Every Harry Potter fan knows that the Hogwarts library has a Restricted Section featuring some very rare, special and tantalizing materials. What you may not know is that, yeah, GRPL has one too and the collection has a lot in common with the one at Harry’s alma mater.
In honor of the traveling exhibit, Harry Potter’s World:Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine, we would like to highlight some of our rare books.
A few of them actually date back to the (late) Renaissance such as our Vinetum Britannicum: or a Treatise of Cider published in London in 1678. This small volume about propagating fruit trees and making cider, particularly the adult kind, would fit right in to the exhibit’s section on “Potions”. Dated a little later, but equally Potteresque in subject is The Pharmacopoeia of the United States of America. Printed “by authority of the medical societies and colleges” of Boston in 1820, it is a wealth of both information on herbology and recipes for natural remedies. So if you’ve been wanting to make a Decoction of Bitter Sweet, or an Extract of May Apple or an Infusion of Foxglove (but for that you’re going to need a drachm of foxglove and a tincture of cinnamon), here’s your source.
You or the Potter clan might also be interested in our Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling by Charles Godfrey Leland (1889) which contains a good selection of magic spells or conjurations including love charms and charms for the protection of animals (in case you know a unicorn who’s on the bad side of a dementor). Another essential and comprehensive reference is The Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot, which covers everything from alchemy to dream interpretation to how to use magic to make monsters.
Finally, for anything you might want to know about owls or some lovely color drawings of them, we’ve got the man himself, John James Audubon, with his 1871 Birds of America in eight volumes.
When Harry or Hermione wanted to look at a book from the Restricted Section, they had to get a permission slip from one of their professors and sometimes that got complicated for them. The process is a little easier here; just fill out a request slip yourself and the staff will retrieve the item directly. Please do not use disappearing ink.