Friday, April 3, 2015

A Haggadah for Seder

A woodcut illustration of a group traveling on foot, surrounded by printed Hebrew text.We recently purchased a rather extraordinary Haggadah printed in Pisa in 1806. It is interesting to think of the original audience for this particular book: a group of Tuscan diaspora Jews in the early 19th century. What was the Seder like where this Haggadah was first present?

What makes this edition so exciting are the eighty woodcut illustrations that take the reader through all phases of Passover.

A set of four woodcut illustration accompanied by Hebrew text. They show a woman engaged in various domestic tasks including cooking and building up a fire.
It starts with the preparation of the household with woodcuts showing a woman readying her home for Passover followed by the Seder itself.

A series of twelve woodcuts accompanied by Hebrew text, showing the progression of a Seder.

Then, the Haggadah presents the annual retelling of the liberation of the Jews from Egypt. It is a beautifully illustrated epic.
A woodcut showing a series of devil-like figures releasing plagues.

A woodcut showing two figures in bed inside their home, while outside three figures seem to lament over babies in a river.
To see the book, ask for Rare BM675.P4A3 1806.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Along the Connecticut

A color photograph of a dirt road framed by trees and greenery.
Setting out on the journey
We have so many things that are really cool, but that we know almost nothing about. Take this one for example, Along the Connecticut 1912.  It is a photo album of scenes from the Upper Valley and around Dartmouth campus. The only information we have is the title on the spine with the year and a stamp indicating that it was bound by Alex. Moore, Binder, 11 Hamilton Pl. Boston. Who assembled this?  Who hand tinted most of the photographs?  Who paid to have such a luxurious binding, complete with glassine interleaving for each image? There is no gift plate, and no indication that it was done at Dartmouth.  The only thing we know is that the person who did it loved the area and had money to make it look great.

A black and white photograph of Webster Hall.
Our own Webster Hall
A color photograph of a graveyard.
The somber, romantic end
As the ice breaks up on the river, come in and enjoy some beautiful summer views "Along the Connecticut" by asking for DC History F12.C7 A46.