The Daily Grace
The Daily Grace

Day 2: Finding Enrico Monetti

Jun 25, 2013 | 30 Days of Fun | 14 comments

We were driving to the WECO to pick up my car when Tim casually suggested:

Do you mind if we stop by the Cooper Library? We’ll be so close to downtown.

The old me (pre-30 Days of Fun) would have thought: You think I have time for that?

The new me said: I’ve never been to the Cooper Library! What’s up?

I want to show you something, he said.

(Like we’ll ever find a parking place on the University of South Carolina campus, is what I really thought.)

But we did, and we made our way.

Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina

We headed for the Special Collections section.

We were hardly in the door when this little exhibit caught my eye:

F. Scott Fitzgerald exhibit at the Cooper Library

in Fitzgerald’s own hand

(The trip had already been worth it!)

Then I heard Tim say to the Librarian, as he handed her a slip of paper through the reference window:

I’m looking for this book, John Milton’s Comus. It was hand illustrated by my Great Grandfather, Enrico Monetti.

That got my attention.

The Librarian did some clicking around on the computer in front of her as Tim went on to explain:

We don’t know much about him, but my aunt in Connecticut has been doing some digging. Apparently he was a rather famous Italian artist. There are only 30 copies of this book in the world, and one of them is right here, in your collection.



At first the book seemed too precious to touch.

John Milton's Comus

The gold leaf and illustration was done by Enrico Monetti on these actual vellum sheets. Wow.

His very own signature!

We weren’t familiar with the term “illuminated,” but Wikipedia gives a good explanation.

The detail was remarkable.

Gold Leaf

How thrilling it was to sit there in the Rare Books section touching the pages of this magnificent volume knowing Tim’s Great Grandfather had touched those pages, as well. What a connection to the past. What a marvel.

What fun!

30 Days of Fun II

Note: Thank you to the Rare Books librarian who gave me permission to take photographs. 


  1. JC

    One of life’s miracles for sure…gave me chills.

    Perhaps when the list of reasons to marry an Italian is published #1 might be that They relish having 30 Days of Fun.

    • Cathy

      A wise observation, my friend!

  2. Pam Plowden Rawson

    Coolest thing ever. Ever ever.

    • Cathy


  3. julie

    I can’t believe this. You’re going to have to rename it ’30 Days of Amazing, Rich, Juicy, Perfect and Wonder-filled Fabulousness!!!’ What I particularly love is how you set the stage for it, friend! xoxo

    • Cathy

      Isn’t it just the most amazing story? You never know from one day to the next!

  4. carey

    glad for the wonderous adventures of my cousin! i’m simply going to snap beans on the back porch while the morning is still relatively young & quiet.

    • Cathy

      Snapping beans sounds pretty wonderful!

  5. Esther Cope

    Wow…how exciting to find the book. I too love history and this is history at its best.
    What a treasure to know it is so close to home. Now just be on the lookout for a copy of your own. Watch for auctions and even book sales. Another copy may appear someday! Do you know why this copy is at Cooper? That can be another quest for you… trace the history of the book all the way to Columbia SC.

    • Cathy

      Esther, it is part of the vast Robert Wickenheiser collection (of John Milton) housed at Cooper. It was fascinating! I love your idea of keeping our eyes out for one. Crazier things have happened!

  6. David

    isn’t this one of the better reasons for marrying an Italian? Today it is hard to find a guy who can get a grout line straight, let alone create something like that. Yet, it is quite certain that Enrico would be most impressed with his descendant’s ability to organize and manage the construction of a carbon fiber plant.

    • Cathy

      Oh, there are so many reasons to marry an Italian!

  7. vickie

    wow. that is amazing. What are the chances one of the 30 copies would be at THAT library? Little gifts of love everywhere if we only take the time to look. love, vickie

    • Cathy

      Isn’t it crazy? Right here in Columbia, SC?

Cathy Rigg Headshot

Hi. I’m Cathy.

This is a blog about writing, creative living, and grace in the everyday. It’s my hope this little spot on the internet will be for you a place of quiet and reflection, a source for inspiration, and a reminder there’s beauty all around—we simply need to keep our hearts open to see it. Thank you for being here with me.

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