Archive for January, 2009

The Festivities for Ernst August

From Lorologio del piacere, a festival book depicting the visit, in the summer of 1685, of Ernst August, Duke of Braunschweig-Luneburg, to the villa of Marco Contarini in Piazzola, outside Venice. Entertainments included aquatic pageants, Barbary horses, songs and banqueting. Beinecke call number: Italian Festivals 112.
This is one example from the Beinecke’s Italian Festival Books collection, several dozen works printed by individuals or localities in early modern Italy to commemorate the pageantry created for formal occasions such as visitations, funerals, coronations, or weddings.

Above, the Barbary horses; below, the banquet.
Below, snippets from the music for the occasion.
The Italian Festival Books collection has been scanned and can be found in the Beinecke’s Digital Images and Collections, with the keyword Italian Festivals. The Italian Festival Books collection is in the public domain and no permissions are required for the use of these images, although the Beinecke does request that it be acknowledged as the source.

Book of Secrets: Alchemy and the European Imagination, 1500-2000




Excerpts from the Beinecke’s Mellon MS 41, George Ripley and Richard Carpenter.  Emblematic Alchemy in English verse, with an English version of the Visio mystica of Arnold of Villanova. England, unsigned, about 1570.

This nineteen-foot long alchemical scroll is one of twenty-one known “Ripley scrolls,” an elaborately illustrated guide to the alchemical process, associated with the fifteenth-century English alchemist, George Ripley.   This particular copy was given to Yale in 1965 by Paul Mellon, as part of the collection of alchemical books and manuscripts begun by his first wife, Mary Mellon.   Mary Mellon became interested in alchemy through her support of the psychologist Carl Jung, whom she heard speak at a lecture in the Plaza Hotel in 1936, when Jung had just begun to propound his theory of alchemical symbolism as an example of a collective unconscious, his idea of a shared understanding of symbols across time and cultures.

The scroll has been scanned and included (as Mellon MS 41) in the Beinecke’s Digital Images and Collections.  It will be on view in the Beinecke Library’s  forthcoming exhibition, “Book of Secrets: Alchemy and the European Imagination, 1500-2000,” January 20 – April 18, 2009.

The Year of Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary


In celebration of the three hundredth anniversary of Johnson’s birth in 1709, a definition from the first edition of Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) will be posted each day for readers’ lexiconic delight on Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary, the Beinecke’s new word-a-day dictionary blog. Words will be taken from the annotated proof copy of the first edition, extra-illustrated with Johnson’s and his helpers’ manuscript corrections, held in the collections of Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.