Welcome to George Peabody Library's Wunderkammer!

From dandies in danger to the lusty dramas of educated fleas, the George Peabody Library proves that the past was indeed STRANGE! Visit us in Baltimore (don't worry, in addition to the strange things depicted here, we also have plenty of old and rare and classy books, too).

Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 9am -5pm; Friday 9-3

Address: 17 East Mount Vernon Place Baltimore, MD 21202

Phone: 410-234-4943

Libguide: http://bit.ly/g1UsTk

Email: hherr1@jhu.edu

The Five Little Pigs, more commonly known as This Little Piggy illustrated in all its disturbing glory: gin-addled pigs, on death row, clogging their arteries with roast beef, full of pretensions with their “wee-wees,” and forcing the latest in haberdashery and banjo music on their unsuspecting audiences.

Fore-edge Friday presents: the battle between the sloop Hartford and the ironclad Manassas, April 24, 1862.  Interestingly, this painting does not adorn a book about military history or the Civil War, but rather an 1897 printing of The Golden Treasury, a collection of English poems and songs.

Here’s a look at the George Peabody Library’s collection of books and ephemera relating to The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851. First up is a lively chromolithograph of the Crystal Palace and its grounds, showcasing boating, carriage rides, and tourists taking in the sites.

Next we have a print of “Wot is to be” : or probable results of the industry of all nations in the year ‘51 : showing what is to be exhibited, who is to exhibit it : in short, how it’s all going to be done,” a look into the inner-workings of the great exhibition. This particular print showcases inventors with their patent machines for putting down revolutions, subduing Chartism, and grinding paupers’ noses. Of course, the real star of the print is the Prize Pig, because no exhibition would be complete without impressive farm animals!

The next two images are chromolithographic prints showing the Arms of All Nations (because we all know the world is comprised of nineteen countries) and the interior of the Crystal Palace’s exhibition hall.

For a more unique view of the Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace, check out the Lane’s Telescopic View! This ‘Telescopic View’ is made of printed paper and card, and is supplied in a slip-in card box. When you view the internal scene through the little peep hole in the cover, you see a three dimensional view of the inside of the Crystal Palace in 1851, and the grand opening by Queen Victoria. Cool, right?

Ready for some steamy summertime reading?  Then why not pour yourself a spiked lemonade, sit back, and enjoy the provocative Picturesque Botanical Plates of the New Illustration of the Sexual System of Linnaeus (1799)?  You too shall be graced with wreaths of flowers while under the books esteemed powers!

Old book burn! “This book is interesting by reason of its fore-edge painting.” Alas, the author of The World Before the Flood (1815) would probably agree.  From the book’s preface:

"The poem of The World Before the Flood is submitted to the Public with great diffidence.  The subject is unpromising; its difficulties are numerous, and the objections that might be urged against it formidable.”

Okay.  We, the diffident public, are now totally committed to reading this thing!

Batter up with these 19th century ads for baseball equipment!  I don’t know about you, but we totally would make sock monkeys out of the Peck & Snyder wares!

Fore-edge Fridays: Lady golfer edition!

You are looking at a beautifully-bound copy of The works of Alfred Lord Tennyson, poet laureate (1900) featuring a lovely, Gibson Girl-esque lady golfer, golfing in the style of Watteau!

The bookplate reads: “Ithamar / Her Book / On my Book / As a Friend I look / All entertaining / Never complaining.”

Presenting Louisa Cullen, a forgotten woman of genius!  One of our more recent acquisitions is Louisa Cullen’s scrapbook, assembled around 1876 in New England.  Cullen added her own original artwork to the various postcards, photographs, and other novelties she included in her scrapbook. Some of our favorite inclusions are “Tom the Creepy Cat” and her initials which are spelt out via grotesques!

Behold the amazing cats of Dame Wiggins of Lee!  They rescue lambs and are rewarded with ham! They frolic on ice! They terrorize geese! They paint portraits!

The story of Dame Wiggins was very popular in the 19th century.  Our copy at the Peabody is ultra cool because it was printed right here in Baltimore in 1836 and features charmingly crude hand-colored engravings!

Specimens of the Russian poets: with preliminary remarks and biographical notices (1821)

Let’s be shallow, first!  Look at how remarkably dreamy Mikhail Lomonosov is, what with his ponderous, soul-searching eyes, awesome wig, and totally swoon-worthy pale blue coat.  And then behold the somberness of Ivan Katlov. We know which side of the this double fore-edge work we’d like to gaze upon for eternity!

So, besides the purely superficial dreamy v. non-dreamy aspect of fore-edge portraiture, just what are we looking at? Why, it’s double fore-edge paintings with portraits of Mikhail Lomonosov and Ivan Katlov, and the four parts of a quadripartite icon: the raising of Lazarus, Old Testament Trinity, presentation in the Temple, and John dictating his Gospel.  The paintings here reflect the content of the book, a relatively rare occurrence in our collection where seaside landscapes reign supreme!