April 28th, 2016


This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.


If you are looking for “classic tobacco accoutrements” this volume of Smokerama is just the ticket!  In today’s anti-smoking climate it may seem hard to imagine that smoking was once considered a sophisticated and glamorous habit and accessories for smoking were just as important as the cigarettes themselves.  For example cigarette dispensers were quite popular and all of the various models had their own clever mechanism for dispensing.  You would only have to depress this dapper gentleman’s spotted bow-tie and a cigarette (stored horizontally inside the head) would appear at his lips.  Or if you wanted to be a bit more whimsical you could enjoy this Ronson penguin “Pik-a-Cig” which was both a dispenser and a lighter.  Simply press the lever and a cigarette rolls to the bottom where it can be retrieved by the penguin and lit with the attached lighter.


Another big favorite from the thirties were these stylized bellhops who helpfully carried these bags of cigarettes.



Book matches have historically been used for messages that advertise restaurants, bars, political campaigns, and other special events.  But during World War II book matches were utilized by many propaganda writers who created some memorable slogans such as “Make it Hot for Hitler.”  These Strike ’em Dead matches contained a row of Adolf matches dressed in army uniforms just waiting to be stuck dead when lit.

Img0011Women were also not left out of the occassion as tobacco companies began to target their business at the turn of the century.  In a bid to get more women to buy cigarettes they included these illustrated silks (really satin inserts) in packs of cigarettes, hoping that this prize would encourage their smoking habit.  These were associated with the more expensive cigarettes and consisted of flags, comic images, and women.  The companies also made larger sizes of these “silks” that could be obtained as long as they had evidence of the purchase of cigarettes.

To read more about America’s favorite pastime you can find this in Widener’s collection. Smokerama : classic tobacco accoutrements / Philip Collins ; photography by Sam Sargent. San Francisco : Chronicle Books, c1992.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, for contributing this post.

April 27th, 2016

A library for a stage, students to act

Last night, within the girdle of Houghton’s walls, Harvard’s own Hyperion Shakespeare Company worked on our imaginary forces, staging five scenes from Shakespeare on four unworthy scaffolds throughout the library. Visitors jumped o’er time, from room to room, to behold the swelling scene! Thank you Hyperion!


Kira Telgen ’19 as Malcolm, Philip van Scheltinga ’19 as Ross, and Ezra Feldman ’02 as Macduff in Macbeth.

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April 26th, 2016

Sherlock shoots up, in shorthand

Sign of four 2This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Among the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library took a particular collecting interest in his second Sherlock Holmes novel, The sign of the four. The novel’s opening lines, here quoted from the Ludlow’s third edition of the George Newnes edition (left), serve to explain why:

Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece, and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted the delicate needle, and rolled back his left shirt-cuff. For some little time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist, all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks. Finally, he thrust the sharp point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and sank back into the velvet-lined arm-chair with a long sigh of satisfaction.

‘Which is it to-day,’ I asked, ‘morphine or cocaine?’

He raised his eyes languidly from the old black-letter volume which he had opened.

‘It is cocaine,’ he said, ‘a seven-per-cent. solution. Would you care to try it?’ (1892 Newnes edition, pages 1-3)

The scene progresses into a disagreement between Holmes and Watson on the advisability of the former’s drug-taking: Holmes sees the cocaine as an escape from the intolerable dullness of life between cases, while Watson fears for his Holmes’s health. (In a later story, The adventure of the missing three-quarter, Watson describes having weaned his friend off of his narcotic habit.)

Here we have much of the substance of Sherlock Holmes’s reputation as a drug user. Part of the study of drugs in literature, however, is the study of their absence. Among the Ludlow Library’s holdings are multiple abridgments from which all reference to drugs has been expunged. The one pictured below is an illustrated 1960 Hart Publishing edition intended for younger audiences. It opens on a fabricated scene-setting paragraph, and moves into a revised version of the argument mentioned above. Holmes again proclaims his disdain for mental stagnation, but declines to mention any recreational means of avoiding it.

