Maps, Codex, Manuscripts, Incunabula, & Book Arts

Objects in these categories are notable for their physical features in addition to their intellectual content. Maps in the collection indicate not only what was known about the world from the 16th through the 19th centuries, but what different users needed to know, presented in formats suited to their varying circumstances. About two dozen codex manuscripts, many of them illuminated, represent the arts of the book in Europe before printing, and nearly 100 incunabula are among the earliest examples of European movable-type printing. Other books, such as a complete set of Kelmscott Press titles, were collected as beautiful specimens of the book arts. Beyond their aesthetic qualities, bindings, illuminations, illustrations, and typography can also reveal the ways in which books were made and used, providing insight into topics like trade practices and education in the societies from which they came.

Collection Highlights

Curiosa Mathematica, Part I: A New Theory of Parallels

Better known for his works of fiction, published under the name Lewis Carroll, Charles Dodgson also published under his own name in his academic specialty of mathematics. In the rare geometry text  A Theory of Parallels, published in 1888, Dodgson presents his own ideas on Euclid's parallel axiom.

Libre de les dones

Dr. Rosenbach styled himself a descendant of the early Spanish printer Johann Rosenbach, and actively acquired books printed by him. This volume is one of the first printed books to feature a true title page (most books at the time began with an index). The woodcut gives all of the…

Tabula festorum mobilium cum canone

This medieval “belt book,” an almanac and medical reference guide, was once carried by a physician on a cord attached to his girdle. Written on parchment, each sheet is folded in sixths, and is fastened to the others by a narrow “tail” at its base. The book includes a calendar,…

Related Posts

The Trials of William Blake in Three Books

Some good news for William Blake fans: the William Blake Archive is online, and our Recent Acquisitions from the Bequest of Maurice Sendak exhibition has been extended through May 28, so you have another month to feast your eyes on some of Blake’s most beautiful engravings. The three works by Blake on display in our …

The Marvelous World of Meggendorfer’s Moving Books

Did you know that pop-up books have been around for hundreds of years? The earliest examples of movable books — some as early as the thirteenth century! — were used for adult education. Books on subjects ranging from human anatomy to artistic perspective used tabs, flaps, and fold-outs to illustration information that was best conveyed …

The Knight of the Folding-Stick

Here at the Rosenbach we celebrate all things bookish.  Our latest exhibition, The Art of Ownership: Bookplates and Book Collectors from 1480 to the Present, celebrates the many wonderful bookplates throughout our collections and uses them to delve into the biographies of book collectors/owners.  I happened to stumble upon another curiously self-referential book about books …

Confessions of an Intern: Book Arts & Confessio Amantis

Greetings bibliophiles! My name is Sony Mathew, an intern who has been working in the collections department at the Rosenbach as part of the Arts Intern program hosted by Studio in a School. The program allows undergraduate students such as myself to experience what it would be like to work at a museum. This summer …

New Book Arts Tour on Sunday!

Do you know what a rubricator does? Or what a morocco binding looks like compared to Russia leather. Have you ever gotten up close with a medieval manuscript or a Kelmscott Press book by William Morris? All this and more is part of our new Book Arts Hands on Tour, being offered for the first …

Ulysses Throughout the House

Today is the day after Bloomsday, but I wanted to squeeze in a Bloomsday blog post anyway. (Technically,since the day described in the book ends after midnight, maybe June 17 could be grandfathered in a little?) This year we extended our Bloomsday festival into the historic house: facsimiles of passages from the manuscript were spread …

Gravelot

This week’s blog post comes to us from collections intern Rebecca Schott. Hubert Francois Gravelot was a French illustrative artist during the early half of the 1700’s, and is credited with bringing the French Rococo style to English decorative art. Gravelot began his career by studying art in Paris and Rome but eventually settled on …