Category Archives: Collections

The Anthony J. Sisti Papers, circa 1925-1982

Sisti, n.d.

Anthony Sisti (1901-1983)


Tony Sisti was a boxer turned painter, art collector and teacher who spent most of his life in Buffalo.  Born in Greenwich Village in 1901, Sisti relocated to Buffalo in 1911 where he attended art classes at the Albright Art School.  He began boxing at the local gym at 17, and after winning a New York State bantamweight title, became a professional boxer with 76 victories in 101 fights.  He traveled to Italy and studied painting under Felice Carena, receiving his Doctor of Arts degree in 1929. He continued both his boxing career and his art studies, later teaching at the Art Institute of Buffalo before opening his own gallery at 469 Franklin. Active from the 1920’s until his death in 1983, Sisti was best known for his oil paintings and murals but also painted formal portraits of notables such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and New York Governor Alfred E. Smith, among others. His works have been exhibited in major museums around the country, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, which has many of his paintings in its permanent collection.


Sisti in the classroom, n.d., s.l.

Sisti in the classroom


Donated in 2012 by art curator and writer David F. Martin of Seattle (originally from Niagara Falls, NY), this particular collection of Sisti papers consists primarily of personal and professional photographs, news clippings, correspondence and programs from numerous artist shows at the Sisti Gallery in Buffalo.


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Filed under Acquisitions, Art, Collections, Local History

Alice in Wonderland in Rare Book Land

Saturday, January 27th, marked the 186th anniversary of the birth of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll (born January 27, 1832).  In celebration of the man and the phenomenon that is Alice in Wonderland, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library would like to highlight some of our many editions of the book, as well as other materials, held in our Rare Book Room, including a first American edition from 1866.

Following the great commercial success of the first Alice book, illustrated by John Tenniel, numerous editions and juvenile versions of the book appeared and continue to inspire artists in various genres. The Rare Book Room collection includes a facsimile of the  manuscript that Dodgson presented to the inspiration for Alice, Alice Liddell, in November 1864.

Other materials in our collection include prints from the 1920’s and ’30’s, children’s board and pop-up books, a “painting” book with some of the images colored by a previous owner, and artistic versions by illustrators such as Barry Moser.


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Filed under Art, Artist's Books, Children's literature, Collections

Huckleberry Finn on Stage & Screen

Among the supplemental materials that enhance the Rare Book Room’s Mark Twain-Huckleberry Finn collection are posters, lobby cards and press kits from some of the film and stage versions of this famous American novel.  Now on display in the Mark Twain Room are items of motion picture memorabilia from the films of 1931, 1960, 1974 and 1993, including copies of screenplays, pressbooks and lobby cards.  Also on display is the print edition of the Tony award-winning musical production, Big River, from 1985, with soundtrack recordings and the musical score.

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Actors such as Tony Randall, Jackie Koogan, Elijah Wood, Courtney B. Vance and John Goodman have all played various parts in the Huck Finn adaptations.  A personal favorite, Harvey Korman and David Wayne as the King and the Duke in the 1974 Reader’s Digest/Arthur P. Jacobs production.

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Filed under Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Collections, Mark Twain, Rare Book Exhibits

William H. Loos, former B&ECPL Rare Book Curator passes away…

William H. Loos

William H. Loos (February 26, 1937 – January 24, 2017)


Sad news for current and former Rare Book staff to learn of the passing of William H. Loos, the highly respected Rare Book Curator who held the position for 30 years, retiring in 2002.  A native Western New Yorker, Bill Loos graduated from the University of Buffalo and Syracuse University, specializing in Rare Book Librarianship.  During his distinguished career with the library system, Bill was instrumental during the recovery of the missing Huckleberry Finn manuscript part, as well as the acquisition of the Milestones of Science collection.  He also “rediscovered” among our collections the Negro Exhibit pamphlet from the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. His work with local and national literary celebrities garnered him much acclaim in numerous local publications during the 1980’s and 1990’s, and he appeared as an articulate lecturer throughout the northeast, regaling his listeners on the pleasures and perils of being a rare book  custodian.  He will be sadly missed.

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Filed under Collections, Librarianship, Uncategorized

Milestones of Science Exhibit Now Open

The Rare Book Room of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library is proud to announce the official opening of our latest exhibit, Milestones of Science: Books That Shook The World!

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The Milestones of Science is a unique collection of 197 first and early editions by world renown scientists.  Acquired by the Buffalo Museum of Science in the 1930’s, the Milestones include many of the most important books ever published in the Western world, with innovative and sometimes controversial ideas presented for the very first time.  Many of the works laid the foundations for modern scientific disciplines and inquiry, stressing the need for observation, empirical evidence and experimentation over speculation and paranormal belief.  On display through September 2017 are 35 remarkable highlights that include the discoveries of Gutenberg, Galileo, Copernicus, Darwin, Newton and Marie Curie.

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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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Filed under Art, Collections, Post Cards

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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Filed under Collections, Local History, Manuscripts, Maps, Rare Book Exhibits