May 11, 2021
Alexandra “Alex” Box, a student at the University of Wyoming in Fairhope, Alabama, is the recipient of the American Heritage Center Undergraduate Research Award. (Photo of the Alex box)
Alexandra “Alex” Box, a student at the University of Wyoming in Fairhope, Alabama, is the recipient of the American Heritage Center (AHC) Undergraduate Research Award.
Box, a student in the Department of Visual and Literary Arts at UW, Professor Mark Ritchie, will showcase her exhibit in the Toppan Rare Book Library at AHC. His exhibition, titled “Ex Libris Fitzhugh”, deciphers the meaning and symbolism of bookplates, including heraldic coloring, choice of animals, symbolism, mottos and style. It also focuses on the printing process used – allowing for the examination of provenance with respect to the significance of the story in rare books. She received a $ 500 award from the AHC.
“The Toppan Library’s Fitzhugh Collection has a wide variety of ex-libris, sometimes referred to as ‘ex libris’ – meaning ‘from the library of’ – which denote personal ownership and claim a book by an individual or a library. . Box said. “Bookplates are made using many engraving-based processes, including relief (woodcut), intaglio (etching and etching) and lithography.
Each spring semester, the AHC awards a cash prize to the best undergraduate article or research project based on documents in the centre’s collection, such as manuscripts, archives, rare books, photos, maps , audio, movies and videos.
To encourage a diverse group of applicants, AHC accepts projects in all their forms, such as research papers; creative writing; individual or group exhibitions; websites; and art. The only conditions are that the projects are created for academic credits, that they are sponsored by a professor and that they are essentially based on research carried out with the collections of the AHC, explains the director of the AHC, Paul Flesher.
Alexandra “Alex” Box’s exhibit focuses on personal heraldry imagery of shields, mottos and crests identifying owners. (Photo AHC)
In her request for the award, Box says she became fascinated by the personal heraldic imagery of shields, mottos, and crests identifying owners. Heraldic imagery can be animals and items symbolizing personal strength, integrity, hospitality and other positive indicators of the individual. She researched the symbolism of heraldic animals and elements of bookplates, and discovered the components of heraldic shields and colors.
During her six-week internship at AHC, she documented the characteristics of the bookplates of over 50 books in the Fitzhugh Collection. She reduced her exposure to 14 representative examples showing what she felt was the most engaging. Its exhibition mainly includes intaglio prints dating from the end of the 18th to the 19th century in the armorial (1800-1900) and crown and ribbon (1770-1810) styles.
“The bookplates Alex studied were attached to 19th-century books and came from Britain’s rising middle class,” Flesher explains. “They showed the new ability of the middle class to buy books and, by presenting heraldic images, showed that they were trying to be like the English gentry. His excellent work in choosing, selecting and arranging the images made this small exhibition very effective.
The AHC is currently closed to the public; however, “Ex Libris Fitzhugh” is available virtually on the AHC’s Virmuze page at www.virmuze.com/m/uwyo-american-heritage-center/, with the same content as the physical Box exhibit. .
All faculty members of the UW Department are eligible to submit, on behalf of their students, two projects each semester to be considered for the AHC Undergraduate Research Award. Each student is also eligible to initiate their application with a letter from a faculty member accompanying the submission. Rare book cataloger Toppan Elizabeth Kuntz is supervising the internship.
For more information, visit the AHC website at www.uwyo.edu/ahc/grants/undergrad-award.html.