Travel Thursday – The Great New York

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Front cover of The Great New York - Pennell (1911)

The Great New York – Pennell (1911)

One of the world’s top tourist destinations, New York has been attracting travellers for many years.  This week’s Travel Thursday looks at the Big Apple from two uniquely different perspectives; that of a poet and that of an artist.

Australian born critic and poet, W.J. Turner (1889-1946) moved to London to pursue writing in 1907 and alongside friend, Siegfried Sassoon, became a member of the Georgian poets group when his work was published as part of a Georgian Poet anthology (Hawkes, 2004).  Turner visited New York in the 1920s and penned a short travelogue detailing his time there, giving his thoughts on the city and all manner of related topics including, the wonderful character of American women, the Americanisation of Europe and advice on the perfect piece of luggage, the American trunk:

a trunk which stands upright, can be pushed along on rollers, fits in beside the driver of a taxi […] so easily accessible that he need never unpack during his whole journey.

American artist, Joseph Pennell (1857-1926) was an eminent etcher and lithographer, who championed and revived the art of print making in the early 20th Century (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2016).  Although he travelled widely, Pennell lived in New York from 1918-1926 (Library of Congress, 2016) and created several beautiful drawings of the city.

For Pennell, New York was the ‘Unbelievable City’, a marvel of the modern world owing to its immense size and towering buildings, which are beautifully captured in his sketch of the city’s magnificent skyline.

New York Skyline by Pennell

New York Skyline by Pennell

Turner too is immediately in awe at the sight of New York on the horizon; on his arrival he proclaims:

There is no thrill at the end of any voyage upon this planet like the thrill at the first sight of New York rising like a bed of rock crystals out of the sea.

However, on closer inspection, Turner’s opinion of the city is not always the most enthusiastic, the smell he ascribes it for example is, “a blending of ice-cream and patchouli – a sickly mixture,” and he describes the general atmosphere as a terrifying mixture of noisy traffic and towering sky scrapers

Building a Skyscraper - Pennell

Building a Skyscraper – Pennell

that vomit, “from six to ten thousand people into the street,” all accompanied by a constant series of explosions caused by the underground work on subways and building foundations.  The heavy building programme in New York during the 1920s was also captured by Pennell, though instead of complaining about the noise he marvels at the speed at which the skyscrapers are completed:

The work goes on by night as well as by day. A few months will see a skyscraper in place, equipped and occupied.

Statue of Liberty - Pennell

Statue of Liberty – Pennell

Both men also differ on their views of the iconic Statue of Liberty; for Pennell it is an “effective feature,” which “greets the incoming ships from the sea” while for Turner, the statue is decidedly, “stumpy and ungraceful.”

Turner further complains about his subway journey, describing the carriages as, “small, cheaply fitted, sordid, and uncomfortable,” whereas Pennell praises the linked elevated railway as a “pleasant mode of conveyance outside the rush hours.”  However, despite his spirited complaining, Turner does give some interesting insights into the New York of the 1920s, for example although he dislikes the experience; he does explain how the subway system works:

The Elevated - Pennell

The Elevated – Pennell

To get quickly up-town it is necessary to take the subway.  You go underground.  There is an office where you can get change and then, putting in a nickel (five cents), you pass through clanging turnstiles on to the platform.  There are no ticket collectors nor porters.

and he provides this description of the newly implemented, modern marvel – traffic lights:

Red and green lamps are placed on pillars at these intersections and by them traffic is regulated.  In broad daylight up until 2a.m. these green and red lights are flashing in the streets.  All the accidents – as a taxi driver explained to me – take place after 2 a.m.

Also, according to Turner, one of the advantages of such a large city that swarms with people is the anonymity and indifference afforded to its visitors:

There is in New York no public opinion, no curiosity.  The complete impersonality of the big hotel and the big store where no one watches you to see that you spend something is very soothing.

Although only small details, you begin to get a vivid impression of a busy, crowded city that is full potential and growth.  It is a city of the future and indeed it inspired Turner to philosophise about progress and the future of cities and civilisation.  In his musings Turner even predicts the invention of mobile phones:

it is possible for me to predict that in much less than a hundred years from now one will be able to speak to any person in any part of the world by just taking a wireless receiver and transmitter out of one’s coat pocket.

Overall, regardless of its traffic and noise, both Turner and Pennell recognised that it is the architectural beauty of New York that really shines, it is a city designed to inspire and amaze and delight:

sketch of Cortland Street Ferry and the Brooklyn Bridge by Pennell

Cortland Street Ferry and the Brooklyn Bridge by Pennell

The sky-scrapers were slender pinnacles of light, across the river crawled in every direction ferry-boats that were just many-tiered electric palaces, and Brooklyn was one vast blaze netted with dark lines glittering beside the water.

 

Sources:
  • Pennell, J (1911) The Great New York. London: T.N. Foulis [Reserve 917.47 PEN]
  • Turner, W.J. (1929) A trip to New York and a Poem. London: Mandrake Press [Reserve 821.912 TUR]
  • Jacquetta Hawkes, (2004) ‘Turner, Walter James Redfern (1889–1946)’, rev. Sayoni Basu, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36589, accessed 24 Aug 2016]
  • Library of Congress, (2016) Drawing (Master). Available from:http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/drwgma/pennell.html
  • Encyclopedia Britannica (2016) Joseph Pennell.  Available from: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Joseph-Pennell

 

Event: Why read Mills & Book romances?

