Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Archive Adventures: I'm Dreaming...

We're getting festive this year as we gradually make our way out of the fall semester, into finals, and ultimately to winter break.Our lovely coworker Ali decorated her cubicle to the brim with holiday cheer, including a lovely REMSBY tree complete with tinsel and a dapper-looking skull (from Halloween).

Last year I explored the Allison-Shelley Christmas book collection, but completely walked by a shelf of delightful gifts. It really was like waking up to Christmas morning when I popped into the Allison-Shelley room earlier today and saw the boxes. How did I miss those?! I started unpacking boxes and was thrilled to find toys that any kid from the 1800's would have given their left leg to have under their own tree. (I also played with them for a little after taking pictures...very carefully...). Their connection to the Allison-Shelley Collection is through the Children's Literature section. These games and toys were all made in Germany, but were intended for export. Thus, why you'll see different languages on the boxes.


 The first one I pulled out, and possibly my favorite, was the Toy Soldier set. Even though my gifts were all plastic horse models and books, nostalgia of "'Twas the Night'" and "The Nutcracker" always have me fondly remembering tin soldiers and choo-choo trains. There were so many more of these little guys. I hope that people leave early today so I can go back in and stage a miniature war!

Speaking of that famous poem, I found a panorama of it close by. Like all children's illustrated books, it has the tendency to creep me out. You just turn the little wooden dowels and you can scroll through the entire poem in pictures.

Santa kind of looks like a total creeper. It also frightens me that he's walking through a LIT fireplace. This is not a man you want to mess with.

Eventually, my squeals of joy attracted the attention of the Head of Special Collections. He instantly got as excited as I did by the toys and invited me into our vault to browse our more precious collections. While I was in there, I found tiny packs of playing cards. Mostly today you see the standard decks in the club-spades-hearts-diamonds variety, maybe some novelty versions, and tarot decks (which were actually for card games long before they became an occult item). So it's a real treat to see original decks and their unique artistry. I love the attention to detail in the middle set, and the strange images of the first. I'm sure there's a reason for a giant eagle to be carrying off a sheep, right?

Note the upper left card.

And just because no blog is complete without at least one book...here's one that will get a laugh out of you! Can't have a holiday in PA without the Dutch!

From all of us in Special Collections, we wish you the happiest of holidays and the safest of travels. Make sure to cuddle up with a good book and your favorite hot drink, relax, and enjoy your vacation until we see you in 2014!


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