January 7, 2016KR BlogEnthusiamsReading

The NYPL just added 180,000 public domain items to its digital collection

The New York Public Library released more than 180,000 public domain items yesterday. Yes, they’re high-res. There’s rich material here for scholars, writers, artists, and designers. Scanning through this much information, however beautifully organized, can be kind of daunting. Looking for some inspiration in the public domain? Here are a few places to start:

Ever wondered what was on the menu at Jack and Charlie’s 21 Diner or Hotel St. George? There are 17,920 menus available here.

Jack and Charlie's

How familiar are you with book-binding? The books of William Augustus Spencer are scanned here. This volume was bound by Emile Mercier:

491474, 5/2/03, 1:38 PM, 16C, 5614x6664 (2+673), 100%, None 14 bit,  1/25 s, R34.2, G28.7, B49.3

Feel like you’re seeing double? Robert N. Dennis’s collection of stereographic views will take you all over the country. Here’s the view from Front Street in Dawson City, Alaska:

Dawson City

This very rare illuminated edition of the Xanten Bible is at your fingertips. Here’s Malachi 3:

Malachi 3

Filtering by 13th century manuscripts, I stumbled on a depiction of a lunar eclipse by Joanne de Sacro Bosco in 1260:

Diagram of a lunar eclipse

In a map from 1682, in the collection among 16,266 others, you can begin to chart the sea coasts of New England, “New Iarsey,” Virginia, Maryland, and Carolina:

Sea coasts

There are 253 aquatints, including mummies, drawing rooms, and images of the founding fathers. Here’s “Before the Fireplace” by Mary Cassatt (1883):

Mary Cassat

Among the ninety cigarette cards, here’s Edison’s first phonograph:

Edison's First Phonograph

In the cartes de visite, here are a group of very serious and unidentified card players (photographed by Joseph Bertstresser, sometime between 1860 and 1900):

Unidentified card players

With images as recent as 1977, you can also explore performances by the New York City Ballet. Here’s a photograph by Martha Swope:

NYC ballet

Older sketches of dance performances are collected here.

And a highlight from the 8,884 prints on file: the “curious and uncommon performances of a monkey.”

Curious and uncommon performances of a monkey

The full collection is available on the NYPL website.