Forthcoming Fall and Winter Courses in NYC, Baltimore, and DC
[ 2 September 2008 ] This fall and winter, RBS will be running courses in New York City, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. At the Freer/Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, Ellis Tinios will inaugurate a new course on “The Art of the Book in Edo and Meiji Japan, 1615-1912,” running Mon-Fri, 20-24 October 2008. In the same week, but at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, Roger E. Wieck will offer his course, “Introduction to Illuminated Manuscripts,” which he will be teaching for the sixth time. In Baltimore, at the Walters Art Museum and Johns Hopkins University, Terry Belanger will give his “Book Illustration Processes to 1900” course (taught annually since 1983), and Albert Derolez will offer his “Introduction to Western Codicology” (taught most years since 1987), both running Mon-Fri, 3-7 November 2008. The Tinios, Wieck, and Derolez courses are sold out; there are still a couple of spaces open in Belanger's course.
In January ‘09, RBS will return to Baltimore. Paul Needham and William Noel will co-teach “15th-Century Books in Print and Manuscript.” Jan Storm van Leeuwen will again offer his “Seminar in the History of Bookbinding.” In 2007, seminar topics included (among others) c16 French and German bibliophile bindings, c17 English Restoration bindings, c18 Dutch and French luxury bindings, and c19 special publishers' bindings in Europe and America. Both courses will run Mon-Fri, 5-9 January 2009.
Application forms for the fall and winter sessions are available online.
Summer Schedule of RBS Public Lectures Announced
[ 3 June 2008 ] Rare Book School is pleased to announce its schedule of 6 pm public lectures during its June and July Charlottesville sessions. The roster of speakers includes Steve Beare (9 June), William Noel (16 June), Sumner Stone (18 June), Alice Hudson (7 July), Russell Johnson (9 July), Richard Kuhta (21 July), and Andrea Krupp (28 July), giving RBS lectures nos. 506-512. All lectures will begin at 6 pm, and most of them will be held in Room 201 Clemons Library, with a reception following each lecture in the first floor Alderman Library staff lounge (check the RBS website Lectures and Events page for last-minute changes).
9 June 2008 in Charlottesville
- Steve Beare, Independent Scholar: “John Feely Meets Samuel Dodd: The Use of Internet Databases in Studying the History of the American Book Trades.”
16 June 2008 in Charlottesville
- William Noel, Curator of MSS and Rare Books, Walters Art Museum: “Writing Off Archimedes: Ten Years of Work on the Archimedes Palimpsest.”
18 June 2008 in Charlottesville
- Sumner Stone, Typographer, Stone Type Foundry: “Warp & Woof: History, Craft, Concept and Culture in Early Digital Type Design.”
7 July 2008 in Charlottesville
- Alice Hudson, Chief, Map Division, New York Public Library: “Alice’s Top Ten List: Rare Maps: Keeping Them Under Control, Letting Them Go Public.”
9 July 2008 in Charlottesville
- Russell Johnson, Archivist/Cataloger, Special Collections, Louise Darling Biomedical Library, UCLA: “More Baby Books than You Can Shake a Rattle At: Building a New Collection for Research in the History of Infant Development.”
21 July 2008 in Charlottesville
- Richard Kuhta, Eric Weinmann Librarian, Folger Shakespeare Library: “The Future of Research and Rare Book Libraries (and What It Will Take for Them to Have a Future).” The 2008 Sol. M. and Mary Ann O'Brian Malkin Lecture.
28 July 2008 in Charlottesville
- Andrea Krupp, Conservator, Library Company of Philadelphia: “Nineteenth-Century Books Up Close: Bookcloth Grain Patterns.”
Danielle Culpepper joins the RBS Staff
[ 10 May 2008 ] Danielle Culpepper started work as RBS's new administrator at the end of April, succeeding Carolyn Cades Engel (who has accepted a position on the program staff of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities). As RBS Administrator, Culpepper will be responsible for supervising the school's finances, procurement, events programming, and part-time support staff.