On the 8th day of Christmas, my library gave to me...8 Mills and Boons (from our Mills and Boon library)

Val Derbyshire, PhD student at the University of Sheffield, is giving two public lectures at Sheffield University’s Festival of the Mind in which she will explore the literary value of Mills & Boons romances. On Saturday 17 September there will be a panel discussion between 1 and 2pm, followed by the lecture at 2pm, and on Thursday 22 September the lecture will run from 4:45pm.

The University of Reading holds the Mills & Boon publishers’ archives. The collection consists of the editorial correspondence of both John Boon and Alan Boon, script registers, publicity material and some administrative records, and a large proportion of the back catalogue of Mills & Boon books.

 

Ready, Set, Bake: Recipes from the 18th and 19th Century

Front piece from Henderson's 'The Housekeeper’s Instructor' c.1800

Front piece from Henderson’s ‘The Housekeeper’s Instructor’ c.1800

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

In honour of the return of much loved T.V. show ‘The Great British Bake Off’ we’ve pulled together some wonderful recipes and baking tips from our favourite 18th and 19th century cookbooks.  Despite their popularity and the handy tips provided by the authors, I have to admit, some of these recipes seem trickier than a Bake-Off Technical Challenge but if you do brave tackling one or two, let us know how you get on!

There are several things necessary to be particularly observed by the cook, in order that her labours and ingenuity under this head may be brought to their proper degree of perfection.

(Henderson, c.1800)

 

Cakes

The author of the following recipe, Maria Eliza Rundell, became a household name in cookery when she published, ‘A New System of Domestic Economy’ in the early 1800s.  The title became an instant best seller, “with almost half a million copies sold by the time of Mrs Rundell’s death and remaining in print until 1886,” (Holt,1999).

Although this recipe suggests baking the cakes in tea-cups, Queen Cakes were often baked in a variety of shaped tins, one of the most popular shapes being that of the heart (Day, 2011).

Queen Cake Recipe - Rundell, 1822

Queen Cake Recipe – Rundell, 1822

Queen Cakes – (Rundell, 1822)

Mix a pound of dried flour, the same of sifted sugar, and of washed clean currants.  Wash a pound of butter in rose-water, beat it well, then mix with it eight eggs, yolks and whites beaten separately, and put in the dry ingredients by degrees; beat the whole an hour; butter little tins, tea-cups, or saucers, and bake the batter in, filling only half.  Sift a little fine sugar over just as you put it into the oven.

 

Biscuits

Our next recipe from Kettilby (1719) is the Ratafia Cake, a macaroon like biscuit that takes its name from the flavourings used.  The word Ratafia, meaning liqueur, “came to denote almost any alcoholic and aromatic ‘water.’” (Boyle, 2011)

To make Ratafia-Cakes – (Kettilby, 1719)

Ratafia Cake Recipe - Kettilby, 1719

Ratafia Cake Recipe – Kettilby, 1719

Take eight ounces of Apricock-Kernels, or if they cannot be had, Bitter-Almonds will do as well, blanch them, and beat them very fine with a little Orange-Flower-Water, mix them with the Whites of three Eggs well beaten, and put to them two pounds of single-refin’d Sugar finely beaten and sifted; work all together, and ‘twill be like a Paste; then lay it in little round Bits on Tin-plates flower’d, set them in an Oven that is not too hot, and they will puff up and be soon baked.

 

Bread

Maria Eliza Rundell suggests that her bread roll recipe is just as good as that found at Sally Lunn’s in Bath, which is quite the claim as Sally Lunn’s highly popular bun achieved legendary status in its day, (Sally Lunn’s, 2016).  You can judge for yourself however, as Sally’s buns can still be enjoyed at her old house in Bath.

Excellent Rolls – (Rundell, 1822)

Bread rolls recipe - Rundell, 1822

Bread rolls recipe – Rundell, 1822

Warm one ounce of butter in half a pint of milk, put to it a spoonful and a half of yeast of small beer, and a little salt.  Put two pounds of flour into a pan and mix in the above.  Let it rise an hour; knead it well; make into seven rolls, and bake in a quick oven.  If made in cakes three inches thick, sliced and buttered, they resemble Sally Lumm’s, as made at Bath. The foregoing receipt, with the addition of a little saffron boiled in half a tea-cupful of milk, makes them remarkably good.

 

Desserts

In the preface to, ‘A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery,’ Kettilby laments the unintelligible nature of many of the recipe books that came before hers, “some great Masters having given us Rules in that Art so strangely odd and fantastical, that it is hard to say, Whether the Reading has given more Sport and Diversion, or the Practice more Vexation and Chagrin, in spoiling us many a good dish, by following their directions.”  Hopefully, her recipe for ‘the best orange pudding ever tasted’ will be a piece of cake to follow!

The best Orange-Pudding that ever was tasted – (Kettilby, 1719)

Orange Pudding Recipe - Kettilby, 1719

Orange Pudding Recipe – Kettilby, 1719

PARE the Yellow Rind of two fair Sevil- Oranges, so very thin that no part of the White comes with it; shred and beat it extremely small in a large Stone Mortar; add to it when very fine, half a pound of Butter, half a pound of Sugar, and the Yolks of sixteen Eggs; beat all together in the Mortar ‘till ‘tis all of a Colour; then pour it into your Dish in which you have laid a Sheet of Puff-paste. I think Grating the Peel saves Trouble, and does it finer and thinner than you can shred or beat it: But you must beat up the Butter and Sugar with it, and the Eggs with all, to mix them well.

