Tagged: Rare Books

New Acquisition: De Smet’s Missions de l’Orégon, 1848

A rare uncut edition of Jesuit priest Pierre-Jean De Smet’s Missions de l’Orégon et Voyages dans les Montagnes Rocheuses aux sources de la Columbie, de l’Athabasca et du Sascatshawin, en 1845-1846 (Gand [Ghent]: Vander Schelden, 1848) has been added to the Oregon Collection in Special Collections and University Archives. This collection includes published materials that reflect the history, literature, and life in Oregon and the Oregon Territory. The acquisition of Missions de l’Orégon broadens the De Smet holdings in the Oregon Collection and complements other editions held in the collection including the English-language edition (Oregon Missions) and the Flemish-language edition (Missiën van den Orégon, seen on the right below).

Pierre-Jean De Smet (1801-1873) was born in Belgium and emigrated to the United States in 1821 as a novitiate of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He moved to a Jesuit mission in Florissant, Missouri, near St. Louis, and began to study the languages and cultures of Native Americans. He went on first his mission among the Salish after they sent a deputation to St. Louis. De Smet returned with the messengers travelling west through Montana and Wyoming, also visiting the neighboring Nez Perce nation on this journey. In 1845-1846, De Smet undertook one of his longest missions throughout the Rocky Mountains and the Oregon Territory, including the Columbia and Willamette valleys, where he established schools and missions throughout. After these travels, De Smet published an account of the evangelizing expedition in Oregon Missions and Travels over the Rocky Mountains in 1845-46 (New York, 1847). The sale of this book, published in three languages, was part of his continued effort to raise money for Jesuit missions in the Northwest. These fundraising labors included many overseas trips to Europe to meet with papal and European state leaders where his translated books might illustrate his mission and impact to European donors. De Smet saw himself as an ally and advocate of the tribes he was in contact with in the West and was aware of the infringements and persecutions of the federal government toward tribal nations writing, “If our Indians become enraged against the whites, it is because the whites have made them suffer for a long time.”

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Library Acquires a Doves Bible Leaf on Vellum

Special Collections and University Archives has recently acquired a printed leaf from a vellum copy of the esteemed Doves Press English Bible.

This leaf from the first book of Chronicles (p. 119-120, vol. II) is an excellent example of the fine presswork and craftsmanship of Arts and Crafts bookmaking, an international art movement that emulated forms and decorations of the past and championed social and economic reform.

Doves Press was founded in 1900 by T. J. Cobden-Sanderson and Emery Walker, a bookbinder and photo-engraver respectively. The works of the Doves Press and earlier established Doves Bindery were aligned with the overall aim of reviving fine printing and bookmaking of the past. Cobden-Sanderson did not adhere as closely to the Medieval codex model as his famous contemporary, William Morris and the Kelmscott Press. Morris wanted to copy the scribal tradition wherein the two-column design, illumination and rubrication was used. In Cobden-Sanderson’s idealized book, he sought to create a work that elegantly wove typography, printing, and binding together.

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Books as Art: Exploring Rare Zaehnsdorf Bindings

Established circa 1842 by Jospeh Zaehnsdorf, the Zaehnsdorf Bindery operated under the control of the Zaehnsdorf family until 1947, in that time producing some of the finest examples of bookbinding in London. Austria-Hungarin born Joseph Zaehnsdorf worked in binderies in Stuttgart and Vienna, before arriving in London, where he gained a prestigious position with James Mackenzie, Bookbinder to the King. In 1842 Zaehnsdorf opened his own shop, which by the 1860s was regarded as one of the finest in London, alongside the celebrated firm of Robert Riviere.

When Zaehnsdorf passed away in 1886, he left the business to his son, Joseph William, himself an accomplished binder and author of The Art of Bookbinding: A Practical Treatise–a manual of critical importance to students of bookbinding. Jo      seph William elaborated the concerns of the firm to include bookbinding courses and also opened a showroom. The bindery continued to produce spectacular work, and its acclaim only increased under his tenure. Around the turn of the century, the firm was appointed as bookbinders and booksellers to Edward VII and George V.

In 1920, Joseph William retired, leaving his son, Ernest to run the business. Like his father, Ernest also expanded the interests of the firm, this time to include book conservation. In 1947, the business was sold, and passed through a number of hands until 1998 when it was combined with another renowned London bookbinding firm, Sangorski & Sutcliffe, under the umbrella of Shepherds Bookbinders.

UO’s Special Collections has a handful of Zaehnsdorf bindings, representative of the firm’s more austere and refined output. A Dante Treasury and Early British Ballads (both 1903) reside in the Bishop William A. Quayle Book Collection, which includes Quayle’s library of 500 titles illustrating the history of printing and the printed book. John Ashton’s A Righte Merrie Christmasse!!! (1895) is from the Pauline Potter Homer Collection of Beautiful Books, a collection of approximately 1000 volumes demonstrative of various facets of beauty in the printed book. George Eliot’s Felix Holt the Radical (1866) is a recently acquired addition to the University’s general rare book collections.


By Ryan Hildebrand, Authorities and Special Collections Cataloging Librarian

Oregon Rare Books Initiative Speaker, April 19, 2017

List of Events for the Oregon Rare Books Initiative, 2016-2017

One may not think that the first stock market crash in 18th century Holland could be attractive, but the engravings in the 1720 work Het groote tafereel der dwaasheid, or The Great Mirror of Folly, show otherwise. By using art as satire, the creators of The Great Mirror could reflect on international reactions to the fiscal calamity that they lived through. The book’s many engravings used symbols to make fun of the financial crisis in the Netherlands. For example, it helped to entrench the now-common economic term “financial bubble.” The Oregon Rare Books Initiative is pleased to announce that on April 19, Professor Catherine Labio from the University of Colorado-Boulder will speak about the book in the Knight Library Browsing Room at 4:45p.m. Prof. Labio is a comparative literature professor who has edited several works on this topic and researches the financial world of 1700s Europe. During her talk, the University of Oregon’s copy of Het groote tafereel der dwaasheid and ten different financial works from the 18th century will be available to view. Please join us!

Angela Rothman

Special Collections and University Archives Intern

I blog for SCUA about the University of Oregon Museum of Art. Please see my other writing here.