Category: holidays

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Some new thoughts for the new year

Here are some New Thoughts for your New Year, courtesy of our extensive collections of seventeenth- through nineteenth-century British pamphlets.  This one was printed in 1796.

IMG_0046The Cheap Repository Tracts series was created by the British poet, playwright, and philanthropist Hannah More, whose writings often dealt with religious themes.  They were printed in large quantities for distribution to the poor.  Although there must have been thousands of original copies, they were ephemera – not meant to be preserved.  Only six copies of this tract are recorded in libraries around the world. 

IMG_0047Many of the tracts deal with people in trades or in domestic service.  This one shows "How Mr. Thrifty the great Mercer succeeded in his Trade, by always examining his Books soon after Christmas, and how Mr. Careless, by neglecting this rule, let all his affairs run to ruin before he was aware of it."  The pamphlet ends with a hymn for the new year.

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Find it in the MERLIN catalog.

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Posted in Rare Book Collection, Special Collections

Halloween Costume Ideas in Special Collections

Are you tired of wearing that same old zombie costume year after year?  Fed up with being lost in the crowd of witches and ghouls?  Special Collections is here to help, with costume inspiration by the book!  Here are a few ideas for Halloween inspired by our collections.

Go Medieval or Go Home

If you're limited on time or materials, you can't go wrong with the Middle Ages.  All you need is a long bathrobe, a large scarf or sheet, a pair of pointy-toed shoes, and a pageboy wig.  Voila!  Tell all your friends you're a character from the Roman de la Rose.  Add a red hat, a fake beard, and a book, and you could be St. Jerome.

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Find a New Trade

Forget dressing up like a doctor, firefighter or astronaut.  How about a Victorian butcher, milkman or baker – or better yet, a cat'smeat-man, park-keeper or waterman?  You could be dressed as a sixteenth-century German piscator or a French marchande de poissons.  The numerous books of occupations and street cries in Special Colllections are a field guide to the merchant and artisan classes from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries.

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Be a Fashion Plate

Halloween and Homecoming are less than a week apart this year, so party like it's 1839.  Fashion magazines like Allgemeine Modenzeitung can give you an idea of what was in style back then. 

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Dress like a Peasant…

Special Collections has numerous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century ethnographic studies of the native dress of Europe, Asia, and the Americas.  Little did those ethnographers know they were creating a treasure trove of obscure Halloween costume ideas for us early 21st-century folk.  Here are a couple of examples of Italian peasant dress.  Choose your time and place; with our collections, the possibilities are endless. 

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…or like Royalty

Of course, if you're more ambitious, you could impersonate a famous king or queen for the day.  How about Elizabeth I?  Or maybe someone from the court of Marie Antoinette

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Embrace the Surreal

Perhaps you're looking for something more, shall we say, fanciful? The work of illustrators like J. J. Grandville and Walter Crane should provide ample inspiration for weird and wonderful costumes of all kinds.

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Or Dress Like your Favorite Author

How about Leonhart Fuchs?  Or Charles Darwin!  Of course, here in Missouri, we're partial to Mark Twain.

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We can't guarantee you'll win any costume contests, but it's a pretty safe bet that you'll be the only one dressed as a sixteenth-century botanist or French fishwife at your Halloween party this year.  Happy Halloween!

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Posted in Rare Book Collection, Special Collections

Emblems of Love are in the Air

Title page

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today we’re taking a look at Emblems of Love by Philip Ayres, a book “dedicated to the ladys” in 1683.

Ayres, a poet and translator, was a tutor to the Drake family and is known primarily in this century for his Lyrick Poems (1687).  However, his Emblems of Love was a well-known success in his own time.  Emblem books generally have engraved images or symbols with accompanying text or poetry, and they were popular during the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  Emblems of Love was one of the last of the genre to gain wide popularity in England.

The images for Emblems of Love feature putti and human beings in various activities, and are based on two earlier works: Amorum emblemata by Otto van Veen (1608) and Thronus cupidinis (1618).  Some of the verses are also borrowed from these sources, although the English versions were composed by Ayres.

A sampling from Emblems of Love:

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Posted in Rare Book Collection
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