 

 

Pastries

When it comes to tackling pastry, William Augustus Henderson had a number of great tips in his bestselling guide from the late 18th century, ‘The Housekeeper’s Instructor’, including how to avoid the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’:

One very material consideration must be, that the heat of the oven is duly proportioned to the nature of the article to be baked.  Light paste requires a moderate oven; if it is too quick, the crust cannot rise, and will therefore be burned; and if too slow, it will be soddened, and want that delicate light brown it ought to have.

Once you’ve mastered the oven temperature you’ll be ready to bake this delicious treat:

Rasberry Tart – (Henderson, c.1800)

Raspberry Tart Recipe - Henderson, c.1800

Raspberry Tart Recipe – Henderson, c.1800

ROLL out some thin puff-paste, and lay it in a patty pan; then put in some rasberries, and strew over them some very fine sugar.  Put on the lid, and bake it.- Then cut it open, and put in half a pint of cream, the yolks of two or three eggs well beaten, and a little sugar.  Give it another heat in the oven, and it will be fit for use.

And finally, just in case you need to know how to get that thin puff-paste for your raspberry tart, here’s Maria Eliza Rundell to the rescue:

Rich Puff Paste – (Rundell, 1822)

Weigh an equal quantity of butter with as much fine flour as you judge necessary; mix a little of the former with the latter, and wet it with as little water as will make into a stiff paste.  Roll it out, and put all the butter over it in slices, turn in the ends, and roll it thin: do this twice, and touch it no more than can be avoided.  The butter may be added at twice; and to those who are not accustomed to make paste, it may be better to do so.

 

What makes these cookbooks particularly lovely is evidence that they were well used and well loved.  The

Autograph inscription in 'A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery.' Kettilby, 1719

Autograph inscription in ‘A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery.’ Kettilby, 1719

autograph inscriptions hidden inside ‘The Housekeeper’s Instructor,’ (Henderson, c.1800)  show it was a treasured family heirloom; given first to Helen Leachman by her Aunt Jane in 1879 then to Emma Leachman by her mother, June in 1825.  Sophia Ann Leachman’s name also appears on top of the first page.  Meanwhile ‘A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery.’ (Kettilby, 1719) proved such a hit with Martha Kerricke, that she married the man who gifted it to her!

It’s lovely to see that baking and great recipes are things we continue to treasure and share- happy baking all!

 

Sources:

National Allotment Week: Top tips for green fingers!

Wright, and Wright (c.1909) The Vegetable Grower’s Guide.

Wright, and Wright (c.1909) The Vegetable Grower’s Guide.

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

 

It is not uncommon for inexperienced people to be guilty of omissions in providing for the establishment of a garden which strike horticulturists as almost ludicrous.

(Wright and Wright, 1909)

In honour of National Allotment Week we have dug up some handy horticultural tips from our collections to help turn us all into green-fingered gardeners!

 

 

Let’s start with some basics:

Tip #1: Setting out your plot the right way can make a big difference:

“All kitchen garden students should be taught the simple rule of arranging their plots so that the rows of vegetables run north and south.  This permits of sun rays getting free access to the rows.  When they run east to west the sun is kept from the inner rows by the outer ones in the case of tall crops.” (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Wright and Wright (1909) also suggest that a parallelogram shaped plot is best and emphasise not to forget planning in space for paths when designing your allotment garden!

 

Gardening Tools (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Gardening Tools (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Tip #2: Always have the right equipment for the job!

“Garden equipment cannot be provided without expense, and it is wise to face what is entailed resolutely.” (Wright and Wright, 1909)

There certainly is a lot to consider but this helpful illustration (right) should help you know your dibble from your bill-hook!

 

Tip #3: Make sure your plants get enough water at the right time:

When it comes to watering plants, Moore (1881) cautions that, “it is a wrong though common practice to press the surface of the soil in the pot in order to feel if it is moist enough, this soon consolidates it, and prevents it from getting the full benefit of aeration.”

While Garton (1769) helpfully adds, “whilst the nights are frosty water your plants in the morning; in warm weather water than in the evening, before the sun goes down.”

 

Now we have the hang of the fundamentals, how do we go about growing some vegetables?

Carrots (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Carrots (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Tip #4: Getting the soil right is very important!

According to Moore (1881) the enrichment of soil is often overlooked so when planting onions for example, remember, “a portion of good soil should be provided for each plant, and heavy mulchings of manure should be placed upon the surface as soon as practical after planting to prevent the soil becoming dry and parched.”

While for carrots, Wright and Wright (1909) suggest that, “the land best suited […] is unquestionably a deep, sandy loam. […] They are best grown after celery or some other fibrous-rooted crop for which the ground was manured the previous year.”

 

Tip #5: Not any old carrot will do, make sure yours are the cream of the crop with this advice from Wright and Wright (1909):

“Thinning is of the first importance, as on it turns not only the question of getting shapely roots, but also of baffling the maggot.  […] Carrots should always be thinned twice; the first time a few days after they have come through, the second when they are about the size of radishes.”

