November 15, 2014 by bbutler1969
Carefully cradled, propped up or resting flat in their temporary home, 49 exceptional rare books were the star attractions of Imprints and Impressions: Milestones in Human Progress, a recent exhibition in the University of Dayton’s Roesch Library First Floor Gallery. University of Dayton faculty selected rare and near-priceless first editions, manuscripts, galley proofs, papyri and illustrations important to the arts, sciences, history, education, literature and music. The works were on loan from the rare book collection of Stuart Rose, a Dayton-area businessman who started his collection of more than 2,000 rare books in 1992 with a first-edition Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Since then, he has focused on collecting first editions of important, life-changing books.
Armed with an insightful handlist, I roamed the room in search of several outstanding books.
The first edition of Goethe’s Faust, printed in Leipzig in 1790, was keeping company with the Second Folio of William Shakespeare’s work.
A portfolio of signed illustrations by Salvador Dalí for a 1969 edition of Alice in Wonderland rested above one of only five copies of the first edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that are still in the original boards. The same case also included other notables, such as the first Dutch and American editions of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, as well as the first British and American editions of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
A copy of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, printed in London circa 1492, was once in the collection of J. Pierpont Morgan.
Across from a presentation copy of Marie Curie’s 1903 doctoral thesis on the properties of radioactive substances, I found the first edition of The Montessori Method, published in 1909. The first publication of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry, printed in Venice in 1482, was nearby.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s page proofs of the first edition of The Lord of the Rings, with his final additions, corrections and deletions, were enclosed in a binding by Don Glaister, an acclaimed book binder and conservator, with a signed presentation inscription.
The first complete Spanish-language translation of the Bible, printed in Basle in 1569, was nicknamed the “Bible of the Bear” because its frontispiece depicts a bear taking honey from a tree.
Scanned images from the works not only bordered the gallery’s walls and window shades, but also were featured on several complimentary postcards that were the library’s gift to exhibit-goers.
On September 29, author Nicholas Basbanes gave a lecture titled “Common Bond: Thoughts on a World Awash in Paper, and the Fellowship of Books” to open the exhibit. Watch a recording of it here.
At the exhibition’s closing reception on November 9, Rose shared the stories behind his collection and what it has meant to him.
Imprints and Impressions: Milestones in Human Progress may be over, but you can still enjoy an online version of it here.