Fruits, flowers and fantastical figures

The book Fleurs, fruits et légumes du jour / par Alfred Le Petit ; légendes de H. Briollet (8001.b.156), published in 1871, recently crossed my desk. A book of whimsical political caricatures, it is composed of 32 plates issued in a portfolio; each plate comprises a title, cartoon (in colour) and a brief satirical rhyme or poem. The subjects are generals, intellectuals and politicians (all men, this being 19th century France), with a specific focus on the Franco-Prussian war and the Paris Commune of 1871.

Fleurs, fruits & légumes du jour (8001.b.156) - Title page

Fleurs, fruits & légumes du jour (8001.b.156) – Title page

When adding books to the Cambridge University Library catalogue, we are usually able to copy records from other library catalogues. In the case of the record for this book, a previous cataloguing librarian (possibly in UNC Chapel Hill) added the information that “Many plates appear to be based on the anthropomorphized flowers of J.J. Grandville (Les fleurs animées, originally published 1847)”. This is the kind of information that can be useful for people searching the library catalogue (it means that both books will turn up in a keyword search), and it is also an interesting and hopefully worthwhile piece of information for anyone interested in either of these two works. Not only does copying records from other libraries save us valuable time, it also allows our catalogue to reflect other peoples’ research and knowledge. Continue reading

A Fickle Friend

Soon Parliament will reconvene. Brexit is bound to dominate the agenda and many Anglo-European friendships will come under severe strain. But there have been tensions before. In this guest post, Jaap Harskamp gives a (biased) explanation.

The so-called album amicorum is a book of ‘autographs’ collected by wandering scholars from the Low Countries or Germany as they moved from one city or university to another. The craze started in the middle of the sixteenth century. A typical album page contains a poem or prose text in Latin or Greek (sometimes in Hebrew) and a formal greeting to the owner of the book. As part of the salutation there may be a heraldic shield or an emblematic picture. Possibly the best known example is the album of the Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius, held in the collections of Pembroke College, Cambridge.1 The contributions to his album were gathered over a long period of time and more than 130 of his contemporaries are represented (Ortelius started his collection in 1574 and continued doing so until his death in 1598).  The cosmopolitan list of friends includes William Camden, Gerhard Mercator, Christopher Plantin, Philip Galle, Justus Lipsius, John Dee, Jean Bodin, and many others. The album represents a European community of learned friends.

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Old Glory flying over France

We’ve previously featured a variety of illustrations from the Liberation Collection; this post will focus on just one book from the collection which is striking, both due to its subject matter and its highly illustrated nature.

Les drapeaux des États-Unis = The american flags (Old Glory) / Alfred Rigny ; dessins de Pierre Noury (Liberation.c.362)

A relatively small book, this contains a ‘Petit histoire du drapeau américain et des drapeaux qui figuèrent dans l’histoire des Etats-Unis d’Amérique (Old Glory)’, which is followed by 40 coloured plates of illustrations of the flags of the United States, and various related offices and organisations (the flags of the president and of various branches of the American military are included, for instance).

Page 34 of Liberation.c.362, showing the (stunningly unoriginal, but also incorrect) New Mexico state flag.

Page 34 of Liberation.c.362, showing the (stunningly unoriginal, but also incorrect) New Mexico state flag.

Interesting both as a brief testament to why it was published, and the exceedingly ornate fashion in which the book is illustrated, the 4-page introductory history of the flag (printed in both French and English) justifies the publication: Continue reading

Ceux du maquis and a new thesis from 1978

Thanks to the Liberation Collection, the level of modern material that we collect about French history from 1944-1946 has significantly expanded. A recent acquisition drew my attention:

Histoire de l’Occupation et de la Résistance dans la Nièvre 1940-1944 / Jean-Claude Martinet ; édition présentée par Jean Vigreux.(C210.c.7324)

This book is a re-edited version of a history thesis presented at the University of Bourgogne in 1978. Cambridge University Library did not buy the original 1978 edition, though there are several copies in the UK (at the British Library, Oxford, and the Universities of Sussex and Leeds). The UL and Oxford are thus far the only UK libraries on COPAC to have the 2015 edition published by Editions universitaires de Dijon. Continue reading

Celebrations and Trepidations

In May 2016 the Queen’s 90th birthday party will take place in the private grounds of Windsor Castle. Traditionally, royal celebrations have been a grand affair. These were occasions of pomp and pleasantry, times in which courtiers and citizens expressed loyalty and affection to the monarch (real or otherwise). Immigrants played a notable role in such festivities.


Festival in Antwerp LE.34.43

The early history of urban celebrations has a colourful history. Religious festivals took place on significant dates in the Church calendars. Fetes were organized when royals made a formal entry into a city, either at home or abroad. Festival books were the printed accounts of these occasions. Impressive entries like those of the Habsburg princes in Antwerp and Brussels produced albums that are the most splendid specimens of the Renaissance book.*

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