The second full day of the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS) Book Tour, Friday, June 5th, began by the members being split into two groups. My group went to the Library Company of Philadelphia, a short walk from our hotel.
This is America's Oldest Cultural Institution, founded on July 1, 1731
by Benjamin Franklin. The fascinating history can be found on Google. In
short, books were expensive and by banding together men who had much
smaller means could amass a collection larger
than any one person was able to afford. Shares were sold for 40
shillings, and each shareholder promised 10 chillings a year to purchase
Upon entering, we turned to the left into a display are. James N. Green,
Librarian, had several of his assistants giving us this section of the
tour. I found the following books and documents to be most interesting.
All centered around a celebration of the
150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation:
"Northern Black Activism After The Civil War - 1865+"
Reconstruction Amendments to the Constitution: 13th, 14th, 15th
"History of the Negro Race in America 1619-1880" George Williams, 1883
"The Tragedy of The Negro in America" Rev. P. Thomas Stanford, 1899
"The Underground Railroad - A Record" William Still, 1872, Porter and Coates:Philadelphia
"Music and Some Highly Musical People" James Trotter, 1878, Boston
"The Afro-American Press and Its Editors" I. Garland Pean, 1891, Springfield, Mass. Wiley and Company
"The Work of the Afro-American Woman" Mrs. N. F. Mossell, 1894, Philadelphia
"History of the African Methodest Episcopal Church" Daniel A. Payne, Two parts in One Volume, 1891, Nashville, Illinois
"to Teach The Negro History: A Suggestion" David McKay, Philadelphia, 1897, small paper chapbook
"The Black Phalanx: A History of Negro Soldiers of the United States in
the Wars of 1775-1812, 1861-1865" Hartford Publishing, decorated red
cover with gold imprint
"A History of the Negro Troop in the War of the Rebellion 1861-1865"
Harper Brothers, 1888, decorated in tan cloth with black soldier, title
"Freedom and Citizenship - Selected Letters and Addresses" Hon. John Mercer Langston, U. S. Minister at Haiti
Pamphlets: Senate Committee, Voting and Labor, General Assembly of Ohio
Our next stop was the Print Department. Over 100,000 items are stored here. These fine examples were on display:
Goodyear's Poster, 18th c.
Cartoons into the 20th c.
A Voting Stump Bear, 1910, boxed with a flag in the background of the
box, and the bear with arms outstretched and large letters saying VOTE!
An 1892 View of the Proposed Falls Bridge over the Schuylkill River, from the Department of Public Works
The Allegheny Tunnel: a large photo album oat Galatzen by Frederic Goodyannce, photographer (All 92 photos are on line.)
Record of House Decorations, in drawings with the appropriate colors in each room and on the furniture. Most colorful!
Two books on line: "Philadelphia Businesses" and "An Exhibit of Philadelphia in Stone" lithographs from 1828-1878
Peterson Bookshop (posters)
"Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collector Libraries - PACSCL"
Thank you to the print department for a most interesting array of artifacts.
Back on the first floor, we ended our tour in the reading room, where
head librarian James N. Green had a large display table of show-and-tell
items from his 500,000 book collection. This is an Independent Library
and they helped found the IRLA, Independent
Research Libraries Association. Funding for the Library Company comes
from Library Members, shareholders, endowments, grants, PACSCL, and the
subscription library fees. Major exhibits are given throughout the year.
In 2016, "World War I Affects The Library
Company" will feature 300 World War I posters. The exhibit we were
seeing today are as follows:
"M. T. Ciceros CATO MAJOR On His Discourse of Old Age: with explanatory notes" Benjamin Franklin:Philadelphia, 1744
"Fruits of Philosophy or The Private Companion of Young Married People"
by a physician with "Knowledge Is Wealth" printed on the bottom of the
front cover, a miniature meant to be concealed in a pocket, beige
leather, NY 1832, pamphlet on birth control and
sex. The impact was delayed, but the physician ended up in jail. The
1870's were the real beginnings of birth control.
