Friday, January 6, 2012

The World of Tomorrow

An accordion book showing a scene of people in a park.The 1939 New York World's Fair, "Building the World of Tomorrow," was a grand spectacular celebrating progress. It optimistically looked forward to a future where science and technology would usher in a world of ever growing prosperity and peace. World War II, concentration camps, and the atomic bomb would chill this notion, but in 1939, as the Great Depression waned, the fair's theme resonated with the American public.

This souvenir peepshow created by Elizabeth Hale and the famous type designer Warren Chappell, offers the viewer a glimpse of the utopian future: the fair itself. The book's structure allows it to collapse then fold out like an accordion to create depth.

The accordion book from a side angle.
Come take a peep by asking for Rare GV1525.H3 W6 1939

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Association Copies

A Charles Dickens bookplate.Sometimes a book is exciting not so much for its contents but because of its past: the places it has been or the hands that once held it. This copy of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (London: John Murray and John Mayor, 1830) is in our collections not because it is a particularly rare edition, but because its bookplate makes it highly collectable: it belonged to Charles Dickens.
The title page and frontispiece for a copy of "The Pilgrim's Progress."
In other cases, rare editions, valuable in their own right, take on a magical quality because of a simple bookplate or signature. Here is Henry James' copy of the first edition of Swift's Gulliver's Travels (London: Benj. Motte, 1726), and William Morris' copy of The Story of the Moste Noble and Worthy Kynge Arthur (London: Wyllyam Copland, 1557). While it is easy to think of Morris enjoying Malory, it is more challenging to imagine how Dickens read Bunyan or James dealt with Swift.

The signature of Henry James.
A title page and frontispiece for "Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World."
A William Morris bookplate.
A title page for "The Story of the Moste Noble and Worthy Kynge Arthur."
You can see them all by asking for Val 826D55 FB9 (Bunyan) Rare PR3724.G7 1726c (Swift), and Rare PR2043.W5 1557 (Malory).