Book XIX - early XX century.
Books of the XIX-beginning of the XX Centuries
The fast flowing current of time has left us a great number of literary treasures. The foundation of the collection is comprised of the first entries from the time of the repository's creation (1872), which made their way to us along various paths. The library collections at that time were fairly actively replenished by voluntary contributions, not only from private individuals but also from institutions. Diverse library establishments, museums and educational institutions, a number of societies and institutions of the Russian empire brought in their due share of materials in the formation of the reserves [4,6,11]. So
thanks to their significant indifference to contributions, we now have the possibility to turn the pages of some unique publications.
Yes, the attention of observers always turns to the artistic ornamentation of the gifted publications that were released by publisher “Prosveschenya” – «The Universe and Humanity» (St. Petersburg, [1904-1905]), «Miracles of Nature» (St. Petersburg, ). The books were published on costly vellum paper and with many illustrations. The high quality bindings were produced in the binding workshop of Otto Kirschner in St. Petersburg.
The five volume «Universe and Humanity» - is unique for its information and quality of illustrated material in the publication. The leather backs and binding covers are decorated with gold pressed plant ornamentation, carried out in “modern” style. The distinct feature of the binding décor of the given publication - the embossed metal straps, which are well preserved.
The gold pressed binding of the publication “Miracles of Nature”, preserved in good condition, is in a worthy framework of interesting material, publicized in the edition. Entered into the book were popular drawings, dedicated to the description of interesting natural phenomena and notable mementos of various countries. The first volume, shown in the exhibit, contains 483 drawings within the text and 44 colored illustrations on separate pages.
The original illustrated ethnograpic encyclopedia of pre-revolutionary Russia can be considered as a multivolume publication at the beginning of the 20th century «Russia in Paintings», released by the M. I. Wolfe Company between 1897-1901. According to reports by contemporaries of the multivolume publication, even then, not only was it “....an artistic expression of the entire Russian empire in all of its history, ethnography and cultural diversity” but was also a“....notable monument of printing and xylographic art”. . A certain sector of educated society even then had expressed an unusual interest in this publication. In library reports of 1904-1912, the multivolume set was considered in book listings as the most actively used supplement [7,8]. Currently, only selected volumes are preserved in our collection. The copies that are shown in the exhibit, are mounted in cambric binding of red color, decorated in a deeply sunk, vivid press (in black paint and gold). Stated on the bottom of the binding's top cover is “M. O. Wolf Company”, on the edges are ornamental geometric pictures, in the center is a doubled head eagle, sitting on oak branches and holding in its claws a banner unfurled to the bottom with the inscription “Russia in Paintings”. On the back, at the top is an image of the Russian Imperial crest – a double headed eagle. The back is separated into 5 different sections by an ornamental, geometrical picture. In the second section of the back is an inscription “Russia in Paintings”, in the third – the crest of the province, in the fourth – the number of the volume and section, and in the fifth, a heraldic picture. The back cover of the binding is decorated in mixed geometric- plant ornamentation. No gold color was used on it, only the black and red background. The fly leaf is made from dense parchment paper and decorated in geometric ornamentation in a beige-brunette pattern.
In the center is a medallion with an image of the book dealer's trademark M. I. Wolfe, and along the edges of the frame is plant ornamentation and symmetrically arranged thematic pictures, woven into a circle. The numerous decorative elements that adorn the publication (initials, embellishments, colophons), are executed in the xylographic technique of wood block cutouts. The artistic finishing of all the title elements was performed by the artist M. S. Samokishem (1860-1944). The exhibited copies were prepared on vellum paper with a speckled cutout. The masterful execution of all the decorative elements makes this publication unique and unusually attractive from an artistic standpoint.