Culpepper has a B.A. in history from Lewis and Clark College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from UVa. Most recently, she was a CLIR postdoctoral fellow at the George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University. Her dissertation: "Court, convent, and counter reformation : Ursulines in the Farnese duchy of Parma and Piacenza, 1575-1731," examined the role of the Ursulines in the world of the Farnese, and the roles gender and religion played in a courtly society. She has taught courses on early modern European history at the University of Mary Washington, Miami University, and at UVa.
Culpepper joins Terry Belanger (Director), Barbara Heritage (Assistant Director and Curator of Collections), Ryan Roth (Program Director), and Kenneth Giese (Assistant to the Director) on the full-time RBS staff.
Book Arts Press Address Book, 25th Year Edition
[ 9 April 2008 ] Approximately every two years since 1989, Rare Book School and its publishing arm, the Book Arts Press, have published a directory of RBS attendees, ABAA members (in alphabetical order by owner), and others with a connection to the school. The directory is distributed gratis to Friends of Rare Book School. We are pleased to announce the publication of the 10th edition of the Address Book, bigger than ever and with a number of new bells and whistles included as part of the celebration of RBS's 25th anniversary. This edition contains a new history of RBS, a list of a list of BAP/RBS lectures nos. 1-500 together with an account of this long series, a current list of ARL senior librarians. Copies of the Address Book are available to non-Friends of RBS for $30 per copy plus postage.
Directory of ARL special collections librarians
[ 2 April 2008 ] Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 123 large research libraries in the US and Canada. In recent years, the ARL has become interested in rare books and special collections, and its website contains useful material about the ARL Special Collections Task Force, the Hidden Collections initiative, and related matters.
Two years ago, the RBS staff compiled a directory of the principal librarians, curators, directors, and the like working in member institutions of the ARL. The list sets forth the names, addresses, and contact information of persons who have (or might appropriately have) the words "rare books" or "manuscripts" or "special collections" in their titles but who report to a person who reasonably does not and would not have these words in their titles.
Some ARL libraries in our directory are represented by a single person - typically the case with smaller institutions, and those with a tight, system-wide hierarchy. Other ARL libraries are represented by several persons who are in different administrative hierarchies within their institutions (e.g. the heads of special collections in their law and medical libraries).
We annually email a copy of the directory to those listed in it, in order to improve its accuracy and keep it current. We've recently completed a correction cycle, and (thanks to demon RBS webpersons Ryan Roth and Joseph Ennis) we have now mounted the directory on the RBS website and provided a geographical index to the institutions listed. Let us know if you find it useful.
[ 29 February 2008 ] In January 2008, RBS Board of Directors chairman Hans Tausig completed his second and final term on the board, as did the board's vice-chair, Peter Herdrich. RBS is grateful to them both for their many years of service to RBS. Hans Tausig has taken 15 RBS courses since 1994; he is enormously knowledgeable about the school's programs, and as the first chair of the board he made an extraordinarily effective contribution to the success of our undertakings; it has been an enormous pleasure working with him. Peter Herdrich has been associated with RBS for more than two decades; he was the director of all three Book Arts Press video presentations - From Punch to Printing Type (1985), How to Operate a Book (1986), and The Anatomy of a Book: Format (1991) - all of which still have brisk sales, by the way.
Neither Tausig nor Herdrich has seen the last of us: we hope that Tausig will join the board's advisory committee when its establishment is approved at the board's summer 2008 meeting; and Herdrich remains the chair of our development committee.
The new chair of the RBS board is William T. Buice, III (RBS board member since 2002); since 1971, he has been a partner at Davidson, Dawson & Clark, LLP, in New York; the picture shows him at RBS last July, when he and his wife Stuart took Sue Allen's course on publishers' bindings. The new vice-chair is Robert A. Gross (a board member since 2004); he is James L. and Shirley A. Draper Professor of Early American History at the University of Connecticut. The board's new treasurer, Joan Friedman, CPA, has been connected with RBS since 1983, when (as Curator of Rare Books at the Yale Center for British Art) she began to co-teach "Book Illustration to 1860: Techniques in Context" with me. Beverly P. Lynch (Professor, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, UCLA), continues as secretary of the board.
