Publications

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library offers for sale exhibition catalogs and, under the Soybean Press imprint, original, hand-printed works.

Listed below are recent exhibition catalogs. To purchase a title, please send a check payable to; “University of Illinois,” to the following address:

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Illinois Library, Room 346
1408 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, IL 61801

Wise Animals: Aesop & His Followers

Aesop catalog coverAs an author, Aesop is elusive at best, but as a concept, the Aesopian fable can be quite clearly defined. A life lesson in miniature in which everyday creatures—both human and animal—serve as moral agents, gently or crassly exemplifying virtue and vice. The stories are so ingrained in most readers' minds that moral attributes have accrued to certain creatures: everyone knows that the fox is sly and cunning, the grasshopper is a flibbertigibbet, and the turtle's perseverance will win the day. The language of Aesopian fables has also become a part of the Western tradition through such maxims as "fine feathers do not make a fine bird," "slow and steady wins the race," and even "united we stand, divided we fall."

From Phaedrus to La Fontaine and beyond, guest curator Willis Regier, the Director of the University of Illinois Press, explores the genre of the fable through some of the finest editions and renditions of the fabled Greek moralist. We are "proud as peacocks" about the results of his hard work. Catalogs are available for $5.

"Out of many good ones, one principal good one":
Celebrating the King James Bible at 400

King James Bible notecard set The history of the Bible in English is one of censorship, intrigue, politics, and, ultimately, glory. To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the great "King James Version" (1611), the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois exhibited some of its rarest Bibles in the fall of 2011 to tell the fascinating story of the making of the English language Bible and to look at the many books behind the magisterial and influential 1611 English translation.

From 1604 to 1611 six teams of scholars worked on the translation under strict guidelines from King James himself. Their purpose, they wrote, was not to make a new translation of the Bible but "to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one." This exhibition surveys those "many good ones" to understand the context from which the literary masterpiece that is the King James Bible arose. After suppressing the Bible in their vernacular for more than 130 years, the English made up for lost time by creating no fewer than fifteen different translations of the Bible between 1535 to 1600 in a variety of forms and formats—248 editions in all. In this exhibit we illustrate the complex history of the Bible in English, from the earliest banned translations to authorized translations of shifting religious partisanship under Henry VIII, Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth, to the literary triumph of the King James Version.

As an alternative to a regular exhibition catalog, a boxed note card and envelope set featuring images and text regarding each of the twelve exhibits is available for $5.

Makes a great stocking-stuffer!

A to Z to !
An Exhibit About Alphabets, Letters, & Writing

A to Z to ! Catalog CoverThis all-ages exhibition presented examples of alphabets and calligraphy from the collections of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

A handy catalog designed for young readers illustrates—in letter by letter fashion—twenty-six 'alphabetical' concepts and is available for $5.

The exhibition and catalog were produced by RBML Curator of Rare Books, Marten Stromberg.

Miracle within a Miracle
Johannes Reuchlin and the Jewish Book Controversy

Reuchlin Catalog CoverThis international exhibition marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of Johannes Reuchlin's Augenspiegel or Eye Glasses, a recommendation written in response to an imperial mandate to destroy all Jewish books. Reuchlin's impassioned and ultimately successful defense of Jewish writings and legal rights represents a stunning intervention by a Christian scholar later acknowledged by a Jewish leader as a "miracle within a miracle."

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, have collaborated with the Museum Johannes Reuchlin in Pforzheim, Reuchlin's birthplace, and with the Jewish Museum of Frankfurt, the crucial location for the historic events 500 years ago, to make this multi-venue exhibition possible. Through rare imprints from the pamphlet wars surrounding the Jewish Book Controversy, this book explores anti-Semitism in the age of printing, early Christian Hebrew studies, the sixteenth-century campaign to destroy Jewish books, and Reuchlin's defense of Jewish books, traditions, and civil rights.

The Authors:
Valerie Hotchkiss is Head of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. David Price is Professor of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Professor Price is also the author of Johannes Reuchlin and the Campaign to Destroy Jewish Books (Oxford University Press, 2011). ISBN 978 0 9788134 8 2

Copies are available for $5.00, postage paid.

One in a Million: An Exhibition of Eleven Landmark Acquisitions of the University of Illinois

One in a Million catalog coverLet us put the occasion for this exhibition in perspective. Picture this: If we began in Urbana-Champaign and placed eleven million books on a single shelf, that shelf would stretch southward to St. Louis and northward to Chicago. It is an impressive image and an even more impressive accomplishment.

We mark this milestone with a book as a way of representing and celebrating our collections. Benjamin Franklin’s 1744 edition of Cicero’s famous treatise On Old Age is a landmark of American printing and a highpoint for collectors of American imprints. The acquisition not only strengthens the Library’s holdings in colonial printing, it also neatly combines the Classical and American Studies interests of our benefactors, Bob and Emily Watts. We are grateful to the Watts for the generous contribution that made possible this acquisition, as well as this beautiful catalog.

Copies of the thirty page catalog are available for $10.00 postage paid.

For a PDF version of the printed catalog, please click here.

“In Manibus Litteratorum/In the Hands of the Learned”
The Mellon Cataloging Project and Five Centuries of Book Ownership

Coleridge Signature

The title page to Hoi tes heroikes poieseos paietai pantes (1606), a book cataloged by the Mellon Cataloging Project and found to have Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s signature.

