2017 Designer Bookbinders (UK) International Prize-winners. My Favorites.

2017 Designer Bookbinders (UK) International Prize-winners. My Favorites.

Congratulations to the prize winners from Designer Bookbinders 2017 International Competition! Excellent work all around, and there's too much good work out there - a pity that only 28 can be chosen -- all who submitted something should be extremely proud!

Here are my favorite bindings among the 28 prize winners. Links are provided to the binder's websites, where available. Enjoy!

Gavin Dovey, Fabrizio Bertolotti, Daniel Wray, Keiko Fujii, Christopher Shaw.

Read More

An intro to Ethel Reed's commercial books

An intro to Ethel Reed's commercial books

I was exposed to Ethel Reed's work when I was asked to repair a copy of a volume she designed and illustrated, The Arabella and Araminta Stories (Boston: Copeland & Day, 1895). I was totally enchanted (and I am NOT easily charmed by commercial bindings)! 

I'll share a couple photos of the binding and end leaves but do yourself a solid and see it in person at a special collections near you. That way you see the great illustrations too. Or buy a copy - they range from only $2,500 to $30,000 for a signed, large format deluxe edition. There are reprints though. At the very least, you have to check it out on William S. Peterson's exceptional blog, Ethel Reed: Boston Poster Artist

Read More

Qualifying "Publisher's Bindings." Plus, an exhibition review.

Qualifying "Publisher's Bindings." Plus, an exhibition review.

Don't write me hate mail--I know that I've got to chill out and accept the fact that "Publisher's Bindings" is a descriptive term that is here to stay. But I would suggest for folks to be sure to use qualifiers. The late Sue Allen, in her course at Rare Book School, use the term Publisher's Bindings and I certainly can't argue with as venerable an expert as that--but note that she provided a date range, and now, in the current iteration of the course, led by Todd Pattison, the term is qualified by location and date: "American Publishers’ Bookbindings, 1800–1900." Perfecto!!

....The Cover Sells the Book: Transformations in Commercial Book Publishing, 1860-1920 is a current exhibition produced by the Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives of the Delaware Art Museum. The online exhibition is an excellent introductory resource, and I'm sure the physical exhibition is excellent too. In the online exhibit, the works of some important designers of the period are highlighted (I'll share of my favorites in the next blog post), along with a good deal of informative contextual information....

Read More

Lecture on Matisse's printed books, Northampton MA USA, April 27

Lecture on Matisse's printed books, Northampton MA USA, April 27

Smith College's Mortimer Rare Book Room is hosting John Bidwell for a talk Thursday, April 27: "Good Cop, Bad Cop: Matisse and his Publishers." I've talked about some printed works by Matisse, published by Albert Skira. And have you seen Matisse's Jazz? It is, in my opinion, one of the most moving books of the 20th century. Watch this introduction and brief (positive) criticism. You've probably seen the Icarus from it... 

Read More

500-year-old illuminations

500-year-old illuminations

At the Isabella Stewart Gardner's recent collaborative show Beyond Words, I got to see many very old manuscripts. The theme uniting these books was their luxury. Instead of plain, unadorned, highly glossed and dense texts a scholar or student might use, I saw vibrant, shining and sophisticated volumes that showed a patron's taste and wealth.

The exhibition was excellent, though small, and I felt the opulence--and the intelligence--that marked the Renaissance.

But the key point for me, and what I'll try to show in the following (poor) photographs, is the vibrancy of the artwork. The painted and gilt illuminations popped of the pages, and were so stunning and bright it was hard to believe they are 500 years old. Again, please pardon the low-light photos and lack of proper citation.... I'm just trying to convey the shimmering nature of the gilt illumination that remains so stunning so long after its production.

Cameo at the end from Anthony Cains, Bill Anthony, Abigail Quandt for a video they helped create on illumination.

Read More

Society of Bookbinders Conference 2017

A greatly anticipated lineup. Go to the conference if you can. $500 USD for the whole weekend, meals included. August!

Setting is pretty rural and I'm sure it will be a great experience. See their website for more details on the programs and the logistics.

Kathy Abbott – limp vellum binding
Ian Andrews – treasure bindings
Peter Bower (evening) – paper analysis
Andrew Brown – design binding
Ingela Dierick – a fine case-binding
Roger Green – drop-back boxes
Chris Harvey – conservation structures
Royston Haward – forwarding techniques
Paul Johnson –  pop-up books
Tony Mack – bookcloth production
Renate Mesmer – girdle bindings
Consuela Metzger – stationers’ bindings
John Mumford – Islamic bindings
Lara Artemis – parchment conservation
Tine Noreille – cutting method + structure
Pamela Smith – paper marbling

 

French design, Deco to contemporary, at the Legion of Honor

French design, Deco to contemporary, at the Legion of Honor

The Legion of Honor Museum, part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, seems to have a great collection of Fine french bindings. Included here is highlights from their exhibition The Book and the Binding from 2013. They are exquisite, imposing and even trippy!

Bonet, Schmied, Creuzevault, Matisse, Féquet et Baudier, Picasso, Leroux, Castiglioni.

Read More

Endleaves or endpapers; flying or free

Endleaves or endpapers; flying or free

"Free endleaves," "Flying leaves," or "Flyleaves?"

This point of nomenclature is most important in cataloging, imaging, and in conserving books. For example, let's say you want to search a database for a decorated end leaf. Which word should you use? Well, you must use the word used by the catalogers -- but which did they use? Or what if you want to search conservation treatment records? You must use the word used by the conservators in their reports...  and if you don't use the right search term, you won't find what you're looking for. I'l discuss my arbiter of points of nomenclature --  and then I have a question.

Read More

Some fine details from Guild of Bookworkers (USA) exhibition "Vessel"

Some fine details from Guild of Bookworkers (USA) exhibition "Vessel"

"I saw the current exhibition recently at North Bennet Street School in Boston and here's some close-ups. I'm staying away from commentary on the designs but instead will focus on the details, the beautiful details!"

Colin Urbina, Lang Ingalls, Erin Fletcher, Brien Beidler, Ethan Ensign, Todd Pattison, Jennifer Evers, Sialia Reicke.

Read More

J. A. Legrain at Upcoming Christie's Sale (July 13)

J. A. Legrain at Upcoming Christie's Sale (July 13)

UPDATE: The volume sold for $138,776, just over its high estimate.

"Poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé, illustrated by Henri Matisse and published by Albert Skira, 1932. Just an incredible book, extremely rare with extremely beautiful illustrations, and finely bound by a French modernist, J.A. Legrain (step-son of Pierre Legrain, who is commonly regarded as the better of the two, a heavyweight innovator of bookbinding design)."

Read More