William P. Barlow, Jr, remains on the RBS board for another year, but he has stepped down as treasurer, a position he has held since 2002. He has been connected with RBS since 1993, when he began to teach courses at the school. He will be co-teaching "Donors and Libraries" with Susan Allen at the California Rare Book School this summer; we hope that the Allen/Barlow course will alternate between the two coasts from now on. Barlow's collecting interests are well-known; but he is also the proprietor of the Nova Press, an imprint that has published a number of titles having to do with water skiing. Barlow was elected to the Water Ski Hall of Fame in 1993, and he has held practically every office there is to hold in the American Water Ski Association, including terms as president from 1963 through 1966, and chairman of the board of directors in 1966-69 and in 1977-79. He has been honorary vice-president of the Association since 1980.
James Reilly to teach Photographic Print Process ID at UVa
[ 30 January 2008 ] James M. Reilly, the Director of the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) will teach a new course on The Identification of Photographic Print Processes, assisted by Ryan Boatright (also of the IPI). The course will offer instruction in the identification and dating of all the major photographic print processes. It will also touch on the evolution of photograph technology, considering the major processes in chronological order. For a full description, consult the I-35 course page.
Rare Book School now has a Facebook group
[ 31 October 2007 ] Rare Book School has recently formed a group on Facebook, the online social networking site that allows members to share news and announcements, photographs, contact information and more. With a growing demographic that includes working professionals and students, Facebook has become a useful tool for staying in touch with both friends and colleagues. For more information about Facebook, visit the Facebook home page or see the Rare Book School group page.
As an RBS group member, you will receive the latest updates from RBS in your newsfeed. Members can upload and tag photos, share links and videos, post shout-outs on our wall, participate on our discussion board, and even poke Terry Belanger. This is an open group, which means any Facebook member can join and invite others to join. Nominations for group officers are welcome!
The RBS website (where you are now) will remain the primary site for information about the school and its activities, but Facebook groups tend to develop a life of their own. We hope students will find the group useful in connecting with each other outside of class. Now if you lose your Vade Mecum, you'll have a place to ask where the nearest laundromat is!
Anybody seen my hammer?
[ 19 March 2007 ] In 1997, RBS acquired a stack of printed but unbound folio sheets intended to make several volumes of early c19 British House of Commons committee reports. The sheets were roughly folded for storage shortly after printing in bunches of several gatherings each, and then warehoused. If the books had been bound shortly after the dampened sheets were printed, the binder would as usual have had to flatten out the bunches and refold the individual sheets more accurately, in order to even up the gutters and get the text pages squarely one on top of the next (the imposition is folio in 2s). He would then have had to beat the folded sheets with a binder's hammer, several gatherings at a time, in order to consolidate them and make them lie flat and snug, one next to another.
The beating process is illustrated in one of the copper-plate engravings accompanying the bookbinding entry in Diderot's Encyclopédie (Paris 1751-65), a relevant detail from which is reproduced here. We're looking for an actual example of a hand-press-period binder's hammer used for this purpose, the earlier the better: does anyone know anyone who has one? If so, please email < > with information about it.
There is an excellent picture of a binder's hammer on the Mainz Gutenberg Museum website. The head of the hammer, presumably made of (cast?) iron, is probably similar to what the Encyclopédie artist drew, but his copper-plate engraver (who might not himself have been familiar with the object depicted) misread some of the detail.
Zaehnsdorf's “Art of Bookbinding” (1897) also shows a picture of a beating hammer.
Here is a description of the beating process, from George Cowie's Bookbinder's manual (London, c. 1828; facsimile edition [ed. Sidney F. Huttner, NY: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1990] as the second of Two early c19 bookbinding manuals):
Such books as are intended for the process of beating, require a large stone, with a smooth surface, and a hammer (somewhat in the shape of a bell) weighing from twelve to fourteen pounds; having these in readiness, the books are beat in the following manner: — About a dozen sheets (or sections) are held at a time, between, and near, the ends of the fingers and thumb of the left hand, while with the right hand the hammer is raised about a foot, and must fall with rather more than its own weight on the edges of the sections, which should be continually moved round, turned over, and changed, in order that they may be equally beat. During this process, the sections should be occasionally examined, to ascertain whether they have set off; if such be the case, they should have no more beating. If the work have cuts, a leaf of tissue paper should be placed between these and the letter-press. [pp. 8-9]
Contemporary bookbinding manuals like this one are an important source of information about the techniques of hand-press-period forwarding — that is, the process of folding, beating, and sewing the sheets, and attaching the boards or other covering material, before finishing — that is, decorating — takes place.
