Rare Book Highlights: Iowa Private Press books

In honor of National Poetry Month, I am highlighting several private press books that contain collections of poetry. Private presses are run by individuals and are driven less by commercial than personal interests. The works they create have limited press runs, and the goal is to create a beautiful book.

Iowa State University Library has collected the works of a number of Iowa private presses, particularly from those active in the 1960s-80s, and Special Collections holds a related manuscript collection, the Iowa Private Presses Ephemera Collection (MS 414).

Slesinger, Warren. Field with Figurations. West Branch, Iowa: The Cummington Press, 1970. Call number: PS3569.L4 F5

This book of poems by Warren Slesinger published by the Cummington Press in West Branch, Iowa, is quarter-bound with a lovely gray paste-paper with a wavy design. Many private press books use a colophon–a note at the end of the book containing various information about the book and its publication. In early printed books, especially those in the 15th century, the colophon was the only place to find information on the title and author of the work, the printer, place of printing, and date. Today in many private press and artists’ books, the colophon is frequently used to record details about the type, paper, binding, and other physical aspects of the book. In this case, we see that this book is part of a numbered edition–33 of 295 copies–as well as other details about the paper and funding source.

This book is number 33 of an edition limited to two hundred and ninety-five copies, printed on Alexandra Japan paper from Octavian type; its production has been enabled by a grant of money from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Colophon of Slesinger’s “Field with Figurations”.

Sjoberg, John. Hazel & Other Poems. West Branch, Iowa: The Toothpaste Press, 1976. Call number: PS3569.J6 H3

Here is another book with an interesting binding. The colophon indicates that this edition was bound in two different ways. The larger portion was sewn and glued into wrappers, meaning paper covers, similar in weight to a paperback book. Fifty copies, of which this one is numbered 41 and signed by the author, were “quarter bound in Japanese handmade Tomoe paper & cloth over boards by the Black Oak Bindery.” I love this binding. The paper has an almost furry texture, and the swirls have a lovely sheen in the light.

Hazel was designed by Cinda Kornblum; handset by Steve Levine and Allan Kornblum; then printed on Ragston paper in an edition of 500 copies by Allan Kornblum & a treadle-driven Challenge platen press. Of this first edition, 450 were sewn and glued into wrappers; 50 copies were numbered & signed by the author, then quarter bound in Japanese hand-made Tomoe paper & cloth over boards by the Black Oak Bindery. Numbered 41, and signed by John Sjoberg.

Colophon for Sjoberg’s “Hazel & Other Poems.”

Padgett, Ron, and Trevor Winkfield. How to be a Woodpecker. West Branch, Iowa: The Toothpaste Press, 1983. Call number: PS3566.A32 H68x 1983

Here is an example of a book sewn into wrappers. Sewn with a simple pamphlet stitch, I find it elegant in its simplicity. This book contains a series of 5 poems, each illustrated with a whimsical black and white print. These are also signed by the book’s creators.

(c) 1983 by Ron Padgett and Trevor Winkfield. Handset in Optima type by David Duer. This is number 213 of 600 signed copies printed on Ragston paper by Allan Kornblum and D. Duer. Handsewn in Canson wrappers by A.B. signed in black ink by Ron Padgett. Signed in red ink by Trevor Winkfield.

Colophon of Padgett and Winkfield’s “How to be a Woodpecker.”

Slesinger, Warren. With Some Justification: Nine Poems. Iowa City: The Windhover Press, 1983. Call number: PS3569.L4 W5 1983

This understated volume may be my favorite of all. Its textblock has been sewn onto cloth tapes that have been laced into the simple, light gray wrappers.

The nine poems are disguised as dictionary definitions. Above, below, and between the areas of text on each page are sections of uninked type impressions, type layered over type so that is creates a blurred impression. Cleverly, they carried over this idea of the blind-stamping type into the colophon. Half is inked, and half is like a secret message. Can you read it in the image below? (Click the images to view larger.)

Popkes, Wendy. Iowa Couplets. Art and printing by Ladislav Hanka. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Rarach, Press, 1982. Call number: PS3566 O62743x 1982

This book comes out a press from Michigan, but how could I resist including a book called Iowa Couplets? Bound in a paper with bits of grass, it gives a feeling of prairie before even opening the book. It includes a single poem and prints of rows of corn stalks.

