Rare Books Blog

April 14, 2014

Kan’ichi Asakawa (1873-1948) was a remarkable scholar and cultural ambassador. Educated in Japan and at Dartmouth, Asakawa earned a Ph.D. from Yale (1902) and embarked on a long and productive career, spent largely in the Yale History department. His work centering on classical and medieval Japan – particularly its economy and government – was pioneering, and he maintained interests in medieval Europe, drawing the feudal institutions of both societies into comparative perspective.

Dr. Asakawa wrote on later periods as well, and proved an engaged observer of contemporary East Asian-American relations. He corresponded widely, and is credited with fostering greater understanding between Japan and America, in academic circles and beyond. In the lead-up to Pearl Harbor, he spearheaded efforts to appeal through the US government to the Emperor of Japan, in the hope of avoiding Japanese-American hostilities. 

At Yale, Asakawa also served as the curator of the East Asian Collection, from his appointment in 1907 to his death in 1948. Among other impressive feats, he acquired 11,280 works (comprising 66,520 volumes) on a trip to Japan in 1906-1907, and motivated the donation of a collection of rare Japanese works in the 1930s. More on Asakawa and his career is available at the Council of East Asian Studies, and the finding aid to his papers is also online.

Asakawa was a collector of Western rare books, and had a strong interest in law. After his death, eighty-six rare law books from Asakawa’s collection were transferred from Yale University Library to the Law School Library. Among these, feudal law, French customary law, German Landrecht, and commentaries on them, from the Middle Ages to the early modern period, are prominent. Two examples are pictured below: at left, Jean Boutillier’s La grant somme Rural (Paris, 1539), a fourteenth-century work on French customary law in use in northern France, and Francois Hotman’s De fevdis commentatio tripertita (Lyon, 1573), reflecting Hotman’s classroom teaching on feudal law.

In his books, Asakawa also recorded the prices and dates of purchase. The image at bottom shows his ownership stamp, with the date (Dec. 1921) and the price paid in French francs (750) for his copy of Boutillier. The English price and date of purchase is also copied faintly on the title page of Hotman’s De feudis, bits of information which can be used to trace the development of the collection.

Asakawa’s interesting collection of rare law books can be perused through the Library’s catalog. 

– RYAN GREENWOOD, Rare Book Fellow

  

 

March 26, 2014

Guggenberger, Veit. Ayd-Buch: warinnen findig das ayd, und ayd-schwur seyen… [Oath-book: wherein is found the oath and how to swear it…]. Munich: Druckts und verlegts Heinrich Theodor von Cöllen, Churfürstl. Hof-Buchdrucker und Buchhandler, 1738.

This book is the second edition of a 1699 treatise on the oaths used in different trades, and the relevant laws of the Holy Roman Empire and German states. The text addresses the oaths of apothecaries, doctors, bakers, architects, millers, and grave-diggers.  The book contains two engravings showing the proper postures for oath taking. The text is printed in black ink on handmade paper and sewn on single raised cords. 

The book has wooden boards, is covered in alum-tawed skin decorated with blind-tooled stamps and rolls, and retains its original clasps.


      

         RTI of Ayd-Buch                                   Rubbing from BSG   

We found a book with a similar decorative program in the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve database of rubbings. That item was bound not in alum-tawed skin but in brown calf leather. The text it contains are the works of 5th-century Christian theologian Marcus Eremita, and the work of Saint Opatus against the Donatists, published in Paris in 1563 and bound in Germany.

     – Notes by Fionnuala Gerrity

“Reflections on Bindings: Using New Imaging Technology to Study Historical Bindings,” is on display from February 3 - May 24, 2014, on Level L2 in the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.  The curators are Chief Conservator Christine McCarthy and Conservation Assistants Fionnuala Gerrity, Ansley Joe, and Karen Jutzi, Yale University Library.

March 19, 2014

Giffen, Hubert van, ca. 1533-1604. Commentarius D. Huberti Giphanii … in quator libros Institutionum iuris civilis à Iustiniano … [Commentery on the Institutes of Justinian by Hubert van Giffen]. Frankfurt: Sumptibus Lazari Zetzneri bibliopolæ, 1606.

This book contains a commentary on the Institutes of Justinian written by Dutch-born German jurist and philologist Hubert van Giffen. The text is printed in black ink on handmade paper and sewn onto split thongs. The book has laced-in wooden boards and is covered in alum-tawed pigskin blind-tooled with decorative rolls and central panel stamps. The stamps show Justice and Lucretia.

The curators used different RTI modes to examine the text included in the panel stamps on the front and back of this binding.  Both of the modes shown below revealed the texts in fairly clear detail.


   

IUSTICIAQVEQVIS                                          CASTATULATMAGN
PICTURALUMINECE                                          AFORMAELUCRELA
RNISDICDEVSESTIV                                         VDEFACTATMAGEST

Using the text we found a number of other images of Lady Justice on other bindings, such as the ones below:

   

Lady Justice Stamp, EBDB           Lady Justice Stamp, BSG

A visual comparison of 16th-century, German alum-tawed bindings in the British Library (BL) database also revealed what appears to be an exact match of both the front and back stamps. The volume in the BL is Antonini Liberalis Transformationum congeries (the Transformations or Metamorphoses) of Ancient Greek grammarian Antoninus Liberalis, printed in Basel in 1568. The book shares almost the same decorative program as the Commentarius, with central panel stamps and a decorative roll of portrait busts (of Protestant reformers such as Erasmus) separated by foliage. The portrait bust roll used on Commentarius lacks identifying names.  It is possible that the two books were bound in the same workshop.

