Saturdays tend to be busy here in the library as we regularly have a couple of student interns and volunteers working, and are usually booked solid with research appointments scheduled by local university students. Today was no exception, with library interns Armando Suarez and Miriam Kashem coming in to gain practical experience in cataloguing rare books and ephemeral items and learning collection stabilization techniques designed to preserve the same. Two Florida International University students also took advantage of our weekend hours to do some research on some rare world’s fair materials in our collection.

In between supervising the interns and paging materials for the library patrons, I had the pleasure of meeting with long-time supporter and donor, Frederic A. Sharf. Mr. Sharf drove down from Palm Beach to the museum, bringing two Museum of Fine Art curators in tow to meet with Wolfsonian director, Cathy Leff, our own curatorial staff, and yours truly. The MFA curators are formulating plans for making use of Fred’s personal collection of Utility scheme garments and propaganda scarves in an exhibition with the working title: Beauty as Duty: Fashion, Propaganda and Morale in WWII-era Britain. The visitors were interested in seeing what materials the Wolfsonian-FIU might have to offer by way of collaboration. Although our own institution does not possess a large inventory of World War Two textiles, we do have a fine collection of Second World War propaganda posters in our Works on Paper department which our curators, Marianne Lamonaca and Sarah Schleuning presented to the visitors in a digital slide show.

As you can see from the images included in today’s blog, our library collection does hold a few rare materials specifically documenting women’s fashion and style in war-time Britain, but really offered more in the way of comparative materials from other Allied and Axis nations. In addition to a fine illustrated children’s book of verses designed to teach English children how they might contribute to the war effort, other items pulled out for their review included: American propaganda postcards and commercial catalogs; a color illustration of a traditional Japanese woman in a kimono and a girl in Western dress designed to be fashioned into a paper fan; a book lauding the war work of German women; and a clipping of an advertisement by Italian fashion illustrator and Fascist propagandist Gino Boccasile (1901-1952) encouraging patriotic Italian women to eschew imported silk stockings for domestically-synthesized nylons.

While the curators were touring the museum galleries and discussing plans, Mr. Sharf came down to the library and hand-delivered into our custody a set of approximately one hundred original sketches and automotive design drawings made by Theodore W. Pietsch II (1912-1993). This was the second—though not the last, we have been assured—gift of automotive design drawings by Ted Pietsch that Mr. Sharf has facilitated in the last couple months. And while I was tempted to include a few in this blog, I’ve decided to hold off until next time….

That’s what we in the trade call a “teaser”! So here’s hoping you automobile design enthusiasts tune in to the next installment of Wolf-Lib-Log!

~ by "The Chief" on March 6, 2010.

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