Category Archives: Rare Books & Journals

Pre-1914 books and serials, pre-1871 journals, and pamphlets and dissertations.

Detail the edge painting image. March 22

Art on the Edge

By Ken Koyle, Ginny Roth, and Krista Stracka Hedley Vicars was not a war hero. He was not a renowned strategist or tactician; his presence on the battlefield did not strike fear in the hearts of his enemies. In fact, Captain Hedley Vicars was killed by a Russian musket ball during his first direct combat […]

Detail from a manuscript book in German with figures depicting cirles and celestial orbits in red and black ink. March 14

A Piece of Pi: Historical Perspectives from NLM

By Kenneth M. Koyle and Jeffrey S. Reznick Today is Pi Day, the internationally-recognized event when communities of various disciplines come together to celebrate the importance and significance of the Greek letter π, the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant—the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter—which is approximately 3.14159. […]

An illustratration of a man bowing to a woman under a canopy in the desert in silhouette. February 14

The Lay of the Lonesome Lung, 1881

By Krista Stracka Since the end December, the aisles of most drug stores have been awash in red and pink products in anticipation of today, Valentine’s Day, a holiday often expressed through gift-giving—a retailer’s favorite tradition. The flood of love-themed commercials, advertisements, circulars, billboards, and clickbait pour in on every side through today hopeful to […]

Caricature of food consumption; two men and a woman eating ice cream. December 29

Sup on a Syllabub

By Anne Rothfeld Want an intriguing dessert from the past to satisfy your present day holiday palate? Serve the syllabub: a cream-based treat, mixed with sweet wine and lemon juice, then whipped with cream until frothy, and garnished with a seasonal herb. The acids, which rise from the lemons to firm the cream, then separate […]

The decorative cover of a hardback book, green with a holly-like decorative border. December 23

Mr. Kris Kringle, 1893

By Margaret Kaiser It is Christmas eve, a Christmas with no presents and the loss of the family home, until a surprising visitor appears… Mr. Kris Kringle is the charming and sentimental story of a young family reunited at Christmas through the intercession of a mysterious visitor.  It was written by Silas Weir Mitchell to […]

November 29

A Book Unfinished: Paracelsus in Hand-Press Sheets

By Stephen J. Greenberg Books today, as physical objects, have reached a very odd place in our consciousness. Readers are increasingly offered books (or at least texts—there is a difference: books are physical objects; texts are their intellectual contents) in a bewildering array of electronic alternatives. Print (on paper) is dead, we are told, at […]

A realistic line drawing of the palm of a left hand marked with lines, numbers and symbols. October 31

Palmistry: The Future in the Palm of Your Hand

By Atalanta Grant-Suttie Some people think palmistry (or chiromancy as it is sometimes known) is hocus pocus and that it is all nonsense.  How can lines and bumps in the palm of the hand foretell your future?  Yet, you can find palm readers all over the world; you may have one in your area.  Palmistry […]