Friday, November 16, 2012

Historic Share Available: #14 First Issued in 1731

From The Book of trades, or Library of the useful arts. Part I.  Published by Jacob Johnson, and for sale at his book-store in Philadelphia, and in Richmond Virginia.  1807
Learning the unique history associated with a particular share is one of the more exciting aspects of becoming a shareholder in the Library Company. Consider the biography of Share 14, first issued to Junto member Richard Standley, a successful potter by trade whose business was housed on Market Street.  In 1731, he appears in the Pennsylvania Gazette with an advertisement seeking to recover a crooked servant who had absconded with a black horse.  Standley would lose everything when his pottery burnt to the ground, but the tragedy would inspire his brother, and next holder of the share, Valentine Standley to purchase some of the colony’s earliest available fire insurance in 1753.  By trade Valentine was a brewer, and on the eve of the American Revolution he advertised that he made a “good Sixpenny Beer . . . [and] the best middling and Fourpenny Beer.”

Next, Share 14 transferred to Samuel Anderson, a military officer, physician, and politician.  Anderson had an illustrious career in the navy, where he was named assistant surgeon in 1799 by President Adams and then saw promotion to full surgeon a year later.  During the War of 1812 he formed the all-volunteer Mifflin Guards and ultimately rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.  Not one to settle for a single occupation, Anderson began serving as surgeon on the famous USS Hornet in 1824, at the same time that he was serving as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives!  He would ascend to the position of Speaker of the House by 1833 and later find employment as Sheriff of Delaware County, customs inspector, and justice of the peace.

Share 14 is available for purchase, as are a wealth of other shares each with its distinctive company of past shareholders.  If you are considering becoming a shareholder of the Library Company or giving a share as a gift, let us help you find the perfect share.  Take your place in the rich tradition of Library Company shareholding today!

LCP IT Manager Nicole Scalessa at Knitting Symposium

Nicole Scalessa, Library Company IT Manager, needlework historian, and author attended the Knitting and Crochet Heritage Museum: Work in Progress Symposium last week.  Symposium Chair Karen Kendrick-Hands brought together experts in material culture, women’s history, digitization, museum studies, the fiber industry, and of course knitting and crochet on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. This created a perfect storm for exploring the feasibility of establishing an international center for knitting and crochet. Keynote speaker Susan Strawn kicked off the event with a wonderful presentation on the visual culture of knitting in America based on her book Knitting America: A Glorious Heritage from Warm Socks to High Art (Minneapolis:  Voyageur Press, 2007).

Over the course of two and half days of presentations, it became clear that with tactile arts such as knitting and crochet both a physical and a digital space are needed to make the impact desired by those most passionate on the subject. A strategic planning boot camp of sorts ensued and ultimately yielded a name and tagline for this venture:  The Center for Knit and Crochet: To Preserve and Promote Art, Craft, and Scholarship.

Ms. Scalessa was nominated to the Advisory Board created to help plan for the formation of this organization. It is her hope that the Center can provide the digital resource museums and libraries need to share their often hidden collections of knitting and crochet internationally.  The Library Company has an extensive collection of rare crochet and knitting patterns and instruction guides, accompanied by a treasure trove of supporting material in all areas of American history. 

Ms. Scalessa is the author of Historic Reflections in Crochet (Library Company, 2001) and several articles in serials, including Piece-Work, Piece-Work’s Crochet Traditions and Chain Link, and is a contributor to the historical introduction in Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Sewing (Little Rock, Arkansas: Leisure Arts, 2009). Many of these works feature Library Company collections.

Cassatt House Furnished with Stiefel Family Heirlooms

Thanks to the generosity of Jay Robert Stiefel, long-time Library Company shareholder, the Cassatt House residential research center is furnished with four exquisite pieces of furniture belonging to the Stiefel and Orleans families. 

In the corner of the front room is a Renaissance Revival acanthus-carved, figured walnut desk and mahogany armchair, American, ca. 1870, owned by the donor’s father, Israel Stiefel (1898-1966).  The desk and chair had been used by him in his office as Chairman of the Caucus of Democratic Senators during his tenure as a Pennsylvania State Senator (1936-1964).  In addition to his Senate career, Israel Stiefel was a scholar of the bible and Semitic languages and a widely acclaimed philanthropist.  He also taught political science at the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.

The centerpiece of the front room is a walnut and satinwood double-pedestal, three-leaved dining table with a matching sideboard, made by Zonin of New York, c. 1958. These were part of a suite of furniture made for the donor’s mother, Beverly Ruth Stiefel Orleans (1910-1986), and her second husband, Alfred P. Orleans (1888-1981), for use in their dining room.  Alfred Orleans was a noted real-estate developer and both he and Beverly Stiefel Orleans were active philanthropists, she as president of her Hadassah chapter and he as, among other works, founder of the non-profit Orleans Vocational Center.

