Monthly Archives: November 2013

William Loring Andrews, Book Collector and First Met Museum Librarian

HighlightAndrews1In 1878 William Loring Andrews became a trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and served as its first librarian beginning in 1882. Today his portrait hangs in the administrative office of the Thomas J. Watson Library, just outside our Chief Librarian’s office.

Andrews was a prominent collector of rare books of English and American literature and a founding member of the Grolier Club and the Society of Iconophiles. In 1865 Andrews began to self-publish books in which he was also the author or editor. These works were published in his own style, through his own direction, and are marked by exquisite taste in type, paper, illustration, and binding. In their production, he engaged the services of engravers Edwin Davis French and S. L. Smith, who designed and engraved bookplates for the Metropolitan Museum, and printers Walter Gillis and Theodore De Vinne. From 1865 to 1908 Andrews issued thirty-six volumes, twenty-six authored by himself.

The 2011 recipient of the Art Libraries Society of North America Internship Award, Bailey Diers (now at the Hennepin County Library in Minneapolis), elected to intern here in Watson Library. Part of her internship was to create a digital collection—including materials selection, retrieval, scanning, editing the metadata, and uploading the content to our Digital Collections site. She decided to work on a selection of books authored by Andrews, and due to her efforts the William Loring Andrews Books on Book Collecting and Bookbinding collection is online and comprises part of our Bookbinding and Book Collecting digital collection.

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The frontispiece of one of these titles, volume 1 of Andrews’s 1900 work Gossip about book collecting, provides the reader with a glimpse of his personal library. Gossip about book collecting was produced by the Gillis Press in a very limited edition of 157 copies using two varieties of high quality paper, depending on the intended destination. Here is the cover to volume 2 of the same work.

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The Watson Library is fortunate to own one of the thirty-two copies made on Imperial Japan paper, and this is the version that Bailey digitized in 2011. The William Loring Andrews collection helps present an interesting dimension of a figure important to the history of Watson Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and New York City.

The Reinharts’ 1906 Honeymoon Tour of the Middle East

The Watson Library owns two albums of over 200 photographs that document Rudolf and Lulu Reinhart’s 1906 honeymoon tour of the Middle East (volume one and two). The Reinharts did not take the pictures themselves. They bought them from studios that sold them as souvenirs to American and European tourists. The studios that produced these photographs were based in Beirut, Cairo, and Istanbul, though their photographers came from all over Africa, Asia, and Europe. Some tourists created albums that featured reproduced photographs alongside photographs of their own. As far as we can tell, the Reinharts’ album only has studio-produced copies. We make this assumption based on the fact that there are no pictures of the Reinharts in the albums.

It’s hard to say, without knowing their exact itinerary, anything definite about the order in which the photographs are assembled, or if they even saw all of the sites that are represented in the albums. Though we can’t see the Reinherts’ own work in the images themselves, we can see it in the organization of the photographs.

In each of the albums, the Reinharts placed a photograph of the Sphinx of Giza. Both of them were taken by a different studio, each from a different angle.

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Félix Bonfils, a French photographer working in Beirut, took a picture of the Sphinx from its left. (You can see Bonfils’s signature on a rock at its base.) Gabriel Lekegian, an Armenian photographer working in Cairo, from its right. Neither photograph can capture the whole site on its own. Together, we see much of the site, in something like three dimensions. Still, these two photographs are separated by 20 others across two albums.

Elsewhere, multiple photographs from different studios are combined to form a more coherent narrative. There is a photograph of the exterior of the Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara taken by Lekegian.

HighlightsEgypt3Immediately following it are three interior shots of the same site by Bonfils.

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Both these albums are from the Rare Books in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries collection.

Havemeyer Family Papers: Phase 1

The Havemeyer Family Papers relating to Art Collecting, 1901-1922 collection includes letters, writings, notes, and ephemera regarding the Havemeyers’ art collecting activities between 1901 and 1922. The majority of the collection consists of correspondence to Louisine from art dealers and agents who were working on behalf of the Havemeyers to build their renowned art collection. There is also a significant portion of correspondence with the renowned American painter and printmaker Mary Cassatt.  Here is one such letter:

HavermeyerHighlightsJPGThe Havemeyer Papers are housed in The Metropolitan Museum Archives. As of July 2013, the 533 items of correspondence in the collection have been digitized and posted online; searchable transcripts will follow later in the second phase of the project.

Take a look at the entire finding aid here.

These letters are part of the Manuscripts collection.

 

 

Scanning: Taking it to the Next Level

We recently purchased a new Atiz BookDrive Pro scanner to augment our digitization activities here in Watson Library. This complements the Zeutschel overhead book scanner that we acquired in 2010, and two Epson flatbed scanners that we’ve had for about two years.

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As you can see, the Atiz is pretty large! It’s actually not quite as complicated as it looks, though. There is an adjustable metal arm on either side, each holding a Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera. These excellent cameras allow us to get far more detailed images from books than we can with the Zeutschel.

Down below, there is a V-shaped book cradle and corresponding V-shaped glass plate to secure the books. This V-shaped cradle was one of the things that appealed to us about the Atiz – it’s much safer than a flatbed for scanning brittle books or books with fragile bindings.

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Two LED lamps shine light evenly across the surface of the scan bed. The black curtain around the whole contraption (the thing that makes it look so large and intimidating) keeps ambient light away from the scanning surface, so we don’t have to scan in a dark room like we do with our Zeutschel scanner. This is important for us because the room containing the Atiz is used by several people throughout the week for a variety of tasks such as archives processing, rare book storage, and meetings. So someone can be scanning while any of those other activities takes place.

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As straightforward as the physical machine is, we’ve come to learn that nothing is ever simple when it comes to implementing a new piece of equipment! The Atiz comes with its own software suite for capturing the images from the Canon cameras and post-processing the files into formats we can use. While it always takes time to learn new software and develop efficient workflows, in this case the computer itself and the Atiz software refused to be friends for several weeks! During testing, the simple act of selecting a file to process within the Atiz software would generate incoherent error messages such as this:

BookDrive Editor error

After countless emails, WebEx sessions, software upgrades, and phone calls (including a conference call between us here in New York, our very patient Atiz rep in California, and the software developers in Thailand!), we identified the primary source of the problem.  It’s too boring and technical to write about in detail here, but essentially the default permissions on the computer are too restrictive for the software to function properly, so we’ve had to have our IS&T people change the default permissions on just that computer.

Now that we’ve finally worked all the kinks out, the process of scanning (well, photographing) books is fairly straightforward: turn on the cameras, turn on the LED lamps, place the book on the scan bed under the glass plate, open the image capturing software, take pictures, lift the glass plate, turn the page, and so on until you’re done! The only thing you have to pay close attention to during shooting is that you don’t skip any pages, and that the book remains stable.

Once a book has been photographed in its entirety, we pull the files into another software program to do actions such as cropping and deskewing (which is the act of straightening a crooked scan). We also generate our archival master TIFFs, which are the unprocessed master files that are for long-term storage, and our “production master JPEGs,” which are the files we use to upload to the web. These post-processing steps occur with every item we digitize, no matter which scanner we use or what format the original object is.

Post processing

It took about three months to get everything in place with the Atiz – not only did we have to install it and work all the kinks out with the software, but we also had to have the cameras and monitor calibrated for color and resolution, which is a pretty involved process. But, we’re finally at the point where we’re training Watson Library staff on the machine.

Soon we’ll be scanning books at a fairly good clip. We’ve already got variety of projects in the queue for this scanner, so stay tuned for future posts on those digital treasures!