New Rare Books in the Spotlight

Example of four flap enclosures for rare books and pamphlets.

For a brief period Wednesday, normal activity came to a halt in the Special Collections Research Center. Our fabulous Cataloging & Metadata Librarian, Friedgard Cowan, brought down a cart packed with recently cataloged rare books from Technical Services. When a rare book is donated or acquired, it is first cataloged in Technical Services, so that it will be accessible to researchers through our online Catalog. After it’s cataloged, the rare books are brought to the Research Services Coordinator in the Special Collections Research Center, so that we may assess any preservation needs it may have before shelving it in the stacks. Books in more fragile condition require an enclosure, like a phase box or four flap folder, before being able to be shelf-ready. Once it is determined that the book is “shelf-ready,” it is shelved in our closed stacks–ready to be pulled for the researchers who need it!

Seeing the “new to us” rare books is always exciting. So here, making their Special Collections Research Center debut:

First, an addition to our Decorated Bindings Collection! Elizabethan Songs “In Honour of Love and Beautie” Collected and Illustrated by Edmund H. Garrett, published in 1891.

Elizabethan Songs “In Honour of Love and Beautie” Collected and Illustrated by Edmund H. Garrett, published in 1891, PR 1207 .G3 1891

Elizabethan Songs “In Honour of Love and Beautie” Collected and Illustrated by Edmund H. Garrett, published in 1891, PR 1207 .G3 1891

In fact, music seems to be the theme of these recently cataloged books. From 1935, we have a first edition vocal score, “Songs from Top Hat,” with words and music by Irving Berlin. Songs included in this piano-vocal score include classics like, “Cheek to Cheek,” “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails,” and “No Strings (I’m Fancy Free).”

Songs from “Top Hat”, Lyrics and Music by Irving Berlin, published 1935, M 1508 .B465 T66 1935

Finally, an early musical manuscript: plainsong!

Can you see the grotesque face in the initial below?

Vellum Manuscript Leaf from a Choir Book in Latin, produced in the late 15th/early 16th century in Italy, M2147 XVI .M4

Special Collections Research Center’s Manuscripts and Archives Librarian, Liz Beckman, admiring the vellum manuscript leaf: Vellum Manuscript Leaf from a Choir Book in Latin, produced in the late 15th/early 16th century in Italy, M2147 XVI .M4

You can find these items and many more in our rare books collection. To search the rare books collection for interesting items from our collection, search the Mason Catalog, click on “Set Limit” and limit by the location “Fenwick Special Collections.”

E-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have any questions. Appointments are not necessary to view collections.

About the Special Collections Research Center

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) in George Mason University Libraries serves the scholarly community and beyond. While our services are used mainly by students and faculty, we are open to the public for research or for personal interest. The SCRC staff is dedicated to preserving, organizing, and collecting various objects, books, and manuscripts.

Members of the SCRC staff include:

  • Head of Special Collections
  • Research Services Coordinator
  • University Records Manager
  • Records Management Specialist
  • Manuscripts & Archives Librarian
  • Processing Coordinator
  • Digital Collection and Exhibitions Archivist
  • and various student wage and Graduate Research Assistants

SCRC contact information can be found here.

Our collections are searchable online through our finding aids and library catalog.

From our home page, sca.gmu.edu, our finding aids are searchable by subject or alphabetical order. The finding aids are useful for browsing our manuscripts and mixed materials such as oral histories.

SCRC maintains a collection of rare and antiquarian books. The oldest volume dates from the early 1500’s. To search our rare book and artist book holdings from the home page, click the catalog tab in the search box and enter search terms. For a more specific search limited to holdings in SCRC, click the “classic catalog” option and then hit the “set limits” button on the right of the page and scroll until you find “Fenwick Special Collections” in the locations section. Hit set limits again, and then begin your search. More information about our rare books can be found on our infoguides page.  A small sampling of items found in SCRC includes:

