Feed on


Edinburgh. The year is 1890. Having finished your duties as a clerk for the day, furiously copying legal documents until your hand, wrist, and arm are throbbing, you head home, not to rest, but for something else, something up your sleeve, something of value. You’ve been working. Grabbing a handful of documents that lay waiting just inside your door, you head back to town, hoping to catch a certain bookseller at a certain bookstore before he closes his doors for the evening. With a thump, and just in the nick of time, you lay the hefty manuscript on his counter. The bookseller smiles, maybe knowingly or maybe just kindly. A few exchanged words and minutes later, you too are smiling, relieved of your burden and exiting the bookstore with a pocket full of banknotes.

This may have been a slice of the life of one Alexander Howland Smith, at least for a few years, until the unassuming clerk was put on trial for “obtaining money by deceit.”  “Antique Smith,” as he was known, was a Scottish law clerk who produced literary forgeries circa 1888 to 1892. Around this time, Smith frequented the bookshops of Edinburgh, collecting books for their contemporary fly leaves on which he would produce his forgeries. Many of Smith’s dealings involved Edinburgh bookseller James Stillie, who may have been complicit in passing the forgeries. Though Smith reproduced an array of literary works, he forged the letters and manuscripts of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns most frequently. Smith was eventually discovered, arrested, and sentenced to one year in prison in 1892.


Forgery of “The Jolly Beggars” by Alexander Howland Smith. Circa 1888-1892. From MSS 099 945 Alexander Howland Smith papers regarding his forgery of Robert Burns’s The Jolly Beggars


University of Delaware Library Special Collections adds Antique Smith’s sixteen-page forgery of Robert Burns’s cantata “The Jolly Beggars,” to its broad holdings of forgeries and forgery-related material.  The manuscript is paired with documentation attempting to verify its authenticity which includes a dealer’s description by James Stillie, and a certificate from John Maitlan[d] stating he received the manuscript from Robert Burns.  The Alexander Howland Smith papers finding aid provides a detailed description of the collection.



Bookseller James Stillie’s presentation letter. “It is not warranted, But it has Mr. Maitlan[d] certificate as got from Burns.” Stillie may have been complicit in passing Smith’s forgeries. Undated.



The Burroughs exhibition may be over, but there’s still plenty of time in 2014 to celebrate the gentleman junkie.

The Paul Bowles collection at the University of Delaware Library includes original letters from and relating to Burroughs, copies of Burroughs’s books, often inscribed to Bowles, and a host of other materials documenting the relationship of the two American writers.

The American expatriate author and composer Paul Bowles first met William S. Burroughs in Tangier in the spring of 1954. “He was living down in the medina, in a brothel,” says Bowles. “He lay in bed all day, shot heroin, and practiced sharp shooting with a pistol against the wall of his room. I saw the wall, all pockmarked with bullet holes. I said to him, ‘Why are you shooting your wall, Bill?’ He said, ‘It’s good practice.’ I didn’t get to know him until ’55, ’56. He was writing Naked Lunch.”  (Vanity Fair interview, 1985).  Burroughs saw Bowles regularly during these years. Bowles remained in Tangier, while Burroughs lived and traveled variously in Paris, London, New York, and eventually Lawrence, Kansas.  They admired each other’s writing, shared many mutual friends, and maintained a regular correspondence until Burroughs’s death in August 1997.

One of the pieces of correspondence from the Paul Bowles paper supplement is the postcard Burroughs sent Bowles in February 1997.  The postcard reproduces a (now famous) 1961 photograph taken in the garden of Burroughs’s Tangier apartment. Burroughs had stayed at the Villa Muniria in Tangier between 1956 and 1958 during the productive period during which he feverishly wrote much of what became Naked Lunch, as well as parts of The Soft Machine and The Ticket That Exploded. In The Adding Machine, Burroughs refers to the summer of 1961 as the “psychedelic summer.”


