New in Special Collections – The Noblest Roman


In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony names Brutus the “noblest Roman of them all.” New in Special Collections, The Noblest Roman: A History of the Centaur Types of Bruce Rogers (Z232 R67 K45 2016) offers another candidate for that title. Created in the early 20th century by Bruce Rogers, a celebrated American typographer who favored classical design, the Centaur typeface harkens back to type used in the incunabula period of printing. The name comes from the title of the first book printed using the type: The Centaur, by Maurice de Guerin, in 1915.

Here is high praise for the typeface from the Introduction, p. 11: “It will depend upon the skill and talent of the typographer to deliver the words to the reader, much like a musician interprets music for the listener…. The greatest achievement in typography, then, is to create the best-tuned instrument, capable of playing a tune at “perfect pitch.” The challenge is to do so with elegance, grace, and style, much like a musician. The Centaur type of Bruce Rogers is such an instrument: it possesses a degree of dignity and grace that is as sublime as it is impossible to replicate.”


Besides the examples of Centaur typeface you will see in this slim volume, Special Collections holds many examples of books using the Centaur font and of titles printed by Bruce Rogers.

Kelly, Jerry and Misha Beletsky. The Noblest Roman: A History of the Centaur Types of Bruce Rogers. San Francisco: The Book Club of California, MMXVI [2016].

Mary Augusta Ward

Special Collections houses the Mrs. Humphry Ward Papers. Mary Augusta Ward (1851-1920), born Mary Arnold, was a British writer at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. A niece of Matthew Arnold and the aunt of Aldous Huxley, she was also active in social work and an opponent of women’s suffrage. The collection consists of letters between Mrs. Ward and her publishers, family and friends, photographs, miscellaneous documents, and notebooks that hold drafts of her novels and articles.

Beth Sutton-Ramspeck books 1000 x 862.jpg

Even today, scholars are interested in Mrs. Humphry Ward. Beth Sutton-Ramspeck, a professor at The Ohio State University at Lima has written and edited two books on Mrs. Humphry Ward using the Ward Papers in Special Collections. Pictured are the two books she completed as a result of her research and donated to Special Collections.

Recent Gift: Audubon prints

Special Collections recently received a gift of 31 19th century prints. Among the items in the gift are thirteen original John James Audubon hand-colored lithographs (20 1/2 in. x 26 1/2 in.) from the quadruped series, including the American Badger (pictured below) and Common Flying Squirrel.
Audubon American_Badger
Eleven prints are chromolithographs (16 1/2 in. x 21 1/2 in.) from the Bien edition of Audubon’s Birds of America (ca. 1858-1862), including Puffin:
audubon puffin print
These prints are amazing examples of early and mid 19th century printing. When the Bien edition of Audubon’s Birds was being produced, chromolithography was new, and Julius Bien of New York was a pioneer in this technique of color printing.

Edward Ellerker Williams’ Notebook

A collection of books, articles, and manuscripts by, about, and directly relating to Edward John Trelawny (1792–1881), author of several popular and influential works and memoirs about Byron and Shelley, is now part of the Libraries of The Claremont Colleges and is housed in Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library. Accumulated over a period of fifty years by Donald B. Prell, the core of the Collection comprises nearly 140 volumes.
Of particular note in the Collection is a manuscript notebook of Edward Ellerker Williams dating from about 1819–1820. Williams, a retired military officer, was living in Switzerland with Shelley’s cousin Thomas Medwin when he was introduced by Medwin to Shelley. Also, about this time, Trelawny joined Medwin, Williams, and Shelley, living together during those fateful days leading up to the sailing accident in which Shelley and Williams were drowned.
In his notebooks Williams recorded his travels during his stint in the Navy then afterward on the Continent with his friends and family, and are an important source for study of Shelley’s last days. Williams’ notebook in the Prell Collection contains many sketches, botanical specimens, fragments of poems, and one particular pencil portrait that might be of Shelley, pictured above.

Shelley’s “Adonais”. 1821 Pisa edition, annotated by John Taaffe

On the page facing the title John Taaffe has written the following note:
“This poem was given me by its lamented Author. The notes are my own, and were written by me one night at Florence: and I now copy them from the original which I have given to my beloved sister Fanny. J. Taaffe. Fano. May 1834.”
The margins of every page are filled with Taaffe’s notes, elaborating on the poem, explaining its allusions and sources. On the final blank, Taaffe has written an account of Shelley’s death concluding, “I can’t look upon this poem at present without a crowd of most sorrowful recollections”. The notes are written in ink and pencil; the ink has bled through, rendering reading the notes quite difficult in many places.
Our copy of the Pisa edition of Shelley’s “Adonais” was a gift from William Clary. William Clary graduated from Pomona College in 1911; was an attorney at O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles; a trustee of Pomona, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer colleges; a founding trustee of Claremont College (now, separately, Claremont University Consortium and the Claremont Graduate University); and founding member of the Zamorano Club. His collection on the history of the University of Oxford and its colleges is one of the most distinguished of our Special Collections, along with his collections of Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Milton.

John Walker’s Arma Virumque Cano

New in Honnold Library Special Collections is John Walker’s Arma Virumque Cano (Untide Press, 1950).
Walker’s poem has twelve numbered parts; this is III:
The Untide Press carefully selected materials and design, and set all their work by hand. The press garnered awards for excellence in printing and design with William Everson’s War Elegies (1944), Jacob Sloan’s Generation of a Journey (1945) and John Walker’s Arma Virumque Cano (1950).
Letterpress printed in an edition of 500, Arma Virumque Cano was designed with linoleum cut decorations by Kemper Nomland, printed in Bembo and Futura types, hand-set, on Kilmory Text paper.
The Untide Press was founded by William Everson, Kemper Nomland, Kermit Sheets and William R. Eshelman, in a camp of conscientious objectors in Waldport, Oregon in 1943, as an expression of protest against World War II. The name of the press originated in opposition to the camp weekly called The Tide, the slogan of the press being “What is not Tide is Untide”. The Untide Press moved after the War to Pasadena, where they produced an occasional literary magazine and small books of poems, many of them by the poets and writers who were later to form the nucleus of the San Francisco literary renaissance.
The Rare Book Room at Denison Library and Special Collections, Honnold Library, have other examples of the work of William Everson and other mid-century poets and printers of the west coast of the U.S. The Papers of the Untide Press are at the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley.

Yone Noguchi manuscript

This manuscript poem, along with a letter and a photograph, were found folded into a book owned by Ramiel McGehee in Special Collections: American Diary of a Japanese Girl by Yone Noguchi (London, Elkin Mathews; Tokio, Fuzanbo, 1912) Honnold Miscellaneous Manuscripts: HM 151
Dancer and designer Ramiel McGehee was a friend of many artists and writers in the Los Angeles art scene, including Merle Armitage, Edward Weston, and in the Bay Area, poet and novelist Yone Noguchi. McGehee was a serious student of oriental art and philosophy; his book collection on Japanese art and culture was given to Denison Library, Scripps College after his death.