Book of the Week – De Cometis Libelli Tres


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De Cometis Libelli Tres
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
Avgvst  Vindelicorvm: A. Apergeri, 1619
First edition
QB724 K46

Johannes Kepler, a staunch supporter of Galileo, extended the Copernican heliocentric theory of the universe with his three laws of motion, including the revolutionary premise that the planets move not in circular but in elliptical orbits. A mathematician and astronomer, Kepler became Imperial Mathematician to the Emperor Rudolf II of Prague in 1601. After the emperor’s death, Kepler faced religious persecution and for this reason moved often until his death in Regensburg. De Cometis is divided into three sections. The first and longest contains Kepler’s observations of the comets of 1607 and 1618 and the theories of cometary motion he derived from those observations. The middle section discusses the physical nature of comets. The third section discusses astrological connections with the comets. As a scientist, Kepler recognized that astrological beliefs were based on superstition, but as a man of his age he nevertheless tended to share those beliefs. This thinking included the belief that comets presaged evil and disaster. Five fold-out plates illustrate Kepler’s observations.


Book of the Week – A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language


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A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language
Noah Webster (1758-1843)
Hartford: From Sidney’s Press, for Hudson & Goodwin, Book-sellers; New-Haven: Increase Cooke & Co., Book-sellers, 1806
First edition
PE1625 W3 1806

Noah Webster’s goal was to produce an “American” dictionary. He envisioned something bigger and better than the English pocket dictionaries that were the standard fare of the time in the new United States. Webster was an enthusiastic patriot. He wanted to use the dictionary to promote national unity and cultural independence from Britain. Influenced by his friend Benjamin Franklin, Webster worked for “a reformed mode of spelling” but rejected the radical phonetic innovations proposed by Franklin. He did make enough changes, however, to produce a distinct American spelling for some words. This American spelling first appeared in the Compendious Dictionary. It was immediately adopted by American printers. Webster was struck by the inconsistencies of English spelling. His spelling reform was based upon a combined sense of logic and aesthetics. He changed the ‘-ce’ in words like defence and offence to ‘–se;’ abandoned the second silent “l” in verbs such as travel and cancel when forming the past tense; dropped the “u” from words such as humour and colour; and dropped the “k” from words such as publick. Webster included thousands of words – chowder, hickory, skunk, subsidize, and caucus, for instance – which were in daily use in America but not listed in any lexicon. John Quincy Adams, a future president, was shocked by some of these “vulgarisms.” Appended to the Dictionary, Webster included a list of the Post Offices in the United States, the number of its inhabitants, and the amount of its exports.

Book of the Week – The Pennsylvania Gazette


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The Pennsylvania Gazette
Philadelphia, PA: Printed by B. Franklin and H. Meredith, 1763
AN2 P4 U64, No. 1822 November 24, 1763

The Pennsylvania Gazette was published in Philadelphia between 1728 and 1800. It began publication with the title The Universal Instructor in all Arts and Sciences: and Pennsylvania Gazette, founded by Samuel Keimer. In 1729 Benjamin Franklin and Hugh Meredith bought the paper and shortened the name. Franklin printed the paper and also contributed pieces, often using a pseudonym. The paper became one of the most successful in the American colonies. This issue, no. 1822, November 24, 1763, leads with letters of welcome to John Penn, grandson of William Penn, upon his arrival in Philadelphia as governor. Penn took the oath of office on October 31. He would be the last governor of colonial Pennsylvania, leaving in 1776 after the creation of an independent Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, when the Penn family was removed from power. Letters of welcome include those from the Quakers, the “Managers and Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Hospital,” “the Corporation for the Relief of poor and distressed Presbyterian Ministers, and the Relief of their Widows and Children,” “the Baptist Church, at Philadelphia,” and “the Library Company of Philadelphia.” All of the letters seek aid of one sort or another from Penn. The Library Company’s letter notes that the Penn family “has always favoured our Institution, and promoted it, by their frequent and generous Benefactions.”

