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Collecting for the Boston Athenæum in the 21st Century: Rare Books and Manuscripts

April - August 2014

The Little School

This Exhibition is a celebration of some of the most beautiful and important rare books and manuscripts acquired by the Library since 2000. Some were gifts to the Athenæum by generous donors. Most were purchased using the income from the numerous endowed book funds established by members and friends of the Library. These named book funds have been essential to the growth of the Library’s book collections and continue to honor the memory of those people who realized that important collections need to grow.

As befits the Athenæum’s extensive Rare Book and Manuscript Collections, these recent additions range widely in date and place of production. Many of the books to be exhibited are handsomely illustrated such as Thomas Pattison Yeats’ Institutions of Entomology which is celebrated for the individual life-size paintings of insects that were added to the pages of the book by Louisa, Countess of Aylesford. La Création, which was printed in Paris by Francois-Louis Schmeid in 1928, is illustrated by numerous multicolored art deco woodblock prints.

Fine bindings will also be featured in the exhibit. A particularly unusual one of engraved tortoise shell dating from 1693 covers The Truest and Largest Account of the late Earthquake in Jamaica. Sybil Pye, a self taught English binder who was active in the first half of the 20th century created the distinctive binding for T. Sturge Moore’s The Little School which was printed by the Eragny Press on vellum in 1905.

Stanley Ellis Cushing
Anne C. and David J. Bromer Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts