Category: Rare Book Collection

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The one and only Mark Twain autograph in Special Collections

A letter from Samuel Clemens to journalist Walter Williams, who served as the founding dean of the Missouri School of Journalism in 1908, and was University of Missouri president from 1931 to 1935.

March 4/94

Dear Mr. Williams:

I shouldn’t be able to do it, for if I should be in America in July it would be on business & my time would be fully occupied. I am leaving for Europe day after tomorrow. The compliment of your invitation gratifies me exceedingly & I want to thank you for it notwithstanding I am debarred from taking advantage of it.

I seem to have written this letter to you before; or something like it. But surely that is not possible.  I don’t know how I get the impression; & yet it is a quite strong one.

Truly Yours

S. L. Clemens  

This letter is pasted onto the front endpaper of Walter Williams’ personal copy of Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World - one of a couple of notable copies of that text in Special Collections.  Take a look at the catalog record for information on the others.  The text on the photo frontispiece is printed, not handwritten – but you can compare Samuel Clemens' signature to that of Mark Twain.

Twain_letter_2 Twain_letter_3 Twain_photo_1

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Posted in "In one touch"--books with autograph, Rare Book Collection

Dogs, Jackals, Wolves and Foxes, and an Adopt a Book program update

St. George Jackson Mivart was a well-known nineteenth-century English biologist. He served as Vice-President of the Zoological Society twice (1869 and 1882)and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his work On the Appendicular skeleton of the Primates. This work on animals in the canine family is filled with woodcuts and 45 hand-colored plates drawn from nature by J.G. Keulemans.  Mivart examines the anatomy of canids from the Mexican lap dog to the common wolf, and just about every variety in between.  

This book recently received conservation treatment through the Adopt a Book Program.  Before conservation, the book and plates were so fragile that they could not be scanned without risking further deterioration.  Thanks to conservator Jim Downey and donor Robin Wenneker, the book is now available to all in our reading room.  I'll be updating the Adopt a Book record to reflect the conservation work in a day or two, but in the meantime, I couldn't wait to share this sampling of the book's beautiful plates.

Mivart, St. George Jackson, 1827-1900. Dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes : a monograph of the Canidæ by St. George Mivart ; with woodcuts, and 45 coloured plates drawn from nature by J.G. Keulemans and hand-coloured. London : R.H. Porter : Dulau, 1890. MERLIN catalog record

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Posted in Rare Book Collection

Special Collections at the Movies: Hercules

This week's post is by Shelby Wolfe, a Special Collections undergraduate assistant.

While Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson might not be the first person who comes to mind when pondering the classical humanities, his portrayal of Hercules in the most recent film version about the mythological demi-god might spark your desire to delve far back into classical mythology. If so, check out these Hercules-related materials at Special Collections.


Hercules has entertained generations of adventure-loving readers and listeners for centuries. From pottery and poetry to compendium and comic book, illustrated depictions of the mythological hero are typically easy to identify – a large, muscular man often wielding a bulky club and donning a characteristic lionskin.

This plate in Andrew Tooke’s 1806 edition of The Pantheon details the hero’s attributes. Covered in a lionskin, the main image features Hercules resting his club on the ground. Two roundels above provide a closer inspection of the club and lionskin.


Likewise, this illustration from Tooke’s 1844 Pantheon shows Hercules outfitted with his attributes. In addition, two roundel inserts depict Hercules in the midst of his Twelve Labors – slaying the Nemean Lion (the source of his lionskin attire) on the far left and his battle with the Lernaean Hydra on the far right.


For a more modern depiction of the famed hero, take a closer look at this comic book from 1984. Hercules: Prince of Power features a monstrously muscular title character intent on saving the Marvel universe from rebel military forces in the year 2385.


Whether it’s the 8th century BCE or 2385 CE, Hercules is sure to be flexing his muscles somewhere. 

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Posted in Comic Collection, Rare Book Collection

Special Collections and Rare Books

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