The Rare Books Collection at the University of Saskatchewan Library's Special Collections comprises almost 4,000 volumes ranging from medieval manuscripts, to early printed Bibles, to first editions of such literary greats as Dickens, Twain, and Sir Walter Scott, among others; there are also more contemporary volumes of rare books.
Also included in the Rare Books Collection are paintings and prints, by such renowned artists as John James Audubon and William H. Perehudoff, and works in several languages including, but not limited to, Latin, German, French, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese.
You can search the library catalogue to see the entire collection of Rare Books by clicking here. You can further constrain the results by searching for a title within the collection by using the search
bar at the bottom and pressing "locate in results."
This page is dedicated to showcasing some of the interesting works the U of S Library, Special Collections has to offer. Check back every month for a new feature! Click to view the Rare Books Online Showcase Archive.
May 29, 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the first public performance of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring [Le Sacre du Printemps], choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky and performed by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. In honour of the anniversary of this highly influential work and the long overdue arrival of spring in Saskatchewan, Rare Books Online Showcase would like to feature Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring [Le Sacre du Printemps]: Sketches 1911-1913, a facsimile reproduction to the original autographs, published by Boosey & Hawkes in 1969.
This high quality reproduction of Stravinsky’s original sketches, or notes, illustrates his daily process of composing this seminal work. It is an interesting and rare glimpse into the creative process of such an important composer; to see the order in which certain sections and movements were envisioned and how they were reorganized to form the final arrangement.
The manuscript itself consists of seven sections of twelve sheets each. The staves are drawn by the composer himself. The musical calligraphy in black, red, and green ink and various colour pencils is curious and visually appealing . The manuscript reproduction includes a preface by François Lesure and an essay by Robert Craft as well as an appendix including commentary on the sketches, performance notes, letters from Stravinsky to Nicholas Roerich and N.F.Findeizen, and notes by Stravinsky the Stravinsky-Nijinsky Choreography. According to the Lesure, the original sketches from which this facsimile was produced have had three owners: in 1920 Stravinsky gave them to Diaghilev as appears from the dedication, they then belonged for many years to Boris Kochno before they arrived in André Meyer’s collection, where they now reside.
The debut performance of The Rite of Spring [Le Sacre du Printemps] shocked and unsettled audiences with its experiments in tonality, metre, rhythm, stress and dissonance. Rumour suggests that the audience was so outraged that they showed their discontent with loud booing and a near riot. It is known that the response was so loud that the dancers could no longer hear the orchestra, and the choreographer was forced to shout out the beats from the wings of the stage. Today, The Rite of Spring is recognized as a groundbreaking work that has influenced a great number of contemporary composers, in particular, John Williams (Star Wars).
As the sun starts to regain its strength and the days become longer, we celebrate the conclusion of an epic journey through winter’s cold, dark days. In honour of this yearly rite of passage, Rare Books Online Showcase would like to feature Return to Ithaca, a beautiful, limited edition artist book based on Homer’s Odyssey, adapted and illustrated by McGregor and Elizabeth Hone in 1993.
McGregor (Mac) and Elizabeth (Beth) Hone were important and active figures in Saskatchewan’s artistic community. Beth taught school in Saskatchewan and British Columbia prior to joining the Regina College School of Art extension program as a ceramics instructor, where she taught from 1959-1966. She worked with stoneware, porcelain, batik, and ceramic sculpture. Mac was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He was a participant in the early Emma Lake Art Schools, and studied with Gus Kenderdine, Ernest Lindner, Jack Shadboldt, and Will Barnet. His artworks include serigraph, woodcut, wood engraving, watercolour, oil, acrylic, photography, and sculpture. Both Mac and Beth Hone have had their work shown extensively in solo and group exhibitions.
The story of Odysseus’10 year journey to return his wife, Penelope, his kingdom and his family is familiar to many. Following the 10-year long war of Troy, Odysseus encounters storms, lethargic Lotus-Eaters, a Cyclops, a cannibal, a witch-goddess, spirits, prophets, sirens, a six-headed monster, a whirl-pool, a 7-year stint as a love slave, shipwrecks and the loss of his entire 12 ship entourage. All the while, so the story goes, Penelope remained faithful; devising ways to keep her many unwanted suitors at a distance.
Mac and Beth Hone were inspired to create Return to Ithaca after having seen the London production of Ulysses by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) performed by the English National Opera. Each exquisite mounted print faces corresponding text on a folded leaf. The text is hand set in 18 pt. Garamond and printed on a Chandler & Price platen press. The nineteen block prints were cut on battleship linoleum or bulletin board and were hand rolled and printed on a Praga etching press . The prints are named, numbered and signed in pencil. This edition is housed in a hinged box covered with charcoal coloured linen and the title embossed in silver.
While this unique artist book resides in the Special Collections Rare Books collection, the University Archives has an extensive collection of stunning works by Mac and Beth, as well as documentation of their involvement in the Saskatchewan arts community, in the Hone fonds.
As winter draws near, the populace once again retreats indoors and returns to reading, knitting, woodworking and other such creative pursuits. For November Rare Books Online Showcase would like to feature the penultimate venture in highly skilled craftsmanship, our beautiful to-scale reproduction of William Morris’s Kelmscott Press edition of Chaucer's Works. Limited to 515 numbered copies, this impressive volume is printed in red and black, with woodblock illustrations, first letter initials, and borders.
William Morris was an instrumental and highly committed leader in the English Arts and Craft Movement in the late 1800s. Inspired by John Ruskin and Augustus Pugin, the Arts and Craft Movement was an essentially anti-industrial movement that eschewed inferior mass-produced items in favour of traditional quality handicraft and that advocated for economic and social reform. The original Kelmscott Press edition of Chaucer's Works, completed in 1896, took five years to come together. The woodcut illustrations had to be meticulously transferred from Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ eighty-seven original drawings to wood blocks using a very complicated process.
Likewise, the borders and ornamentation designed by William Morris had to be transferred to blocks before printing could begin. Every inch of this book was planned in detail to contribute to the over visual effect; type, illustrations, ink, paper and binding. Thirteen copies were printed on vellum, and 425 were printed on paper. This was William Morris’ final project before his death later the same year.
The reproduction in our Rare Books collection stays true to Morris’ vision and every step of the laborious process was painstakingly replicated. It was printed for The Basilisk Press by the John Roberts Press in Clerkenwell. Blocks were made by John Swain & Son, London and the paper was made at Saint Cuthbert’s Mill at Wells in Somerset by the Inveresk Paper Group. The binding cover is the 'Larkspur' pattern; a cloth was designed by William Morris in 1874, and for this reproduction printed by Liberty of London. The binding was done by A.W. Lumsden in Edinburgh and the overall production was directed by Peter Guy.
The companion volume contains history of the making of the Kelmscott Press edition of Chaucer's Works, with 85 tipped-in black & white illustrations and plates of Morris, his press, and illustrations of woodblock development to be used in the final 1896 book. Illustrations were drawn by Sir Edward Burne-Jones.Additional information can be found in A Note by William Morris On His Aims in Founding the Kelmscott Press: Together with a Short Description also available in the Rare Books collection.