Monday, December 4, 2006

Levenger Items Now Available

Early in 2006 several representatives of Levenger, the company that makes "tools for serious readers," visited the Library Company to explore the possibility of creating products based on the Library Company's collections. CEO Steve Leveen and his staff were excited by what they saw here, and Levenger has produced two items replicating objects in our collection. The first is an 18th-century leather fire bucket for use as a magazine or kindling holder, which will be available on Levenger's website in mid-November. The second is a 19th-century two-step library ladder, available currently on the Levenger website. Future projects may include bookends on which Benjamin Franklin's famous "Join, or Die" cartoon depicting a segmented snake will be laser engraved on natural American black cherry, and a book of aphorisms based on the sources Franklin used for his Poor Richard's sayings. To purchase these great new items, visit

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Conservation Department News

Recently Todd Pattison gave the Library Company his collection of 183 books with decorated endpapers. Some may remember that Mr. Pattison gave a colorful lunchtime talk in January titled "Decorated Endpapers, 1831 -1875." The talk focused on this unique collection which includes examples of all kinds of endpapers from the 19th century: machine ruled, type printed, stereotyped, advertising, marbled, embossed, engraved, lithographic, and ruling machine papers (different from machine ruled). This collection will be invaluable to anyone who wants to study this little-known aspect of book production.

Mr. Pattison, a book conservator with the Northeast Document Conservation Center, and the Library Company conservation staff share an interest in 19th-century cloth bindings. The conservation staff maintains a database of 19th-century publishers' bindings that will make its debut online before the end of the year, and they are working on numerous other binding research projects. Mr. Pattison has been very generous over the years, giving us bindings that fit well with our collection. Last year Mr. Pattison gave us his ribbon-embossed cloth binding collection. We are, yet again, very thankful to Todd Pattison for his good eye and his generosity!

Image: Inside front cover. Alice B. Haven. The Coopers; or, Getting Underway. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1858. Click image for larger view.

Friday, December 1, 2006

“Benjamin Franklin and the Birth of a Paper Money Economy.”

Last March the Library Company’s Program in Early American Economy and Society co-sponsored, with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, a talk by University of Delaware economics professor Farley Grubb on “Benjamin Franklin and the Birth of a Paper Money Economy.” That engaging talk has now been published by the Philadelphia Fed as a handsomely illustrated booklet. You can request a copy from the Library Company or access the on-line version by following this link: 

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Book Launch Celebration

Over one hundred members and guests of the Library Company attended the book launch celebration for Center City Philadelphia in the 19th Century on Thursday October 26th. Attendees enjoyed an illustrated lecture by Associate Curator Jenny Ambrose, a champagne toast, door prize giveaways, and a mini-exhibit displaying original materials from the graphics collections. Released in conjunction with the Library Company's 275th anniversary, the book was written by staff members of the Print and Photograph Department and features 195 reproductions from our photographic holdings organized in ten thematic chapters.

Above Left: Graphic Materials Cataloguer and Center City Philadelphia in the 19th Century co-author Erika Piola (second from left) posed with friends who purchased the new publication.

For more information about the book, and to order a copy, go to

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Library Company Collections on View Nationwide

Material from the diverse collections of the Library Company is currently on view in exhibitions around the United States. The New-York Historical Society’s tremendously popular exhibition Slavery in New York, which includes four satirical prints from Edward Clay’s Life in New York series from our collection, has been extended through March 26. The Addison Gallery of Art in Andover, Massachusetts recently opened Portraits of a People: Picturing African Americans in the Nineteenth Century, for which we lent two silhouettes and a portrait print. That exhibition also closes on March 26, but will then travel to the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington (April 21 -- July 16, 2006) and to the Long Beach Museum of Art (August 25 -- November 26, 2006). The Missouri Historical Society borrowed three J. C. Wild prints of Philadelphia for the current exhibition Drawing Upon Stone: John Caspar Wild’s Early Views of the Midwest, which will be on exhibition through April 30, 2006.

Closer to home, Library Company materials can be seen at several Philadelphia institutions. Not surprisingly in this Franklin tercentenary year, these exhibitions focus on Benjamin Franklin. The Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania has borrowed a book for the exhibition Educating the Youth of Pennsylvania: Worlds of Learning in the Age of Franklin, running through May 31. The National Museum of American Jewish History has included two early autobiographies of Franklin in the exhibition Benjamin Franklin and Religious Liberty, running through May 31. The Library Company has lent three books to the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia’s exhibition Franklin’s Legacy of Public Service: Elizabeth Duane Gillespie, which will be on display through May 8. The American Philosophical Society just opened a new exhibition, The Princess and the Patriot: Ekaterina Dashkova, Benjamin Franklin, and the Age of Enlightenment, which includes several late 18th-century views of Philadelphia by William Birch and a glass tube for early electrical experiments from our collection. That exhibition will run through December 31. And last, but certainly not least, a number of Library Company prints, books, and objects are included in the major exhibition Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World now on view at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. After that exhibition closes on April 30 it will travel to St. Louis, Houston, Denver, Atlanta, and finally to Paris, where it will close on March 30, 2008.

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