RTI of Commentarius, back and front                     Photograph of Lady Justice and Lucretia stamps, BL

 

RTI of roll from Commentarius                                   Photographs of rolls, BL

      –Notes by Fionnuala Gerrity

“Reflections on Bindings: Using New Imaging Technology to Study Historical Bindings,” is on display from February 3 - May 24, 2014, on Level L2 in the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.  The curators are Chief Conservator Christine McCarthy and Conservation Assistants Fionnuala Gerrity, Ansley Joe, and Karen Jutzi, Yale University Library.

Institutiones imperiales (Cölle, 1563)
March 13, 2014

Institutiones imperiales latinogermanicae : die vier bücher Institutionum Keisers Ivstiniani… [The Latin-German Institutes of the Emperor: the four books of Emperor Justinian’s Institutes…]. Cöllen: Erben Johann Quentels vnd Gerwinem Galenium, 1563.    

This book contains a parallel text of Emperor Justinian’s Institutes in Latin and German, translated by 16th-century German lawyer Justin Göbler.

The text block is printed on handmade paper in black ink, and sewn on split thongs laced into paper boards made with printer’s waste. The book is covered in alum-tawed skin and blind-tooled with decorative rolls. One roll depicts the biblical characters David and Goliath, and the other is a palmette frieze motif commonly used on books of this period.

The two images above show an RTI of the palmettes roll (left), and a rubbing of a similar roll (right) found in the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve (DELTA 54853 RES, Thomas à Kempis, Opera Omnia).

The image on the left above is an RTI image of the second decorative roll, and on the right are the results of a rubbing of that roll. Using the transcribed text seen in the RTI images of the roll, we were able to find an exact match in Einbandattenbank (EBDB). The text reads DAVID SCHLEGT GOLIATH DEN PHILISTER HAVPTM; “David strikes Goliath, the headman of the Philistines”.

           –Notes by Fionnuala Gerrity. Translation of the title and stamp text is courtesy of Professor Rebekah Ahrendt, Yale Department of Music.

“Reflections on Bindings: Using New Imaging Technology to Study Historical Bindings,” is on display from February 3 - May 24, 2014, on Level L2 in the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.  The curators are Chief Conservator Christine McCarthy and Conservation Assistants Fionnuala Gerrity, Ansley Joe, and Karen Jutzi, Yale University Library.

Institutionum (Nuremberg, 1529)
March 10, 2014

Institutionum : seu elementorum d. Iustiniani … libri quatvor … [Institutes: or elements of Justinian … four volumes…]. Nuremberg: apvd Io. Petreium, 1529.

This binding has a decorative roll depicting Biblical scenes which were identified from the text captions. Using RTI images of the bindings, Karen Jutzi transcribed the text and found the biblical passages from which the phrases derived. Fionnuala Gerrity then searched for other decorative tools containing similar text.

The text on the panels from the decorative roll reads, from left to right:

ECCE VIRGO CONCIPIET

 “Behold a virgin shall conceive” There fore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 

APSORBTA EST MORS [IN VICTORIA]

“Death was swallowed up [in victory] When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortal, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:54

IPSE PECC(A)TA NOSTRA TULIT [IN CORPORE SUO…]

“He himself bore our sins [on his body…]” He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, by this wounds you have been healed.  1 Peter 2:24

      –Notes by Fionnuala Gerrity, and text identification by Karen Jutzi

“Reflections on Bindings: Using New Imaging Technology to Study Historical Bindings,” is on display from February 3 - May 24, 2014, on Level L2 in the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.  The curators are Chief Conservator Christine McCarthy and Conservation Assistants Fionnuala Gerrity, Ansley Joe, and Karen Jutzi, Yale University Library.

Institutionum (Nuremberg, 1529)
March 7, 2014

Institutionum : seu elementorum d. Iustiniani … libri quatvor … [Institutes: or elements of Justinian … four volumes…]. Nuremberg: apvd Io. Petreium, 1529.

This book contains the Institutes of Justinian, a 6th-century codification of Roman law, edited by the 16th-century German jurist Gregor Haloander.

The text block is printed in black ink, and sewn onto split thongs (the bumps along the spine). The boards are made of wood, which was covered in alum-tawed pigskin and decorated with a blind tooled roll, center panel stamps, and a stamped coat of arms on the front cover.

The book was printed in Nuremburg, and the coat of arms stamped on the cover contains the Greater and Lesser coats of arms for the city of Nuremberg underneath the arms of the Holy Roman Empire, with the Austrian State arms in the center. We were unable to identify the coat of arms at the base of design. Examination under a microscope revealed that the coat of arms had once been painted with gold.

           –Notes by Fionnuala Gerrity

                                               

Arms of Holy Roman Emperor                          Greater and Lesser Arms, Nuremberg                       

      Arms Stamped on Cover

“Reflections on Bindings: Using New Imaging Technology to Study Historical Bindings,” is on display from February 3 - May 24, 2014, on Level L2 in the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.  The curators are Chief Conservator Christine McCarthy and Conservation Assistants Fionnuala Gerrity, Ansley Joe, and Karen Jutzi, Yale University Library.

Ryan Greenwood
March 6, 2014

Ryan Greenwood, our 2013/14 Rare Book Fellow, is the subject of the latest “Bright Young Librarians” feature in the blog of Fine Books & Collections Magazine, “profiling the next generation of special collection librarians and curators.” Ryan discusses his background and his views on special collections librarianship.

Ryan had this to say about the future of special collections librarianship:

I think one key is the synergy between digital projects and special collections and rare book librarianship. The huge number of digital projects are varied, useful and appealing for librarians, various other educators and audiences, and they will continue to point back to the physical collections which underlie them. At the same time the easy access and appeal of digital collections challenges rare book and special collections departments to expand outreach and teaching opportunities in new ways, and to promote new digital projects. It’s a complimentary process which pushes libraries outward, and encourages increased collaboration with academic departments and other institutions.

Amen.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

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