This issue was a gift from Dr. Ronald Rubin, a frequent and generous benefactor to the Rare Books Division.  Dr. Rubin, a political science professor and noted antiquarian, has written articles on world politics for the New York Magazine, the New York Times, the Jewish Press, the Jerusalem Post, Western Political Quarterly, Christian Science Monitor, Forward, the Wall Street Journal and other leading publications. An anthology of his pieces, A Jewish Professor’s Political Punditry: Fifty-plus Years of Published Commentary by Ron Rubin, was published this March.

Watch Rare Books at TEDxUGA

In March, Dr. Belinda Stallion Southard presented at TEDxUGA. She included he image “Philadelphia Hall Burning” from History of Pennsylvania Hall, Philadelphia, 1838, first edition. You can now watch Dr. Stallion’s talk, Change the Language, Change the Beliefs. See our March 21 post for more information about the image and its journey to TEDxUGA.

Philadelphia Hall Burning, 1838

Philadelphia Hall Burning, 1838

University of Utah rare books featured in University of Washington graduate student capstone project


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Alison Conner, Rare Books Curator and MLIS candidate at the University of Washington, used rare books as the focus of her capstone project. Based on a physical exhibition Alison curated in 2012 as another school project, Alison designed and produced a collaborative, multimedia, online exhibition. Visit for a virtual tour of the American Revolution, told through the words of those who fought it. Videos, scanned images, and text work together to enhance the experience. Alison worked with faculty and students from the University of Utah’s Theater department, Film and Media Arts department; and staff from the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Scholarship and Information Services and Special Collections’ Rare Books Division.

Book of the Week – Contra Haereticos et Gentiles


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Contra Haereticos et Gentiles
Saint Patriarch of Alexandria Athanasius (293-373)
Impressum Vicentiae: a Leonardo basilensi, Feb. 1 (cal. Februarias), 1482
Editio princeps
BT1350 A8162 1482

A collection of letters, speeches and tracts written against heretical beliefs. “The Father of Orthodoxy,” Athanasius conducted a life-long battle against Arianism. Before the outbreak of the Arian controversy, which began in 319, Athanasius became known for his two essays addressed to a convert to Christianity, one of them entitled Against the Gentiles, the other On the Incarnation of the Word. The treatises argue such questions as monotheism and the necessity of divine interposition for the salvation of the world. Contra Gentiles is an explanation of the Incarnation and the doctrine of the Trinity. In Contra Gentiles, Athanasius discusses the means by which God can be known. These are principally two: the soul and nature. God may be known through the human soul, for “although God Himself is above all, the road which leads to Him is not far, nor even outside ourselves, but is within us, and it is possible to find it by ourselves” (30.1). A study of the soul reveals something about the nature of God. Sin prevents the soul from perfectly attaining the vision of God, but the soul was made according to the divine image and it was intended to be like a mirror in which that image, which is the Word of God, would shine. The soul is invisible and immortal; therefore, the true God must be invisible and immortal. God may be known through his creation, which, “as though in written characters, declares in a loud voice, by its order and harmony, its own Lord and Creator” (34.4). This is the only edition of this work printed in the 15th century.

Book of the Week – Micrographia Restaurata


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Micrographia Restaurata
Robert Hooke (1635 – 1703)
London: Printed for and sold by J. Bowles, 1745
QH27 H8

Robert Hooke, a gifted student, became the research assistant to Robert Boyle, founding member of the Royal Society. He was appointed Curator of Experiments in 1662 and by 1663 was conducting microscope demonstrations for the Society. Within months, Hooke was invited to Whitehall, where he demonstrated some of his exciting findings to King Charles II.  By order of the King, his discoveries were then published as a commemorative book, Micrographia, in 1664.  Micrographia was an instant bestseller.  Samuel Pepys, who owned a microscope during his tenure at the Navy Office, wrote that he liked Micrographia better than any other book he had purchased, and that he sat up half the night reading it. Seventy years later, plates from the original edition were reprinted by Henry Baker, an amateur enthusiast of Hooke’s work. This new book, Micrographia Restaurata, was published in 1745 and again in 1780.