To make sure your carrots are a rich bright red, try mixing soot and wood ashes “into the drills when the seed is sown.” (Wright and Wright, 1909)

 

Tip #6: Protect your plants and keep garden enemies at bay:

To fight against an attack by slugs and snails, Wright and Wright (1909) suggest that as, “they are principally night feeders, […] an attack can be stopped by looking over the beds at night with the aid of a lantern, dropping any slugs into a jar of brine.  Lime dusted round the outsides of the bed will stop the approach of fresh hordes.”

 

Onions (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Onions (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Tip #7: Harvest your crops with care:

You have chosen the right soil, fought off the slugs, tended your plants with care and it’s finally time to reap your rewards but while some vegetables can be easily pulled up Wright and Wright (1909) suggest a different method for large onions:

“The authors find it a good plan to gently heave the best bulbs from side to side with the hands day after day for a week, breaking a few roots each time, and thus bringing growth to a standstill by degrees.  This answers much better than forking them straight out of the ground at one operation.”

 

Great advice, now what should we be doing in our allotments during August?

In his, ‘The Practical Gardener and Gentleman’s Directory, for Every Month in the Year,’ Garton (1769) makes some useful suggestions:

  • “Cauliflower-seed to produce an early crop next summer must be sown between the 18th and 24th of this month, which will be ready to plant under frames in the last week in October, to remain there till the latter end of February, or beginning of March.”
  • “Weed and keep clean the asparagus beds, and the plants sown in the spring. Do this work with the hand only.”
  • “Sow carrots for spring use. Do this in the 3rd or 4th week of this month, and don’t sow this seed too thick.”
  • “This being the season for pickling cucumbers; they must be well watered in dry weather, three or four times a week; and be gathered at proper sizes three times a week.”

Finally, according to Mrs Loudon (1870), August is “about the best time of the year to visit famous gardens, one of the best ways of improving our knowledge of the art of gardening.”

Frontpieve from 'The Complete Gardener' by Thomas Mawe and John Abercrombie, 1854 [MERL LIBRARY RESERVE--4756-MAW]

Frontpieve from ‘The Complete Gardener’ by Thomas Mawe and John Abercrombie, 1854 [MERL LIBRARY RESERVE–4756-MAW]

You can find more advice on allotments and growing your own food at the National Allotment Society webpage.

 

Sources:

Moore, Thomas (1881) Epitome of Gardening. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black [MERL LIBRARY RESERVE–4756-MOO]

Wright, J. and Wright, H. J. (c.1909) The Vegetable Grower’s Guide. London: Virtue and Co. [MERL LIBRARY RESERVE–4752-WRI]

Garton, James (1769) The Practical Gardener and Gentleman’s Directory, for Every Month in the Year.  London: E and C Dilly [RESERVE– ]

Mrs Loudon (1870) The Amateur Gardener’s Calendar.  London: Frederick Warne and Co. [RESERVE–635-LOU]

All items are available upon request.

Travel Thursday: Thomas Thomson in Sweden

Sweden map smWritten by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

This week’s Travel Thursday takes us to Sweden with eminent scientist Thomas Thomson.  As the first teacher of practical chemistry in a British university and an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (Morrell, 2004) it is no surprise that much of Thomson’s travelogue has a scientific focus.

In particular, Thomson devotes a considerable amount of his work to mineralogical observations and detailed descriptions of the mines he visits on his journey.  One such mine is the copper works at Fahlun, one of the oldest in Sweden, which Thomson describes as being 200 fathoms deep and constructed, “according to very scientific and sound principles.”  The maps accompanying his description are wonderfully detailed and were “copied from a very accurate set of charts of this mine, constructed by Baron Hermelin.”  Interestingly, the mine remained open until 1992 and is now a Unesco World Heritage site

Perpendicular section of the copper mine at Fahlun

Perpendicular section of the copper mine at Fahlun

(Falu Gruva, 2014) meaning travellers to Sweden today are still able to tour the mines as Thomson did over one hundred years ago!

 

Thomson’s scientific interests were also piqued during his time in the Swedish capitol, Stockholm.  In particular, he remarked that the Academy of Sciences, “deserves to be visited by every scientific foreigner who goes to Stockholm.”  It does indeed sound like a fascinating place with an interesting variety of objects. For example, among their collections could be found a piece of bread which in “some parts of Norway and the north of Sweden is made of the bark of trees.”

Elsewhere in Stockholm, Thomson also marvelled at the curious collections in the Arsenal, especially the “the clothes and hat worn by Charles XII when he was shot in the trenches before Frederickshall,” which remained bloodstained from the fatal wounds. He visited most of the churches the city had to offer but did “not consider it as worthwhile to give a particular description of them,” and finally found the perfect spot to view the city – a magnificent bridge joining the central island of Stockholm to the main continent:

When you stand upon this bridge and look south, the King’s palace immediately strikes the eye, a building of immense extent, and seen with peculiar advantage from the bridge.  Toward the east, the inlet of the Baltic stretches itself before the eye covered with ships, and thick scatted with barges plying from place to place under the direction of women; for the boats in Stockholm are all rowed by women.

stockholm map sm

Map of Stockholm, 1812

Again Thomson provides a beautifully detailed map to help illustrate his descriptions.  This map of Stockholm was copied from one published by Fr. Akiel in 1795 and although it had been updated and was considered one of the most accurate maps of the town, Thomson believed, “the style is somewhat blameable, as not sufficiently distinguishing between what is town and what fields.  His object seems to have been to swell the town as much as possible, and conceal its real dimensions from the eye.”  Thomson therefore made several corrections in his own copy.

