In the 1950s, Cornell Library acquired important medieval texts that were donated by generous alumni. Frederik S. Crofts (‘05), the CEO of a company that published college textbooks and dictionaries, gave the university a manuscript of Gervase of Tilbury’s Otia Imperialia, the only known manuscript that includes a (posthumous) portrait of the author. Another alum, William Gerhard Mennen (‘08), who had inherited his father’s shaving preparations and personal-care-products business, gave Cornell a rare 15th century book of hours composed in Latin and Dutch.

Illuminated Leaf from Gervase of Tibury’s Otia Imperialia [Recreations for an Emperor], Southern France (Arles or Avignon), 14th Century
Provenance: “Barrier, Advocat” (1614). The Collection of Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872). Purchased in 1947 from the London Book-Dealer E.P. Goldschmidt by Frederick S. Crofts ’05 and Given to Cornell the Same Year
[Detail] The Author Offering His Book to Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Cornell Library, Division of Rare Books and Manuscripts, 4600 Bd. Ms 60