I will leave you with the last lines of the poem,

A tall stalk

sprung from the living room carpet,

I become an acre,

a field in their old eyes.


#TBT Forestry

Forestry Student, 1916

Student with pine cones, presumably at Forestry Camp, 1916 RS 09/14, Box 718

Earth Day is coming this Saturday, and we are celebrating with some pictures from the Department of Forestry camp records.  Forestry is currently part of the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, but was part of the Department of Horticulture and Forestry at the time the photos were taken.

Forestry Summer Camp, 1916

Forestry Summer Camp, Glacier National Park, Montana, 1916 RS 9/14, Box 718

Pictures from the Forestry department are a perfect fit for Earth Day.  According to the Iowa State University Forestry website, “The forestry curriculum offers courses dealing with the management of forest ecosystems for multiple benefits including biodiversity, recreation, water, wilderness, wildlife, and wood and fiber. Conservation and preservation of natural resources are emphasized.”

To learn more about forestry camp, please visit this blog post.  Enjoy these photos from over 100 years ago, and have a Happy Earth Day!


#TBT Iowa’s State Parks: Marking 100 Years

13-05-A_Pammel_1026-002-002a

Carl Fritz Hemmings (left) with Louis Pammel (right) (from University Photograph Collection, box 1026)

Today’s Throw Back Thursday photograph is of Iowa State botany professor Louis Pammel with Ledges State Park custodian Carl Fritz Hemmings. This year marks the centennial of the passage of the first state parks act in Iowa, which was approved April 12, 1917. The Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives  plans a summer exhibition, “This movement for a more beautiful Iowa”: The Early Years of Iowa’s State Park System” which will open to the public on May 17.

Iowa’s landscape of native prairie, forests, and wetlands was rapidly disappearing by the early part of the 20th century due to an expanding population and growing agricultural operations. Individuals from across Iowa advocated for the legislature to set aside land to conserve Iowa’s dwindling natural landscapes resulting in the passage of Iowa’s state parks bill in 1917. Iowa State played a central role in establishing the state park system and the state of Iowa soon became a national leader in the state park movement. The exhibit highlights Iowa State’s role in the state park movement.


#TBT Camel at Vet Med

Veterinary_Medicine_College_1963

University Photographs 14/5/B, Box 1273

Today’s TBT photo was taken in front of the Vet Med clinic in 1963.  As you can see, a camel is being led to the building, perhaps for treatment or an examination.  That is quite the departure from the cats and dogs you usually expect to see at the vet’s office!

To learn more about veterinary medicine at Iowa State University, please see our finding aid or stop by the reading room, open 9-5, Monday-Friday.


#HistoryOntheMove @IowaMuseum Traveling RV Exhibit

Last week, the “Iowa History 101” multimedia exhibit housed in a custom built Winnebago RV made its way to Iowa State University. The traveling exhibit comes from the State Historical Museum of Iowa. The RV was parked in front of the Parks Library all last week & library staff volunteered to serve as museum docents. I’ve included their comments and favorite things about the exhibit below.

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From Brad Kuennen, University Archivist

Spent two hours in the RV today. I spoke with one visitor who was surprised to learn that Iowa had a coal mining industry. Personally I enjoyed reading about the different aspects of Iowa history that are on display.

From Kris Stacy-Bates, Science and Technology, Associate Professor, Research and Instruction

I enjoyed learning that Iowa is the best thing since sliced bread—as the home of the patent holder for the first successful commercial bread slicer. My favorite artifact was the crayon-on-fabric prototype for the Iowa state flag. I did wish that exhibit had included a small graphic of the final flag, as a pair of visitors commented that they did not remember exactly how it looks now.

Bonus fact mentioned later in the week: I spotted a reference today to International Space Station news, noting the fact that Peggy Whitson, the Iowa astronaut mentioned in the Iowa History traveling exhibit, is currently on the space station and just completed a spacewalk yesterday:
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition50/index.html
https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/2017/03/30/spacewalkers-successfully-connect-adapter-for-commercial-crew-vehicles/

Dr. Whitson has spent more time in space, and more time on spacewalks, than any other American woman.

