Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Roll in the Hay Library at 100

BROCK & Company, C.T.
The History, description & price list of
C. T. Brock & Co's "Crystal Palace" Fireworks Ltd. ... ,
London: C. T. Brock & Co, 1938.

(All Images Courtesy Of Brown University John Hay Library.)

Brown University's John Hay Library marks his 100th birthday in November of 2010. To celebrate, Mr. Hay had quite a few options:

He could have given out John Hay Cigars:

W.W. Stewart originally established John Hay Cigars in 1882 in Newmanstown, Pennsylvania.
Or he could have had a fireworks display:

BROCK & Company, C.T.
The History, description & price list of
C. T. Brock & Co's "Crystal Palace" Fireworks Ltd. ... ,
London: C. T. Brock & Co, 1938.

Through the generosity of Paul Dupee, The John Hay Library acquired the premier collection of books and manuscripts devoted to the history of recreational fireworks. The collection was assembled by Chris A. Philip, one of Great Britain's foremost pyrotechnists, and author of the standard reference work on the subject, A Bibliography of Firework Books (Winchester, 1985).

Or he could have sent flowers from one of his many "gardens":

Tulipa Gesneriana From The Temple Of Flora, 1799
By Robert Thornton.
Hand-coloured engraving: 57cm x 46cm.

Robert Thornton vowed that his book, Temple of Flora would be the most magnificent botanical publication ever. Exotic plants were lavishly illustrated in dramatic landscape settings. The extravagant costs of publishing this sumptuous book ruined Thornton financially. His wordy, overblown text and the use of poems and quotations from literature to describe each plant were aimed much more at the wealthy amateur flower fancier than at the scientific market. The plates produced for the book were unique in that Thornton set each flower in "scenery appropriate to the subject", creating magnificent coloured plates of plants in highly stylised, romanticized settings.

MERIAN, Mariæ Sibillæ.
Dissertatio de generatione et metamorphosibus insectorum Surinamensium :
In quâ, præter vermes et erucas Surinamenses,
earumque admirandam metamorphosin, plantæ, flores & fructus,
quibus vescuntur, & quibus fuerunt inventæ, exhibentur...
Amstelædami, : apud Joannem Oosterwyk, MDCCXIX. [1719]

Maria Sibylla Merian was a Swiss naturalist who was among the first to study and record tropical moths, butterflies, and other insects. Originally published in Amsterdam in 1705, the edition owned by the Hay, one of the first books about the flora and fauna of Surinam, has additional plates provided by the author's daughters, from material found after her death.

Or he could have given a lavish dinner, featuring a menu of exotic dishes:

The Blowfish From From Ippolito Salviani’s 1557
Aquatilium animalium historiae, liber primus.

An early and very important treatise on fish, abundantly and accurately illustrated with many beautiful engravings depicting creatures of the sea. Not much is known of the artist(s) who designed the plates, but generally it is assumed that Nicolas Beatricetto was responsible for the title-page and some of the fish illustrations, and that most of the illustrations are by Antoine Lafréry. Salviani (1514-1572) studied medicine in Rome and developed a specialisation in natural history in the field of ichthyology. He became the protégée of cardinal Cervini, later Pope Marcellus II, who stimulated and financed his study of fish, not only on the coast of Italy but also in other Mediterranean and Northern European regions.

Watercolor of the John Hay Library by Jill Armstrong, 1990.
Brown University Archives, John Hay Library.

(Honestly, He hasn't aged much in the last 20 years--no more recent picture available...)

In the end, however, the John Hay Library thought he was looking really good for his age, and decided to have an exhibit showcasing some of his greatest treasures. Pictures from the Hay celebrates the Hay centennial through a selection of visual materials—paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, artifacts and documents. The exhibition provides a glimpse of the many important works of visual art and culture found within the five million books, monographs, manuscripts, broadsides, photographs, prints, postage stamps, and sheets of music held by the John Hay Library.

The Library is named for John Hay, a member of the Class of 1858. Perhaps the most famous Brown graduate of his day, John Hay accepted the position of private secretary to Abraham Lincoln at the age of 22, and thus began a long career in government. In addition to numerous diplomatic posts, he served as Secretary of State under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Hay also worked as a journalist, editing the New York Tribune for six years. And John Hay was a bibliophile as well, especially delighting in volumes of poetry. He died in 1905, and in 1906 his great friend, Andrew Carnegie, provided funding for a library to honor him. The John Hay Library was formally dedicated in November of 1910.
The exhibition was organized by the David Winton Bell Gallery and the Brown University Library. Pictures from the Hay: Celebrating the John Hay Library at 100, runs from Saturday, Aug. 28, through Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010.

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