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Posts by Jessica Pigza

Happy Birthday to Everyone's Favorite White Whale

Saturday, November 14 marks the anniversary of the publication of Melville's masterpiece, Moby-Dick. In honor of this occasion, I made a "cool, collected dive" into the Library's collections, to share early editions, illustrated works, whale charts, and even scrimshaw—works that speak to the universe within this leviathan of a novel. Read More ›

30 Days of Poetry: A Kid's Eye-View of WPA-Era New York City

The Doughnut Boy and Other Poems offers a glimpse of New York City through the eyes of a sassy little beret-wearing, doughnut-loving, public-transit-taking, library-visiting child.Read More ›

Aylmer Bourke Lambert and the Most Princely of Pines

Evergreens, pines, conifers. As the year draws to a close, many of us have welcomed these needly trees into our homes as part of long-established Christmas tradition. But before this tradition took root in England (via Germany), one Englishman devoted his life all throughout the year to the genus Pinus. Read More ›

Charles Dickens and His Christmas Stories

A Christmas Carol continues, year after year, to be reworked, adapted, dramatized, enjoyed at home, and read in public settings. Perhaps less familiar are the dozens of Christmas stories that Charles Dickens penned in the twenty-five years that followed its publication. Read More ›

Imagining Ichabod Crane: Illustrated Editions in Rare Books

While the initial printing of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow contained no illustrations, the tale has since inspired many artists to create works evoking the strangely funny but frightful events in the story.Read More ›

Happy Birthday, Moby-Dick!

In honor of the White Whale’s birthday, I have decided—like Herman Melville’s own sub-sub-librarian—to share “a glancing bird’s-eye view of what has been promiscuously said, thought, fancied, and sung of Leviathan” since Moby-Dick’s first appearance in 1851.Read More ›

Before Kermit, There Was Catesby

My devotion to Kermit has led to a love for frogs in print as well, from Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad books to Ken Kimura's 999 Frogs. And whenever I examine illustrated natural histories in the Rare Book Division where I work, I'm always on the lookout for Kermit's amphibious ancestors.Read More ›

Documenting Tiananmen Square

Twenty-five years ago, the world watched Beijing's Tiananmen Square, as demonstrations by Chinese citizens rallying for democracy drew the attention of Chinese military, with deadly results. Read More ›

Handmade Crafternoon this Spring at the Library!

Special Weeks - Tulip Week - Girl in costume with tulips Image ID: 1682599Spring has almost sprung, and with it arrives the latest series of Handmade Crafternoons, co-hosted by crafty librarian Jessica Pigza and Crafternoon author Maura Madden! Meet fellow crafters, look at books and magazines from the Library's collections, and participate in DIY projects. This season we'll cross stitch on cards, create a watermark-inspired embroidery, and learn how easy English paper piecing can be. And, because our community of shared 

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Hand-Stitch a Valentine Handkerchief with Rebecca Ringquist!

UPDATE, 3:30PM, Friday, February 8th: Attention! Due to the blizzard we've had to reschedule this event! It will now take place on Saturday, April 6th! Stay safe and warm, everyone!

I'm just putting the final touches on the plans for this weekend's Handmade Crafternoon (the first of three this spring — see the other dates below!), and I'm pretty excited. We've created this event in collaboration with the amazing people at Creativebug, and we'll be joined by one of their teachers, Rebecca 

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Winter Fun for Kids and Cats

This snowy Saturday afternoon has brought to mind a couple of scenes from nineteenth-century children's books in the Rare Book Division. First, a scene of "Wintervergnügen" (winter fun) from Jugendspiele zur Erholung und Erheiterung (Tilsit, 1846). This is a two-volume work, one devoted to girls and one to boys. Sledding is categorized as one of the boys' games (Knabenspiele), but of course that needn't stop 

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What to Draw? A Turkey, of Course

Happy Thanksgiving to you! In honor of the holiday, here's a page from one of my favorite drawing manuals in the collection, 1913's What to Draw and How to Draw It by E. G. Lutz.

This turkey (along with his tiny companion, the fantail pigeon) is just one of dozens of possibilities — like owls, elephants, pelicans, pigs, castles, cats, and men and ladies — you'll find in these pages. Want to see the entire book? It's been digitized and you can

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Handmade to Sell with Kelly Rand: Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012

Fall has arrived, and with that comes the next round of Handmade Crafternoons at the Library. This weekend's our first event! My co-host Maura Madden and I will welcome special guest Kelly Rand, Program Director at Hello Craft.

Kelly will talk about Hello Craft’s efforts to support independent crafters and share some of the savvy advice she put into her book Handmade To Sell: Hello Craft's Guide to Owning, 

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A Sis Boom Handmade Crafternoon: May 12, 2012

Join us this Saturday, May 12, 2012, when Sis Boom creator Jennifer Paganelli comes to NYPL for the latest Handmade Crafternoon.

My co-host, Maura Madden, and I love how vibrant and sunshine-y Jennifer Paganelli's designs and patterns are, so it's perfect that Paganelli will help us to make summer party garlands and banners. And I'll have summer issues of home magazines from years past to browse and inspire you in other summer project ideas!

The event will take place in 

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Made of Corn But Not Quite Edible

George M. Rommel, an early twentieth century animal husbandman and farm expert, was not one to shy away from novel solutions to agricultural challenges in America. In 1905, he championed the import from Bermuda of a breed of “woolless” sheep to address America’s “alarming appetite for lamb” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/5/1905). And he was always on the lookout for potential new uses for leftovers from agricultural enterprises. It should not, therefore, come as a surprise that his book on agricultural refuse industries, 

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Iceland Moss and Charles Dickens

Thanks to bibliophile George Arents, the Rare Book Division's holdings include an extensive collection of nineteenth century books in parts, and they are fascinating artifacts of their time. Little did I know, however, that I'd learn about a healthful and tasty lichen drink while reading 

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Hough's American Woods

Romeyn Hough (1857-1924) was single-minded in his devotion to trees. He was also a New Yorker, and when he embarked on The American Woods, he turned to the trees of his state first in what would eventually grow to be a 14-volume masterwork. The American Woods remains invaluable today due to the range and age of the tree samples Hough included, and the Library's Rare Book Division holds a complete set of this delicate and 

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Emblem Books, or, What's Going On in this Engraving?

This is one of over a hundred such puzzling images you can find in Symbolorvm & emblematvm ex animalibvs qvadrupedibvs desvmtorvm centvria altera, a 1595 book printed in Nuremberg, Germany.

Emblem books like this one were common in 16th- and 17th-century Europe, and a typical example of this genre contained dozens of emblems — each made up of an image and some explanatory text meant to be approached as a small mystery to be solved by the reader (and often designed to impart a moral lesson). Because 

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Fancy a Cuppa? Tea in the Rare Book Division

"Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea."— A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith*

On the coldest winter days, I must say I agree with Smith. And while reading through a little 1863 recipe book called The Book of One Hundred Beverages in the Rare Book 

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DIY Pocket Belts from 1949 and 1953

Wondering how you'll carry your keys and such while out and about in your fancy pants outfit on New Year's Eve? If so — and if you are a lover of DIY — then look no further than these two books: Helen Crosier's Crochet & Tatting and other Needlework Crafts (1953) and Elizabeth Laird Mathieson's Needlework Library (1949).

From Helen Crosier, a double crochet evening belt done in neon white with pearl and sequin 

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