Sunday, March 25, 2012

A New System of Sword Exercise, 19th Century

Original title: "A new system of sword exercise, with a manual of the sword for officers, mounted and dismounted; forms to be observed on inspections, reviews, parades, etc". Was written by Matthew J. O'Rourke, Captain of US volunteers and also author of "sword exercise illustrated" and "A treatise on swords and swordsmanship, ancient and modern". I couldn't find too much information regarding Captain O'Rourke BIO on the internet... (appears on Official Army Register of the Volunteer Forces, U. S. Army list, link here).
Preface is significative enough: "... so long as the sword is the recognized weapon for officers, self respect and the requirements of the service demand that they should be thoroughly familiar with its uses". The book itself has two main parts, dismounted and mounted with different subsections. My favourite was first one, with following chapters: draw swords, salutes (halt and march), return swords, dress parade, inspections, etc. Illustrations are didactic enough (see feint for the leg drawing below). Other similar books were -with same or similar titles, but focused on infantry- commissioned also by Richard Francis Burton.

This is the second edition, signed by Matthew J. O'Rourke in New York, May, 1872; published 7 years later of the first edition, that means that was written during the American Civil war and published in 1865, the same year the war finished and one month later of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Humpty Dumpty tales, by W.W. Denslow (19th Century)

William Wallace Denslog (1856-1915), was born in Philadelphia, and studied at National Academy of Design. In the 1880s, he came to Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition, and stayed. Besides very well known titles like The Humpty Dumpty tales or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Denslow also illustrated Baum's books By the Candelabra's Glare, Father Goose: His Book, and Dot and Tot of Merryland. The royalties from the print and stage versions of these classics were sufficient to allow Denslow to purchase Bluck's Island, Bermuda and crown himself King Denslow the first. However, he drank his money away, and died at the Knickerbocker Hospital in New York City in obscurity, of pneumonia. A sad story.

About the classic Humpty Dumpty, it has its origins as a nursery rhyme although it appears a lot in children literature for english-speaking world: Humpty appears in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass (1872), where he discusses semantics and pragmatics with Alice. Also in L. Frank Baum's Mother Goose in Prose (1901), where the rhyming riddle is devised by the daughter of the king, having witnessed Humpty's "death" and her father's soldiers efforts to save him. Robert Rankin used Humpty Dumpty character as one victim of a serial fairy-tale character murderer in The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, and so on...
Other tales illustrated by WW Denslow and edited by Dillingham Company, NY

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio, 19th Century by Nelson E. Jones family

Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio was published in Circleville, Ohio, during in 1886 (no more than 100 copies were made). It is considered to be one of the most notable publications of early American ornithology. And one of my top at “rarest ranking” as no birds are present in this ornithology treatise: only nests and eggs (with counted exceptions, see illustration below). I was really impressed in my investigation about this rare Book when I discover that was created as a companion volume to Audubon’s monumental tome “Birds of America” (which was a previous post on facsimilium, link here.)  
Miss Genevieve Estelle Jones initiated the project and was the principal illustrator of the books (there are 2 volumes) when work began in 1877. Miss Jones died in August of 1879 but the work on the book continued. Illustrations were completed by Mrs. N. E. Jones and Miss Eliza J. Schultz.
There are copies of this Book at Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Adelson Library (They received one of the original books as a gift). The Smithsonian Institution has another 2 copies and considering the low number of originals (as said, less than 100) I’m afraid these 3 located copies are the survivors. I strongly recommend the visit of the amazing monographic that the Smithsonian Institution libraries has dedicated to the Nelson E. Jones family’s, link here. 

Look who's at home!... one of the exceptions on this illustrated rare book about ornitologhy with no birds, only nests and eggs. There're some others, and hard to see;

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A medieval love history: “Pontus and Sidonia”, 15th Century

Even with pictures like this -and this codex has a lot- this is a love story between Prince Pontus and Sidonia

The first –so far- love history at facsimilium. It's all about Prince Pontus, son of the king of Galicia, who falls in love with Sidonia, daughter of the king of Britanny. This is the german edition of a classic 12th Century original French text named “Ponthus et la belle Sidonie” based on Anglo-Norman chanson de geste "Horn et Rimenhild".
The most impressing thing about this codex are its illustrations, to be a love story some of them are really cruel, with detailed illustrations about battles against Iberia moorish sultan because Pontus -the Prince-, to gain Sidonia's heart, has to re-conquer his homeland Galicia occupied by moors. The historical context of this love story, is then located after 8th Century when most of Spanish peninsula came under Islamic rule and 10th Century, when all territories of Galicia where liberated by Alfonso and became part of the Kingdom of Asturias.

Illustrations depict jousts between two or more knights, again with high detail and cruelty, where winner knight proudly ports his enemy head, royal audiences, battles and jousts scenes, medieval parties or feasts, etc.

For a high resolution, pdf version of this manuscript, contact me (facsimilium AT gmail DOT com).