Monday, July 26, 2010

In the News: "Businessmen with a Passion for Books"

Michael F. Carmichael of Corp! recently interviewed Clements Library Director J. Kevin Graffagnino. His article based on the interview, "Businessmen with a Passion for Books," appears as a cover story in the online version of Corp! Magazine.

Check out the article to learn more about the Clements Library, its founder William Lawrence Clements, and some of the great treasures in the Library's collections.

To find out about the Clements Library's current fundraising program and how you can help, read this previous post on the challenge grant for the upcoming Copley auctions.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Help Us to Meet the Copley Challenge!

We have already raised more than half the match for the Copley Challenge. One of the nation's greatest private collections of Americana is being auctioned over the next year and we have an anonymous benefactor who has offered $150,000 as a one-to-one challenge match to purchase rare items for our library. We have raised half the funds in a short time and need only $75,000 to fully match this gift. When completed, we will have $300,000 available for the October 2010 auction.

Please consider making a gift before September 15 to help acquire these rare primary documents. Give online by selecting "Acquisition" on the Clements Library Online Giving page, or mail your gift using this form [download PDF]. If you would like more information, please contact Ann Rock at or 734-358-9770.

Read the previous post about the Copley Challenge.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Clements Library open for Art Fair, July 21-22

For the first two days of the Ann Arbor Art Fair, the Clements Library will have a tent in front of the building at 909 S. University to provide information about the Library. We're also extending our exhibit hours: the Main Room will be open for visitors to view the exhibits from 10 am to 5pm on Wednesday and Thursday. Please come by and see us!

While you're here, you can drop your name in the basket for our raffle. The prizes are a copy of 101 Treasures from the Collections of the William L. Clements Library or the Clements Library Map Portfolio, a collection of 5 reproductions of maps from Europe and the Americans, 1486-1606. All winners will also receive a free one-year membership in the Clements Library Associates.

You may also be interested in browsing our list of publications for sale. Orders may be placed online by contacting

Thursday, July 15, 2010

From the Stacks: Gone Fishin'

"The whole purpose of summer fishing, the Old Man said, is not to worry about catching fish, but just to get out of the house and set and think a little."    --Robert C. Ruark, The Old Man and the Boy

Fishing, a popular American pastime, is well-represented in the collections of the Clements Library. Once exclusively a subsistence activity, fishing became a leisure sport for the upper and middle classes in 19th century America. In the post-Civil War era, publishers began to produce popular magazines focused on field sports, including Forest and Stream (1873) and The American Angler (1881), the first magazine devoted entirely to fishing.

Browsing through the Clements Library collections provides a glimpse into a variety of materials documenting different aspects of fishing in American history. The first item of note is from the Rare Book Room:

First American book on angling

John J. Brown, a New York fishing tackle dealer, wrote this book in 1845. The book cover has a fisherman tooled in gilt. The frontispiece illustration is "Trout fishing in Sullivan County, N.Y."

Fishing tackle catalog

To prepare for a fishing excursion, you need to buy the proper equipment. This fishing tackle catalog from 1870 offers "Fine quality goods at lower prices than any other house in America."

The fish hooks for sale include styles such as the Yankee Doodle, Snap and Catch "Em," Eagle Claw, and the Pearl Weak Fish Squid.

Guide to fishing spots near Philadelphia

"There are thousands of persons, who, having only an occasional holiday, would gladly indulge in a day's out with rod and reel accompaniment, if they but knew where to go, when to go and how to go where there would be a reasonable probability of finding fish. . . . it was with a view to meeting that want, this little volume was written, with the hope that the information it contains would benefit somebody."  A.M. Spangler's helpful little volume for the Philadelphia fisherman includes discussions of the different species of fish to be found in the area, how to fish for them, and a map at the back with fishing spots marked.

An artistic endeavor

Joshua Benjamin, an American sailor, kept a journal of his various sea voyages with different ships. He drew several fish on a blank page following his entries for the Brigandine Dolphin (Boston to Portugal, 1714).

"That eccentric angler Randolph G. Adams"

The Clements Library itself has a distinguished connection to the topic through the 1934 publication of a small pamphlet by the first director of the library, "that eccentric angler Randolph G. Adams." It is an excerpt from Cotton Mather's Magnalia Book vi, p. 9, which purports to answer the question, "What makes the fish bite?" The first 20 copies of the pamphlet were printed in London by James Tregaskis and Son on authentic Dutch paper from c. 1700. Concerning the first copy, Mr. Adams wrote, "Note the genuine wormhole on [A3]. Nationality, date, and christian name of worm is unknown."

Further reading: Colleen J. Sheehy, "American Angling: The Rise of Urbanism and the Romance of the Rod and Reel," in Hard at Play: Leisure in America, 1840-1940 (Amherst, 1992)