Blog topic: Rare books

Carleton Watkins Spotlight exhibition launched

Carleton Watkins. The Wreck of the Viscata. 1868.
May 8, 2020

Among the many great treasures destroyed in the April 18, 1906 earthquake and the fire that followed were the last remaining papers, glass plate negatives, and photographs still in the possession of the ageing Carleton Watkins (1829-1916). This tragic loss is deepened by the realization that days before the massive quake on April 15 Harry C.

Special Collections in Redwood City pivots to digital projects during COVID-19 shelter-in-place

Glynn, Sally, Christy, Alyssa, Gurudarshan, David, Franz, Ann, Annie, Brian, and Laura
April 24, 2020
by Glynn Edwards

In the beginning of March, managers at Stanford Libraries began talking about working remotely and decided to set up shifts in each department – half working two weeks on site and half two weeks remotely. By the 6th of March the teams for our Collection Services group out in Redwood City were assembled, and the first group – Aries – stayed home for their first week. The Libraries were only one week into that first shift, when the state of California and Stanford decided that everyone should shelter at home starting on the 16th. The Aries team was taken off guard - we all were. Although we had discussed and lined up remote projects, not everyone had taken their computer and ergonomic equipment home with them. A few of us went in to grab equipment (desktop computers, monitors, etc.) and forgotten items (like reading glasses!) and drove around making deliveries – not everyone in the Bay Area drives a car! 

Medieval Fragments and Interoperable Books: Recent Webinars from Special Collections

Lisa Fagin Davis Webinar
April 24, 2020
by Benjamin L Albritton

While sheltering in place, the Rare Books Division of Special Collections has been working with colleagues around the country to produce content related to our collections or using technologies that allow sharing digital images across institutions. Here are three recent webinars from that effort:


Hidden treasures: Encounters with binder's waste in Stanford Libraries Conservation Department

Detached cover, visible binder's waste pastedown and sewing cords
April 2, 2020
by Elizabeth Ryan

Sophocles’ trageodiae septem… [Haguenau, France: Ex officina Seceriana, 1534] (Stanford Libraries Department of Special Collections PA4413 .A2 1534).

Sweetness in difficult times

March 23, 2020
by Sarah B Sussman

As we shelter in place, and think about the current political and economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, it is a good time to think about how past societies have responded to times of upheaval. Rachel Waxman, a doctoral candidate in History at Johns Hopkins University, recently spent 3 weeks in Stanford Libraries' Special Collections doing research in the Gustave Gimon Collection of French Political Economy on the sugar crisis during the French Revolution.

Volvelles: the rotating diagrams with some assembly required

Volvelle page 42. Tebalducci, Claudio. Delli dialogi della quantita et del numero delle sfere terrestri et celesti. Roma: Per il Santi, & Comp., 1588.
December 18, 2019
by Ann K.D. Myers

A recently cataloged 16th century astronomy book provides fascinating insight into how a particular kind of diagram was printed and constructed. These rotating diagrams, called volvelles (from the Latin volvere, to turn), were used in both manuscripts and printed books to calculate data related to calendars, tide tables, astronomy, astrology, and more. They typically consist of one or more circles surmounted by other graduated or figured circles or pointers which rotate from a central axis. The circles could be made of paper, cardboard, or vellum, and the pivots were typically made of string or thread. The most common were printed with woodcuts.

Student-curated exhibition on Japanese gardens opens at East Asia Library

Flower arrangement
December 3, 2019
by Joshua Capitanio

Beginning on Dec. 5, the East Asia Library will host "The Japanese Garden: A Historical Account of Japanese Culture and Tradition," an exhibition curated by students in RELIGST 8N: Gardens and Sacred Spaces in Japan, an introductory seminar taught by Prof. Michaela Mross of the Dept. of Religious Studies.