We’re celebrating J.R.R. Tolkien’s life today.

3 January 1892 - 2 September 1972.

From our Stacks: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. George Allen & Unwin Ltd 1954.

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin Company Boston. The Riverside Press Cambridge. 1955.

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin Company Boston. The Riverside Press Cambridge. 1956.

Each volume contains a map within.



The Codex Gigas

The Codex Gigas (or ‘Giant Book”) is also known as “The Devil’s Bible.” A curious illustration of Lucifer gives the tome its nickname.

The 13th-century manuscript is thought to have been created solely by a Herman the Recluse, a monk of the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice near Chrudim in Czech Republic. The calligraphy style is amazingly uniform throughout, believed to have taken 25 to 30 years  of work. There are no notable mistakes or omissions.  Pigment analysis revealed the ink to be consistent throughout. The book is enormous - it  measures 36.2” tall, 19.3” wide, and 8.6” thick; it weighs approximately 165 pounds. There are 310 vellum  leaves (620 pages).  The leaves are bound in a wooden folder covered with leather and ornate metal.

The manuscript is elaborately illuminated in red, blue, yellow, green and gold.  The entire document is written in Latin, and also contains Hebrew, Greek, and Slavic Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabets. The first part of the text includes the Vulgate version of the Bible.  Between the Old and New Testaments are Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews and De bello iudaico, as well as Isidore of Seville's encyclopedia Etymologiae and medical works of Hippocrates, Theophilus, Philaretus, and Constantinus.  Following a blank page, the New Testament commences.

Beginning the second part is a depiction of the devil.  Directly opposite is a full picture of the kingdom of heaven, juxtaposing the “good versus evil.”  The second half, following the picture of the devil, is Cosmas of Prague's Chronicle of Bohemia.  A list of brothers in the Podlažice monastery and a calendar with necrologium, magic formulae and other local records round out the codex.  Record entries end in the year 1229CE.

In 1648 at the end of the Thirty Years’ War, the Swedish army invaded Prague and the Codex was stolen as plunder.  It is now held at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm.  For more information, check out this short National Geographic documentary and/or flip through this digital copy.

( Wikipedia entry, et. al)

Several short National Geographic videos ~

One Helluva Book

Who Wrote The Devil’s Bible?

Super-human Scribe

The Devil’s Bible - Part 1.flv  (9:59) (derived from full video bleow)

The Devil’s Bible - Part 2.flv  (9:59) (derived from full video below)

** If you have the least amount of intellectual curiosity or interest in history, the short vids above will only whet your appetite: might as well grab a cold drink & some popcorn, then settle in to watch the whole thing ~

NatGeo : The Devil’s Bible - Full video  (44:58)

(Source:, via sexycodicology)


This is for the vacationers enjoying our beautiful state of Michigan!

Have a great holiday!!!!

From our Stacks: The Heroine of the Strait. By Mary Catherine Crowley.  Illustrated by Charles Grunwald. 1902.

Watch out for those stars!

Watch out for those stars!



For many, Labor Day weekend in Detroit is synonymous with jazz.  This year Hart Plaza is home to the 34th annual Detroit International Jazz Festival.  These two photos, taken circa 1982, show the early years of the festival.  Our online collection also features a selection of jazz festival posters from past years.

#Throwback Thursday
Do Not Fold, Bend, Spindle or Mutilate
Now, where is that keypunch machine?

#Throwback Thursday

Do Not Fold, Bend, Spindle or Mutilate

Now, where is that keypunch machine?


Happy Boethday Goethe!   Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832).

From our stacks: (top 3 photos, spine, cover and end pages of:) Novels and Tales, by Goethe. London, Henry G. Bohn, 1854.


(bottom 3 photos, title page and illustrations, from:) Goethe’s Theory of Colours. London: John Murray, 1840.


For this #Whimsical Wednesday, we’re posting some more of one of our favorite illustrators, Arthur Rackham.

From our stacks: Cinderella. Retold by C. S. Evans and Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. London: William Heinemann, 1919.


Celebrating the return of Doctor Who and the new Scottish Doctor with what else…..Tartans!!!

From our Stacks: The costume of the clans : with observations upon the literature, arts, manufactures, and commerce of the Highlands and Western Isles during the Middle Ages, and on the influence of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries upon their present condition by John Sobieski Stolberg Stuart and Charles Edward Stuart. John Grant, Edinburgh 1892.


Happy Caturday!!!

Today’s offering is a wee bit scary!!!  The pictures are taken for a children’s poetry book written in 1869. 

From our Stacks: Child World by Fanny Hart Wheeler. Strahan and Co., London 1869.

My favorite time of day.

My favorite time of day.


Forest Friday!

Inspiration for the last few days of Summer!

From our Stacks: Etude de la Foret by M. Meheut. 1927.



We wanted to share this charming label found in many of our books for #TBT.  It dates to a time when the library was known as the Public Library of the City of Detroit (before 1865).. We love the wording, but love the five cent fine for grease spots even more.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!


I think this #Whimsical Wednesday calls for Byron!

This is such a lovely book, the page illustrations change colour throughout and the steel engravings are delightful!

From our Stacks: The Poetical Works of Lord Byron. With Life. engravings on Steel. Gall & Inglis, Edinburgh: Bernard Terrace. N.D.


Happy National Aviation Day!!!!

Since airplanes really aren’t our subject, we decided natural avions would have to do.  Enjoy!

From our Stacks: Etudes D’Animaux by Mathurin Meheat, 1911.

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