Friday, February 22, 2013

Dragons of the Alps

An illustration of a flying, legless dragon or wyrm, breathing fire.We have written before about unicorns being sited in the New World, and a seven-headed hydra in a cabinet of curiosities, but now we find evidence of dragons roaming the Alps. The first edition of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer's Itinera Alpina (London: H. Clements, 1708) contains some fantastic images, but it is the expanded 1723 edition from Lugduni Batavorum that caught our eye. The exhaustive study of the regions in and around the Alps contains a series of images of exotic fauna of the region including several dragons.

An illustration of a three-legged, wingless dragon.
Scheuchzer expressed his doubts about the first-hand accounts of the dragons that he reports, but still chose to include them. Either he held out a romantic belief in the ancient beasts or he hoped they would be sensational enough to heighten interest in his work.

A black and white illustration of a two-legged, wingless dragon or warm startling a man with an axe.
To see the fire-breathing monsters, ask for Rare QH175.S32 Vol. 3-4. The first edition is Rare QH175.S3. Unfortunately, there is no information on how to train the dragons...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Picturing the Past

A black and white photograph of a mostly empty street.
South Main Street
White River Junction, VT
George Fellows was a local photographer who was most prolific in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He owned at least three studios in the Upper Valley area - one in Royalton, VT, another in White River Junction, VT and a third in Claremont, NH. The studio in White River Junction (pictured in the photograph of South Main Street) operated until his death in 1916. Not much is known about Fellows' origins, though it is thought that he may have originally been from Charlestown, New Hampshire.

A black and white photograph of the Gulf Bridge.
Gulf Bridge
Queechee, VT
Rauner Library holds a significant collection of over a thousand early twentieth-century negatives taken by Fellows of the surrounding area. Most of these are dry gelatin glass plates, though a small number are on celluloid. Towns represented in the collection include Canaan, Enfield, Lyme, Orford and West Lebanon in New Hampshire and Ascutney, Fairlee, Norwich, Royalton, Sharon, Thetford, Woodstock and White River Junction in Vermont. The images are typically labeled by place name or building and occasionally include a specific date. They provide a rich visual record of this small section of New England at the turn of the last century.
A black and white photograph of Mascoma Lake.
Mascoma Lake
Enfield, NH
Ask for Iconography 1513.  While the glass plate negatives are available for viewing, they are extremely fragile and we encourage patrons to ask for the modern (and much less fragile) study prints for extensive study and image selection.