Sunday, December 7, 2014

Philadelphia Free Library

Our tour guide at the Rosenbach this summer recommended a tour of the Philadelphia Free Library rare books department (which you, too, can go see on Saturdays, or any day, at 11).

As a frugal person, I love anything with "free" in the title. I mean, I know libraries are free nowadays, but I appreciate the ones that go out of their way to note it. Also, I love the sunbusts in the margines, above.

Great illumination here, too--I think this is a medieval law book, with crimes illustrated.

The rare books department has some incredible holdings, a few of which are exhibited, such as Dickens' desk and his bird, which influence Poe's "The Raven." The Elkins library, which you get to see on the tour, is gorgeous.

Not my picture; Charles Dickens' desk.

The rare books department evidently has quite a collection of tablets (thousands), of which a few are exhibited (see below). Our tour guide claims that financial transactions originally led to the creation of writing (and it is financial transactions that are primarily documented on these tablets).

As is the case with so many of the tours that Francisco and I go on in Philly, we were the only people there for it. The advantage is, of course, that the tour is then tailor made for us.

Sadly, only two examples of fraktur (which I've lately become obsessed with, but not as obsessed as Stearns) are shown. But the collection is digitized. And there will be a fraktur exhibit in March, which I'll be certainly coming back for. 

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