Exquisite Venitian Library

20160825_160649This past August, my husband and I had the good fortune to travel to Europe.  We spent a week in Lucerne, Switzerland, attending spectaular concerts at the renowned Lucerne Music Festival and hiking in the Alps with friends. After traveling by train to Italy, we visited Lucca, Florence and Cinque Terra, walking for miles, and loving the history and beauty of the area.

From there, we took the train to Venice, where we took in many of the wonderful museums and explored the city. One of the museums we visited was the Museo Correr in Venice, Italy. The Correr sits directly across Piazza San Marco from Basilica San Marco, and is steps away from the Grand Canal. There is an awe-inspiring amount of history and culture in just this one small area but I am going to focus on one exhibit in the Correr.

20160825_160013Within the museum is the Pisani Library, a room filled with beautiful walnut bookcases that came from the Pisani family palace at San Vidal. The Pisanis, an aristocratic family in Venice from the 12th to 18th centuries, were an important influence on the culture and politics of the time. According to the Museo Correr, they were “the first to set up what might be called a library-museum, in an attempt to endow the city’s publishing industry with its own aura of grandeur and munificent service to the State.”

The bookcases today are filled with “rare manuscripts and printed works, dating from the early Sixteenth Century to the end of the 20160825_155946Eighteenth.” Surrounding the shelves are display cases with beautiful books from the 1500-1600s.

The chandelier hanging above was made from Murano glass in the 1700s. Murano is a series of small islands just outside of Venice and has been home to glass-making since 1291, when the glassmakers of Venice were forced to move there due to20160825_155711 fear of fire within the city and its wood buildings.

It was fascinating and awe-inspiring to view the intricate artwork in books from hundreds of years ago. I’m grateful that people such as the Pisani family valued their libraries and preserved the world’s heritage through books. During this “digital age,” let’s not forget the importance and endurance of the printed page.

New York City Library

My husband and I recently spent a few days in New York City, visiting our son. In addition to visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art (both of which I heartily recommend), we took a tour of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library. What a wonderful experience! And free!

The tour was given by a vivacious, enthusiastic and knowledgeable LIon_Libraryvolunteer, who brought amazing history to life throughout the library. The building was constructed on the foundation of a reservoir, with the cornerstone laid in 1902.

FrontWindows_LibraryBefore you even enter the building, you are greeted by two iconic statues. The majestic lions, nicknamed Patience and Virtue, are made of a rose-colored marble. Once inside the front lobby, the gorgeous huge front windows are worth turning around to view.

The first room we visited was the Dewitt Wallace Periodical Room. According to the tour guide, DeWitt and Lila Bell Wallace spent many hours reading and cultivating articles from the Library’s collection before founding the Reader’s Digest Magazine in 1922. The Wallaces ReadingRoom_Librarygave generously after becoming wealthy and The Wallace Foundation funded the restoration in 1983 of The Periodical Room that served as their informal editorial office. The ornate ceiling looks like wood but is actually plaster. The beautiful murals are described in detail on the library website.

Another highlight of the tour was the Gutenberg Bible on display upstairs. Johannes Gutenberg was the first European to usGutenbergBible_Librarye movable metal type in the production of books, a much faster system than handwriting or woodblock print. The New York Public Library’s copy of the Gutenberg Bible, one of only about 180 produced, was donated by James Lenox, who was one of the co-founders of the library.

 

 
Surrounding the Gutenberg Bible is a set of four arched murals called The Story of the Recorded Word. These murals, created between 1938 to 1942, were part of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project.  The first mural shows Moses with the Ten Commandments, as depicted in Exodus of the Old Testament; in the second a monk from the Middle Ages copies a manuscript; the third mural shows Gutenberg with a proof of his Bible; and the fourth depicts Ottmar Mergenthaler at a linotype machine.

This is only a small portion of the artwork and information shown us during the tour. I would encourage you to visit yourself if you are able.

 

 

Donating books

GaborKorvinGabor Korvin has been a wonderful and supportive customer of Bookplate Ink’s for many years, during which time he has ordered several thousand bookplates. Like many bookplate customers, he is devoted to one design; in his case, design B208, or “The Bookworm.” This is an adaptation of German Romanticist painter/poet Carl Spitzweg’s famous satirical painting, which was originally published as a bookplate by the Etchcraft Company, then introduced by the Antioch Bookplate Company in the 1950s. Many people refer to it simply as “the man on the ladder.”Gabor_book

Korvin is a professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals in Saudi Arabia. I wasn’t aware until last year that he is an avid collector of Oriental books and has been donating his collection to The Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, where he was presented with their Teleki Medal in 2010. Korvin has donated more than 2000 volumes to the library and continues to send them rare and important books every week.

I was thrilled to hear that librarians at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences have told Korvin that readers frequently ask “Has any new book arrived with the old man on the ladder”?

Korvin_booksI asked how he goes about obtaining these rare books. He wrote, “There are so many steps of getting a new Oriental book: it starts from months or years of search, then finding it in auction lists, bidding, winning, waiting for weeks for its arrival, picking up the parcel at the Post Office, carefully opening it, reading some pages at random, but it only becomes really mine when I put in my bookplate. It has become such an important habit with me that I never travel without taking a few dozen of them.”