The Modern Books and Manuscripts department is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Julio Mario Santo Domingo collection, comprising over 50,000 books, manuscripts, works of art, audio recordings and films, placed on long-term deposit at Harvard by the collector’s son, Julio Mario Santo Domingo III. The Santo Domingo Collection enriches and greatly expands the University’s research materials on psychoactive drugs and their physical and social effects—from cultivation and synthesis to the myriad cultural and counter-cultural products linked to altered states of mind. Rich in scientific and medical works, it documents in depth both the benefits of controlled use and the horrors of addiction. The bulk of the collection, however, explores drug use by individuals and the influence such use and users had on their society, with emphasis on the 1800s and 1900s in America and France. Other areas in which the collection is particularly rich include erotica, French pulp publications, and materials documenting countercultural movements.
We’ll be featuring items from the collection regularly here on our blog, so check back often.
Swiss bibliophile Gérard Nordmann (1930-1992) made a lifelong avocation of collecting rare and obscure erotic works. Many of these are clandestine or anonymous publications, printed with false authors and imprints or none at all and often distributed to a private society of subscribers. Nordmann prided himself on collecting works, or versions of works, so rare that they didn’t appear in the catalog of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. His extraordinary collection went to auction in 2006, and Julio Santo Domingo purchased a number of its volumes; they are now at Harvard.
Tableaux des mœurs du temps dans les différents âges de la vie (1867), one such clandestine imprint, is attributed to the author Claude-Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon and to the publisher Auguste Poulet-Malassis. While this copy may not have the most lavish binding among those in Nordmann’s collection, the gilt-stamped satyrs on its cover (see top left) helpfully apprise the reader of its contents. The interior, though, is rather more interesting. In addition to the printed engravings originally illustrating the volume, a matching set of hand-colored engravings is included; better still, six engravings are accompanied by a hand-painted impression of the illustration, making for three versions total. The three renditions of one illustration are pictured above for comparison.
This extravagant extra-illustration continues with twelve aquarelles painted directly onto the text (left). Illustrations like these are likely to have been commissioned for the book by one of its former owners, rendering the copy genuinely unique.
Tableaux des mœurs du temps dans les différents âges de la vie. PQ1971.C6 A77 1867.
Thanks to Houghton rare book cataloger Ryan Wheeler, who is currently cataloging the books in the Santo Domingo library, for contributing this post. To find other material from this collection, search HOLLIS for “Julio Santo Domingo Collection.”