Now that we’ve completed reorganizing and re-cataloging the books in the Main Reading Room, I’ve begun work on the books housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.
This room has a controlled climate that protects our delicate, rare, or unique items, including books, manuscripts, and ephemera. Finding beautiful or interesting items within this collection is common but I thought I’d share a pair of items that really caught my eye recently.
The Library has many items housed in clamshell boxes. Often these protective cases are used to save fragile antiquarian books from further damage and soiling, however, some books are issued in clamshells by their publishers. These tend to be deluxe editions, usually with elaborate bindings and featuring signatures from the author and or artist. One such volume is Trout & Bass: a diverse collection of angling literature, both prose and poetry, compiled by Stephen Bodio (1993).
This rather subdued green case does indeed contain a deluxe volume, one of only 50 produced. The lid of this case hides a surprise. Mounted inside are 18 hand tied fishing flies in pristine condition. It was quite the surprise to pull open the lid and find these delicate works of art.
Here’s a closer look at a few of the flies. They were all tied by Jack Gartside.
In addition to the book, and the flies, there is a folio containing unbound plates of all the black and white illustrations that appear in the book. Each signed by the artist, Alan James Robinson.
The six watercolor images from the book are also included as unbound plates. Each is individually cased and is signed by the artist, Alan James Robinson.
The whole collection makes a very nice deluxe edition and housed safely in its clamshell case, and in the controlled climate of the Rare Book Room, it will continue to amaze visitors for many decades to come.
The second item of interest turned up in a container marked simply “ephemera.” Among its contents we found a large wooden box with a colorful illustration on its lid.
Sliding the lid off we discovered the box contained a puzzle.
A cube puzzle to be precise.
This sort of puzzle features a different image on each side of its cube shaped pieces, so there are six puzzles in one box. Very efficient! The six in one feature isn’t the only advantage cube puzzles have over traditional jigsaw puzzles, their cubical pieces are also much harder to lose than the small flat pieces that make up a jigsaw.
In addition to the image on the lid of the box, there are five posters showing the other five images that can be assembled from the cubes. One is of fox hunting, two of wing shooting, and two of stag hunting. All are by John Sanderson-Wells.
The simple appearance of the cube puzzle is deceptive. The user has to first figure out which of the six sides on each piece belongs to the design they are working on, and only after that can one determine where the piece belongs in the overall image.
Both these items are behind the locked door in the Rare Book Room but that doesn’t mean you can’t see them. You just need to contact us prior to your visit for an appointment. You can also schedule a tour of the Rare Book Room during which you will see an assortment of the interesting and unique items housed there. To make an appointment or to book a tour, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact Erica by e-mail