Friday, January 12, 2018

Lost Their Marbles!

A favorite example of beautiful marbling Paper marbling is a beautiful and tricky art form that is often used to create endpapers for book binding. The marbled design is made by floating paint on the surface of water and running a comb or other tool run through it to create the specific pattern. Some marbling is even made by blowing through a straw to manipulate the paint! A sheet of paper or fabric is then laid across the top of the water to absorb the colors.

Coming in a wide range of colors and designs, marbled endpapers are a great surprise treasure to find in a book. And the addition of a marbled paper makes a book more unique; like tie-dying a shirt, no two endpapers will come out exactly the same, even if they are made using the same colors and pattern.

A less impressive example of paper marbling from "The world's worst marbled papers."We have one book in our collection that includes several marbled papers, but not as part of its binding; this is a book about marbled papers, titled The world's worst marbled papers : being a collection of ten contemporary San Serriffean marbled papers showing the lowest level of technique, the worst combinations of colors, and the most inferior execution known since the dawn of the art of marbling. Containing only 10 marbled papers, the book also includes a lengthy introduction about the art of marbling, as well as the author’s alleged journey through San Serriffe in search of marbled beauty. The book is definitely intended to be satire – San Serriffe isn’t even a real place, after all. But it does provide a backward account of the elements of marbling that make it so popular; the combinations of colors and the intricate designs are not only aesthetically appealing, but also a marvel of artistic creation.

Actually, many of the endpapers in this book aren’t entirely unattractive, even if they are maybe a little less impressive than many of the more complex or skillfully executed works of marbling. Some, though, really are terrible color combinations and abysmal technique, resulting in some ugly endpapers. To see some marbling that actually captures the height of the art, check out our Instagram account @raunerlibrary on #marbledmondays! To see The world's worst marbled papers ask for Presses B532mow.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

In Flew Enza

Hand-drawn map of campusOn September 22, 1918, young Clifford Orr wrote home to his mother about the first weeks of his Freshman year at Dartmouth. In his four-page letter, he complains of the lack of a writing desk, invites her for a visit to watch the "Fresh-Soph" rush (a fairly brutal hazing ritual), and talks about how his math class is going to be "fierce!" He even includes a hand-drawn map of campus. It is a lovely letter from a clever, chatty son to his mother.

Orr mentions that some students are worried they might be coming down with the Spanish Influenza. The epidemic that started one-hundred years ago this March killed between fifty and one-hundred million people worldwide and was particularly devastating for people in their early twenties, so this was a serious matter. Orr appeared undaunted, unless he was using humor to hide his fear, or perhaps just trying to keep his mother from worrying. Making light of it, he scribbled out a little verse for his dear mother's enjoyment:
I had a little bird and his name was Enza,
I opened the cage and Influenza.
Verse quoted above
Orr actually became sick with the Spanish flu later that year, but survived. He went on to have a successful career as a writer for the New Yorker. His letters home are a treat. You can see them all by asking for MS-532, Box 1.