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Dismembered Manuscript: a tale for Hallow’een

Bram Stoker’s claim to enduring fame lies in the book Dracula, perennially popular in every form of cultural expression most especially at Hallow’een. However, this is a posthumous development and, in his lifetime, Stoker was best known as a writer of non-fiction. The last, and most popular, of his four non-fiction books was a work called Famous Imposters (1910) the author’s curious study of duplicitous behaviour and fraudulent schemes throughout history.

Continue reading “Dismembered Manuscript: a tale for Hallow’een”

A gift we Kant refuse

At the beginning of term, a student, Catherine Costello, presented us with a copy of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of pure reason, translated by J. M. D. Meiklejohn and published in London in 1887. Although we are always happy to consider donations when they are offered, we are not always in a position to take them. However, the connection with Trinity meant that there was no hesitation over accepting this one. Continue reading “A gift we Kant refuse”

Tennis: “The Game of Kings”

charlesNow that this year’s tennis tournament at Wimbledon is well under way, we would like to draw attention to a recent purchase in the Library, a 17th-century book about King Charles I of England and his family. Entitled The true effigies of our most illustrious soveraigne Lord, King Charles Queene Mary, with the rest of the royall progenie, the small volume consists of eight etched portraits of Charles and his wife Henrietta Maria, along with portraits of their six children who had been born by the end of 1640, the last child Henrietta being born in 1644, after this work was printed. Each portrait is accompanied by an anonymous poem describing the subject of the facing image. Continue reading “Tennis: “The Game of Kings””

Eadweard Muybridge and Animal Locomotion

In 1878, the photographer Eadweard Muybridge proved that while in motion all four legs of a horse could be mid-air at once. His discovery caused a public sensation as this rapid motion could not be discerned by the human eye. By creating a completely new system of high-speed photography, Muybridge had effectively ‘frozen time’. Muybridge’s most ambitious publication, Animal locomotion :an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements, 1872-1885 (Phililadelphia,1887) is now available for consultation in the Early Printed Books reading room. For this work, Muybridge created 781 motion studies using the sophisticated equipment that he had developed. He could take up to 36 images of a single act; such as walking, jumping, wrestling, knitting or lying on the ground and reading.

Animal locomotion, plate 637
Animal locomotion, plate 637

At the time, Muybridge’s work gave him celebrity status, he travelled throughout America and Europe giving public lectures which were a mix of education and entertainment using his motion study images. He projected and animated the images using a device that he invented called the zoopraxiscope. His images and influence have had a far reaching effect in popular culture. Today they are considered to be part of the genesis of cinema.

The photographs were reproduced for publication using the collotype printing process. Invented in the 1850s, this planographic printing process utilises a printing surface created from reticulated gelatin. The publication method of Animal Locomotion was novel. It was possible, of course, to purchase the complete publication. However, many subscribers choose to make a selection of 100 plates at a cost of $1 per plate, which was then issued in a portfolio. Therefore, the Trinity Library copy of publication has the potential to be unique.

Animal locomotion, plate 655
Animal locomotion, plate 655

Unfortunately the portfolio which contained the complete 100 plates and title page is no longer extant rendering the printed plates vulnerable. The conservation treatment required to make the collection available was recently completed by Austin Plann Curley, a visiting student from Winterthur-University of Delaware Art Conservation Program and involved cleaning, repairing, documenting and collating the plates. A storage enclosure was custom-made in order to make the collection available to readers and preserve and protect this fascinating publication for future scholarship.

– Andrew Megaw MA, Senior Conservator of Books