One of the most interesting aspects of researching rare books is finding signs of use that a volume has accrued over the centuries. Ownership inscriptions, marginal annotations, bookplates, and bindings are all clues as to where a book has been and who has used it over its long life. A 500-year old book that looks like it has never been read is a perplexing problem.
John McQuillen's blog
In the spring of 2019 former Morgan trustee Jayne Wrightsman bequeathed to the museum an exceptional collection of books bound for the highest echelons of eighteenth-century French society. This donation forms the core of the exhibition Bound for Versailles: The Jayne Wrightsman Bookbindings Collection, on view through January 30, 2022.
One of my favorite aspects of my job as a curator at the Morgan Library & Museum is when high school and university classes come to see rare materials. The Morgan is not affiliated with a university, so, like Chaucer’s pilgrims, classes must make a bit of a trek to visit these relics.
This is the rare first edition of an illustrated treatise on the Shroud of Turin, written 15 years after its translation from Chambéry, France to Turin, Italy.
One of the first books printed in Italy is St. Augustine’s De civitate dei. It was printed at the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco on 12 June 1467 by Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz. A recent reference request took me to our copy of the Subiaco De civitate dei. As was traditional, the printers left space in the type-set page for the addition of hand decoration and painted letters. The style of painting often tells you were the book ended up after it left the printing press and hopefully who its first owner was. The Morgan’s De civitate dei left Subiaco and crossed the Alps to Salzburg, where the artist Ulrich Schreier decorated the book for Bernhard von Kraiburg (1412–1477), Bishop of Chiemsee (Bavaria).