Left to right: Peter Orlovsky (seated), Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Alan Ansen, Bowles (seated), Gregory Corso, Ian Sommerville. (MSS 163s Paul Bowles papers supplement)

“Nostalgic photo when all concerned were in better health,” Burroughs wrote. “L to right. Peter Orlovsky: nuts, me with a leaky heart valve, Allen Ginsberg, kidney stones, Alan Ansen, arthritic, Gregory [Corso], quite reclusive. Ian Sommerville dead in car crash.” Burroughs also wishes Bowles good health following a second surgery on his leg and confirms he does have central heat and air conditioning in his home in Lawrence, Kansas.





June 16 marks Bloomsday, so named for Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. The novel traces Bloom’s activities back and forth across Dublin over the course of one day, June 16, 1904. For many years Joyceans have commemorated the anniversary of Bloom’s fictional adventures. The first such event occurred in Dublin in 1954, when a small group gathered to retrace the route described in Ulysses. (The novel’s geography is precise enough that it actually is possible to do this. In this case, though, the group ran out of steam  midway, after the Bailey pub proved too distracting). Today Bloomsday celebrations occur worldwide, and often include dramatic readings from the novel.


James Joyce. Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1922.

The University of Delaware Library holds first editions of nearly all of Joyce’s works, including Ulysses, which was first published in 1922 in France by Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Company. The first edition was printed in a limited run of 1000 copies, and was produced with considerable input from Joyce. (Joyce even spent a great amount of time deliberating over which shade of blue would be the right one to use for the cover. He wanted it to be reminiscent of the color of the sea). Previously, Ulysses had been serialized in the American literary magazine, The Little Review, between March 1918 and December 1920, but the serialization ceased abruptly after the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice sued The Little Review on grounds of obscenity and received a court order banning the work’s publication in America, an order which stood until Random House successfully challenged it in 1933. (The University of Delaware of Library also owns copies of The Little Review).


Photograph of James Joyce, by Berenice Abbott, [1928].

In addition to the first edition and The Little Review issues, The University of Delaware Library also owns several other significant editions of Ulysses, including: the second edition (1922), Paul Bowles’ copy of the sixth edition (1925), the ninth edition (1927), Brian Coffey’s annotated copy of the eleventh edition (1930), the first authorized American edition (1934), and a 1935 limited edition illustrated with Matisse paintings that have absolutely nothing to do with Ulysses. (Although contracted for the edition, Matisse never bothered to read Ulysses; instead he provided illustrations derived from Homer’s Odyssey. Joyce was not pleased.) Textually, each early edition of Ulysses is significant, as each printing corrected earlier typographical errors but also introduced additional mistakes, which later editions in turn tried to fix, all of which scholars have since spent decades trying to reconcile. Lastly, in addition to these important English language versions, the Library also owns several early translations of Ulysses, including the German (1927), French (1929), Czech (1930), and Japanese (1931-1934) editions.

Over the course of the Spring 2014 semester, students in Renee Wolcott’s ARTC464 learned about scribes, printers, binders, papermakers—and also became them—to get firsthand experience with the conservation issues that arise from early printed and manuscript books.  Students’ assignments included illuminating their own manuscript inspired by holdings in Special Collections and writing a conservation report for a book in Special Collections.

Special Collections holds several illuminated manuscripts and manuscript leaves. During one Special Collections session, I showed the students items from MSS 474 Frank W. Tober manuscript and early printed leaf collection and several items  from the MSS 95 collection, including the 16th-century Book of Hours (Use of Noyon):


We examined the effects of iron gall ink on parchment and paper; the qualities of parchment (Renee showed us where the “armpit” of the animal had been); illumination; lettering styles; lining the parchment; and the contexts in which manuscripts were created and used.

For their assignment, Maddie, Gabriel, Becca, Ester, and Jackie each chose a manuscript that inspired them—whether it was the lettering, the illumination, or the general content—from which to create their own illuminated manuscript. On real parchment. Using their own ink and pigments and gold they mixed. They worked like real scribes, having to plan out their spacing and designs beforehand. Mistakes get scraped away with a knife or scalpel and quickly before the ink dries too much.

