At first glance, though, it kind of looks like they were wearing matching crocheted outfits. I don’t know that such a thing has been done before, but based on the number of images I can find of crocheted chainmail and horses in sweaters, it seems entirely possible.
I was in the Rubenstein Library the other day, reviewing the condition of some of the bound Ethiopic manuscripts for a research request, when I noticed something interesting going on at the fore-edge of one book.
It turns out that small lengths of colored thread have been sewn through the fore-edge of specific leaves to mark beginning passages of text.
I often see other examples of textblock “wayfinding” through the use of notched pages (otherwise known as a “thumb index”), leather index tabs, or even library patrons affixing their own post-it notes in circulating books – but I was, until now, unfamiliar with the fore-edge tassel. For books with parchment leaves, this seems like a very durable and effective page marking method. They certainly add a little more festive cheer than the typical brown leather tab.
We’ve written before about book publishers’ novel and sometimes misguided attempts at including additional media in bindings (see Robots 1:1). Many new acquisitions to the circulating collection include supplementary images, audio, or video on CD, and they often come to Conservation Services for a pocket that can be physically attached to the book to keep all the parts together.
Night Falls on the Berlin of the Roaring Twenties (2018) is a wonderful graphic exploration of the cultural and technological “golden age” of the Weimar-era, immediately proceeding the rise of National Socialism. Illustrations by Robert Nippoldt, accompanied by texts from Boris Pofalla (translated by Ida Hattemer-Higgins), profile prominent individuals and places in the city.
To complete the experience, an audio CD of music from that period is included inside the rear board – and here is where the book design really shines.
The rear paste-down features a print of a “cathedral style” table-top radio. The CD is printed to match the design of the radio and mounts to round plastic knob, rather than being stored in a plastic case or paper pocket. The audio track list is printed on the adjoining flyleaf as if it were coming from the radio.
But the best part is when you remove the CD to reveal the vacuum tubes and other internal components of the radio! We like to complain about modern structures and design in book publishing, but in this case they really got it right.
Despite the library (and campus in general) feeling very quiet and empty this past year, there has actually been a lot going on. Library exhibits are no exception and there are currently two really wonderful shows up and available by appointment in the building. Plans are already underway for bigger and more exciting events in the fall. This very large and sturdy crate containing a loan for an upcoming show just arrived this week. Stay tuned for more details!
One of the perks of working in a university library is that you will regularly encounter some very strange and delightful things. The item that checked that box for me this week was the Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini.
It was pretty obvious why it came in to the lab for repairs. The cover to textblock attachment was way too weak for the size of the book.
The text held a number of surprises, though. This illustrated encyclopedia, written in some imaginary language, contains images of all kinds of crazy stuff. The illustrations cover everything from animals, …
… to fashion, …
… , to elaborate machines and architecture.
It even has some suggestions for activities to occupying your free time.
If you are a fan of mysterious illustrated books, like the Voynich Manuscript or the Rohonc Codex, then Codex Seraphinianus is probably worth a look. Once we’ve had a chance to reattach the case, of course.