Mimeo Mimeo 8: Curator’s Choice


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Rare Books worked with the Book Arts Program to contribute to Mimeo Mimeo 8: Curator’s Choice. Mimeo Mimeo editors asked “librarians, publishers, poets, printers, book dealers, book collectors, and others bibliographically inclined” from around the country “to curate six pages of Mimeo Mimeo with six items from their personal or institutional collections.” Rare Books Managing Curator Luise Poulton joined Marnie Powers-Torrey, David Wolske, Emily Tipps (Book Arts Program faculty);  Prof. Craig Dworkin (Dept. of English, University of Utah); and Becky Thomas (graduate student, Dept. of English, University of Utah) as part of the “Utah posse” of contributors. Each chose one book from the rare book collections.

Luise wrote about Kenneth Patchen’s An Astonished Eye Looks Out of the Air, Waldport, OR: Untide Press, 1945 PS3531 A764 A77 1944

Marnie Powers-Torrey wrote about Bridget Elmer’s Fibre Libre, Tuscaloosa, AL: Flatbed Splendor, 2010 N7433.4 E545 F5 2010

David Wolske wrote about Rebecca Brown’s Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary, Sedro-Wooley, WA: Grey Spider Press, 2001 RC265.6 B76 B76 2001

Emily Tipps wrote about Ruth Laxson’s A Hundred Years of: LEX FLEX, Atlanta, GA: Nexus Press, 2003 N7433.4 L39 H8 2003

Craig Dworkin wrote about Robert Grenier’s Sentences, Cambridge, MA: Whale Cloth Press, 1978 N7433.4 G797 S4 1978

Becky Thomas wrote about Jen Bervin’s The Desert, New York City: Granary Books, 2008 N7433.4 B47 D47 2008

Book of the Week – Wo/Men at Work


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Wo/Men at Work
Salt Lake City: Red Butte Press, 2012
N7433.4 W65 2012

Three texts (“Consuming labor: a preface to Wo/Men at Work” by Matt Basso and Andrew Farnsworth, “Cooking from Scratch” by Judy Blunt, and “Everything’s dangerous: an essay from the 1941 collection Men at Work” by Ralph Powell) printed in a W-fold pamphlet. Titles printed on opposite covers. From the colophon: “…Book Arts Program staff contributors are Managing Director Marnie Powers-Torrey, Creative Director David Wolske, Laura Decker, Claire Taylor, Becky Thomas and Emily Tipps. David designed and typeset the text. The typefaces, evocative of the 1930s and ‘40s printshop vernacular, are as follows: bold titling is Hamilton, a revival of a popular 19th century wood type; bylines and colophon are Franklin Gothic, a workhorse sans serif found in printshops across America; italic subheadings are Cheltenham Italic, a ubiquitous early 20th century serif design; and the main body typeface is a version of Fairfield, released in 1939 and designed for the Linotype machine. Claire and Laura produced the saddle and pressure cooker drawings, respectively, in dialogue with the essays and one another…Andrew [Farnsworth], Dayna Kerns, and Chris Dunsmore, under the direction of Book Arts staff, letterpress-printed the imagery and text from photopolymer plates on Rives Heavyweight and BFK papers. Emily oversaw binding design and production of the W-fold pamphlet…Associate Director for Special Collection Greg Thompson provided the committed support that helped make this endeavor a reality.” Edition of twenty-six copies. University of Utah copies are letters ‘U’ and ‘V.’

Congratulations to the Book Arts Program and Red Butte Press staff for receiving one of 7 AIGA 100 Show Professional Copper Ingot awards for Wo/men at Work. The AIGA 100 Show showcases the year’s best design, advertising, and digital media. Of those pieces, a select few are awarded the Copper Ingot, one of the most sought-after communication awards in the Intermountain West. Visit http/ for information, to view pictures from the awards ceremony, and download the 100 Show Book PDF.

Book of the Week – Bon Bon Mots


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Bon Bon Mots
Julie Chen
Berkeley, CA: Flying Fish Press, 1998
N7433.4 C44 B66 1998

A box designed to resemble a candy box contains three miniature books (two of which are accordion folded), one folded octagonal object with text, and a small box with text also containing five copper balls which are to be placed into five holes on the larger box’s bottom surface. The contents are all designed to resemble pieces of candy, and are nested in a cloth which fits over the partitioned bottom of the larger box. A leaf with box’s contents is mounted on the inside lid. Text is letterpress printed. Edition of one hundred copies. University of Utah copy is no. 32.