The Russian Bell
Shortly after the Library opened, A. D. White was posted as the American Ambassador to Russia. While there, he sent many photographs and a few artifacts to be housed in his presidential library. The most prominent piece is a bell that was presented to White, and which he in turn presented to the Library. It was cast in Moscow at the foundry of Andrei Dvirtrievitch Samgin, with Slavonic lettering. White had the bell further inscribed in Latin and English “Caellum non animum mutant/ Qui trans mare currunt. They change their clime not their disposition/ Who run beyond the sea. From Horace, Epistles, Book 1, Epistle 2” in 1894. The bell was rung at closing until the Library’s renovation in 1961-62.
This spectacular carved piece of furniture was designed to fold outward to allow a scholar to examine maps. It has been tentatively attributed to Luigi Frullini (1839-1897), a talented Florentine carver much sought after by American collectors of the late nineteenth century.
Until 2016, the A. D. White Library was also home to two cases filled with reproductions of ancient Greek and Roman gem impressions. White purchased this collection, or daktyliotheca, from Gustav Eichler, who had manufactured plaster casts of ancient Greek and Roman gems incised with images—usually personal seals. The objects were removed for conservation treatment and digitization, and the cases have been relocated to the Dean Room, the Library’s main reading room. Peruse the collection, or read more about the whole collection.