The two volume publication “Russian Forest” F. K. Arnold (St. Petersburg, 1890-1891) has been preserved in wonderful condition. This contemporary publication of a prominent Russian scholar Fedor Karlovich Arnold (1819-1902) is one of the principle works that contains a comprehensive account of agroforestry in pre-revolutionary Russia. The two volume set was released by the publisher A. F. Marks. The red cambric binding, decorated with pressed geometric plant ornamentation of gilded black color, was produced in the binding workshop of O. F Kirhner. The numerous prints and engravings, executed with unusual refinement, radiantly illustrate the publication. The proprietor's stamp on the title is evidence that the books were owned by a representative of an old prince's family Ivan Mikolaevich Svyatopolk-Myrsk. Without a doubt, he was also one of the donors who generously replenished the repository's collections.
We can assume that the richly illustrated third volume of the jubilee publication “Three Ages” (Moscow, 1912), was gifted, in its own time, to the repository by Kherson's police management, which delivered to the library, without charge, several jubilee publications up to the 300th anniversary of the reign of the House of Romanoff.  The multivolume (6 volumes) set under the editorship of the historian V.V. Kallasha was especially printed for this memorable event.  The pages of the publication contain historical essays of prominent academicians, who fundamentally illuminated the three hundred year development of the society and state of the Russian empire. The publication is heavily illustrated with portraits of historical activists, pictures of famous artists, with images, of objects of the lifestyle, attributes of power, and so on. Harmoniously woven into the composition of the structure of the book are numerous elements of a decorative nature – embellishments, colophons, initials. The publisher's binding has been preserved with its gilding and plate printing. Regretfully, in the repository there is only one volume of this monumental work.
Unique in its technical execution is the rare copy of Aesop's “Fables” (Paris, 1913). In French, illustrated by the talented English graphic artist Arthur Rackham (1867-1939).  The book was put out in print by the well-known Parisian publisher “Ashette” (“Hachette”), which at that time controlled the French book market and whose publishing repertoire also contained bibliophile literature.  The printing of the publication constituted all of 430 copies. Of those, 55 were produced on Japanese paper, and 375 on handmade English vellum paper. The entire series was numbered. We have the 391st copy with the actual autograph of the artist. Moreover, the paper of this rare edition has watermarks. On the pages of the book, we encounter two types of filigree. On some, there is the image of a windmill with the letter “W” and “H” on the sides and the inscription under the theme section “British handmade pure rag”, and on the others, there is an image of a bird, holding in its claws a banner with the monogram “AR” and the same inscription at the bottom. It is possible that the paper was produced as a special order from Rackham. The cover and the title page were drawn by the actual artist. The engravings were executed in xylographic technique. The harmonious unity of the beautifully illustrated material and the text sections, the assiduous thoughtfulness of composition in the construction, and the originality of the mounting truly make the book a polygraphic masterpiece.
Among the gift donors today is Kherson's booklover Mihailo Andriyovich Yemelyanov. Thanks to him for five consecutive years the library has received unique copies of rare editions, and apart from them, samples of polygraphic fine art.
Among those donated by him – a bibliophile's edition of “A Tale about My Birth, Origins and Entire life, My Own Writings Beginning in Moscow, 1788 in the month of August, and on the 25th year from my birth” by Prince I.M. Dolhorukov (St. Petersburg, 1916). In quantity, only 200 copies of the book printed by a private Petersburg printer «Sirius». The elegant simple artistic construction of the book is supported by numerous embellishments and colophons, executed in black and white pattern with unusual precision. Regretfully, the original binding of the book did not survive. But it was replaced completely by a contemporary bibliophile combined binding, crowned with an embossed leather rounded backing. It manifests itself organically in the general construction of the publication.
Mihailo Andriyovich also gave us a facsimile of a papyrus leaf “Papyrus Berlin 3127” (Edition Leipzig, 1966). This is a reproduction of a fragment of the burial text containing one of the chapters of the ancient Egyptian “Book of the Dead”. The original is preserved in the Berlin Museum of Egyptology. It is dated 3000 years B. C. (3064-1110). The exhibited copy is produced after the exact size of the original – 1 m. 72cm. in length and 23 cm. wide.