Overall, Thomson travelled more than 1200 miles in a short seven weeks and though his descriptions of the sights and collections he encounters across Sweden are full of lively detail and interest, it is of course the human stories that provide the colour and character to the narrative; from the wily Olof Essen, a spoke-maker who treated Thomson very ungenerously “with regard to the rate at which he let us have horses from Lilla Oby to Oby;” to the group of English sailors in Stockholm who “had all got quite drunk and had fallen together by the ears, to the number of ten or twelve in the middle of the street, and raised a clamour that was quite diabolical.” Thomson was so mortified by this particular scene that he went so far as to claim:

In most Englishmen who travel, as far as I have had an opportunity of observing them, there is an unaccountable wish to let foreigners, with whom they associate, know that they despise them.

On a lighter note, one of my favourite pieces of the human story in Thomson’s travelogue comes at the end, in an appendix chart showing the population and professions of Sweden:

chocolatemaker

Total number of chocolate makers? One – but he is a master of his art!

 

Sources:

Thomson, Thomas (1813) Travels in Sweden during the autumn of 1812. London: Robert Baldwin [Overstone 26F/23 – available upon request]

Jack Morrell, ‘Thomson, Thomas (1773–1852)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2006 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.idpproxy.reading.ac.uk/view/article/27325, accessed 6 July 2016]

Falu Gruva (2014) Welcome to Fahlun Mine http://www.falugruva.se/en/

New acquisition: a collection of rare agricultural pamphlets

Written by Erika Delbecque, UMASCS Librarian

We are delighted to announce the purchase of a collection of twenty-two rare agricultural pamphlets from the mid-19th century. These works, which relate to the agricultural innovations and economics of this period, will enhance our existing collection strengths in British agricultural history.

drainagecover

A report of the discussion on drainage, 1848

The collection includes rare works on early applications of agricultural chemistry, studies of production and demand, and farmers’ reports on the use of new agricultural equipment. They provide a unique insight into the economic and technological developments in British agriculture in the mid-19th century, a pivotal period that marked the final stages of the British Agricultural Revolution.

Key innovations of this period that are represented include the improvement of agricultural drainage systems and the development of new fertilisers beside manure, such as guano (seabird excrement), sodium nitrates and potash. Another pamphlet promotes George Dollond’s “atmospheric recorder”, a type of weather station that records variations in air pressure, temperature, and humidity, for which he was awarded the council medal at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

An engraved plate showing Dollond's atmospheric recorder, 1845

An engraved plate showing Dollond’s atmospheric recorder, 1845

Not all innovations were as successful. One pamphlet deals with the promotion of the alpaca as a profitable alternative to other breeding stock in England, claiming that the alpaca is “as fat as any sheep I ever saw” and that the animals “never ramble from their hill pasture”. In case alpacas are not of interest, the advertisers add that they also sell “turtle alive, or ready cooked and securely packed in jars”…

The Alpaca, with a wood-engraved illustration, 1844

The Alpaca, with a wood-engraved illustration, 1844

Most of the pamphlets were written by enthusiastic farmers or promoters of new farming methods and agricultural equipment. It was through cheap, often locally printed pamphlets such as these that farmers could keep on top of these developments. Therefore, pamphlets from this period are an important historical source for studying the dissemination of agricultural innovations.

These pamphlets were part of the collection of Sir Walter Gilbey (1831–1914), who was the president of the Royal Agricultural Society of England in the late nineteenth century. He donated his collection to the Society in 1896, where they remained until they were sold along with the rest of the RASE collections in 2014.

The pamphlets will now be processed and catalogued, and then join the rest of our extensive MERL book collections. The library and archives at the Museum of English Rural Life are recognised as one of the most important collections in the country for the study of the history of British agriculture, the countryside and rural society. All items can be consulted in our reading room.

This purchase was generously funded by the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of the National Libraries.

Delightes for Ladies

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Originally published in 1602, ‘Delightes for Ladies’ by Sir Hugh Plat is one of the earliest cookery and

Delights for Ladies to Adorne their Persons, Tables, Closets, and Distilatories, 1628

Delights for Ladies to Adorne their Persons, Tables, Closets, and Distilatories, 1628

household recipe books produced in England.  It contains a fascinating array of recipes, instructions and advice on everything from making almond butter and preserving roast beef to creating candles for ladies tables and dying hair a lovely chestnut colour.

The little book was a perfect companion for the wealthy Elizabethan housewife who owned her own Still Room; a place in the house, usually linked to kitchen and garden, where the ‘still’ was kept for “the distillation of perfumes and cordials,” (Oxford Dictionaries), it was also where food was preserved and stored and where medicines, cosmetics and alcohol could be made.

The author began writing shortly after graduating from Cambridge University in 1572 (Plat, 1955), publishing a number of books which similarly offered advice and new ideas on the topics of agriculture, food preservation and gardening.  Plat’s ‘Delightes for Ladies’ however, was one of his most popular works, having at least thirteen editions produced before the middle of the seventeenth century (Plat, 1955).  The work was more recently reprinted in 1948 amidst post-war austerity by G.E. & K.R. Fussell with the hope that “we may be able to use some of the simpler and less recondite recipes for the zest they may add to our plain, wholesome diet.”

