Hands-On Tours

Turn the pages of a rare book, test the weight of a delicate teacup, read from a manuscript. Created especially for visitors who seek an in-depth and focused look at our collection, Hands-On Tours allow you unparalleled access to rare and important items that are not usually on view to the public. Led by a member of our staff, you’ll spend an hour getting up-close and personal with a variety of treasures related to a particular theme, like founding fathers, love letters, Irish authors, and more. Recommended for adults and children eight and older.

Advance Registration
Hands-On Tours are offered almost every Friday and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Advance registration is strongly recommended, as there are a limited number of spots on each tour and tours without registrants 48 hours in advance will be cancelled. Upon registration, you will be asked to purchase your admission and Hands-On Tour.To register, call (215)732-1600, ext. 123 or e-mail rsvp@rosenbach.org.

Drop-in Visitors
Any open spots on a tour will become available to drop-in visitors on a first-come first-served basis at noon on the day of the tour. If you plan to drop-in for a Hands-On Tour, please call (215)732-1600 and dial “0” to confirm that the tour is being offered.

Cost
$5 per person (in addition to the cost of general admission).

Upcoming Hands-on Tours

Cash & Godshaw, photograph of Adolph Rosengarten. Louisville, Ky, 1862. 2006.674
Hands-On Tour
Friday, January 30, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
From the writings of Abraham Lincoln, to the wartime letters of Col. Alexander Biddle of the 121st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, to a Confederate children’s textbook, this tour provides a glimpse into the lives and thoughts of those who shaped and survived America’s worst conflict. More
Incun 491p Lisbon pentateuch
Hands-On Tour
Sunday, February 1, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Scattered among the Rosenbach’s collection of 15th-century, printed books known by bibliophiles as incunabula are among the first books printed in the Hebrew language. Each has its own visual beauty and its own story to tell about early printing in Europe, local cultural tensions, change, and continuity. Whether you are a reader of Hebrew or not, you can engage with these volumes and learn about early works of philosophy and faith, see what makes an Italian prayerbook unusual—as well as rare, in this case—and recognize the difference between an achievement in printing and a triumph. We’ll then venture slightly towards modernity to see how Hebrew books fared in the 17th and 18th centuries. We’ll look at books that originated in modern-day Italy, Portugal, Germany, and the Netherlands, as well as the United States. More
Dracula, Dust Jacket. EL3 .S874d 897
Hands-On Tour
Friday, February 6, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Get up close and personal with Bram Stoker's hand-written notes for the novel as Rosenbach staff discuss what it takes to create an enduring monster. More
George Cruikshank, “Return Again Our England’s Hannibal.”  Hand colored woodcut
Hands-On Tour
Sunday, February 8, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Incomprehensible incantations, mysterious symbols, and sleight-of-hand illusions abound on this tour about the history of magic in print. You’ll be bamboozled by magicians like Hermes Trismegistus and John Dee. Impress your friends with a newfound knowledge of bogus Latin spells and try a beginner’s lesson in “card conjuring.” And along with these enchantments, you’ll get to experience the real magic of a fifteenth century book and an autographed portrait by Houdini in your hands. More
George Cruikshank, hand colored woodcut print. London, ca. 1840. 1954.1880. 3871
Hands-On Tour
Friday, February 13, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Join us for this rare peek into some of the most personal and emotional writing in our collections. From the aching yearnings of poet John Keats to the dying wishes of a Civil War solider, the Rosenbach is home to a variety of love letters More
George Cruikshank, hand colored woodcut print. London, ca. 1840. 1954.1880. 3871
Hands-On Tour
Saturday, February 14, 2015 - 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Join us for this rare peek into some of the most personal and emotional writing in our collections. From the aching yearnings of poet John Keats to the dying wishes of a Civil War solider, the Rosenbach is home to a variety of love letters More
McMullin & Black, Silver Tankard. Philadelphia, 1813. 1970.0004.
Hands-On Tour
Friday, February 20, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
This intimate tour focuses on decorative arts made here in Philadelphia between 1750 and 1850. Visitors will be invited to look closely and to handle selected pieces of furniture and silver as the tour explores issues of craftsmanship, style, and the changing world in which artisans and their patrons lived and worked. More
Washington, George, (1732-1799).Autographed Letter Signed, 1749 May 5, Ferry Far
Hands-On Tour
Sunday, February 22, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
From George Washington’s earliest known letter (he was just 17!) to a meticulously folded page containing a scientific observation made by Thomas Jefferson while he was walking outside on a misty day, this tour offers an intimate view of the Founding Fathers’ writings to family, friends, colleagues, and even themselves. A rare opportunity to know our nation’s icons as real people: fathers, spurned lovers, jealous politicians, intellectuals, and, of course, revolutionaries. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin form the core of the tour. More
James Joyce, detail of Ulysses manuscript. EL J89ul 922 MS.
Hands-On Tour
Friday, February 27, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
The Rosenbach is well known for the works of James Joyce and Bram Stoker, but the “English Literature” collections include many other notable Irish authors as well. In addition to Ulysses and Dracula we’ll read and handle works by some of these others, and look at their connections and influences extending from Thomas Jefferson to Moby Dick to the Internet. More
EL4 D754e 903MS Holmes Empty House
Hands-On Tour
Sunday, March 1, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
The game is afoot to ferret out the realm of detective and spy literature at the Rosenbach. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to explore items including The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Charles Dickens' unfinished novel), an original Sherlock Holmes manuscript, and an album belonging to a female Civil War spy. Synchronize your watches to 1500 hours and join us! More