From Linda Snook, Resource Sharing and Acquisitions Management, Library Assistant, Collections and Technical Services

The information in the RV display is interesting. I hope a lot of people take the chance to browse the display. I didn’t realize that more Iowans trace their heritage back to German ancestors than any other foreign country. Also, I discovered that the developer of the Eskimo Pie was an Iowan.

From Olivia Garrison, Reference Coordinator, Special Collections & University Archives

I think having a mini-museum on a Winnebago is such a great way to bring history to people who would otherwise not be able to make it to the museum. People don’t have to go out of their way, it’s brought to them!

From Lori Kappmeyer, Metadata and Cataloging, Associate Professor, Collections and Technical Services

One of my observations is that I didn’t realize that some things I grew up with are now considered appropriate for museums. I never imagined that a Cabbage Patch doll, a Game Boy, a Gateway laptop computer and a 1965 telephone would someday be on exhibit as “historic.” Another observation is that I hadn’t realized as a volunteer that we were going to be given so much responsibility for managing the opening and closing of this expensive vehicle on its maiden trip outside of Des Moines. I now know how to arm a security system and check a propane tank, something I had never done before.

From Greg Davis, Assessment and Planning, Assistant Director, Library Administration Services

I liked the “Rose of Sharon” pattern quilt made by Elsie Smith. One of my grandmothers, here in Iowa, was a quilter. I can remember going to her home and seeing her in her rocking chair, working on her latest quilt project. She’s passed on now, but the rocking chair is in my home with one of her quilts draped over it.

I also thought the exhibit about the Consolidated Coal Company in Buxton, IA, was a really good example of how diverse cultures, in this case African Americans and Euro-Americans, have lived and worked together in Iowa.

 

For more information on the traveling exhibit, visit: https://iowaculture.gov/history/museum/exhibits/history-on-the-move.


Rare Books Highlights: Squire on the Longitude

A book open to two pages showing interspered text and rows of symbols.

Pages of Squire’s Proposal showing symbols of her own invention.

Squire, Jane. A proposal to determine our longitude. London: Printed for the author, and sold by S. Cope … and by the Booksellers of London and Westminster, 1743. Call number: QB225 S66x, 1743.

Women’s History Month was established to honor the contribution of women to society, and Jane Squire was not at all shy about putting herself forward as a women with a contribution to make.

Squire was an eighteenth century British woman and the only woman to participate openly when the British Parliament passed the Longitude Act in 1714 that offered a reward to whomever could establish a workable method for determining longitude at sea. Latitude was much easier to calculate than longitude, and the inability to accurately determine a ship’s east-west location sometimes resulted in shipwrecks.

Jane Squire boldly put forward her proposal, expecting it to be taken seriously, even though it was not considered proper at the time for women to engage in navigation and mathematics, especially for monetary gain. In a letter to Sir Thomas Hanmer, published in the book, she counters the objection with a hint of sly wit:

The Term Mathematick, I with great Ease resign to Men; but to count, to measure, &c. which are now generally suppos’d to be included in it; are so naturally, the Properties of every reasonable Creature, that it is impossible to renounce them, and deserve that Honour. (30)

And later she writes, in a frequently-quoted passage, “I do not remember any Play-thing, that does not appear to me a mathematical Instrument; nor any mathematical Instrument, that does not appear to me a Play-thing: I see not, therefore why I should confine myself to Needles, Cards, and Dice; much less to such Sorts of them only, as are at present in Use” (31).

If you are interested in learning more about Squire’s unusual and sometimes difficult life, I highly recommend the blog post, “The Lady of the Longitude: Jane Squire,” from the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Science and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge.

Our copy of Squire’s Proposal is a second edition, bound in leather and decorated with some unusual symbols that seem to be Squire’s invention and can be seen within the text in the image that heads this post. According to the aforementioned CRASSH blog post, this is the common binding for this book, which is interesting at a time when most books were sold unbound.

Shows front cover of book bound in leather with a black circle in the center fo the cover with cross-shaped symbols stamped in gold into the circle.