LCP Collections on Exhibit throughout Philadelphia and Beyond

Benjamin Rush's An Inquiry into the Effects of Spiritous Liquors on the Human Body (Boston: 1790)
Materials in the collections of the Library Company are frequently in demand by exhibition curators at other institutions.  Currently, materials are out on loan to the National Constitution Center, the Architectural Archives at the University of Pennsylvania, Goucher College, the Union League, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Fairfield Museum and History Center, and the William L. Clements Library on the University of Michigan Campus.

Perhaps the most important work currently on loan is Abraham Lincoln's autograph manuscript of a preliminary to the Emancipation Proclamation, "A Proclamation .. entitled An Act to suppress insurrection, and ... to seize and confiscate property of Rebels," from July 25, 1962.  The manuscript is currently on view at the Clements Library in Ann Arbor as part of an exhibition entitled "Proclaiming Emancipation: Slavery and Freedom in the Era of the Civil War" running through February 18, 2013 — timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Proclamation.

We have two items currently on loan to the National Constitution Center for its just-opened exhibition “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.” Benjamin Rush’s An Inquiry into the Effects of Spirituous Liquors on the Human Body (Boston: 1790) is displayed open to the “moral and physical thermometer,” which illustrates that the type of alcohol consumed correlates to particular social ills and criminal behaviors. Mild spirits will cause headache and dyspepsia, while consumption of the hardest liquors will necessarily lead one to a life of violent crime and a death on the gallows. Also on loan is T.S. Arthur’s Ten Nights in a Bar-Room, and What I Saw There (Boston, 1854), a first edition copy of this extremely popular and influential work on the destructiveness of alcohol use.  The exhibition will be open at the Constitution Center until May 2013.

Frank Furness, Juniper and Locust Street Building.  Ink and wash drawing. (Philadelphia: 1879)
 In addition to hosting our own exhibition as part of Philadelphia’s citywide commemoration of the centennial of architect Frank Furness’s death, the Library Company’s Print Department also lent several items to Penn’s Architectural Archives for its Furness exhibition. Frank Furness: Making a Modern Library will be on view until January 18, 2013, at the Kroiz Gallery of the Fisher Fine Arts Building on the university’s campus. This exhibition focuses on six Furness designed-libraries, including the Library Company’s former home at Juniper and Locust, and puts them in the context of library construction in Philadelphia.  William Birch’s ca. 1799 engraving of the Library Company’s first building near the State House, two architectural plans of our South Broad Street library building, and a Frank Furness rendering of our Juniper and Locust building are all featured in the exhibition.

In April, we loaned to Goucher College an 1816 Bible published in Philadelphia by Mathew Carey. The Bible belonged to Harriet Ridgely, later Mrs. Henry Banner Chew. It includes birth and death records of the Chew family, and it was those records that were of most interest to Goucher. The college is located on the land that was once Epsom Farm, the former residence of Harriet and Henry Chew. The Bible was displayed, open to the family records, in Goucher’s exhibition “Recovering a Lost World: Epsom Farm, 1772-1921.” The exhibition closed on October 31 and the Bible will be returning to the Library Company very soon.

During each year of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Union League of Philadelphia is mounting an exhibition of materials relating to Philadelphia’s involvement in the conflict. We loaned materials in 2011 for its exhibition on 1861, and this year, we again loaned materials for the exhibition “Philadelphia 1862: A City at War.” Four of our pamphlets are on display, including Charles Ingersoll’s A Letter to a Friend in a Slave State and Horace Binney’s The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus Under the Constitution. The exhibition will run through the end of 2012.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s current exhibition “Shipwreck! Winslow Homer and ‘The Life Line’” includes five books from our collection. Each features an illustration of a sea-related tragedy or rescue. Three of the volumes are gift books from our extensive collection of this genre: books that were generally intended to be gifted, were typically geared toward a female audience, and were composed of poetry, prose, and art from multiple sources. This exhibition will close in December 2012.

Finally, the Print Department has also lent two items to the Fairfield, Conn., Museum and History Center’s exhibition Promise of Freedom: The Emancipation Proclamation. Commemorating the 150th anniversary of this landmark document, the exhibition, which will be open until February 24, 2013, explores the issues of freedom, equality, and citizenship during the Civil War and today. A Thomas Nast engraving, The Past and the Future, and a lithograph recruiting African Americans to serve as soldiers in the Civil War are the two Library Company items appearing in this exhibition.

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