History in Small Places

March 4th, 2009 by Michael Taylor


In November 2006, Nancy Sharon Collins, a New Orleans stationer, rescued several cases of steel dies from a stationery shop that flooded during Hurricane Katrina.  Many of the dies date back to the early 1900s and are valuable not only from an artistic standpoint, but also as artifacts documenting the social history of New Orleans. 

Ms. Collins recently donated this  collection to the LSU Libraries’ Special Collections.  In recognition of her generous gift, a selection of dies, along with engraving tools and several specimens of stationery, are currently on display in the Hill Memorial Library lecture hall. 

“To me,” Ms. Collins writes, “each idiosyncratic letter, each imperfectly cut line on those preciously wrapped, funny, sugar-cube sized blocks scream a special language, a specific time and a now-familiar place called New Orleans…. If we think of these hand-engraved dies as discreet representatives of real individuals… we can imagine their stories and dream we know something about their lives.”

The exhibition will be on display through March 28, 2009.  For more information, contact the Special Collections information desk at (225) 578-6544.

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