Sign of four 3     Sign of four 4

Finally, a curiosity that hints at the depth of the Ludlow Library’s collection. The third version of The sign of the four pictured here is faithful, one assumes, to the original text, but is printed entirely in Pitman shorthand, one of the two shorthand systems most popular in the early twentieth century. Both systems used symbols to represent phonemes rather than words (such that the symbols for rye and wry would be identical). One distinguishing feature of Pitman is that pairs of unvoiced and voiced consonants, such as p/b or t/d, use the same marks, but are differentiated by their thickness. To the uninitiated, only numerals and punctuation marks are decipherable. A volume like this could have been used for practice in translating shorthand back to written English, or simply read for pleasure. The Santo Domingo collection augments an already-considerable Doyle collection at Houghton: this volume is only one of two Pitman shorthand editions held here.

Sign of four 6   Sign of four 7

Newnes edition: EC9.D7722.892sc

Hart abridged edition: EC9.D7722.960s

Pitman shorthand edition: EC9.D7722.Ez930s

Thanks to rare book cataloger Ryan Wheeler for contributing this post.

April 25th, 2016

Print, Manuscript and the Education of Women in Renaissance Italy

Houghton Library has recently acquired a copy of an important book in the history of the education of women, Annibale Guasco’s Ragionamento. Annibale Guasco (1540-1619) composed this educational treatise for his eleven-year-old daughter, Lavinia, as she entered the service of the Duchess of Savoy.


Annibale recorded her humanist education at home and under his direction in music, mathematics, social games, polite speech and reserved conduct. He then framed the elements essential to her success at court — faith, chastity, service to her mistress, continuing her own education, health, hygiene and diet, attention to her personal possessions (clothing, jewelry…), amiable relations and fair treatment of servants. To advance she must be discreet, useful and entertaining, strengthen her musical skills on the viola da gamba and clavichord and in counterpoint. His tips also included diluting wine at meals and mastering Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano.

1200x630bfAnnibale asked that Lavinia make a copy of this text which he presented to her as a parting gift and suggested she use the chancery cursive script that he has taught her with the aid of the examples in Giovanni Francesco Cresci’s Il perfetto cancelleresco corsivo (1579). Lavinia took advantage of the flourishing printing industry in Turin and had her father’s text printed rather than copying it herself in manuscript. It was published in Turin in 1586 by the printing firm of Bevilacqua.

The text has been edited and translated with an introduction by Peggy Osborn at the University of Chicago Press in 2003 in the series The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe.

This post was contributed by William P. Stoneman, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts.

April 21st, 2016

“The Physical Impossibilities of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.


Damien Hirst is a world-renowned (and criticized) English artist, entrepreneur, and art collector, said to be the wealthiest living artist from the United Kingdom. In his I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, With Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now, Hirst collected depictions of his art work and displayed them alongside visual narratives of his life and process, using photographs, graphic images, pop-ups, and other 3D elements to create an interactive experience.


Arguably Hirst’s most famous work is the 1991 The Physical Impossibilities of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, in which a 14-foot tiger shark was suspended in a glass tank full of formaldehyde. Part of a series entitled Natural History, which depicted a variety of animals in preserved in formaldehyde, Physical Impossibilities has drawn the most interest and criticism. In 1993, the original shark had to be replaced due to an imperfect preservation process, leading to the decay of the body. Both sharks used in the artwork were caught soley for the purpose of the project. See the piece in action below:

To learn more and see physical copies of I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, With Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now can be found in the Fine Arts Library collection: New York: Monacelli Press, [1997].


Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

April 13th, 2016

More lobster sheet music

No quadrilles, but more lobster sheet music. Here are two pieces for piano, once again featuring ladies in large hats (see previous post)


La petite coquette (the little flirt)
By John S. Zamecnik

Published in Cleveland … lobsters are an exotic menu item in Cleveland perhaps?
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April 12th, 2016

Xenophobia and the rise of Dr. Fu Manchu

Manchu 1This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Among recently-cataloged volumes in the Santo Domingo Collection is this small gathering of works by Sax Rohmer (1883-1959), an English novelist whose signal creation is the villainous crime lord Dr. Fu Manchu. Born Arthur Henry Ward, Rohmer published a handful of short stories before the first Fu Manchu book, The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu, catapulted him to literary success in 1913. He would ultimately write thirteen Fu Manchu books, which were variously adapted into film, radio, television, and comics, assuring the character’s status in the halls of fictional villainry.

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April 12th, 2016

Caliban inspires Klingon makeover

“You have never experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.” At least that’s what Klingon chancellor Gorkon tells Spock in The Undiscovered Country, the last installment of the original Star Trek film series. Like self-serious English majors, Klingons quote the Earth-poet Shakespeare more than any other author—yes, sometimes even in their native tongue. Klingon warriors, however, aren’t the only faux-philosophe inhabitants of the Star Trek universe to use (and sometimes abuse) the Bard.

Trekkers have catalogued the franchise’s many allusions, plot borrowings, and recitations down to the minutest particle. What they may not know is that the Klingon’s mutant form was partly inspired by the humanoid Caliban from The Tempest. Costume designer Robert Fletcher (Harvard Class of ‘45) recounts the story in his recent memoir, A Trunk Full of Yak Hair or How the Klingons Got Their Look.

Designs for Caliban and Klingon captain. Robert Fletcher, ca. 2015. 2015MT-1

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April 7th, 2016

Vultures of vice!

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.



True Detective Mysteries, called True Detective starting with its October 1939 issue, was a magazine about crime and criminals published for over 70 years. Beginning in 1924, it was often regarded as the first true crime magazine, launching the pulp magazine genre. It was jump started by American publisher Bernarr Macfadden , often labeled as an eccentric health enthusiast claimed to have buried part of his fortune in steel boxes across the United States.


Initially publishing fictionalized accounts of true crime, the magazine soon saw merit in reporting straightforward accounts of police investigation and the closing of particularly gruesome or sensational cases. This course of action was a hit, inspiring some 200 titles in the pre-World War II era, with True Detective itself reaching a circulation of two million. With our modern view of pulp as somewhat lurid, readers may be surprised to know that high end true crime magazines like True Detective initially turned away from hypersexualized crime stories, and were popular across the board, garnering support from J. Edgar Hoover himself.


In the post-war era, True Detective and its competitors moved further into the realm of the taboo, with stories becoming increasingly graphic both in language and the photographs used to illustrate them. At the height of the counterculture movement, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, True Detective joined its cohort in a new and extremely graphic focus on violent sexual crimes. Covers reflected what many remember of pulp today—terrified, nearly naked women often bound and gagged, fighting for their lives against shadowy criminals. These extremes did not hold reader interest, however, and by the 1980s this once booming genre was reduced to two publishers and eleven titles. Although interest in true crime did not wane during the 1980s and 1990s, the genre moved on to film and television, and True Detective ceased publication in 1996.


With true crime experiencing new popularity through podcasts such as Serial and television programming like Making a Murderer and The People vs. OJ Simpson, it is interesting to compare these new forms of investigation with their counterparts from nearly a century ago. Click here for a more detailed account of the rise and fall of True Detective magazine. To see inside more issues of True Detective and other pulp magazines, see the Pulp Magazine Archive hosted by the Internet Archive.

To learn more and see physical copies of True Detective, visit Widener’s collection: New York: Macfadden Publications, [1924-].

Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

April 6th, 2016

New on OASIS in April

Finding aids for two newly cataloged collections have been added to the OASIS database this month:

Processed by: Irina Klyagin

Tony Straiges set designs and models (MS Thr 1317)

Berkeley Sutcliffe costume designs (MS Thr 1323)

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