Front cover of Squire’s Proposal, showing symbols stamped into the leather binding.

Inside the front cover, there is evidence of an interesting provenance, or ownership history, for our copy, indicating that it was owned by at least two notable people.

Inside front cover of a book showing a bookplate in the center with a coat of arms of a birth of pray with wings extended rising out of a crown surrounded by a ring with the words White Wallingwells. Second bookplate is a simple name in white on gray reading Harrison D. Horblit

Two bookplates inside ISU’s copy of Squire’s Proposal.

The round armorial bookplate in the center has the words “White” and “Wallingwells” in the circle and appears to belong to the White Baronetcy of Tuxford and Wallingwells in County of Nottingham, England. Sir Thomas Woollaston White, 1st Baronet, lived from 1767-1816, and could easily have added this book to his library. The plain name plate reading “Harrison D. Horblit” indicates the noted collector of rare books in the history of science, navigation, and mathematics. Horblit is the author of One hundred books famous in science: based on an exhibition at the Grolier Club (call number: Q124 H781o), now a common reference book for rare book collectors and librarians–though it does not include Squire’s Proposal. It is pretty exciting to have a book with such an interesting provenance!

The copy also includes the fold-out summary of the proposal.

Unfolded large sheet of paper with many sections of text and charts of symbols

Fold out summary of Squire’s proposal bound into the front of the book.

This summary gives a visual demonstration of the proposal’s complexity. The CRASSH blog post describes the proposed method as based on “real astronomical research and intellectual trends” but not easy to put into practice. “The scheme centred on dividing the heavens into more than a million segments which could be recognised visually, so that young sailors would not need advanced mathematics, and which were described through a new universal language.”

This book presents an interesting element in the history of navigation and a woman who was not afraid to tread in new paths.

Cited

“The Lady of the Longitude: Jane Squire.” CRASSH blog, Posted 1 Dec. 2014, CRASSH: Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Science and Humanities, www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/blog/post/the-lady-of-the-longitude. Accessed 28 March 2017.


#TBT Iowa State team designs, builds, & races solar cars

Team PrISUm competing in the Sunrayce, July 1990. (Team PrISUm (Iowa State University) Records, RS 22/5/0/30, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.)

The Iowa State University solar car team, Team PrISUm, is a student organization that designs, builds, and races solar cars in the American Solar Challenge (previously known as Sunrayce). ISU Special Collections and University Archives has a collection of the team’s records (RS 22/5/0/30).

The car pictured above finished the 1800+ mile race in just over 109 hours; the winning car, by the University of Michigan, made it in under 73 hours.


#TBT Sigma Alpha Epsilon bunny party

Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members partying in 1978 or 1979. (Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, Iowa Gamma Chapter Records, RS 22/11/2/33, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.)

ISU Special Collections and University Archives has a wealth of information about student organizations over the years. Here is a rare late-70s photo of SAE fraternity members dressed as bunnies and staying out of trouble. The ISU chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (“Iowa Gamma”) was established in 1905. For more images and documents, see RS 22/11/2/33.


National Ag Day 2017

black-and-white photograph, young woman on tractor in field.

Extension photograph from University Photographs

Today is National Ag Day 2017. National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America (ACA), you can check them out on their Facebook page. ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community. The ACA was founded in 1973, and their mission is:

To educate all American’s about the importance of American Agriculture.

In celebration of National Ag Day, check out some of our agricultural collections.

4-H boys and girls posing with their sheep

Extension photograph from University Photographs

Drop in some time to do some research. Our reading room is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


#TBT Spring Break Fashion

swimwear_1917

RS 21/7/9, box 18

To celebrate Spring Break, I present the most fashion-forward swimwear of 1917. 100 years ago, this is what the young ladies of Iowa State may have worn on their beach vacations.  Of course, spring break as we know it now did not exist in 1917, though there was a 3 day Easter vacation.  This picture is a magazine cover found in the collection of covers and fashion prints collected by Mary Barton.  You can browse the digitized images of fashion plates from this collection.

I know everyone will be clamoring to get their hands on this swimsuit! Have fun and be safe as you finish up Spring Break!