"Map of LA: History of Louisiana" Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton of Mr. LePage DuPratz. This is available to be seen on line.
Broadside: Death of King George Lamented in Pennsylvania by Charles Knollton
"The Legacy of Lucy Stone - 1818-1893" Born in West Brookfield,
Massachusetts, she graduated from Oberlin in 1847. Illustrated News, May
28, 1853, p.345.
One Life Mask: George Washington
Two Death Masks: Napoleon Bonaparte and Abraham Lincoln
"An Elegice Poem" George Whitefield, sold by Ezekiel Russell (England) Queen Street and John Boyles on Marlboro Street
"The Federalist - Vol. I of 2" J and A Mclean
Leaf designs, designed by Franklin, which make paper money (script) hard to counterfeit.
The room we were in was filled with Franklin items: A large Electric
Generator sits on a stand, and a long electric tube is in a case (This
came with many from England.) This is the James Logan Room and has
William Penn's desk in the corner. Logan gave the
largest collection housed at The Library Company. There is a box with a
lion's head painted with an open slit for monetary donations and titled
Franklin was known for taking inventions and making them work even
better. His complete library is here, with many books notated. In the
1800s more literature was added, and in 1950 a complete reorganization
made it a research library so that historians could
use it more effectively.
Thank you for such a grand tour. Franklin has left his mark on all of us!
Our next visit was right
next door to The Library Company, The Historical Society of
Pennsylvania. This is primarily an archive. Lee Arnold greeted us. He
is Senior Director of the Society's library.
The Conservation Lab was our first stop where we met Erin Paulson and
Carissa Schulze. They were hired to examine and perform the conservation
and preservation measures to save the Collection of the Wells Fargo
Bank of North America - 1780-1920. This was the
first bank in the United States. An oversize ledger was on their tall
table which had a large surface and was very well lit to eliminate as
many shadows as possible. Another large tome being saved by these
experts was "The Land Book of 1830," plots that were
rented out by the bank, in which the artist added some very nice water
colors for various areas. They were tacking the joints of the detached
covers. Another volume was from 1781-1806 which held entries of funding
for the revolution. The whole project is a
three-year grant program. by the Bank of North America.
Another fascinating larger book contained the collections that one man
made of different flora as he toured through Europe in the 1860s. The
job here was to keep the flowers, stems. roots and leaves from falling
apart and preserve the paper as well. A large
and delicate project and very beautiful.
There were many projects on the tables with problems from split spines,
broken thread on the signatures , covers with stains, pages with
foxing, photographs to clean up, tears to mend, and water damage to
remove. Quite a wonderful profession! These ladies
have a very special calling.
Thank you for the tour.
We continued to the Information Commons. The Historical Society of
Pennsylvania was founded in 1824. It was 21,000,000 (yes million) items,
including 203,000 visuals, 312,000 graphics, 560,000 books. The oldest
entry of record is a 1479 letter from Lorenzo
di Midici which is in the Autograph Collection. Their funding comes
from $40,000 in restricted yet separate funds each year for these three
areas: American Indians, the
Cumberland Valley, and Buildings No Longer in Philadelphia. The display cases showed the following:
"WPA Indian Costumes" drawings
Watercolors (15) of the Civil War
Violet Oakley (muralist in the State Capital) sketch books
"Underground Railroad" William Still
1800's watercolor - David Kennedy
Penn Family Papers which holds an Indian receipt of $10,000 for land in Fort Stanwix, PA, july 28, 1769
Map in French "en camp at Valley Forge"
Martha Washington's Cookbook in her writing
Washington's Household Account Book (from when this was the capital and the Washington's lived here)
Harriet Taubman's account of slaves brought in on Dec. 29, 1854. All are listed, described and their history preserved.
"The Articles of Confederation in Lancaster" 1777-1778 in German
The most impressive article, however, was reading George Washington's
own written diary account of his slow death. It brought tears to your
eyes. You could feel his depression and pain. This great man had given
We were to return to this room Saturday morning for our annual
Symposium. But I knew that I could not enter this room without
remembering those famous diary notes of Washington.
