Otowega Club Scrapbook

The Otowega Club of Buffalo,  located in the Parkside neighborhood at the corner of Starin and Linden Avenues,  was built in 1895 by the architectural firm of Green & Wicks.  An integral part of the neighborhood’s social life, its membership consisted of local businessmen, manufacturers and prominent families from the region.  A recent acquisition by the Rare Book Room, the Otowega Club Scrapbook, 1895-1905, has now been placed with our numerous collections of local history materials.  Included  in the scrapbook are many finely printed items such as invitations, programs, flyers, cards, and menus, all enhanced by the addition of over 90 newspaper clippings on the club’s activities.

Otowega 01Otowega 06Otowega 08






The scrapbook collection was assembled by Leslie J. Bennett, son of the club’s chief promoter and neighborhood founder, Lewis J. Bennett, Buffalo’s real estate mogul and developer of the Central Park District.  He also donated the land for Bennett High School and All High Stadium, which was used as a stand-in for Wrigley Field in the 1984 film, The Natural.

Otowega 09 Otowega 34 Otowega 60






After digitizing the scrapbook, the library plans on making it available to the public through online access.  Stay tuned, or keep watching the New York Heritage site where other B&ECPL digital efforts reside: www.newyorkheritage.org

Otowega 102 Otowega 116 Otowega 127

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Items of Note in Rare Book News

112 Title Page 112 Plate










Always a bit affirming when news/media gives attention to significant rare book authors. This morning it gave us the following:

Today marks the day that in 1796 Edward Jenner successfully administered his small pox vaccine to 8-year-old James Phipps using captured discharge from an active cow pox lesion(see Stefan Riedel’s “Edward Jenner and the history of smallpox and vaccination” article in the 2005 Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1200696/ and Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac for May 14, 2015 at http://writersalmanac.org). This act of variolation stemmed the tide of the highly-contagious, sometimes-deadly and often-disfiguring disease that ravaged so many up to and through the 18th century. This library is a proud owner of a first edition Edward Jenner An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolæ Vaccinæ in the Milestones of Science Collection (see http://milestones.buffalolib.org/booksBrowser/BookDetail.asp?item_id=112).


First Folio Clifton Bookplate











Also in the news this morning on NPR’s Morning Edition was a great story and book review entitled “A Fortune In Folios: One Man’s Hunt For Shakespeare’s First Editions “ (http://www.npr.org/2015/05/14/406470976/a-fortune-in-folios-one-man-s-hunt-for-shakespeare-s-first-editions). The new book The Millionaire and the Bard by Andrea Mays chronicles Henry Folger’s obsessive collecting of Shakespeare First Folios. The piece speaks to the lengths that Folger would go to obtain copies owned by others. The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library’s First Folio (#6 on the photo scroll at http://www.buffalolib.org/content/grosvenor/rare-book-room) was once owned by Folger and was the result of an exchange for the copy that Col. Charles Clifton, President of the Pierce Arrow Motor Car Company, secured sometime before 1919. Folger coveted the copy Clifton had purchased because “Principall Actor” Samuel Gilburne’s name was written next to his printed name in the list of players but it was not verifiable that it was his signature. The Maggs catalogue price that Clifton presumably paid for the Gilburne copy was $3,000.After negotiating, Folger finally agreed to pay Clifton $8,800 and provide a more-perfect First Folio that this library now owns.




The final rare book and manuscript newsworthy item for today comes from Fine Books & Collections at http://www.finebooksmagazine.com/fine_books_blog/2015/05/scholars-discover-lost-twain-writings.phtml. Of course this library is always on the lookout for any news that concerns Mark Twain because it is no secret (at least we hope it is not a secret! See http://www.buffalolib.org/content/grosvenor/mark-twain-room if it is please) that it owns Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn manuscript. “Scholars Discover Lost Twain Writings” details recently discovered Twain’s pre-Innocents abroad newspaper writings.

…all the news that’s fit to [re]print!

