Every month, the librarians and staff at Special Collections and University Archives gather for a “Show and Tell” to present rare and interesting items we have come across on the job. We have decided to expand our audience and showcase these finds in a monthly post. We invite everyone to stop by the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library to take a glance at these unique treasures and experience them before your very eyes.
Cristina’s Pick – God Created the Sea and Painted It Blue so We’d Feel Good on It by Michelle Ray
One of our more recent acquisitions, this artist book features small compartments full of anecdotes and documents and a fixed tunnel carved into the book. Gazing through the tunnel, you will find an image of a whale and a quote by the famous French sailor Bernard Moitessier, “Some things you cannot explain because they are too simple.”
The book’s title was also derived from Moitessier, who was said to have competed in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race and had nearly won only to change course at the last minute merely because, as he himself proclaimed, “…I am happy at sea, and perhaps because I want to save my soul.” The story contained within details a fictitious journey that can be assembled and reassembled to the reader’s choosing without changing the underlying meaning.
According to the author, when conceiving of this book, she “undertook a most wondrous adventure wherein I built a boat made entirely of cardboard and set about on an imaginary journey in the linoleum headwaters of my apartment. It started as cathartic play, it became this edition(1).”
These bound volumes contain vintage copies of Tempo, the student-run magazine that ran from October 1949 to April 1971. They offer a journey into the University of Miami’s past, describing the events and activities that dominated the attentions of the students from the late 1940s to the 1970s. Of particular interest is the different style of writing and the quality of photos and layouts that seem very chic and in line with the overall ambiance of those earlier eras.
To give an idea of how much the content has changed over time: as you turn through the first pages of the first volume, you find an ad for Camels cigarettes with the caption, “Not one single case of throat irritation due to smoking Camels!” (a stark contrast to all the smoke-free banners now spread throughout our campus today and the various wellness initiatives in University of Miami’s current publications that encourage students and employees to quit smoking).
Digital copies can be found here in the University Archives Digital Collections.
This small commemorative photo album shows images of the University of Miami from October 15, 1926, to October 15, 1976. Featured on the first page is the infamous “Cardboard College,” which was then known as the old Anastasia Building on University Drive.
Stories of the dilapidated state of this building circulated around campus in the 1950s, highlighting the bug and vermin infestation as well as poor structural issues, which had become so dire that a dog was said to have fallen through the ceiling one day while class was in session(2).
The images in the book are accompanied with nostalgic phrases, inviting the reader to recall the foundation for what would become the University of Miami we see before us today.
Found hidden within our Pan Am Records are the different Pan Am color swatches used in the logo and the Pan Am color scheme, detailing an evolution of color and style as the company aimed to consistently present a modern image to its consumers.
The earlier swatch, titled as “mumsell blue,” had been specially developed to show how it would look on the plane. Pan Am later adopted the lighter “Pan American Standard blue” for its logos, and it wasn’t until 1955 that royal blue became the official color of the logo and the company(3).
This folder also contains several other documents and publications that provide further depth into the design process behind the insignia and the reasoning behind their choices.
Another set of items of interest within our Pan Am Records, these two peculiar documents labeled with the text “Transpacific PAA Secret” contain detailed drawings and descriptions of explosives that were designed to be easily concealed. They show a rare glimpse into some of the security concerns that Pan Am addressed internally and the types of crude explosive devices that were used in the past.
The first one, known as a “Limpet,” is summarized as an “instrument of destruction…used against watercrafts and waterfront installations,” and the “Incendiary Pencil” is summarized as an “ingenious device…usually the size and shape of an ordinary pencil and a person may conceal as many as several hundred in ordinary wearing apparel and not be detected.” There are also instructions on how to disguise them and properly detonate them, and it was highly likely that Pan Am personnel were interested in studying them to deter any potential terrorism attempts.
One of the books recently donated to us from the Marine Library, I describe this as the “the perfect book” because it illustrates an ideal compilation of mid-eighteenth-century typography print, trims, and engravings. The images are wonderfully detailed, and they showcase many common hand printing techniques that have long since gone out of style in modern books. Even though the content within is not particularly remarkable, the condition and the structure of the book provide an excellent example of standard books in Europe during that era.
Yvette’s Pick – 12 Nigerian Market Pamphlets from the Africana Pamphlet Collection, Box 1, Folder 14
These kinds of pamphlets were in vogue from the 1950s to the 1970s, especially among people from the United States, and they had been originally sold in various market stalls in West Africa(4). Though printed in the English language, the content itself is often poorly constructed and full of grammatical and spelling errors, and the topics covered range from the civil war in Nigeria, to tips on writing business letters, to observations on the nature of women and trust, to scandalous stories of lovers (with sexual content abound).
As a representative of the charm and intrigue these pamphlets contain, a pamphlet titled “How to Know When a Girl Loves You or Hates You: A Drama” opens with the phrase, “When a girl tells you that she loves you, know that she has come to enjoy your money. A girl cannot love you if you do not spend for her. Some girls only love your money and not your person… A girl can only love you for two reasons.
1. To enjoy your money and get help from you
2. To convince you to marry her…”
Many of the anecdotes and statements inside these pamphlets are approached with the same careless audacity as above, beckoning the reader to question whether or not the authors, who have chosen to use pen names instead of their real names, are being satirical or sincere about their views.
(1) Descriptions provided by Vamp & Tramp, Booksellers, LLC.
(2) Background information found in the University of Miami’s School of Communication website.
(3) Pan Am Logo Information found in Panamair.org.
(4) Descriptions provided by Lorne Bair Rare Books, Manuscripts, & Ephemera.