As we continued to another room, we were told the Society was a
repository of paper in 1790. Then it began to have a special collections
emphasis as many families started giving them their entire family tree
histories, There have been many venues as they grew.
In 1824 they formerly became
the HSP and in 1910 they decided to build here. It is $100% fireproof
with 19 storage vaults, 5 on each floor, sealed off. In the 1950s they
restored another room and made it exactly like the older rooms, a
seamless extension. Last year South Eastern Pennsylvania,
New Jersey and Delaware merged with the HSP. They added their
manuscripts, family histories and scholarly books to the HSP collection.
The display cases tell more stories:
The Sumiko Kobayashi Papers from December 20, 1945: an exhibit of suffrage and women who are exceptional.
Violet Oakley, large mural sketch books of the murals she did for the
State Capital. (She is considered our First American Artist.)
The Caroline Katzenstein Paper Collection: 1910-1920s, shows public
programs and primary documents of a work study program (Drexel
1,300,000 card catalog items
Thanks to Page Talbot, President of the HSP who helped us to understand
how important these libraries are to all of us. Her group funds many
public programs to get the word out about the Society. She is a dynamic
leader. Thank you so much to everyone who
arranged and explained these impressive archives.
Lunchtime has come. Where do we go? Well, somewhere historical, of course…The Franklin Inn Club!
The Clubhouse is located on the last wood street in Philadelphia. when
you enter you are met with the features of numerous caricatures of Inn
Members by artists Alfred Bendiner and Wyncie King. and upstairs in the
library by the art works of Howard Pyle and
R. Tait McKenzie. According to the documentation we were given, the Club
banishes stuffiness and pretension, and is a warm and comfortable
haven, where you can enjoy a leisurely meal (lunch) and excellent
conversation with fellow Innmates! Founded in 1902,
it has a list of famous Philadelphians too long to mention. And when
major celebrations are in order, they open for dinner, making sure the
fellowship continues into the wee hours.
We were very comfortable in this setting, conversation flowed and the food was delicious. Thank you to the chef and waitstaff.
Now on to our three afternoon venues. The first is the Boston
Athenaeum, a private lending library founded in 1814 to collect
materials, resources for design, architecture, and the decorative and
fine arts. The building was designed in 1845 by John Notman.
The high ceilings and large rooms leave space for the high decor which
represents the mid-19th century American room.
This month's exhibit, "The Atlas Imagined," was a collaborative project
of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers.
Thirty-nine members made an edition of maps depicting a place - real or
imagined. Then they exchanged maps and bound them into
a book or made a unique box. A very interesting display.
Their book collection contains 200,00 drawings and 300,000 photos. The
furniture and art is unique with the centerpiece being the old Isaiah
Lukens Grandfather Clock, c.1840. It was brought here in 1859 and
electrified in 1923. (Isaiah was the son of Seneca
Lukens, clockmaker, 1751-1829.) This clock stands nearly two stories
tall in the Henry Paul Busch Reading Room. Other objects around the
Library include a large Maltby Globe (1867) made in England and part of
the Josephine Bonaparte Room Collection. From the
George Miller Estate came a large bookcase which has on its shelf a bust
of Minerva. She is the Roman Goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom,
commerce, weaving, crafts and magic. Her counterpart is the muse for the
Athenaeum, Athena, Greek Goddess of Wisdom. So
Minerva is put in a place of honor, in fact, when Edgar Allan Poe saw
this in1838 (at a different location) he captured her in this poem "The
Raven." A display case held sheet music titled "The Battle of
Waterloo". This composition by G. Anderson was composed
and dedicated o the Duke of Wellington in 1815, and published in 1816.
