Friday, May 17, 2013


News travels fast, especially if it involves a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami or volcanic eruption.  We take it for granted now, but the eruption of Krakatoa on August 27th, 1883 made global headlines within hours due to news transmissions via undersea transoceanic telegraph wires.  Telegraph posts on various islands near Krakatoa gave continuous updates as the eruptions began.  This was the first time newspapers around the world were able to give current reports and daily updates on a live event to their readers.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Popular Scientific Recreation" Part II - A Flea Circus Example of Variations in Translations

Le Ricreazioni Scientifiche ovvero L'insegnamento coi Giuochi is full of wonderful illustrations and I plan to periodically revisit examples from this book since I will touch on only one passage (or lack of one) for now.
Originally published in France under the title Les récréations scientifiques, ou L'enseignement par les jeux, the author, Gastone Tissandier, wrote many similar books in the late 1800s.  He also founded the magazine La Nature which eventually merged with another magazine to become La Recherche which is still in publication.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Architecture and Engineering in the Construction of Bridges

Bridges were one of Giovanni’s interests as an architect.  He even went so far as to patent one of his original designs. Naturally he was also interested in collecting books pertaining to bridge construction and technique.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Exchanges in Currency

 In a time when economic discussions lead to the topic of currencies and their stability, it's easy to forget there were once many more currencies in play than there are today.  Add coin collecting and numismatics to Giovanni's list of hobbies and interests.   

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Art and Science of War

At first glance the brown cloth cover of Pläne zu dem Abrichtungs-Reglement der k. k. Linien-Infanterie, or Plans for the Training Regulations of the Imperial-Royal Line Infantry, 1843, doesn't seem to be any more unusual than any of the other books in Giovanni's collection.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Narrative of Captain David Woodard

Travel books, especially older ones, can transport you to a world completely different from the one we know today.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Former Lives

Sorting through books, lightly dusting them off and gently opening them up after a long period of hibernation feels like wandering through memories frozen in time.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Virtual Shelf

Technology makes the task of putting together a catalog so much easier.  Years ago, my husband and his mother tried to create a list and were soon overwhelmed.  There are so many ways to approach a home library and sometimes the biggest decision comes in figuring out where to begin.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Millinery Arts: Hats from the late 1800s

According to Merriam-Webster, the first known use of the term milliner was in 1530.  

Books, books and more books...

My father-in-law, Giovanni, was interested in many things - art, architecture, history, geography, politics and more.  He grew up in a time before computers and the internet made information so much easier to find (hard to believe these days!).  Books were always at the top of his list.  He translated books.  He was an antiquarian for a time in his life.  At times his books were a burden, such as when he had to move from one place to another, but they were always a passion and they were always overflowing the bookshelves.  He was the kind of person who could remember everything he had ever read.  He was a walking library of information.  Unfortunately he passed away earlier this year and now I've taken up the task of organizing and cataloging the many shelves.  In the process, I've come across images or pages that just beg to be shared.