Although ‘Delightes for Ladies’ was often bound together with another similar work, ‘A Closet for Ladies and Gentlewomen, or the Art of preserving, conserving, and candying,’ believed by most to be by the same author, our edition contains only the ‘Delightes’.  The book itself features a poetical preface and is divided into four sections with the table of contents acting as an index.  The sections cover, ‘The Art of Preserving, conserving, candying, &c’; ‘Secrets in Distillation’; ‘Cookery and Huswifery’ and ‘Sweet Powders, Oyntments, Beauties, &c.’  Below are some of my favourite pieces of advice from the book:

A 29. To make gelly of Strawberries, Muberries, Raspisberries, or any such tender fruite.

Gelly of fruits

Gelly of fruits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C.40 How to hang your candles in the aire without candlestick.

Candles hanging in the aire

Candles hanging in the aire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D.20 How to take away any pimple from the face.

Face full of heate, helped

Face full of heate, helped

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D. 37 How to colour the head or beard into a chestnut colour in halfe an houre.

Hair black altered

Hair black altered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is probably best not to try some of these at home…

Sources

Plat, Hugh (1628) Delightes for Ladies to Adorne their Persons, Tables, Closets, and Distilatories with Beauties, Banquets, Perfumes and Water.  Read Practice, Censure. London: H.L and R.Y. [Stenton B/G27 – available upon request]

Plat, Hugh (1955) Delightes for Ladies. Reprint of Delightes for Ladies by Sir Hugh Plat, 1609.  Introductions by Fussell, G.E. and Fussell, K.R. (ed). London: Crosby Lockwood and Son LTD. [MERL LIBRARY NUPTO NH10 – available upon request]

Oxford Dictionaries (2016) http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/still-room OUP.

Travel Thursday: John Todhunter Journal

Todhunter journal

Todhunter journal

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

John Todhunter (1839-1916) is best known as a poet and literary critic, but was also a doctor of medicine, painter, composer and traveller.

The University of Reading’s Special Collections Archive contains a fascinating Todhunter collection consisting of roughly 350 items including: personal and literary correspondence, (such as letters from John Butler Yeats, John Trivett Nettleship and William Michael Rossetti); typescripts and manuscripts of various literary works, and three travel journals.

One of these journals, titled ‘Journal of a Tour in Italy with D.L.T. 1880.’ details Todhunter’s travels in Italy with his new wife Dora Louisa.  In December 1879 the newlyweds had been recalled from an earlier trip in Florence as Todhunter’s father, Thomas, was taken ill.  After a rather “dismal winter” the couple were keen to escape back to Italy in the spring and their journey continued from March 1880 into the early autumn.  As might be expected, Todhunter’s journal contains notes on a plethora of typical tourist activities, such as his morning spent at Capitoline Hill in Rome,

Sat on steps, looked at wolves and Marcus Aurelius and then went into gallery.

He lists his favourite pieces from the gallery as including the Capitoline Venus and a “very beautiful Penelope and Telemachus.”  There are moreover, several interesting pieces of travel ephemera, including tickets for visits to archaeological sites of interest, such as this entrance pass for a tour of the catacombs of Rome and the Appian Way:

Photo 11-05-2016, 14 49 19

and a small collection of pressed plants.  One of these specimens was pressed between pages which mention a serendipitous walk through a garden in Rome.  Perhaps Todhunter kept the flower as a souvenir and reminder of the day:Photo 11-05-2016, 15 03 55

We went through a pleasant little garden full of flowers from which we had a splendid view of the Palatine, the best we had yet seen.  A very sweet place.

The travelogue also contains a number of fun anecdotes such as this note from Friday April 2nd:

We had found the caffe latte so bad that we resolved to take a foreign breakfast, and so had wine and an omelet.  Then to the Piazza del Durmo.

The entry for Wednesday May 12th is more celebratory as Todhunter notes it is his and Dora’s six month anniversary, an occassion they celebrated by going to a horse race ‘corsa dei cavalla’ in Rome.

Despite all of the interesting sights, pleasent gardens and new foods to experience, it is good to know that Todhunter did not forget his friends while travelling, on Monday April 26th he notes that he spent the morning “writing letters to Rossetti.”

You can find out more about the Todhunter Collection here, and how to access our archives here.

Archive Animals – Cats

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Our Special Collections Library and Archive is full of interesting creatures, big and small.  They can be found everywhere from our Children’s Collection story books to the detailed scientific tomes of our Cole Library.  So far we’ve explored the Ducks, Horses and Bees but today is the turn of the graceful Cat. Here are just a few of my favourite titles on Cats from our collections:

 

Cats in Literature

Orlando the Marmalade Cat – Kathleen Hale
[Children’s Collection 823.9-HAL]

This beautiful series of Children’s books created by Kathleen Hale feature the adventures of Orlando the

Orlando the Marmalade Cat, 1964

Orlando the Marmalade Cat, 1964

ginger cat, his wife Grace and their three kittens, Pansy, Blanche and Tinkle.

In ‘Orlando’s Invisible Pyjamas’ poor Orlando gets himself covered in paraffin oil, which makes him bald from waist to tail.  Grace manages to coax Orlando from hiding with the promise of knitting him some fur pyjama trousers.  While Grace knits, Orlando regales the kittens with stories from their family photo album.

