Tag Archives: rare books

Celebrating Earth Day with a John Muir First Edition

John Muir (1838-1914) was a naturalist, conservationist, and writer whose lasting legacy includes the Sierra Club (which he founded) as well as many national parks and forests that were established in part due to his advocacy. His first book, The Mountains of California, is pictured here as a first edition. Muir spent the latter part of his life in California, and was dedicated to preserving its wilderness, which he loved.

Muir CoverIn the below image, an illustration from this book shows a windstorm in the California forests, based on a sketch by Muir. Muir’s description of a windstorm demonstrates his eloquent writing:

…the winds go to every tree, fingering every leaf and branch and furrowed hole; not one is forgotten; the Mountain Pine towering with outstretched arms on the rugged buttresses of the icy peaks, the lowliest and most retiring tenant of the dells; they seek and find them all, caressing them tenderly, bending them in lusty exercise, stimulating their growth, plucking off a limb as required, or removing an entire tree or grove, now whispering and cooing through the branches like a sleepy child, now roaring like the ocean; the winds blessing the forests, the forests the winds, with ineffable beauty and harmony as the sure result (244).

Muir illustrationThis book can be found in the Special Collections and University Archives in Payson Library. Please contact Melissa Nykanen at melissa.nykanen@pepperdine.edu or at (310) 506-4434 for more information.

Muir, John. The Mountains of California. New York: Century Co, 1894.


Sigma Tau Delta Hosts Bake Sale to Benefit the Library

Sigma Tau Delta, Seaver’s English Honor Society, is hosting a bake sale today, February 4th, and Thursday, February 6th, with all proceeds going towards purchase of a rare book for the library. The bake sale is being held from 9am-3:30pm on the 3rd floor of the CAC.

Last year, Sigma Tau Delta purchased a rare book for the library’s Special Collections for the first time. You can read more about the donation here. The group hopes to make this an annual tradition.

Please stop by the bake sale and support Sigma Tau Delta in their efforts to contribute to the library!

Christmas Illumination from the Saint John’s Bible on Display in Payson

The new Saint John’s Bible display in the Payson Library lobby is currently featuring an illumination of a nativity scene, from the first page of the book of Luke. The nativity scene shows a manger surrounded by animals in front, Mary and Joseph to the right, and the shepherds and townspeople on the left. A beam of light connects the manger upwards towards heaven. The angels intersect this beam to form a gold cross, reminding us that the reason for Christ’s birth was to be fulfilled with the crucifixion and resurrection. You can see the illumination online here, or visit Payson Library to see it in person.

The Saint John’s Bible is a work of sacred art that unites an ancient Christian tradition with the technology and vision of today, illuminating the Word of God for a new millennium. In 1998, Saint John’s Abbey and University commissioned renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson to produce the hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible. The Heritage Edition, on display in Payson Library, is a fine-art reproduction of the original with the mission of igniting the spiritual imagination of people on all faith journeys. Pepperdine University Libraries embraced this mission by acquiring this Bible for the University in honor of its 75th anniversary. One volume will remain on display in the Payson Library lobby, while the others are available for viewing in Special Collections. Please contact Melissa Nykanen at (310) 506-4434 or at melissa.nykanen@pepperdine.edu for more information.

T.E. Lawrence Exhibit Opens in Payson Library

This blog post was written by Victoria Collie, Special Collections and University Archives Intern.

An exhibit highlighting the Metcalf Collection of Books on T.E. Lawrence is now open on the main level of Payson Library. Housed in the Special Collections and University Archives, this is the first lawrence bk collectiontime the books have been on display. The book collection and associated Metcalf papers were donated to Pepperdine by Edwards H. Metcalf (1911-2001), a Pepperdine University board member and grandson of millionaire Henry Edwards Huntington. Metcalf was a T.E. Lawrence enthusiast, and helped plan Pepperdine’s T.E. Lawrence Symposium in 1988. The book collection alone contains over 400 books on Lawrence and the Middle East. If you would like to learn more about T.E. Lawrence and the book collection, check out the new InfoGuide! It provides a good starting place for research.

