Category: engravings

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Amazing Engraved Plates of a Huge Party in Strasbourg, 1744

Louis XV may not have been the most popular king, but when he fell ill and was near death in 1744, his subjects across France prayed dutifully for his recovery.  In October 1744, once he was well enough, the king visited Strasbourg, and the town threw what looks to have been a huge party to celebrate his visit and convalescence.  There were processions through the streets, races, dances, and even fireworks.  These events were all faithfully chronicled by J. M. Weis, "graveur de la ville de Strasbourg," and produced in the nearly monumental format of a large folio with two-page spreads. This is a fete book – a royal souvenir for a royal celebration.


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The MU Libraries copy is still in the original binding, and if you follow our Adopt a Book program, you may recognize it.  William Heyde III recently donated funds to support conservation work, and Jim Downey at Legacy Bookbindery made the repairs the volume needed.  Once the book was in stable condition, we were able to send it to the MU Libraries Digital Services unit. So, thanks to a generous donor, a conservator, a couple of rare book librarians, and several digital imaging and metadata experts, this book is now available to the world.  We think that in itself is cause for celebration!  

Get a closer look at the plates or page through the text in the University of Missouri Digital Library.  Be sure to use the zoom feature to take in the details – the variety of tiny figures that populate these prints is really amazing.

Weis, Johann Martin, d. ca. 1795. Représentation des fêtes données par la ville de Strasbourg pour la convalescence du Roi; à l'arrivée et pendant le séjour de Sa Majesté en cette ville. Inventé, dessiné et dirigé par J. M. Weiss, graveur de la ville de Strasbourg. Paris: imprimë par Laurent Aubert [1745]. MERLIN catalog record

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Posted in Digital Collections, Rare Book Collection

Eighteenth-century artificial limbs, clockwork figurines, boat winches, and more!

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Machines et inventions approuvées par l’Académie royale des sciences, depuis son établissement jusqu’à présent; avec leur description. Dessinées & publiées du consentement de l’Académie, par M. Gallon.  Paris, G. Martin [etc.], 1735-77.

MERLIN catalog record.  Recently restored through the Adopt a Book Program.

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Pietra del paragone politico

This is Pietra del paragone politico by Trajano Boccalini (1556-1613), an Italian political satirist whose writings were influential during the late Renaissance.  Boccalini died before the publication of this work, which is a scathing attach on the Spanish for the treatment of their subjects during their occupation of the Kingdom of Naples.

Like many works that challenged authority, this one was issued with a false imprint for the protection of its printer.  It has a beautiful engraved title page featuring a king talking with a courtier.  It's small – just the right size to be concealed in a pocket.  And, interesting for us (or for this librarian, at least), the endleaves are covered with pen trials.  Find it in the MERLIN catalog, and come by to see it in person.IMG_0060

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Posted in Rare Book Collection, Special Collections

Missale Romanum, 1701

We're always making new discoveries in Special Collections, and this is one exciting find.  This Roman missal was published by the Plantin-Moretus Press in 1701.  It's bound in red velvet with silver clasps and decorations, gilt edges, leather tabs, and red silk bookmarks.  The text is printed throughout in red and black, and there are amazing engravings after works by Rubens. Interestingly, the name of a previous owner is engraved on one of the clasps: "HAC Defresne Possessor – 1817."

There are six copies in WorldCat.  Three, including ours, are in North America (two in the United States, and one in Canada).  The others are in the Netherlands. 







Find it in the MERLIN catalog.

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April Fools! The Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus.

This April Fool’s Day we thought we’d share several editions of Moriae Encomium by Desiderius Erasmus, which, in addition to being a definitive resource on fools and foolishness, has a great Latin pun for a title.

Holbein frontispieceFrontispiece portrait of Erasmus, engraving after Hans Holbein (London, 1709).

Erasmus, More, and Holbein portrait frontispieceFrontispiece and engraved title page featuring Erasmus, More, Holbein, and Folly as a goddess (Leiden, 1715).

Holbein illustrationsThe folly of scholarship, engravings after Hans Holbein (Paris, 1715).

Eisen frontispieceFrontispiece illustration of Folly as a goddess, illustration after Charles Eisen (Paris, 1757).

Eisen illustrationThe folly of drunkenness, engraving after Charles Eisen (Paris, 1757).

Chodowiecki illustrationsVarious types of folly, engravings after Daniel Chodowiecki (Berlin, 1781).

Ward illustrationThe folly of pedagogues, mezzotint by Lynd Ward (New York, 1953).

Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) isn’t the figure one would suppose to be an authority on foolishness.  Ordained as a priest and consecrated as a monk, Erasmus spent his life as a classical scholar, humanist, and theologian.  Although he is best known for theological work, he was also a prolific and engaging author whose works ranged from popular handbooks on children’s table manners to bitter mockeries of Church and state officials.

The Praise of…  More?

Around 1498, Erasmus moved to England, where he met Sir Thomas More, the author of Utopia.  The two men worked together on a translation of the works of Lucian and became close friends. Erasmus moved to Italy to pursue a doctorate in divinity in 1500, but he and More continued to write to each other regularly.

In 1509, Erasmus returned to England and wrote Moriae Encomium during his journey, dedicating it to More.  The title of the work makes an affectionate joke of More’s last name – Moriae Encomium can be translated as either The Praise of Folly or The Praise of More.  Erasmus continued the wordplay throughout the text, parodying the elaborate literary style both he and More would have encountered in their classical studies.

Erasmus considered Moriae Encomium a minor work and was surprised and dismayed at its popularity upon its first publication in 1511.  The work went through multiple editions and translations in his lifetime, and it touched off an entirely new literary genre – the spoof encomium, which became popular among learned Elizabethans.

Picturing Folly

Moriae Encomium also gave rise to an artistic tradition.  The artist Hans Holbein, a mutual friend of Erasmus and More, decorated Erasmus’ own copy of the book with marginal drawings.  Holbein’s humorous doodles were adapted as engravings in a later edition, and they were copied for the next two hundred years.  They have served as an inspiration – or a point of departure – for the generations of artists who have illustrated this text.

The Division of Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books has editions of Moriae Encomium ranging from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries, and many are illustrated.  In addition to Holbein, illustrators include Charles Eisen, Daniel Chodowiecki, and Lynd Ward.  The images above are just a sampling from our collection.  Enjoy!


  1. L’Eloge de la Folie composé en forme de declamation… , illustrated with engravings after the designs of Hans Holbein (Leiden, P. vander Aa, 1715).  RARE PA8514 .F8 1715
  2. L’Eloge de la Folie, illustrated by Charles Eisen (Paris, n.p., 1757).  RARE PA8514 .F8 1757
  3. Moriae Encomium: or, A Panegyrick Upon Folly, illustrated with engravings after the designs of Hans Holbein (London, Printed, and sold by J. Woodward, in Threadneedle street, 1709).  RARE PA8514.E5 1709
  4. L’Eloge de la Folie, illustrated by Charles Eisen (Paris, n.p., 1757).  RARE PA8514 .F8 1757
  5. Moriae Encomium: or, The Praise of Folly, illustrated by Lynd Ward (New York: Limited Editions Club, 1943).  RARE PA8514 .E5 1943
  6. L’Eloge de la Folie composé en forme de declamation… , illustrated with engravings after the designs of Hans Holbein (Leiden, P. vander Aa, 1715).  RARE PA8514 .F8 1715
  7. Das Lob der Narrheit aus dem Lateinischen, illustrated by Daniel Chodowiecki (Berlin: G.J. Decker, 1781).  RARE PA8514 .G3 1781
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Posted in Rare Book Collection, Special Collections
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