Later in the semester, the students showed the fruits of their scribal labors:







The intricately carved Persian signet ring, post c. 651 CE
Intricately carved Persian signet ring, post circa 651 CE

Greetings, all! Stella Sudekum here, student library assistant in the Special Collections department at UD’s Morris Library. I am also an Art History student at UD (’14), and had the pleasure of completing a self-tailored project within the department this past spring semester.

The J. Ben Lieberman collection of seals, stamps, and marks came to Special Collections during the summer of 2013. After the staff accessioned the collection, I began formulating a project plan to shed some light on its content. It would include three phases: Rehousing, Research, and Exhibition. My Art History specialty in ancient Mesopotamian cylinder seals gave me an inkling that some of the artifacts in this collection were of a considerable age.  However, as research began, it became clear that a few were modern reproductions of historic designs. Nevertheless, it was exciting to discover supporting evidence that certain objects are not only authentic, but are also thousands of years old! As my initial research has concluded, the collection houses some of the oldest pieces within Special Collections.

Displaying the ancient cuneiform alphabet of Akkadian, c. 2500-100BCE
Ancient cuneiform alphabet of  the Akkadian language, circa 2500-100 BCE

All of the objects deal with the matter of human beings trying, and adjusting, and trying again to make their mark. As time went on,  humankind developed increasing need to  mark objects and create documents. At the same time, alphabets, personal seals, decorative scriptural stamps, and ultimately, purely decorative printmaking stamps appear.  A prehistoric stamp seal begins to step away from simple geometric patterns, in favor of more original linear inscriptions and designs. An example from the collection is a personal talisman on a metal chain. The owner’s name is inscribed on the stone face of the item.  This and other objects represent linguistic advancements,  milestones of early mark-making.

A Persian name written in Arabic calligraphy, dangling from a hand-twisted ornamental chain
A Persian name written in Arabic calligraphy, dangling from a hand-twisted ornamental chain

The collection consists of sixteen small pieces spanning multiple millennia. The first task to complete was rehousing.  Creating new, ideal housing units consisted of splitting the collection into two clamshell storage boxes. Polyethylene foam was then cut to fill the interior of each box. It was then cut a second time near the top edge to create a lid. The objects were measured and moveable size templates were created to plan the most efficient housing structure within each box. Once spaced, holes were cut to each object’s size specifications in order to fully encapsulate the object within the foam block.  The lid piece was able to rest flat against the bottom foam block. To protect the objects from the rough texture of the foam, Tyvek was placed within the holes, along with an unbleached cotton strip that would run under the objects to make them easier to lift.

Final housing situation within Box 1, including unbleached cotton straps to facilitate ease and safety when removing the objects
Final housing situation within Box 1, including unbleached cotton straps to facilitate ease and safety when removing the objects

Once rehousing the collection was complete, I was able to pursue research with many faculty members at the University of Delaware. I also reached out to local institutions like Winterthur ; meeting and collaborating with these  knowledgeable specialists provided some of the most valuable information that I compiled for the diverse objects’ formal descriptions.

For example, my consultation with UD’s Mineralogical Museum curator, Sharon Fitzgerald; UD’s Associate Professor of African Art and Architecture, Ikem Okoye; and Winterthur’s head objects conservator, Bruno Poulliot, all led me to conclude that an item that appeared to be an ancient Egyptian “sphinx scarab seal” is not, in fact, authentic. This was determined when I realized the piece was composed of ceramic material rather than stone.  Also, the seal displays unique stylistic features not usually associated with this type of item. My decision was also based on research I did into hieroglyphics, as I tried to identify the half-ambiguous cartouche set on the figure’s base.

Although in-authentic, such forgeries can still teach a researcher valuable lessons about cultural styles and iconography
“Stone scarab seal.” Although inauthentic, such forgeries can still teach a researcher valuable lessons about cultural styles and iconography.