According to MacCarthy (2000), Hale wrote to “reinvent a childhood, to recreate the domestic structure she had so badly lacked.”  And the bright story books with their tales of a tightly knit family of cats were a perfect distraction for children during WWII.  Indeed the bright colours of the ‘Orlando’ books are one of their best features; inspired by the series ‘Babar’ (Jean de Brunhoff), Hale had “envisaged a large format book in seven colours,” (MacCarthy, 2000) and although after some convincing from her publisher, only four were used, the effect is just as attractive.  After the publication of her first two Orlando books, Hale even learned the art of lithography herself, (Roberts, 2014) her efforts with the medium setting new standards for Children’s illustrated books.

As well as copies of a number of Hale’s books, our collection also includes archival material relating to their publication, such as uncorrected proofs of the text, holographs, typescripts and carbon typescripts.

For more information on Orlando see our 2007 featured item, Kathleen Hale, Orlando (The Marmalade Cat) buys a farm, 1972 

Sources:
Roberts, P. (2014) Orlando the Marmalade Cat
MacCarthy, F. (2000) Obituary: Kathleen Hale

 

Cats in Music and Art

Tabby Polka by Procida Bucalossi / Louis Wain
[Spellman Collection of Victorian Music Covers – Box 11]

This charming image comes from our Spellman Collection of Victorian Music covers, which consists of around 2,500 Victorian sheet music covers, illustrating virtually every aspect of Victorian life, culture

Tabby Polka [Spellman Collection]

Tabby Polka [Spellman Collection]

and preoccupations.

This particular piece, dating to c.1865 was composed by Procida Bucalossi (1832-1918), a theatre conductor and composer at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London who was known for his dance arrangements for the Savoy Operas. (Stone, 2001).

The artist behind the illustration is Louis Wain (1860-1939), a British artist renowned for his wonderful pictures of cats.  Later in life, Wain began to show signs of mental illness but continued to draw and paint.  His artwork however, took on an unusual quality and he “produced the first of his fascinating series of “kaleidoscope” cats,” which included intricate geometric patterns and “images in which the figure of the cat is exploded in a burst of geometric fragments.” (Boxer, 2016)

Sources:
Stone, D. (2001) THE D’OYLY CARTE OPERA COMPANY
Boxer, J. (2016) Louis Wain –  Henry Boxer Gallery 

 

Cats in Science

Celestial Atlas by Alexander Jamieson, 1822
[Reserve Middle Folio 523 JAM]

Felis - Celestial Atlas, 1822

Felis – Celestial Atlas, 1822

One of the many constellations described in “A Celestial Atlas” by Alexander Jamieson in 1822, Felis was composed by French astronomer Jerome de Lalande in 1799 from stars between Hydra and Argos Navis.  Sadly Felis did not make the list of 88 modern constellations when the IAU (International Astronomical Union) created an official set of constellation boundaries in 1930.

Sources:
International Astronomical Union, (2016) The Constellations
Ridpath, I. (2016) Felis the Cat

 

The Cat by St. George Mivart, 1881
[Cole Library 185]

Cat Paws - The Cat, 1881

Cat Paws – The Cat, 1881

‘The Cat’ by British biologist St George Mivart is a fascinating, in-depth study of our feline friends.  The book provides highly detailed anatomical descriptions and illustrations, such as this of the cat’s paw:

Of these [pads of the feet] there are seven in the fore paw, and five in the hind paw.  Each pad consists of a mass of fibrous tissue and fat and a large trilobed one is placed beneath the ends of those bones on which the animal rests in walking.

Many of the careful illustrations, particularly those of the cat’s muscles, have been coloured over and annotated, showing that the book was very much in use by its owner.

Annotated Cat Paws - The Cat, 1881

Annotated Cat Paws – The Cat, 1881

As well as anatomy, ‘The Cat’ also delves into the development and psychology of the cats, and one of my favourite features of the study are the small footnotes which include interesting anecdotes about the nature of the cat, such as this one from p369:

Mr Douglas A. Spalding found kittens to be imbued with an instinctive horror of dogs before they were able to see it.  He tells us: – “One day last month, after fondling my dog, I put my hand into a basket containing four blind kittens, three days old.  The smell my hand had carried with it set them puffing and spitting in the most comical fashion.” (Nature, October 7, 1875. P507)

gif of cat anatomy from Anatomie descriptive et comparative du chat by Hercule Straus-Durckheim, 1845. [Cole Large 09]

Anatomie descriptive et comparative du chat by Hercule Straus-Durckheim, 1845. [Cole Large 09]

All items are available upon request, find out more about using our Library and Archives here.

University of Reading Art Collections

Collections Audit

 

The University of Reading has an eclectic Art Collection. Artistic works are held within the University’s Special Collections, and within the University’s museums – including the Museum of English Rural Life.

 

History of the Art Collections

The Art Collections exist in parallel to the development of the University. Artworks reflect the University’s institutional history and act as a reference to its teaching practices. The collection includes work by previous staff and students, providing tangible links to the earlier School of Art and the University Extension College. More recently, artworks represent the interests of individuals and departments who have contributed to the collection – acquisition was often the result of idiosyncratic benefaction.