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My Funny Valentine, and others…

For this blog entry we will take one final dip into the Holiday and Post Card collections. While the history of Valentine’s Day may have begun with the Roman Empire, the picturesque expressions of romantic sentiment most likely started during the Middle Ages with the literary concept of courtly love.

Be my Valentine and I'll break the news to Mother, n.d.

Be my Valentine and I’ll break the news to Mother, n.d.

Many of the post cards from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries presented quaint sentiment to a loved one with flowers, cherubic figures and beautiful maidens.

All For You My Valentine, postmarked 1911

All For You My Valentine, postmarked 1911

True Love's Offering, postmarked 1903

True Love’s Offering, postmarked 1903

To My Love, postmarked 1905

To My Love, postmarked 1905

More elaborate cards were considered Art Valentines and were often intricate and colorful.  Here is just a small selection from our collections.

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A Glimpse of Christmases Past

As a Christmas present from the staff of the Rare Book Room, this blog entry is dedicated to some of the past images of Christmas and Santa Claus.  Presented here are children’s books with charming illustrations to warm the hearts of the coldest Grinches.  Thomas Nast illustrated the first book, and A Letter to Santa Claus was published in Buffalo in 1902.

George Webster's Santa Claus and His Works, McLoughlin Bros., 1870

George Webster’s Santa Claus and His Works, McLoughlin Bros., 1870

Santa Claus and his works, 1870, end

A Letter to Santa Claus, 1902

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, L. Frank Baum, 1902





Also presented, undated Christmas cards from the 1920’s to 1940’s. Happy Holidays!


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Happy Thanksgiving!

A Peaceful Thanksgiving-Whittier, copyright 1910, John Winsch


As Thanksgiving greetings from the Rare Book Room staff, presented here are two items from our many special collections.  The post card, A Peaceful Thanksgiving, is from 1910 and includes a quote from the John Greenleaf Whittier poem, “My Triumph.”

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The manuscript is from President Grover Cleveland’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1885, designating and setting apart the day for public Thanksgiving, reunion of families, the suspension of all secular business, and deeds of charity for the poor.

Enjoy the Holiday!

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Pan American Exposition Booklet with Visitor Notes

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The Pan American Exposition Booklet pictured above was recently acquired by the Rare Book Room. Dr. R[ay] V[aughn] Pierce sponsored the publication of this “Free Guide to the Exposition, Buffalo and Vicinity, with Map.”  Not only did this booklet impart valuable information about the 1901 Expo and the Buffalo environs, but it also dispensed medical advice while it promoted “Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery” and “Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription” too! Pierce’s patented elixirs claimed to cure everything from pimples and problems nursing to hemorrhoids and heart failure.

This particular booklet is remarkable for its excellent condition and unique for the owner/visitor’s pencil annotations. The reader is transported back in time to October 7, 1901 when this person notes arriving at the Pan Am “at 15 to 2 p.m.”  S/he makes full lists all of the buildings, the Midway and  other sights s/he toured and was apparently a neighbor from the North based upon the last note in the booklet stating s/he “went on train & home … arrived in Toronto,” . There is even a note “saw spot where McKinley was killed.” There is a also a page on which s/he has tallied up his/her trips expenditures which add up to “880”. In 1901 this must have  meant $8.80  although today such a trip to a world’s fair would probably cost upwards of $880.00!

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Buffalo on the Map Exhibit

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The latest exhibit in the Grosvenor Rare Book display room is You Are Here: Buffalo on the Map. Featured in our display cases are several rare and one-of-a-kind maps of Buffalo recently conserved thanks to a New York State Discretionary Grant. Among them, our infamous red-light district map from 1893, Mann’s Map of the Buffalo Harbor, and Map of Buffalo Village, 1805, made under the direction of the Young Men’s Association. Our wall panels include facsimiles of maps of the Olmsted parks system, the church district maps, pictorial maps and the harbor. Come see Buffalo’s landscape as it develops from an early 19th century pioneer settlement into a flourishing center of commerce and industry.

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