The last leg of this project will be for the staff of the Manuscripts and Archives Department to create an online finding aid shared on the Special Collections webpage.  They will work with the staff of the Library’s Center for Digital Collections to share it as an open access collection on ARTstor’s Shared Shelf Commons. This will more fully open the J. Ben Lieberman collection of seals, stamps, and marks to student researchers and scholars outside of the Delaware area community. This may also yield further or more astute information about some of the objects that were less studied this past semester.

Hoping library patrons and world scholars alike will enjoy and learn from this beautiful, historic collection!

All the best — Stella Sudekum

Stella working on the new housing structures at her desk in Special Collections
Stella working on the new housing structures at her desk in Special Collections
(Note: Senior Assistant Librarian Jaime Margalotti  of  the Manuscripts and Archives Department also assisted Stella in her work for this project.)

Special Collections recently acquired a copy of Edward Topsell’s (1572-1625?) Historie of Fovre-Footed Beastes (1607), which is bound together with Topsell’s companion work, The Historie of Serpents (1608). These were the first major books on animals printed in England in the vernacular. These books were primarily English translations of selected portions of Conrad Gesner’s (1516-1565) Historicae Animalium (1551-1587), a five-volume Latin encyclopedia of the animal kingdom, and one of the first modern zoological works. Topsell’s versions also reproduce the same woodcut illustrations that were presented in Gesner’s version. The woodcuts are particularly striking, and are among one of the highlights of these books.


The rhinoceros, as found in Topsell’s Historie of Fovre-Footed Beastes. (London: William Iaggard, 1607).

The text is very extensive, and includes a great deal of information about the creatures surveyed, including details about their natural habitat, instincts, illnesses, relations with other animals and with humans, utility for use by humans, and their effects on human culture. The information is not always accurate (and sometimes it is downright preposterous, consisting of superstitions and folklore), but, while hardly great science by current standards, it provides a fascinating documentary portrait of what was known, assumed, and misunderstood about the animal kingdom.


The manticore: a ferocious hybrid of man, lion, and scorpion, and one of many monsters found in Topsell’s Historie of Fovre-Footed Beastes. It was said to live in India, and widely feared for its supposed tendency to kill and eat humans.

In writing his zoology, Gesner (and Topsell) tried to draw some distinction between observed facts and myths, but, as happened in many Early Modern natural histories, not all of the creatures described actually exist. Alongside a vast selection of real animals (of primarily European, African, and Indian origin), one finds some very detailed biological descriptions of such remarkable animals as the unicorn, dragon, manticore, sea serpent, and hydra, to name just a few. Some of these monsters had been described in ancient and medieval sources; others came from contemporary accounts by people who claimed to have seen them. Together, this blend of the real and the imaginary provides a fascinating example of the state of zoology in seventeenth century England.


Topsell’s crude rendition of a boa constrictor, here shown eating a baby. From the title-page of The Historie of Serpents. (London: William Jaggard, 1608).

It’s also interesting to note that these books were printed by William Iaggard (1568-1623), who would later go on to print the first collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays (the 1623 “First Folio”).

This volume will feature prominently in the upcoming Special Collections exhibition, “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral.”

Naked Lunch is a 1991 film loosely based on William S. Burroughs’s landmark 1959 novel of the same title. Directed by David Cronenberg, Naked Lunch stars Peter Weller (who also played Robocop!) as William Lee; Judy Davis; Ian Holm; and Roy Scheider (you know, from Jaws.)  Set primarily in the Interzone of Tangier, Morocco, the film is a hallucinatory account of the protagonist William Lee’s attempts to find a cure for his depression, drug addiction, and writer’s block. Cronenberg also incorporated many elements from Burroughs’s life, and the death of Joan Vollmer plays a large role in the film. The characters of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac also show up, as they did with Peter Orlovksy to visit Burroughs in Tangier in 1957 and assisted with the manuscript of what became The Naked Lunch.

Typewriters  morph into talking, desire-driven insects, like the one featured on the handbill. The film also brought to life one of Burroughs’s most infamous creatures, the Mugwump.



Japanese handbill for Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch (1991). Gift of Francis Poole.