In 1747, R. Campbell published The London Tradesman, a guide to parents looking for advice on the choice of a trade into which to apprentice their children. He had little to say in favor of bookbinding:
The Bookbinder is a Dependant on the Bookseller. He receives the Book in Sheets from the Bookseller, and his Business is to bind it, and cover it with Leather, Vellum, or otherwise, as he is directed. The Trade of a Bookbinder has no great Ingenuity in it, and requires few Talents, either natural or acquired, to fit a Man to carry it on; a moderate Share of Strength is requisite, which is chiefly employed in beating the Books with a heavy Hammer, to make the Sheets lie close together. The Profit of the Trade is but inconsiderable in itself, and most Masters in this Branch carry on the Business of Stationary or Pamphlet Shops. The Journeymen make but a mean Living; they seldom earn more than Ten Shillings a Week when employed, and are out of Business for Half the Year. [p. 135]
Quiz question: Why were c18 London binders out of business for half the year?
[ 26 September 2006 ] Rare Book School has recently acquired a large (15 x 18") intaglio plate, showing a head-and-shoulders portrait of a cheerful long-haired dog, engraved on steel by John C. McRae after a painting by Sir Edwin Landseer. The plate [shown below, reversed] is titled “Fritz.” The image size is 13.375" x 10.375":
We have been unable to identify the original Landseer painting (perhaps it is a detail from a Landseer painting), and we do not know the purpose for which this plate was made: the subject seems a bit simple for a framing print, but the image size is a bit large for most magazine or book purposes. Can anyone identify the print or its source? Any information gratefully received!
[ 3 June 2006 ] A couple of months ago, eagle-eyed Vincent Golden noticed an eBay auction featuring an interesting book in a remarkable binding. The book is the fourth edition of Hymns for the Millennium, composed from the prophetic writings of Joanna Southcott and published by her order by Philip Pullen (London: Manbey, Spencer, Haggar, Essom, 1835), The small book (it is about 6" tall) is bound in cloth printed (as we suppose) to resemble mottled sheep or calf, and the effect is pretty convincing , as you can see by the accompanying illustration.
The book has the remains of a paper spine label. In her recent PBSA article on early bookcloth (100:1 , pp. 25-87), Andrea Krupp reproduces (p. 32, Illus. 1: Middle) a smaller section of this printed cloth pattern, taken from an 1835 book published in New York City; but you really need to see a larger color sample to get a sense of the interest of this pattern, which repeats at a spacious 4" intervals vertically and 6.5" horizontally.
Digital target shooting
[ 10 April 2006 ] We recently added a copy of Henry Blackburn's The art of illustration (London 1894) to the RBS reference library. Blackburn informs us (pp. 21-22) that the first systematic attempt at illustration in a daily newspaper was the insertion of a weather chart in the Times in 1875, but that "in June, 1875, the Times and all other newspapers for England were far distanced by the New York Tribune in reporting the result of a shooting match in Dublin between an American Rifle Corps and some of our volunteers." To be sure, "there were long verbal reports in the English papers, describing the shooting and the results; but in the pages of the New York Tribune there appeared a series of targets with the shots of the successful competitors marked upon them, communicated by telegraph and printed in the paper in America on the following morning."
(Click on the thumbnails below to view the full-size photos.)
With advice from Vincent Golden (Curator of Newspapers, American Antiquarian Society) RBS purchased a copy of the 30 June 1875 New-York Tribune, and we were delighted with the result, held up here by Barbara Heritage, RBS Curator of Collections: the front page of the issue is dominated by no fewer than 36 relief blocks of rifle targets, advertised as "a new feature in journalism - the shots made by the riflemen ... accurately shown by cable, through a process invented by the Tribune Correspondents ... the Americans victorious."
The process probably involved laying a thin sheet of graph paper containing numbered rows and columns on top of the targets in Ireland and determining a set of coordinates for each bullet hole. The coordinates could be cabled to New York for replication on similar sheets of graph paper, transferred to individual stereotype blocks reproducing the target squares, and the indication of bullet holes punched into the appropriate positions.