Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans History’

Extract from the Reconstructed Constitution of the State of Louisiana

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“Extract from the Reconstructed Constitution of the State of Louisiana,” 1868, a slightly tattered treasure from our Collection of New Orleans Miscellany .

The seated man in the center of this document is Oscar Dunn, the first black lieutenant governor of the U.S. Senate elected in 1868. In the late 1800s, a monument in Dunn’s honor was slated to be erected in New Orleans, yet after his untimely and mysterious death, the monument was never created. You can listen to this man’s inspiring, yet tragic, story on this episode of “TriPod: New Orleans at 300.

Paul Morphy: The Pride and Sorrow of Chess

Today’s post is dedicated to Paul Morphy, a world-renown chess prodigy born in New Orleans, LA in 1837. Morphy began playing chess as a young man and became notably successful at “blindfold games,” which, yes, required playing without looking at the board.
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*selection of images and text from Life of Paul Morphy in Europe (1859) and Morphy’s Games of Chess (1916).

Morphy was a member of the Chess, Checkers, and Whist Club in New Orleans, which was housed in the Vieux Carré on the corner of Canal and Barronne st. until 1920. A marble bust of Morphy was featured prominently within the club. Join us in the Booth-Bricker Reading Room to learn more about this fascinating man and his adventures in chess!

New Orleans Directory ads, 1852

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Here’s a little holiday treat for lovers of New Orleans history and typography. I’ve been making enclosures to preserve our collection of New Orleans Directories, and have enjoyed that these books are all interspersed with type-set ads of many colors. You can glean much about the culture of the time period from these ads. (i.e. the note about a hospital for slaves at the bottom the first ad depicted.) This particular book, Cohen’s New Orleans and Lafayette Directory, 1852, was printed in the office of the Delta Daily newspaper. As you can see, letterpress printers in the nineteenth century would often show off the type in their shops by using every single typeface available when setting ads and title pages. Fun fact: the engraved image facing the title page depicts the first mayor of New Orleans, A.D. Crossman (1846-1854).

Letterpress in the Archives: “Citizens’ Bank & Trust of Louisiana” 1916

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There is no reason to doubt that it was the Citizens’ Bank that gave the name “Dixie” to the South. The origin of that word has never been positively determined, but the tradition that gives the credit to the Citizens’ Bank is certainly stronger than any of the other claims advanced. When the country was flooded with wild-cat money and counterfeiting was so common as to cast suspicion on nearly every species of paper money, the notes of this bank commanded respect throughout the great valley, and, in fact, everywhere in the country, and its ten-dollar notes were the standard of value. These notes in ante-bellum days were printed in the French language, and instead of bearing the numeral in English, they bore the French word “dix.” It became common when one was passing down the great river to trade at the Southern metropolis for him to say that he was going South to acquire some dixes. Thus it happened that the lower stretches of the river became known as the land of the dixies, or “Dixie land.”

“Citizens’ Bank & Trust of Louisiana”, New Orleans, 1916, p. 11

As the new project assistant in Special Collections & Archives here at Loyola, I have thoroughly enjoyed perusing the stacks as I better acquaint myself with the collection. Since my academic background is in printmaking and book arts, I naturally gravitate towards the rare books on our shelves, and I am continuously fascinated by the bindings and material qualities of these old books. Today I would like to share with you this small letterpress-printed pamphlet: “Citizens’ Bank & Trust Company of Louisiana,” New Orleans, 1916.

A modest book at first glance, “Citizens’ Bank..” is a lovely example of early twentieth century letterpress-printing. Although there is no press information on the title page of this pamphlet, there are clues in the tactile quality of the book that reveal how it was printed and what materials were used. It is sewn with a silky cord, and a knot tied on the spine of the book allows the pamphlet to close flat.  It is composed of a high-quality mould-made paper, which is evident in the paper’s strong, visible fibers and deckled edge, as well as watermarks that are visible when certain pages are held up to bright light. If you were to lightly brush your finger along the text of this book, you’d notice a texture, an imprint, which occurs because of the amount of pressure applied in the printing process. At close inspection you’d see that some of the text is over-inked in places, which creates a small puddle around individual letters. I could go on and on about the letterpress process, but instead I’ll refer you to this resource if you’d like to learn more.

This book was letterpress printed on high quality paper because its materials were likely intended to reflect the history of a wealthy institution: the Citizens’ Bank & Trust Company of Louisiana. Its brief 31 pages outline the history of the bank, and the book serves as a well-crafted advertisement for the financial institution. You can view more images of this book (and many more) on our tumblr, or come in for a visit on the third floor of Monroe Library!