Naked Lunch is available in the Library’s Film & Video Collection.

Check out more from Special Collections’s current gallery exhibition Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted: William S. Burroughs at 100 at http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/exhibits/burroughs/intro.html

After serving in the U. S. Navy, American author, playwright, and actor James Leo Herlihy (1927-1993) used the benefits earned through the G.I. Bill to attend Black Mountain College in North Carolina.  In 1947 and 1948, while at Black Mountain, Herlihy studied literature, music, and art (particularly sculpture), with faculty who included M. C. Richards, Merce Cunningham, Anais Nin, John Cage, and William De Kooning.  Shown below is a life mask of Herlihy’s face.




The mask, which measures 11″ x 6″ x 6″, is constructed of plaster, with a painted finish. Herlihy signed the verso of the mask in red and carved “James” into the plaster.


This mask is part of a collection of letters and postcards written by Herlihy to his friend Edward P. Mitchell, which also includes a second piece of sculpture created by Herlihy. The collection was a gift to the library from Edward P. Mitchell.

MSS 099, F920 James Leo Herlihy letters to Edward P. Mitchell

Special Collections has recently acquired a number of books from the personal library of Henry Morris, founder and proprietor of the Bird & Bull Press. These include several of Morris’ copies of his own books, many of which are accompanied by additional manuscripts detailing their printing and creation. Many of his personal copies also have been custom-bound, and a number of them include Morris’ humorous (and often sarcastic) handwritten comments about the books and their production. Other books include rare books on printing that served as a part of his collection and reference library.

These new acquisitions build upon the Library’s extensive collections on the Bird & Bull Press. The University of Delaware Library is home to the Bird & Bull Press Archives, a vast collection which spans the whole of Henry Morris’ career and contains manuscripts documenting nearly every Bird & Bull Press book. Special Collections also owns copies of nearly every book printed by Henry Morris. The Bird & Bull Press was the subject of a recent exhibition, which can be viewed at http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/exhibits/bird_bull/index.html.

Morris' personal copy of the first printing of "A Trip to Paris." The first printing is extremely scarce; this copy is of particular interest in that it has never been bound, and only has the simple sewing that it would have received prior to sale. Morris reprinted this book for a Bird & Bull Press edition.

Morris’ personal copy of the first printing of “A Trip to Paris” (1793). The first printing is extremely scarce; this copy is of particular interest in that it has never been bound, and only has the simple sewing that it would have received prior to sale. Morris reprinted this book for a Bird & Bull Press edition.

Unknown photographer, photograph of Senator Joe Biden with Ted Kaufman in his Wilmington office, circa 1973

Before he was appointed by Governor Ruth Ann Minner to represent Delaware in the U.S. Senate in 2008, Ted Kaufman worked on Joe Biden’s Senate staff for over twenty years. In 1972, Kaufman was working for the DuPont Company when he became a volunteer for Joe Biden’s first Senate campaign against long-time GOP incumbent, J. Caleb Boggs. After Biden won the seat, he asked Kaufman to form and lead the Delaware staff office in Wilmington. Kaufman initially agreed to join the staff for one year, but ended up staying on for the next 22 years as the state director until 1976, and then chief of staff from 1976 to 1995.

As chief of staff, Kaufman was responsible for advising Senator Biden on political matters and overseeing overall office functions and staff.  It is perhaps an understatement to say, that by the time Senator Kaufman entered the U.S. Senate in January 2009, he was already well-versed in the workings of Congress.  During Kaufman’s 22 months in the Senate, he spearheaded several legislative milestones related to financial system reform, such as the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (FERA) in April 2009 and the Safe, Accountable, Fair and Efficient (SAFE) Banking Act of 2010. Kaufman also worked alongside Senator Tom Carper to allocate more than $1 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to Delaware to improve infrastructure and support innovation across multiple sectors.

To learn more about Senator Kaufman, please visit the Omeka website and exhibit. The finding aid for the Edward E. “Ted” Kaufman papers is available here through the Special Collections website.


Older Posts »