With generous support from the Mellon Foundation, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has undertaken a large retrospective conversion and cataloging project that has dramatically improved access to our extraordinary collections. At the start of the project in the summer of 2006, we had 70,000 uncataloged rare and even unique items in our collections. To date we have cataloged over 50,000 titles.

We are bringing the “Hidden Collections” at the University of Illinois Rare Book & Manuscript Library to light, making previously inaccessible books available to students and scholars around the world.

This exhibition, curated by Mellon Project catalogers Adam Doskey and Rebecca Bott, highlights some of the more remarkable ownership associations discovered during the course of the Mellon Cataloging Project. The scope of the exhibition spans five centuries and includes such luminaries as Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury; Reformation leader Philipp Melanchthon; the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Robert Harley, Lord Oxford; Narcissus Luttrell, diarist and book collector; William Lambarde, early modern antiquarian; William Herle, Elizabethan political agent; the Romantic poet Robert Southey; and three of the most eminent English bibliographers of the twentieth century. Copies of the twenty page catalog are available for $10.00 postage paid.

For a PDF version of the printed catalog, please click here.

Collating Cædmon:
Editing Old English Texts & the Evolution of Anglo-Saxon in Print

Collating Caedmon_Page_01After the Norman Conquest in 1066, the production of Anglo-Saxon literature simply petered out. Half a millennium after the Battle of Hastings, however, the neglected corpus of Old English literature began to rear its ancient head. Beginning with a display of the initial efforts of Archbishop Matthew Parker and the London printer John Day in the sixteenth century, “Collating Cædmon” explores how these forgotten texts slowly came into print, culminating in a full-scale revival in the nineteenth century. The exhibition curator is Patrick Olson, a cataloger with the Mellon Cataloging Project in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Copies of the twenty page catalog are available for $10.00 postage paid.

Audubon at Illinois:
Selections from the University Library's Birds of America

Catalog_starter_small_9_Page_01On display at the University's Krannert Art Museum, from
30 January to 24 May 2009, this exhibition of plates from The Rare Book & Manuscript Library's copy of Audubon's Birds of America was accompanied by this catalog.

All twenty-four of the double-elephant folio prints chosen for the exhibition are represented by images or detailed views in this colorful and informative brochure. Copies are $5.00 postage-paid.

Early Birds: A Selection of Bird Books from Belon to Audubon

Edwards plate 351 B copyTo accompany the “Audubon at Illinois” exhibition, The Rare Book & Manuscript Library mounted an exhibition from 30 January to 2 March 2009 that featured many of the ornithologies that preceded Audubon's magnificent work.

Curated by Alvan Bregman, “Early Birds” is available for $5.00 postage-paid

Multiple Merwins: Poet, Translator, Environmental Activist.

William S. MerwinThis catalog contains three essays written to accompany an exhibition held in 2008. Drawn from the Merwin Archive in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the exhibition featured manuscript and printed materials illustrating the remarkable and multivariate career of one of America's finest writers.

The essays, by Rare Book & Manuscript Library personnel Christopher D. Cook, Chatham Ewing, and Dennis Sears, each cover a thematic aspect of Merwin's work and include illustrations from the manuscript material in the Merwin Archive at Illinois. The forty page booklet also contains Merwin's poem Chord, and a foreword by Rare Book & Manuscript Library Head, Valerie Hotchkiss.

The booklet is available for $10 via the address above.

A hand-printed broadside of Chord, is also available for $35 (signed), or $15 (unsigned). For more information and an image of the broadside, please visit the Soybean Press Publications site.

Love Thy Neighbor: An Exhibition Commemorating the Completion of the Episcopal Chapel of St. John the Divine

To celebrate the long-awaited completion of the Episcopal Chapel of St. John the Divine, The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign mounted an exhibition from November 16, 2007 through February 22, 2008. The display featured rare Anglican and Episcopal books from the Library’s collection that illustrate the history of the English Reformation and the growth of Anglicanism and its spread to the New World. Highlights included embroidered book bindings, the earliest Anglican prayer book with musical notation, and books related to church buildings. The first edition of the Book of Common Prayer (1549) was on display, as well as a volume once owned (and signed) by Oliver Cromwell. Love Thy Neighbor was curated by Christopher D. Cook.

A catalog is available for purchase for $8.00 (domestic postage included).

For a .pdf version of the "Love Thy Neighbor" catalog, please click here.

Dante at Illinois: An Exhibition

Dante at Illinois: An ExhibitionThis catalog explores the medieval Italian poet’s fame and critical reception from the fifteenth to the twenty–first centuries. The exhibition, curated by Rare Book Cataloging Project Manager Christopher D. Cook, opened to the public on the 685th anniversary of Dante’s death, and celebrated the rich holdings of Dante materials at the University of Illinois Library. Featured items included a 1481 volume with illustrations by Botticelli, a miniature 1629 edition, and manuscript material by the poet W.S. Merwin.

Baldini engraving, 1st Canto Dante's 'La Commedia', Firenze: Nicolaus Laurentii, 1481A catalog of the exhibition is available for purchase at $10.00 (includes Priority Mail shipping costs) per copy at The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (see contact information above). The catalog contains a foreward by Valerie Hotchkiss, Head of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and descriptions all thirty-two exhibit items, and contains more than a dozen color illustrations.