Wonderpictures, Russian Checkers, Toy Printing, Irish Certificate

Just a quick post with updates on some of the latest additions to Special Collections.

Thanks to donor David Nudelman, we’re now home to 356 Russian books on checkers. They join our already rich Haynes collection on checkers, and they should be of interest to anyone with an interest in Soviet book design. Here are two examples:


Another donor has given us a collection of toy printing/sign-making sets. They’ll join our Updike Collection on the history of printing.


We purchased a rare certificate of membership in the Repeal Association of Ireland:


And a very fun item that you’ll have to visit to get a proper sense of. “Stulz Wonderpictures” is a small advertising booklet that doubles as a visual toy. The images inside are printed in two colors and in such a way that the first image presents a scene and text (“Where are the fish?” for instance, with a picture of a fisherman). When the included red plastic sheet is placed over the image the original scene disappears and a new one takes its place (in the example above, fish swimming in a stream). Not only is it a whimsical complement to our children’s collections, it’s a fascinating piece of printing ephemera. And best of all, this amusing toy, seemingly aimed at children, advertises whiskey made by the Stulz Brothers company in Kansas City, Missouri.



Not Really A Portrait, But Close Enough #2: St. Patty’s Day Edition

In honor of the upcoming holiday, here’s the cover of a piece of sheet music intended for use in a St. Patrick’s Day parade:

St. Patrick's Day sheet musicI have a feeling a few people might look a bit like these two on the day after the parade.

(This item can be found in our Williams & Potter Collection on Irish Culture, in case you’d like to celebrate the holiday in a primary-source kind of way.)

Karen Holland: “The Hero of the Siege of Londonderry, 1698?”

Join us this Thursday evening at PPL for a lecture by Karen Holland, a professor in the History Department at Providence College. Dr. Holland will be discussing her research using our Williams & Potter Collection on Irish Literature and Culture. In particular, she’s been researching the Siege of Derry in 1689 and the way participants (particularly George Walker) used their accounts of the events to burnish their own reputations.

Date: Thursday, February 21st
Time: 7:00-8:15 PM
Location: The newly-renovated Ship Room on Level 1 of the Library
Click for more information.

Here’s the title page of our copy of Walker’s account:

Account of the Siege of London-Derry


And a particularly grim passage listing the prices for various “food” items when the siege was at its height:

Prices for meat



Irish Linen, Hemp and Rebellion

Another new acquisition post in place of the Wednesday portrait, this time highlighting two items recently purchased for our Williams & Potter Memorial Collection on Irish Culture.

First, the Precedents and Abstracts from the Journals of the Trustees of the Linen and Hempen Manufactures of Ireland…, published in Dublin in 1784.

It offers a view of the organization overseeing linen and hemp production in London from 1711 to 1783, as they grappled with issues like workhouse conditions.

Second, The Petition of Sir Philomy Oneale Knight, Generall of the Rebels in Ireland… (London: Printed by T.F. for John Thomas, [1642]).

Felim O’Neill helped lead one of the 17th-century Irish rebellions and was eventually captured by Cromwell’s forces and executed. An unsympathetic 19th-century historian related a story designed to show O’Neill’s pretensions in the worst light:

It was reported that … the English captured sir Phelim O’Neill’s private trunk, and that they found in it a crown with which the ambitious chieftain had already caused himself privately to be installed prince of Ulster.*

But Felim’s hopes for glory were crushed in large part by the arrival of another O’Neill, Owen, who was chosen leader of the northern armies in place of Felim.

One of the most notable and notorious aspects of Felim O’Neill’s role in the uprising was the level of brutality it entailed.. The “Petition” is a brief pamphlet intended to clear O’Neill’ and his army of charges–printed in “divers false Papers and Pamphlets” — that they were guilty of “dismembering, dis-joynting, ripping up Women with Child, and sleying of Infants….”

Small, cheap, poorly-printed pamphlets like this one (and the title page image above offers plenty of examples of sloppiness) flew back and forth during the 17th-century.This one appears not to have even been a legitimate statement from O’Neill, but rather “a hoax,” according to entry for O’Neill in the Dictionary of National Biography.

The only other copies in US libraries appear to be located at the Huntington Library and Yale’s Beinecke library. In addition to this account, the Williams & Potter Collection includes a number of other 17th-century pamphlets relating to issues in Ireland.

* Thomas Wright, The History of Ireland (London: Tallis, [c. 1854]), p. 708.