There also is a chess room here, and a table with an oil cloth checker
We went to the second floor to view the clock and also see a fine
display of materials which reflect the holdings of the Athenaeum. Sandra
Tatman, who edited a wonderful book, "Treasures of the Athenaeum,"
which we were each given, (Thank you so much!), led
our tour of the display:
"Unknown Quantity" Henry Van Dyke, decorated book cover signed Margaret Armstrong, MA, from the van Dyke Collection
"A Cabin in the Clearing" poem by Robert Frost, printed at Joseph Blumenthals Spiral Press (Frost's friend, and so inscribed)
"A Boy's Will" Robert Frost, published by David Nutt: London 1913. Frost's first book, inscribed and signed.
"Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys" Amelia B. Edwards, about archeological digs, decorated cover
"The Course of True Love never Did Run Smooth" Charles Reade
Chattto-Windus:London 1887, no illustrations. They have hundreds of
these "bokes," for "Adult Reading" (advertising on the back) and sold
for 10 cents each.
"Shop: Furniture, Draperies, etc." 1885, William Whitely, Ltd., architectural designs
"Le Magasin de Meubles" Victor Quentin (Designs for inside the house)
"Plant Placement" 1870 landscape architecture inside and out
Framed architectural drawing "the Architectural Dome of the United States Congress - Dome Top Statue" sold to Congress
"Gebedenbock" Anthony Slater, Netherlands 1485
"Psalterium maius Beatae Mariae Virgini: Prayers and Devotional Exercises in Netherlandie" 1485
"Rural Architecture" Plaw 1802
"Pain's Pracitcal Building 1792 Boston
Collection of books into English from Foreign Languages: Rare
Bicentennial manuscript of a gala here and a film produced about the Athenaeum by Sam Katz
Thomas Sully paintings of Lydia Leaming in 1806, and then 20 years later
after she had had five children as Mrs. James S. Smith, looking very
Thank you again for such a treat. We were honored to be here and see
your stunning collections. This Athenaeum stands tall with others across
Now we are going to the American Philosophical Society.
The tour of the American
Philosophical Society began with Charles Michaelstein, Librarian, who
told us the history behind this prestigious scholarly institution. It
was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743 and
its members included Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and many prominent
Americans. The Museum hold over 300,000 books and important documents,
11,000,000 manuscripts, maps, scientific specimens and instruments, and
many other artifacts. Exhibits link history,
art and science. Currently there are three exhibitions concerning Thomas
Jefferson. The membership is over 1,000 with 76 as the average age.
Sandra Day O'Connor, Yoyo Ma, Ian Wilson and others were elected to
membership in one of six different categories:
Biology, Math, Sciences, Human Arts, and Public Affairs. In 1769 the
Society became unified and began promoting useful knowledge to the
public as a main goal. In 1959 they moved to the present building
across from Independence Hall. They received grants to
fund The Native American Exhibit, and The Thomas Jefferson and Science
Exhibit. Other collections include 20th Century Scientist with over 250
shelf feet of materials, and Benjamin Franklin's Papers with over 60
feet of shelf space. There are also 600 letters
of Charles Darwin (the largest outside of England) and Franz Boaz
Papers. Father of Modern Anthropology, Boaz applied science to his
findings on the History of Science, American History and Native American
There are many more impressive materials here. An interesting story
involves one artifact, a letter. Jean-Pierre Blanchard (1753-1809), a
French balloonist, asked his friend, American physician John Jeffries to
fly with him over the English Channel to France.
They would be taking a packet of letters, thus, the first international,
airmail delivery would take place. However, as they flew over the White
Cliffs of Dover, the balloon began to slowly descend. So they started
shedding weight…the barometer, then one bottle
of brandy…then the guide wires on the basket went into the channel, then
they dropped their anchors overboard, and finally they took off their
clothes, one by one into the deep, and surprise, they began to slowly
ascend to a landing in Felmores Forest, France.
Only one letter survived the crash, and the museum has it. Blanchard was
quite the experimenter. He took a dog ballooning, made a parachute for
him and it must have worked, because he tried the same thing on
himself. However, his ending was tragic as he fell
out of his basket over the Hague acquiring injuries which led to his
death. His wife, Marie, took up the sport and several years later she
too perished from a crash. Before these events, George Washington
watched Blanchard take off in his balloon from Washington
Prison Yard, here in Philadelphia. Blanchard ended up in Gloucester
County, New Jersey, not quite where he wanted to go.
