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.

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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

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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....

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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... 

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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.

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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)."

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