from With Lawrence in Arabia

T.E. Lawrence, 1919

T.E. Lawrence, or “Lawrence of Arabia,” was an extremely intelligent and complex person, who seemed restless until he found his calling in the Middle East fighting alongside the Arab leaders during the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918. He had been familiar with the region before, taking several trips to the area and becoming used to the language and the Arab way of life. His use of guerrilla activities against the Turks during the revolt gained him sudden notoriety. After the war, he ran from his new found fame, using assumed names when enlisting in the Royal Air Force. He died in 1935 at the age of 46. Lawrence wrote a variety of works, including Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which is on display. Also included in the exhibit is his college thesis, Crusader Castles (1936). There are many controversies surrounding Lawrence’s career and life, but he will continue to be the subject of admiration and speculation for years to come.

amman aerodome 1921

Sir Herbert Samuel is pictured in the white hat; Lawrence is pictured to the left of him, and Emir Abdullah is seen on the right. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ppmsca-19413

Limited Edition Pennyroyal Caxton Bible Acquired by Special Collections

Due to the generosity of Bruce and Suzie Kovner, Special Collections and University Archives acquired the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible. This edition of the King James Version of the Holy Bible is illustrated by Barry Moser, the foremost American master of wood engravings. It is the first illustrated Bible of its kind since Gustave Doré’s edition of the Le Saint Bible in 1865.

Published by the Pennyroyal Caxton Press in 1999, the edition is one of 400 printed copies taking a total of three years to complete. The Bible is bound in two volumes. Volume one contains the five books of Moses, the historical books and the books of poetry. Volume two contains the books of prophecy and the New Testament. The bindings are full limp vellum with the title stamped in 24-carat gold on the cover and spine. Each signature was folded by hand and sewn on vellum tapes. There are  a total of 233 illustrations in the Bible.

The design of the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible owes much to the past. The arrangement of double columns is similar to many other great Bibles including the Gutenberg Bible.

To view the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible please contact Katie Richardson, Archivist for Special Collections and University Archives at katie.richardson@pepperdine.edu or (310) 506-4323.

Sigma Tau Delta Donates Rare Book to Special Collections

On April 9, 2013, during the New Member Installation Ceremony for Sigma Tau Delta (the English National Honor Society on campus) the society presented Special Collections with a rare book to add to its holdings. This year, all of the proceeds raised from a St. Patrick’s Day bake sale went to the acquisition of a book for the department. The officers and the faculty sponsor decided to select a text by an Irish writer to keep with the theme of the bake sale. They picked a 1906 edition of Oscar Wilde’s Salome (Bodley Head published) with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley.










( Picture of the cover)

(Members of Sigma Tau Delta and faculty sponsor Julie Smith)

To see the new addition please contact Katie Richardson, Archivist for Special Collections and University Archives at katie.richardson@pepperdine.edu or (310) 506-4323.


Happy Holidays From Special Collections!

The rare book collection at Pepperdine includes books representing all topics and eras, including books about Christmas and winter. A highlight of this collection is a beautiful first edition of Cricket on the Hearth, by Charles Dickens. Dickens wrote Cricket on the Hearth just before the holiday in 1845. Unlike many others of Dickens’ books, this piece was originally published in book form, rather than as a serial. The copy here at Pepperdine is bound in bright red cloth with gold-stamping on the cover and spine. The image on the front cover is beautifully detailed. In fact, the letters of the title are created out of a tiny holly leaf design.


Another holiday treasure in Pepperdine’s rare book collection is Old Christmas: From the Sketch Book of Washington Irving. This book is beautifully illustrated by Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886), one of the most influential children’s book illustrators of all time and namesake of the Caldecott Medal. His illustrations for this book, as well as for another by Irving, helped to establish his reputation.

These books and others from the rare book collections are now on display in the Special Collections Reading Room, room 326 in Payson Library. Stop by to take a look!