced in Paris ca 1230-1240.  Portable, single-volume Bibles containing both the Old and New Testaments were an innovation of the early-13th century, and Paris was the major manufacture center for these Bibles.  This manifestation of the bible created a new way for the clergy and some wealthy lay people to interact with the text.  Rather than the "books" of the bible, this single-volume format helped to create the Book that most people today know as the Bible.

The copy we have just acquired is a somewhat lavish production, but one where the text takes primacy.  There are over 80 illuminated initials, many of them containing grotesques.

The manuscript will be available for use in Rauner Library immediately after its arrival sometime in mid October.

October 7 update: it's arrived and is ready to use!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Inauguration Day

A color photograph of an elaborate silver cup, bowl, and medal, arranged on a black display cloth with plaques.In honor of Dr. Jim Kim's inauguration as the 17th president of Dartmouth College, we present three treasures from the College Archives central to the ceremonial life of the College.


The Dartmouth Cup was made in 1848 by Robert Garrard, proprietor of a London firm with a long history of creating fine silver for British monarchs. It was originally acquired by the fourth Earl of Dartmouth, becoming part of the family silver, until presented to Dartmouth College by the ninth Earl in 1969, at the College's bicentennial celebration.

Since 1983, the Dartmouth Cup has been carried by the College Usher, immediately following the head marshal who leads the academic procession. In this way, the College honors the connection between Dartmouth and the earldom, dating back to the 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, whose benefaction was acknowledged by the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock through the naming of his new college.


In August of 1771, Dartmouth College held its first Commencement exercises, graduating four students. New Hampshire's Royal Governor, John Wentworth, and his entourage of sixty, traveled to Hanover from Portsmouth to attend, much of the journey on rough roads and trails through wilderness.. To mark the significance of the occasion, Governor Wentworth presented a silver monteith to the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock and "to his Successors in that Office."

One of only three known Colonial American monteiths in silver, the Wentworth Bowl, created by Daniel Henchmen and engraved by Nathaniel Hurd, is the historic symbol of the Dartmouth presidency, and will be passed from President James Wright to President Jim Yong Kim at the inauguration ceremonies.


During a trip to Europe in 1785 to solicit funds and acquire apparatus for the College, President John Wheelock received this gold and silver medallion from London broker and silversmith, John Flude. It carries the motto "Unanimity is the Strength of Society" on a relief depicting the Aesop fable of the old man and his three sons attempting to break a bundle of sticks, which could not be broken if held together, but could be broken alone.

When in academic attire, the President of the College wears the Flude Medal as a symbol of office.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Comic Book in America

We have just acquired what is believed to be the first comic book printed in the United States: The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck (1842). Originally published in French in 1837 as Les Amours de M. Vieux Bois, this work is considered by historians to be the first graphic novel.

In its original form, Swiss illustrator and author Rudolph Töppfer depicted the fictional Monsieur Vieux Bois in pursuit of an elusive "ladye love" through a series of sequential drawings with accompanying captions. Over 40 pages and 188 etchings, the hero's amorous adventures take him across land and sea through one mishap after another. He fails even in several comic attempts at ending his own life.  But by story's end, the hero has vanquished his rivals and overcome all obstacles. He appears in the final frame at the church altar with his betrothed beside him, "a happy denouement." The captions pre-date the word-balloons used in later comic book format but it is the images that guide the reader through M. Vieux Bois's travails not the text.

The publication history of the text is less straightforward. Töppfer created and printed the story originally in 1827 for friends in a small press run. Later in the 1830s, a Parisian publisher Aubert printed at least two versions using two sets of engravings inspired by Töppfer's originals. In 1841, a British version -- with English language text -- appeared.  New engravings appear in this edition, and the American version -- the one that Dartmouth holds -- reproduces those British printing blocks. The Anglo-American edition credited the work to a pseudonymous Timothy Crayon, the "gypsographer," that is, the creator of the images using a specially prepared gysum paper.

An illustration with the prominent title "The Adventures of Mr. Obidiah Oldbuck," featuring a large, smiling man doffing a tricorn hat from behind a sign featuring further text. He is outside and there are a number of people and animals engaged in various activities around him, including a man leaning out of a window on the left side of the illustration, reaching for the hat.Adventures marks Oldbuck's only appearance in print. Unlike most serial comics today, there were no sequels.  He does re-appear in other domains. In one instance, Union Army colonel and Civil War chronicler Thomas Wentworth Higginson invokes Oldbuck in his war diaries.

Dartmouth's holdings also include the first comic book written by an American. The Special Collections Library also holds a copy of The Fortunes of Ferdinand, the first graphical novel written in the United States.

Posted by Jay Satterfield for Mark Melchior

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Beat Classic at 50

A cover for Burrough's "Naked Lunch" with white and red text on a yellow-toned background.
Naked Lunch or The Naked Lunch? We have this Beat Generation classic covered both ways with our recent acquisition of signed first edition copies of William Burroughs's groundbreaking novel in its original French and American editions. Olympia Press, a Parisian publisher of pornography and avant-garde literary novels was the first to press with The Naked Lunch in 1959. An American publisher in New York, Grove Press, printed its own version in the same year known simply as Naked Lunch.

So which is it? Burroughs would later claim that the Parisian publisher added the article in question. He would also credit Kerouac with the idea for the title, and elaborated on its significance. "The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork."

A cover for Burrough's "The Naked Lunch" with yellow text on a purple and beige background with black designs.
Dartmouth's acquisition highlights other important differences in the two editions. First, they represent slightly different manuscripts. Burroughs wrote most of the material that would become Naked Lunch in Tangiers. When Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac visited him there, both men helped Burroughs to edit the manuscripts that became Naked Lunch. The two published versions represent Ginsberg and Kerouac’s interventions.

In the case of the American version, Naked Lunch became a cause célèbre after it was banned in Boston on grounds of obscenity. That ruling was later overturned by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and the case would help to settle obscenity laws related to literary works. The case would also elevate Burroughs’s celebrity to a status enjoyed by his Beat buddy Kerouac and Norman Mailer, an important defender of Naked Lunch in the Massachusetts court case.

Both copies were purchased on the Doris Benz Fund.
Posted by Jay Satterfield for Mark Melchior