The Special Collections Department of Cleveland Public Library houses an amazing collection of books covering many different subjects. We often "discover" a book of particular interest when it is requested by a researcher. This past month, two unique items came to our attention.
The Library has many manuscripts in its collection. A manuscript is defined as something written by hand [from the Latin manu - by hand - and scriptus - written]. A beautiful example is Le songe du Vieil Pelerin adressant au Blanc Faucon à bec et pieds dorés which dates from the first half of the 15th century and is probably from France. It tells the story of Philippe de Mézières who went on a Crusade to the Holy Lands, and is written in a beautiful even hand with some red decorative initials on pages of both parchment and rag paper.
Another lovely item is not as old and from the other side of the world. Shinsen Taik?ki is from Japan, printed sometime in the middle to late 18th century with lovely illustrations by Toyonobu Utagawa. This book tells the story of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who was an important daimyo, or lord, who unified Japan in the 16th century. The book is printed on crinkly paper, similar to crepe paper. These prints are known as chirimen-gami-e, which were especially popular for children's books. The intensity of the colors is breath-taking, and the composition of the images reflect the tradition of ukiyo-e, a genre of Japanese woodblock printing.