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Exhibits at the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library
March 13, 2007, Volume 53, No. 25

Equus Unbound: Fairman Rogers and the Age of the Horse


This afternoon at 5:30 p.m., a reception will take place in the Kamin Gallery, on the first floor, at the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library for the new exhibit which examines the expanding role of the horse in nineteenth-century industrial America. Curator Ann Greene will provide remarks at the University of Pennsylvania Library; she is a lecturer in the Department of History and Sociology of Science and author of the forthcoming Harnessing Power: Industrializing the Horse in Nineteenth Century America.

Equus Unbound: Fairman Rogers and the Age of the Horse highlights materials from the Fairman Rogers Collection of Books on the Horse and Equitation. Philadelphian Fairman Rogers was a renowned engineer, Penn professor and trustee, co-founder of the School of Veterinary Medicine, art patron, horseman, and coaching expert. The exhibit runs through June 15 and is free and open to the public. For more information see www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/equus.html.

The nineteenth century saw an explosion in the use of animal power. Industrialization eventually produced mechanical replacements for animal power, but the Industrial Revolution began by harnessing animal power, specifically horse power, on an unprecedented scale. Equus Unbound: Fairman Rogers and the Age of the Horse shows the technical, scientific, and social evolution of the horse world in the nineteenth century. Until the 1880s, work animals, mainly horses and mules, produced most of the power Americans used at home and at work. Consequently, horses in nineteenth century America received new attention from breeders, engineers, scientists, and veterinarians, all of whom sought to improve them for their work as prime movers. At the same time, horses continued to be the focus of the elite, for whom breeding primarily served their interests in horses for riding, driving, and sport.

Fairman Rogers (1833-1900) engaged most of the period’s interests in horses. A native Philadelphian, Mr. Rogers trained as a civil engineer and taught at the Franklin Institute (1853-1865) and the University of Pennsylvania (1855-1871). An original member of the National Academy of Science and a member of the American Philosophical Society, Mr. Rogers became a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania in 1871 and was later instrumental in establishing Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine. A patron of the arts, he served not only on the board of the Academy of Fine Arts but also worked with Thomas Eakins. Mr. Eakins’s “May Morning in the Park,” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was the first painting that attempted to show horses in motion using information gained through the photographs of Eadwaerd Muybridge. In 1884, Mr. Rogers helped bring Mr. Muybridge to Penn, where he produced his extensive motion studies of humans and animals.

Mr. Rogers was an accomplished horseman, a member of Philadelphia’s elite First Troop, and an internationally-recognized expert in the art of driving. During the Civil War, while on the staff of General William F. Smith, Mr. Rogers developed a scientific program for training horses and riders in the army. He was the first man in America to drive a four-in-hand coach. His book on coaching, still in print, remains a standard in the field. A Manual of Coaching (1895) is a technical guide to driving horses, combining knowledge of horse physiology and behavior with principles of mechanics and civil engineering.

The exhibition highlights the Fairman Rogers Collection at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Pennsylvania. Books, manuscripts, and images all reflect Mr. Rogers’s interest in horses and their relationship to engineering, veterinary medicine, and science. The earliest books date from the sixteenth century. Most, however, date from the nineteenth century. They include a variety of medical guides for horse owners, stud books, and books on shoeing, harnessing, training, riding, driving, racing, keeping a proper stable, horse breeds, and horse breeding.

 Highlights of the exhibit include: The 1696 Edinburgh edition of the English translation of Jacques de Solleysel’s The Parfait Mareschal, or, Compleat Farrier;  The 1703 London edition of Markham’s Masterpiece; The 1743 London edition of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle’s A General System of Horsemanship in all its Branches; The page proofs, with annotations and additions, for Fairman Rogers’s, A Manual of Coaching; Plate from Eadweard Muybridge’s, Animal Locomotion: An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements, 1872-1885; The 1847 Philadelphia edition of William Youatt’s The Horse.


Rare Illuminated Manuscripts Acquired by Penn Library

House of Books, c.a. 1475

House of Books, c.a. 1475 is one of the first rare codex manuscripts acquired in this new collection by the Penn Library. It’s representative of the type of manuscript that was popular in the late medieval and early Renaissance periods and of the Gothic style of text in which the manuscript is written.  It’s also a good example because it has more uncommon elements, such as calendar miniatures and two accessory texts in French.


The Penn Library announced that they have acquired three illuminated manuscripts through the support of former Overseer Larry Schoenberg C ’53, WG ’56. These illuminated manuscripts—with the text accompanied by inclusion of decoration or illustration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniatures—are located in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library reading room.

“We are looking to improve the resources available to faculty for their courses, possibly their own research as well as the work of their students. In addition, Larry has offered to lend manuscripts from his own collection for use by the Penn faculty and students over the course of the semester,” said Nancy Shawcross, curator of manuscripts in the Rare Book & Manuscripts Library.

The first of the acquisitions, that dates from the 15th century (shown at left), is a Book of Hours (use of Rouen), in Latin with calendar and accessory texts in French. It contains 15 arched miniatures, as well as 24 calendar miniatures.

The second, dated circa 1350, is a Latin psalter (use of the diocese of Salzburg), once part of an abbey library in Bavaria. The Latin psalter is the foundational text of medieval monastic, church, and predecessor to the popular Book of Hours. In use over three centuries and perhaps decorated by nuns, the psalter contains the Biblical Psalms arranged for daily prayer.

The final acquisition for this fiscal year is the Glossed Psalter, an important representative of a manuscript type central to medieval religious and university life. The glossed psalter contains the biblical text, the book of Psalms with running commentary. A standardized format of the glossed-book called glossed ordinaria was produced in great numbers to fill the demand at European cathedral schools during the Middle Ages. This codex will be used by Penn faculty and students interested in studying high medieval theology, patristics, university life, monastic culture, cathedral schools, art history, codicology, and generally, the history of the medieval book.

Almanac - March 13, 2007, Volume 53, No. 25