Poe,Edgar Allan, The Raven, PS2609 .A1 1884, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Poe,Edgar Allan, The Raven, PS2609 .A1 1884, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Northern Virginia Oral History Project Collection, #C0030, Box 5, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Northern Virginia Oral History Project Collection, #C0030, Box 5, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Mason Family Manuscript Account Book, #C0214, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Mason Family Manuscript Account Book, #C0214, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Langerman, Elaine, The Fairy Tale , N7433.4.L36 F35 1993, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Langerman, Elaine, The Fairy Tale , N7433.4.L36 F35 1993, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Appianus of Alexandria, Historia Romana, PA3873 .A2 1592, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Appianus of Alexandria, Historia Romana, PA3873 .A2 1592, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Froissart, Jean, Chronicles of England, France, Spain, and the Adjoining Countries, D113 .F7 1843, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Froissart, Jean, Chronicles of England, France, Spain, and the Adjoining Countries, D113 .F7 1843, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congress, Committee on Un-American Activities, KF27.3.U53 H43, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Congress, Committee on Un-American Activities, KF27.3.U53 H43 1962 V.1, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

19th Century Civil War and Political Cartoon Lithograph, #C0285, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“The Dawn of a Better Day,” 19th Century Civil War and Political Cartoon Lithograph, #C0285, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about SCRC, our collections or to schedule an appointment, email us at speccoll.gmu.edu.

University Libraries Acquires Mason Family Account Book

Re-post from GMU News.

By Mark Schwartz, communication and marketing officer, University Libraries

Mason family manuscript account book, 1792-1820, C0214. Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries.

The George Mason University Libraries has acquired an important late 18th-century manuscript with handwritten entries by the George Mason family. Previously, the university owned only three single-page original documents directly related to its namesake, George Mason IV.

“The Mason family account book is not only an important historical resource, but has immense symbolic significance for Mason,” notes John Zenelis, university librarian. “We are thrilled that this important Virginiana manuscript has been repatriated, particularly to this part of the Commonwealth where the extended Mason family lived.”

The University Libraries purchased the 220-year-old Mason family account book last summer through an antiquarian dealer in Boston. The acquisition was facilitated through the generosity of the Washington and Northern Virginia Company of The Jamestowne Society, an organization dedicated to preserving the historical record of early Virginia.

The book documents the business, family and personal accounts of Stevens Thomson Mason (1760-1803) and his son, Armistead Thompson Mason (1787-1819), respectively the nephew and grandnephew of George Mason IV.

The two men who wrote most of the entries for the family account book led noteworthy lives. Stevens Thomas Mason fought in the American Revolution as a colonel in the Continental Army and served as an aide to George Washington during the battle of Yorktown. Armistead Thompson Mason served as a general in the War of 1812 and as a United States senator for one year. He was killed in a duel with his cousin, John M. McCarty, over a contentious election.

The family account book includes detailed records about the Mason family plantation Raspberry Plain Farm, located near Leesburg in Loudoun County.

“The account book reveals the considerable work of managing a plantation in the early 19th century,” says Jordan Patty, processing librarian/archivist in Special Collections and Archives (SC&A). “You begin to picture how busy the days must have been, contrary to the image of the Southern gentleman sitting on the porch sipping a mint julep. At the same time, the account book also includes many mentions of the slaves on the plantation, and to see those names among the other business of the day is particularly powerful in light of what we know today about the brutality of slavery.”

Stevens Thomson Mason wrote the accounts from 1792 until his death in 1803, and his son, Armistead, made entries from 1810 until his death in 1819. William Temple Thomson Mason also contributed a number of entries. Other entries in the hand of William Temple, the half-brother of Stevens Thomson and the uncle of Armistead Thompson, can be found in the pages. Other Mason family members adding entries to the accounts were John Thomson Mason (1765-1824), John Thomson Mason (1787-1850), and Stevens Thomson Mason, Jr. (1789-1815).

“The Mason account book is in its original rough or reversed calf binding with headbands, blind stamping on the covers, and raised cords on the spine,” says Yvonne Carignan, head of SC&A. “Although the binding was worn and the front cover detached at the hinge, we had the book conserved instead of rebound to preserve the original artifact. We believe it is instructive for students and other scholars to have an opportunity to view the book as its creators saw it.”

SC&A is also home to the Virginia Historical Documents Collection, which has three other documents related to the Mason family. The 1853, single-page document is a deed-of-gift from Maynadier Mason, grandson of George Mason IV, which transferred ownership of his “negro slave woman named Lucy” to his late wife’s maternal aunt, Mary Ann Clark. The two other Mason family documents are letters written and signed by James Murray Mason, the grandson of George Mason. The 1860 document is a recommendation for a political appointment addressed to President James Buchanan. The other letter concerns James Murray Mason’s involvement in the Trent Affair in 1861.

The Virginia Historical Document Collection and the account book can be examined at the Fenwick Library on the Fairfax Campus. The Mason Family Manuscript Account Book can also be seen online.