Portrait Double Feature

Since the weekly portrait series has been quiet recently, we’re offering two portraits today, both nautically themed.

1: “Lord Bateman”

Lord BatemanThis drawing appears in the logbook of the whaling ship Martha, during an 1838-41 voyage.

2: The mailman



Alright, maybe not the actual mailman. But this letter-deliverer was intended to proudly decorate the bow of a 19th-century ship. The image comes from an amazing item in our Brownell Collection, the pattern book of a figurehead carver named R. Lee. You can read more about Lee in volume 2, issue 3 of Occasional Nuggets, but if you’d like to view the pattern book in it’s entirety, it’s now available online.



Arctic Stories

The latest Occasional Nugget was recently mailed to subscribers:

Occasional Nuggets 4.2

(Subscriptions start at $15 / year, and you can even subscribe online, so there’s no excuse not to. Find out more here.)

The second essay in the issue focuses on the Greely expedition, an ill-fated (cannibalism is involved, so it doesn’t get much worse-fated) arctic expedition in the 1880s. When a relief party finally arrived to rescue the survivors, one of the members of the relief party (aboard the ship Thetis) kept a journal of the events, and he transcribed the journal of Roderick Schneider, one of the Greely expedition members who died as they awaited rescue. The original of Schneider’s journal was lost, so the PPL copy is now the best record of his ordeal.

As it turns out, the release of this issue was well-timed to coincide with the addition of some arctic logbooks at the terrific OldWeather.org website. The images now available on the site include the logbooks of the ships involved in the Greely rescue, the Thetis, Bear and Alert. This page, for instance, includes the official record of the relief party’s discovery of the Greely survivors.

Multi-Purpose Massacre x 2

Just a quick note highlighting an image to appear in the next issue of Occasional Nuggets:


This print (from our Nicholson Whaling Collection), depicting a simultaneous, multi-species arctic bloodbath (whales at sea / bears on land) was produced in the late 1790s for a geography book, Thomas Banke’s A New, (Royal), and Authentic, System of Universal Geography, as indicated by the title at the top edge of the illustration. With just a little editing, you have a plate that was used for Charles Middleton’s A New and Complete System of Geography in the 1770s*. The following image is hard to see, but the similarities should be clear (with the exception of the title above the image):


And if we move even further into the past, we find the following, from John Harris’s Navigantium atque itinerantium… of 1744**:


The similarities are striking, especially when you look at it in a mirror:


More information about these and many other images of whale-related butchery is available in Elizabeth Ingalls’s catalog of the Whaling Prints in the Francis B. Lothrop Collection.

* Image borrowed from Eighteenth-Century Collections Online.

** Image borrowed from the John Carter Brown Library, and available online.

The Crane Takes Wing


The latest Occasional Nugget is now on it’s way to mailboxes. If yours isn’t on the list, now is the time to subscribe to the next volume (or buy back issues). This issue features an essay by Kim Nusco on a beautiful manuscript volume created by Walter Crane for his son Lionel. And as a complement to the issue, we’ve digitized the entire book and made it available online in two forms. You can either:

flip through the book’s virtual pages


view individual, high-resolution images.

You can read the first section of Kim’s essay here.

Magician of the Week #16: Howard Thurston

(Editor’s Note: We’re instituting a “fire at will” policy on the blog this week, choosing freely each Wednesday from here on out from either the Magician, Civil Warrior or Historic Book Person of the Week series. This week, magicians…)

Howard Thurston was one of the most well-known magicians of his time. This image is taken from…

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Magician of the Week #15: Skeleton Projector

Perfect for your creepiest Powerpoints.

The Civil Warrior of the Week takes the week off for the return of the Magician of the Week, in honor of today’s release of the latest issue of Occasional Nuggets (more info below).

Mr. SkeleProjector appears in…

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The Perfect Gift: Immortality

This year we’re offering you the chance to give a truly amazing gift: immortality. And you can get it for someone on your list for as little as $50. How is that possible? For a limited time (between now and December 25th), we’re offering a special deal on subscriptions to Occasional Nuggets, our limited-edition, handmade publication that delves into interesting artifacts from our collections and the topics they inspire. When you buy a special $50 subscription for someone else they’ll get not only this year’s four issues (two yet to come), they’ll also be getting a subscription to the 2012 edition.

And where does immortality come in, you ask? For that $50 subscription price you’ll be entering their name in the list appearing in forthcoming issues as donors at the Journeyman Printer level. So readers now and in the future will see their name and recognize not only their excellent taste in reading material but also their role as supporters of culture. (And if you really like them, you might even subscribe at a higher level.)

But wait! There’s more! Not only will they be getting eight terrific issues of illuminating reading. Not only will they be forever memorialized on our list of supporters. You’ll also know that every dollar helps us keep buying new material for the collections. Material that researchers, artists and anyone looking for intellectual stimulation will be able to put to use in years to come.

You can find the order form on our website. Just be sure to mention “holiday altruism deal” in the comment section of the form. A visit to the website will also give a clue to our upcoming cover redesign due to be unveiled in the next issue.

As always, if you have any questions about subscribing (or anything else, for that matter), don’t hesitate to call or email.

Blunderbusses and Scorpions

The latest issue of Occasional Nuggets is now available!

What’s Inside?

Exploding blunderbusses; baby-marooning, amateur-dentist monarchs; scorpions soaked in rum; nautical hazing traditions and more. The Spring 2011 issue takes a look at George Miller’s The Traveller’s Guide to Madeira and the West Indies, a very strange nautical narrative published in 1815.

Fascinating content on the inside, hand-printed covers on the outside.

How to Get It:

Just fill out the order form and return it with your payment. A $15 subscription buys the year’s four issues. (Back issues are available for $5 each. Just contact Special Collections if you’re interested.)

Generous donors who give beyond the $15 annual subscription are listed in each issue. And all the proceeds are used to improve Special Collections. For more information: http://www.provlib.org/spc-occasionalnuggets