R is for Rare Book Cataloging

ot all the books in the Culture Class Collection have decorations, but the ones that do are an absolute pleasure to page through. In the archives world (my area of expertise), although goosebumps still rise on my arms when I see a letter from a founding father, I am now able to suppress the squeals of excitement that emerged from my lips ten years ago. So I am wondering if rare book catalogers become somewhat immune to the beauties of the woodcuts, illustrations and initials. Not being a rare book cataloger, I find myself holding in the squeal (I work in a library, after all), each time I open one of these treasures.

learly the Culture Class team is still pretty excited about these illustrations because they have been photographing them and making them accessible on their flickr stream. I am particularly keen on the Abecedarium, and have spent a fair bit of time browsing the photographs. However, the book plates are super fun … as are the indecipherable inscriptions! And if you like animals (real or mythical), check out photographs of the bestiary found within the volumes.

lthough I am always excited by the feel of old paper, the smell of old dust, and the beauty of history preserved in a box or between covers, as an archivist, I tend to be most excited about the information in a collection. Working with the Culture Class collection has been exciting because I am now am looking at these books, not only as sources of information, but also as artifacts. In many cases, these volumes are truly pieces of artwork, lovingly crafted by hand, hundreds of years ago.

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