Our Will Rogers, c. 1953
Homer Croy, the author of “Our Will Rogers”, was an MU student from 1903-1907, where he was heavily involved in the publication of the school yearbook, the Savitar. Although Croy did not graduate from the University, he achieved great success as a playwright and novelist. In 1956, Elmer Ellis, the University of Missouri President, bestowed Croy with an honorary degree. Elmer Ellis donated this copy of “Our Will Rogers” to the University library. This volume gives us a wonderful peek into the friendship between Croy and Ellis. Throughout the book there are many notes and clippings from Croy to Ellis, which seem to be a gathering of inside jokes and friendly jabs. One can imagine what witty response Croy received in return.
Victoria, Queen of Great Britain
Leaves from the journal of our life in the Highlands, from 1848 to 1861…
This published journal contains excerpts from the personal accounts of Queen Victoria in the mid-19th century. Perhaps one of the most interesting details about this particular volume is the signature on flyleaf. It reads, “To Robert Downie from Victoria Queen. Sandringham Jan. 2 1872”. Scottish-born Robert Downie was a “footman” or “equerry” to Victoria’s son, Prince of Wales. Downie’s duty was to support the Prince in official duties and private life and may have also been responsible for the Royal horses. Downie, 47 years old at the time, must also have held a high rank in the military as it was a requirement of employment.
In the signature, Queen Victoria notes, Sandringham, a privately owned Royal residence located in Norfolk, England. The property was purchased in 1862, however, the Queen made her first visit to Sandringham in 1871, only a year before the book was signed.
De arte gymnastica…, 1577
This title loosely translates to “Of Jerome Mercvrialis the Art of gymnastics of book six: in which exercises of all kinds of ancient, places, modes, faculties. In short, whatever pertains to the exercises of the human body, carefully explained.”
Six books on the art of gymnastics is the oldest known book on physical culture and sports medicine. This particular book has survived 437 years and has a story to tell. Throughout the book there are many bookworm trails, brown foxing, tears, and a broken spine. By the looks of it, the life of the book seems to have been pretty rough, but useful. There are notes and underlining by a reader, possibly used as a study tool, but what is most interesting are the images. Classically inspired plates show images of men wrestling, fighting, bathing and exercising throughout the volume. It appears someone with access to the book took ink to paper, covering many of the male figures’ pelvic areas. We can only speculate why this was done. Could it be someone felt the images were not modest enough and were compelled to censor the images? Is the defacing akin to a more modern prank, such as drawing a mustache on a photograph? Was someone just plain bored? The reason may remain a mystery.