Thomas Jefferson always surprises. I did not know that one of his
interests was collecting vocabularies of various languages so he could
correspond with someone in their native tongue, One of these letters
survives, here in the Society, in unka shaw (Hindi).
Jefferson was president at the Executive Mansion, It took Grover
Cleveland to label it The White House.
In the Darwin Collection, one of Darwin's letters to his publishers,
titled his most famous book "Origin of Species." However, when he
received the book from the publisher, the title was changed to "On The
Origin of Species by Means Of Natural Selection - or
The Struggle For Life." The Flamsteed "Star Atlas" has the first
astrological map of Hercules, Pegasus and Taurus. But the publisher went
bankrupt, and only 12 copies are extant. The "Messier Object," an
atlas that highlighted fuzzy or faded stars, claimed
to find the "Crab Nebula" but this 1750 atlas, turned out to be wrong.
Col. Richard Gimbel (1898-1970) amassed The Thomas Paine Collection
(1692-1921), with material that goes beyond Paine. However, the
materials include three first editions of Paine's "Common Sense." Also,
there are 65 manuscripts in Paine's own hand correspondence
between Paine and Samuel Adams.
"The Bachelor's Hall" by George Webb, was published in 1731 by Benjamin
Franklin…the only known copy. Webb wrote this poem in a bar along the
Delaware which was frequented by bachelors, The poem defends the
Whoops! The fire alarms just went off, and under city law that means the
building must be evacuated and fire trucks must be brought to the
So all went into the courtyard across the street, spending about 30
minutes under a beautiful tree watching the reinactors of the
Revolutionary War and the storytellers, who we thought were homeless
people at first. We then went back into the APS, only to learn
the cause for the fire alarm was a carpenter who was drilling too close
to an alarm causing a heat reaction, hence, the fire alarm. Never a
We thanked our hosts and their grand display of one of a kind artifacts.
Where else do you see or hear these wonderful stories of our history.
Thank you so much APS.
Our next stop was the Center For Judaic Studies, the National Museum of
American Jewish History. This is a Smithsonian affiliate, and the only
major museum with major collections of the Jewish experience in
America. There are three floors of documents, artifacts,
photographs, films and interactive exhibits. The first Jewish community
was in New York in 1654 and exists there to the present. All topics,
including discrimination are covered. Due to recent international
events, this museum is under heavy security. Thank
you so much for arranging things for us to see. My article is just a
short one as I asked one of the members of the trip to write up this
visit as it was close to her heart. So, to be continued.
Our next stop was the Chemical Heritage Foundation. It is based in the
renovated 1865 First National Bank Building. The first floor has many
displays around the important role chemistry, chemical engineering and
other sciences play in making our life easier
and more interesting. There are scientific instruments, rare books,
personal papers of scientists, and lots of art work. The main exhibit
was titled "Books of Secrets: Writing and Reading Alchemy." Alchemists
practiced the art of transforming matter, manipulating
raw materials to intensify existing properties or to produce new ones or
more desirable qualities of them. Alchemists circulated their recipes
and procedures in writing, hiding their most closely guarded secrets in
plain sight. Words and symbols communicated
recipes/procedures in coded language. For the first time in a single
exhibition at CHF, rare alchemical manuscripts are seen alongside
centuries-old art depicting alchemists at work. The Othmer library
presented even more wonders to us . This is what I remember
of this large exhibit:
Ink from Gall Nuts (medieval manuscript inks)
1456-75 two alchemical miniatures from "das Buch der Heilgen Dreifaltigkeit"
1498 Venice "Liber de Secretis Nature Sew de Quintaesentia"