Notable Works

A number of significant artists are represented. This includes: Camden Town Group member Walter Sickert, printmaker Stephen Buckley, painter Patrick Caulfield, surrealist and poet Julian Trevelyan, figurative painter Leon Kossoff, Isotype pictogram designer Gerd Arntz, master of the woodcut Allen W. Seaby, cubist Max Weber, engraver Stanley Anderson, abstract photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn, renowned naturalist painter Charles Tunnicliffe, 17th century Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens, and many others.

The Art Collections comprise a series of distinct collections, each with its own focus and trajectory:

 

  • Historic Picture Loan Scheme

Now defunct, the Picture Loan Scheme was administered by the Fine Art Department. It lent artworks to University patrons on an annual basis, for a nominal fee. The collection includes paintings and works on paper. The scope of the collection is impressive; it contains examples of printmaking practice from important artists – including numerous signed artist proofs.

Historic Picture Loan Scheme label

Historic Picture Loan Scheme label

  • Betts Collection: Sickert Drawings

Professor Anthony Betts was the University’s first Professor of Fine Art. Betts was instrumental in the establishment of an Honours Degree course in Fine Art in 1937. The Betts collection was amassed by Betts himself and later expanded through the acquisition of work from his estate. It contains a collection of works on paper of international importance by Walter Sickert.

Walter Sickert, The Little Bed, 1902

Walter Sickert, The Little Bed, 1902

  • Betts Collection: Master Drawings

A small but noteworthy collection of drawings by artists including Peter Paul Rubens, James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Frederick Spencer Gore.

Max Weber, Dancing Figures, 1912

Max Weber, Dancing Figures, 1912

  • Betts Archive

The archive contains artworks, preparatory work and teaching aids produced by Professor Betts and his colleague Cyril Pearce, a lecturer in Design & Composition.

Betts Archive: woodcut prints by Prof Betts

Betts Archive: woodcut prints by Prof Betts

  • Minnie Jane Hardman (nee Shubrook) Collection

Minnie Hardman (nee Shubrook) was a female student at the Royal Academy in the late 19th century. Unrivalled in its ability to document her experience, the collection records the work she undertook as a young adult.  It includes examinations on perspective, anatomical and life drawings, as well as examples of her superb sketches and stippling – many of which were awarded prizes by the Academy.

Shubrook/Hardman Archive

Shubrook/Hardman Archive

  • Paintings

The collection contains commissioned portraits of Chancellors and people of merit associated with the University. This includes portraits of members of the Palmer family, who continue to support the University.  There are a number of historic and contemporary views of Whiteknights Park, including 19th century landscapes by Thomas Christopher Hofland. Attributed as being America’s first cubist painter, the collection includes 15 canvases by Max Weber.  Among others, the collection contains work by 20th century painters Alan Lowndes, John Randall Bratby and Leon Kossoff.

Leon Kossoff, Wilesden Junction Early Morning, 1962

Leon Kossoff, Wilesden Junction Early Morning, 1962

Due to the nature of artistic works and their inability to be defined effectively by a single collection, artistic works appear across UMASCS.  Noteworthy bodies of artworks include:

 

  • Ladybird Artwork Archive (Special Collections)

The University of Reading cares for over 700 boxes of original artwork used to illustrate Ladybird children’s books. The iconic paintings contributed to the success of the books in raising literacy levels among British children in the 1950s-1970s. The collection includes iconic artwork such as Harry Wingfield’s Shopping with Mother.

Ladybird pop-up display © Ladybird Books Ltd

Ladybird pop-up display © Ladybird Books Ltd

  • Livestock Portraiture (Museum of English Rural Life)

A collection of 18th and19th century Livestock Portraiture, including prints and oil paintings. The images are a historical record, which document the process of English livestock improvement. Artworks capture the physiological changes that are the result of early attempts at selective breeding by pioneering farmers.

MERL Livestock Portraiture 64/104

MERL Livestock Portraiture 64/104

2016 Project

This year, and moving forwards, the University is committed to the development of the Art Collections.  The University is addressing numerous collections management issues and hoping to build the profile of the Art Collections for a wider community of users, through a series of engagement activities.  The project aims to achieve a number of things, the work involves:

  • Auditing the collection and retrospectively cataloguing individual artworks on the Adlib collections database
  • Digitising artworks and making the collection accessible online,  via the University’s Enterprise catalogue and the ARTUK website
  • Improving the physical care of artworks through a programme of remedial conservation and preventative conservation, such as re-framing and improving storage conditions
  • Providing access to the collections through a series of pop-up displays, a programme of lunch-time talks ‘Art Collections in Conversation’, and taking part in University events such as the Collections Fair and Engagement Week. Inviting students and researchers to access material in the Reading Room and encouraging the use of the collections within teaching & learning. Using the Art Collections to enhance Artist Residency programmes.
  • Displaying artworks within the new galleries at MERL as part of the Our Country Lives redevelopment project (opening October 2016), displaying artworks within the new Ladybird Gallery (opening October 2016) and displaying artworks in temporary display spaces around campus such as the 2016 Christmas Display in the Staircase Hall. Improving and installing permanent interpretation of artworks around the University campus.
  • The project also supports the training and development of three young volunteers.

 

If you have any questions about the Art Collections please contact Jacqueline Winston-Silk j.winston-silk@reading.ac.uk and follow our progress on Twitter @UniRdg_ArtCol