Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Collection Snapshot: A Book of Polish Costume

August 8th, 2014

A number of works in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s collection of Polonica are a good source for the study of Polish costume: the chromolithographs by Racinet, engraved colored plates by Jacquemin, colored and uncolored plates in the two volumes of Zaydler, and plates in the costume books by Kretschmer and Vecellio.

image of the plate "Harvest-home in the environs of Sandomir"

“Harvest-home in the environs of Sandomir” from Jozef Zienkowicz’s Les costumes du peuple Polonais.  A Paris: Librairie Polonaise; A Strasbourg: chez l’éditeur; A Leipzig: chez F.A. Brockhaus, 1841.  Call Number: B819. Click image to enlarge.

The colored lithographs of Zienkowicz’s Les costumes du peuple Polonais are particularly interesting: “Harvest-home in the environs of Sandomir” (above) illustrates the rich harvest tradition of a country that until recently was primarily agricultural. Poles today celebrate an annual Harvest Festival in early September.  In olden days the best girl reaper would bestow on the master of the house the gift of a wreath of wheat and rye adorned with flowers, fruits, and ribbons; feasting and merry-making followed the ceremony. Although folk costumes are not now in general use in Poland and are worn mostly for festivals and national celebrations, Poles in rural areas wear folk dress on church holidays and for family celebrations such as weddings.

Sally Haines
Rare Books Cataloger

Adapted from her Kenneth Spencer Research Library exhibit, Poland: A Thousand Springtimes.

Collection Snapshot: Notes from Underground …

June 27th, 2014

If you’re interested in matters Polish and Russian or in travels in Slavic lands and in sights seen through western eyes AND if you can read this page from the manuscript diary of an Englishwoman traveling in the summer of 1828 (186 years ago!), then YOU may be the person to transcribe the contents of this little volume. You will get to know “Roberta” and “Mr. Sayer” (their real names), who were her companions on the trip. We can picture Ms. English Lady settling into the pension at night to write … Inside the front cover she begins, “The weight of the statue of Peter The Great …” You’ve seen the blurb; now read the book!

Image of a page from the diary of an English woman open to entry for Warsaw, June 22, 1828.

An English Lady: An anonymous manuscript travel-diary, a detailed account of the sights, costumes, social services, village and town life, war aftermath, travel mishaps in Russia and Poland. Warsaw-Smolensk-Moscow-Novgorod-St. Petersburg. 22 June to 21 July 1828. Call Number: MS B144. Click image to enlarge.

Sally Haines
Rare Books Cataloger

Adapted from her Spencer Research Library exhibit, Frosted Windows: 300 Years of St. Petersburg Through Western Eyes.