An alchemica furnace, 1960s
Hand-blown flat bottomed round flasks
"Sammelband of Three Alchemical Treatises" 1560-1567
"Book of Secrets: Secreti Naturali" Northwestern Italy 1425-1450
"De Alchimiae Opuscula Quae Sequintur" Nurenberg: Johannes Petrius
Opera: "Christophorus Parisinsis" Palermo 1557
"Codicillus" Pseudo-Lull, Northern Italy 1450-1500
"Sammelband of Assaying Manuscripts" caspar Hahse, Jacob Wohlgemudt and two unnamed others Bohemia 1577
"De Secrets Nature" Pseudo-Lull Augsburg 1518
Woodcut Image from "Pandora, das ist, die edleste Gab Gottes" Franciscus Epinmetheses pseudonym Basil 1582
And, I loved all of these beautiful paintings:
"An Alchemist Laboratory" 1807-1865 Karl Frederich Muller
"Alchemist 17th c." David teniers the Younger 1610-1690
"The Alchemist and His Wife" Jacques Hammerer 1612-1661
"The Alchemist" with a mother by a cradle 17th c. Thomas Wijck 1616-1677
"The Alchemist and His Assistant" 17th c. Henrich Heerschop 1620-1677
"The Alchemist With Monkey" 17th-18th c. in manner of David Teniers the Younger 1610-1690
"The Bald-Headed Chemist" 17th c. after David Teniers the Younger 1610-1690
"The Alchemist" 17th c. Thomas Wijck 1616-1677
In the Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Library of Chemical History, these were displayed:
"A. Faber De Faur Notebook: Notes on Herman von Fehlings Lectures 1843-44
Sketchbook: sketches of crystals 1905 Charles Henry Smith, Jr.
Letter of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) to Wininialeis of France, Spet. 5,
1866. Pasteur chides them for not using his pasteurization process.
"History of Science and Technology" Joseph Priestly
Letters from Nobel Prize Winners:
Paul Lauterbur, Physiology or Medicine 2003 Development of the Magnetic
Resonance Imaging (MRI) with Peter Mansfield and the napkin where he
sketched the MRI. Then he rushed out and bought a 79 cent notebook,
wrote it down, and submitted it for a patent.
Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) American Architect, Cabon molecule shaped
like a soccer ball, geodesic dome, c60 Buckyball and the first sketch
his fullerene, Sept. 11, 1985, Fullerene Olive Oil.
Richard Smally 1996 Nobel Prize
Glenn Seaborg (1912-1999) American Chemist, 1951 Nobel Prize in
Chemistry, appointed US Representative to the IAE Agency; an Hon. member
of 1972 USSR Academy of Science, the Swedish Academy of Science Hon.
member and member of the University of Paris since
1972 with an Hon. degree in 1996 for discovering plutonium among many
others, one named for him
Honorary Membership from John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Baldwin poster of a patent for herbal medicines, a life invigorating remedy for nervousness, disability
6 Miles of shelvings of "stuff," 4 miles of books/rpinted materials/rare
books/ periodic charts/photos (tens of thousands), a nylon wedding
dress made from a parachute, silicone chips, astronomy books with a
chemical basis in the stars
Etching of Museum Wormianum Hostorica Rerum Rariorium, Worm's Closet of
Curiosities, Copenhagen, Denmark, Olao Worm, Medical Doctor, Lugduni
Batavorium 1655 (One of the First Collectors!)
"Magixk in XX Bookes" John Baptists Porto 1652
"Museum Hermeticum Reformatum at Amplificatum" 1678 Francofurli
"Utorisqu Cosmi Historia" 1517 Anthore Roberto Flud
After viewing this magnificent collection we had cocktails in their
atrium with some delicious nibbles. Thank you so much for a very
impressive display which represents the millions of materials you have
obtained. It was a pleasure meeting you all and a great
way to end our Friday of tours.
Several of us went to dinner then at "Amada" an incredible Spanish tapas
restaurant. Our hosts were Bruce and Wendy McKittrick and Lois Smith
was our social director The company was outstanding, and after almost
three hours of eating I can almost remember every
bite. The wines disappeared and then there was more. What an evening
of feasting. Thank you everyone!
Joan Knoertzer, Book Club of Detroit, Florida Bibliophile Society, Miniature Book Society, Clements Library of Americana