November 20, 2013

Ex Libris

Where I work, we have archives dating back to the late 1700’s and about 250 boxes filled with ephemera that’s both deadly boring and endlessly fascinating. I am working on a timeline for a long hallway and need to find a lot of visuals to create a picture of our history. So, I’ve been searching our archives, which are located on the top floor of our four-story stacks library… where the ghost lives.stacks

One of the boxes I opened contained hundreds of bookplates. At one point, our librarian had sort of an exchange program set up with physicians and medical colleges around the world where they would trade bookplates.

I noticed that the ones I have fall into several distinct categories. First, the medical-related ones with skulls and microscopes.

And I can’t resist sharing this one from an OB/GYN featuring a set of Fallopian tubes, the rabbit, lab rats, famous physicians and scientists, some stirrups and a speculum.And just in case you were worried about where he went to school, there’s the Tulane University seal! That’s a lot packed into a 3x4 inch piece of paper!

And who wouldn’t love this charming butterfly resting atop a human skull?

The second variety is the crest, whether real or created for the occasion.

Lots of stags, lions rampant and other beasts.

Then there all of the monograms with the intertwined letters and the fantastic lettering.

I love the brain capping off the piece!

Finally, there’s a genre of ye olde-style bookplates.

I keep finding so many fascinating things that I am thinking of starting a blog on the history of Maryland Medicine so that these pieces aren’t lost to history. I do put some of them on my FB page, but that doesn’t have nearly the audience that a blog would. If I wrote it, would you read it?

PS – sorry about the awful quality of the images. I photographed these instead of scanning them, as scanning involves quite a bit more effort, including standing on a stool to see the scanner bed!

26 comments:

  1. Is it my Mac but I can click on the image and it magicly enlarges. Which helps after a long day. For all us students of Latin, we love a translation challenge.

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    1. Anyone should be able to click the image to enlarge. It's like MAGIC!

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  2. Yes bc I think people have an attachment to books and things that the kindle can't mimic or recreate plus it's a great way as you say to archive them

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    1. I worry about what will happen in 100 years and there's no record of anything except electronically.

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  3. Oh Meg, love this post. Have been reading your blog for quite some time and love Baltimore (where my daughter is attending college), antiques and medicine! I'm an "outside of the box" pediatrician and found these bookplates fascinating. Would love to read about them in further posts.

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    1. I will be setting up the new MedChi Archives blog shortly!

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  4. I would read it. I love this kind of thing and rather envy all that time digging through boxes of treasure.

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  5. I would read anything you wrote. But I think the medical community would love a historical blog.

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  6. Meg, these are fabulous! Thank you for sharing them and allowing us to witness such ephemera as might never again see the light of day. A blog about Maryland medical history would be invaluable.

    Some of the bookplate seem to suggest that the line between physician and wizard is very thin indeed...the books and skulls, the smoking candle and Aladdin's lamp, the incantations. I particularly like the gynecologist's coat of arms with its realistically-rendered caduceus, a phallic symbol firmly imposed atop a uterus.

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    1. Very thin!

      The Ob/Gyn one is a bit scary!

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  7. What an incredible find, this box of bookplates! Hard to pick out a favorite, but probably the one with the brain--there can't be too many like that out there. I am a long-time admirer and collector of bookplates--I was even preparing a post on them, but you have certainly scooped me.

    The history of medicine is fascinating, and I would love to read about finds from your archives, either here or in a separate blog.

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  8. Oh these are wonderful! did you see the recent post on bookplates over at Peak of Chic (and her apartment featured in the NYT today!).

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    1. I did! And I love that she put one in her new book!

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  9. certainly would read it + I bet drs would also + these are wonderful! xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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  10. Please, can we hear about the ghost? I love a good ghost story.

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  11. Even if no one reads your blog, you should still do it. Over time people with an interest or looking for something on some long forgotten person or thing will do a search and your blog will pop up. That is one of the reasons I made an index for my 300-page history of St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington. Many of the names in the index will mean nothing to most people, especially for some of the "non-important" rank and file people who worked at the hospital over the past 160 years, but at some point an ancestor or someone working on some esoteric research project will appreciate the lead. And, like you in your archives, I spent six months combing through the National Archives and discovered things that may never have come to light if I hadn't pulled it out and typed something about it.

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    1. Good idea. I have actually had some people contact me about the portraits.

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  12. Blog it and then publish a book.

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  13. I'd read anything you wrote; endlessly fascinating and gracefully expressed.

    Ceci

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