Tuesday, May 13, 2014


With the alarmingly imminent end of the semester looming in large and small ways, getting a grip on reality is diffused by the high levels of caffeine and stress, both of which are available in large quantities on campus just now.  In reviewing some of the less charming themes addressed in this blog this past year, I decided to throw myself back into some good old bookcharmer habits and set aside worries about technology and access, just for a little while.

If you need a good dose of biblio charm and want to set your worries aside for a little bit, please join me in a virtual visit to Special Collections.  Maybe by the end of this post you'll want to make an in person visit to enjoy the same sort of knee-buckling swoon worthy printing I'm about to describe.

I labeled this blog post Perspective to remind myself to keep on task about seeking a fresh perspective but also to try to make some kind of wonderful wordplay about Perspective as a subject heading, which it is.  However, the muse of wordplay is off doing sudoku or something, so I can't present you with something witty and intriguing.  I can, however, provide you with the catalog record for Andrea Pozzo's Rules and examples of perspective proper for painter and architects, etc.  Here it is:

How many subject headings?  Just one.  Perspective.  But what else can we know about this book, from the catalog record alone, that will lure us to Special Collections?  The date, of course, 1707, even with a question mark.  Printed in London.._for_  J. Senex.  I'm skipping ahead to tell you that is John Senex, well known printer especially for his maps, but what does it mean printed for instead of printed by? Well, those are enough interesting facts to get me upstairs.

I should say something instructive and thoughtful about how powerful catalog records are, if you understand how to decode them, and how commercial book records from purveyors such as Slamazon (who has been called out by no less than the New York Times for its ham-fisted playing of favorites in recent days) will never be able to compete with the scholarly approach and knowledge employed by Library of Congress Subject Headings for illustrating the content of books but I won't be able to do that without bringing out my grouchy side and I am determined to remain charming at this point.  Please continue reading.

The subject heading Perspective in this case promises so much when you add in the tantalizing details of date, place of publication, and engravings on the "best paper."  Have a look:

Are you sighing yet?

How about now?  Did the words Farneze and Rome catch your eye?  Do you feel a brief warmth in your lungs as if you have entered a chapel built in 1685?

Go ahead, treat yourself to a journey so completely unnecessary that it becomes the most necessary thing of all, adjust your perspective with a trip to Special Collections.  

Today's Bookcharmer magic is brought to us by this scholarly discussion on Pozzo's Rules and examples of perspective proper for painters and architects, etc. from the University of Reading's very nice write up on their copy: 

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