“The Book of the Dead” is the conventional name of ancient texts, which were a required attribute in the burial rituals of the ancient Egyptians. Papyrus leafs with texts from the “Book of the Dead” were placed in the sarcophagi along with the deceased and served as a road guide into the next world. The residents of Ancient Egypt had an evolved burial cult, in which their entire worldly existence served as a preparation for the great journey to the eternal world after death. [4,5,14]
The Egyptian papyrus leaves by right could be viewed as one of the first illustrated publications, insofar that they contained not only hieroglyphics but numerous pictures as well.
The rare copy of collections “Praising the Book” (St. Petersburg, 1917) can be called an original bibliophile's literary anthology, also donated by M. A. Yemelyanov. The uniquely executed compilation includes opinions by native and foreign authors about the book and readings from the archaic to the beginning of the XX century. It was compiled in 1917 by a professor of a Petersburg university, the well-known bibliophile I. O. Shlyapkin (1858-1918). Six hundred-fifty copies of the book were printed on rag paper and 400 on standard. One of the samples, prepared on rag paper, is in safekeeping with us. Artistic ornamental elements served as the illustrative material for decorating the book, taken from old literary relics from different epochs and countries. In this manner, the cover was executed on pink colored Verge paper, the decorative framework for it was taken from “The Russian Bible” of Francysk Skaryna in 1517. The original ex libris – is a decorative frame composed from a sample of a poem by Juvenal in 1525, while the inscription is coiled, containing a bibliophile's puzzle – «The secret mirror of a bibliophile», implemented by artist O. M. Leo. The cover, title and last page are printed in slavonic type. On the last page in the form of a colophon, that narrows downward, in stylized old slavonic language, duplicating the first printings of the XVI century, information is provided about the compiler and about the person, at whose expenses it was printed. “This book was completed in the great capital city, in Petersburg of all Russia, in the hour of war with the dishonest German and Schwabian people, with the labors and heartfelt efforts of a doctor of the Russian word Iliya Shlyapkin, at the expense of the book purchaser Fedor Shilov, in honor of God, and for Russian booklovers for fine enjoyment in the summer of Our Lord 1917”(sic).
1. Arthur Rackham //http://www.vitanova.ru – Screen title
2. Bekker, M. E. A Short Historical Outline of the 25 year Activity of Kherson Public Library (1872-1897) and Library Reports for 1897. Kherson 1898, pp. 25-27
3. Berkov P. N. Russian Booklovers: Notations. Moscow-Leningrad, 1967, p. 276
4. Bolshakov, M. V. The décor and ornaments in the book. Moscow, 1990, p. 46,60
5. Ovchinikov, V. History of the Book: Structural Evolution of the Book. Leningrad, 2005. Pp. 26-29
6. Directive report of Kherson Public Library for 1886. Kherson, 1887. Page 3
7. Report of Kherson Public Library and two of its departments for 1904. Kherson, 1905. Page 69
8. Report of Kherson Public Library and two of its departments for 1912. Kherson, 1913. Pp. 51,55
9. Report of Kherson Public Library and two of its departments for 1913. Kherson, 1915. Page 7
10. Three ages //http://www.rusbibliophile.ru – Screen title
11. 400 years of Russian Bookprinting, 1564-1964/ Russian Bookprinting up to 1917. Moscow, 1964. Page 378
12. Shomrakova, I. A. The Comprehensive History of the Book. I. A. Shomrakova, I. E. Barenbaum. St. Petersburg, 2005. Pp. 181-182.
13. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron. Vol. 22 (11a). St Petersburg, 1894. Pp. 512-543.
14. Yasinskiy, L. G. Kherson Public Library (1872-1912): To its Fortieth Year of Existence. Kherson, 1912. Pp. 18-19.