Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 99
April 1995


West Coast News

We haven't all washed away in this winter of heavy rains, but the Napa Valley and the Russian River, flooded a couple of months ago, got at it again in early March. And the hills around Los Angeles are sliding anew. Soggy tourists looking for sunshine wander disconsolately through Golden Gate Park. But then, it stops and the wonderful sunshine returns and you know why you're here.

Book people in the Bay Area have been busy. The San Francisco Antiquarian Book Fair took place over the weekend of February 25-26, but the auction and dinners and receptions went on most of the week. By the weekend buyers and sellers were walking around in an exhausted daze. We ran into Stuart and Caroline Schimmel (former GBW President) at the Fair among the large but orderly crowd in the Concourse. The Hand Bookbinders and PCBA, The Book Club of California and the Friends of Calligraphy, all had tables for giving out information or doing demonstrations.

In April, Preservation West will hold a four-day trade fair at Fort Mason. All the book groups, including GBW will have a table there. Karen Zukor and Dominic Riley are organizing demonstrations of preservation/restoration techniques and informational materials.

PCBA is presenting a Study Group on April 15 at the SFPL, with Dominic Riley and John Demerritt talking on "Victorian Trade Bindings".

The San Francisco Public Library will close next December to move into its new building next door. The Hand Bookbinders of California usually hold their annual Members' Exhibition in the Special Collections Room in November/December but will move it up to October/November this year. It will, again, travel to Scripps College in Claremont after the San Francisco showing. Also at SFPL in April and May there will be a retrospective exhibition of Poltroon Press, documenting the work of its founders, Frances Butler and Alistair Johnston. The Hand Bookbinders are sponsoring a workshop by Tim Ely in June and expect to sponsor another by Jan & Jarmila Sobota in May or June.

On March 25 there was a meeting of Southern California Bookbinders at Kater-Crafts Bindery in Pico Rivera hosted by Mel Kavin. Karen Crisalli and Margaret Johnson attended, too, with lots of Guild publications and membership brochures. We'll report on the meeting. There is lots of activity in southern California. We're looking for someone down there to report on what's going on there.

New Director of Preservation Studies at UT Austin

Karen Motylewski, current Director of NEDCC's Field Service Program, has been appointed to the position of Director of Preservation and Conservation Studies at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Texas at Austin.

Michael Wilcox in the Wall Street Journal

An article in The Wall Street Journal, February 7, 1995 was headed "With Timeless Skill, Michael Wilcox Sets Stories Like Jewels...But the acclaimed bookbinder finds it hard to put a price on art and craftsmanship". The article, written by staff reporter, Solange De Santis, describes Michael Wilcox's work, and traces his steps from his early apprenticeship in bookbinding in Bristol, England, through his studies at Bristol College of Technology and his emigration to the Canadian wilderness at the age of 23.

He worked at several binderies in Toronto before settling in Burleigh Falls. "Since then," the article says," his careful craftsmanship and imagery have won him notice around the world. In 1983, the American organization of his peers (Ed. i.e The Guild of Book Workers) polled its members, and they chose Mr. Wilcox's work for a solo show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Two years later, he won Canada's annual Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in the Crafts, a $14,300 sum that paid for repairs and an addition on his house". Frank Mowery is quoted as saying, "His skills and technical ability are spectacular. He is a really, truly gifted artist." Examples of his work can be seen in the catalogs of several Guild exhibitions.

Conference on "The Bible as Book"

An international conference, organized by The Scriptorium: Center for Christian Antiquities, in Grand Haven, Michigan, will be held at Hampton Court Estates, near Hereford, England May 31 to June 3, 1995. The conference is "an examination and celebration of the form and role of the biblical text as it inspired and impacted cultures and communities throughout history. Featuring the most respected speakers in their fields, this symposium promises to present intriguing scholarship and invigorating dialogue in a lovely English setting." Among the speakers and topics to be covered, are: The Making of the Great Codices, T.S. Pattie, The British Library; The Four-Gospel Form in Byzantium, John Sharpe, Perkins Library, Duke University; Images from the Underground: The Earliest Forms of the Bible as Codex, Christopher Clarkson, West Dean College, West Sussex; Books of Hours: Imaging the Word, Christopher de Hamel, Sotheby's, London; Patronage: The Book and Eternal Life, Lillian Randall, Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; The Wycliffe Tradition of Book Making, Christina von Nolcken, University of Chicago.

For more information, call The Scriptorium at (800) 333-8373.

On February 17th this year, Kurt Londonberg, German fine binder and bookbinding teacher, died in Hamburg, Germany; he was born in Hamburg on July 1, 1914. He was a student of Ignatz Wiemler, as were many GBW members including Herbert and Peter Fahey, Kathryn and Gerhard Gerlach, Fritz Eberhart, Polly Lada-Mocarski, and Arno Werner. Frank Mowery, former GBW President, studied bookbinding with him during the 70's.

Kurt Londenberg's work is seen in many museums and catalogs, primarily in Europe. His last exhibited books in the United States were included in the international bookbinding exhibit which began in 1979 in San Francisco and subsequently traveled to Philadelphia. He was the author of numerous articles; he most recently compiled the bibliography and catalog of the works of Ignatz Wiemler. For an example of his work, see the illustration in Volume 28, numbers 1 and 2 of the Guild of Book Workers Journal.