The GBW Newsletter reviews books, reports, new periodicals, booksellers' and auction catalogs and electronic products that pertain directly and indirectly to the book arts: papermaking, calligraphy, typographic design, printing book illustration, bookbinding, marbled and decorative papers, book conservation, etc. Reviews focus on issues of interest to active artisans and craftspeople. Interested parties are asked to send appropriate publications for review or notices to the book review editor.
Books received which are not strictly within the scope chosen for the Book Review section, but which might nevertheless be of interst to readers of the Newsletter are noted as books received.
Books or publication announcements should be sent to the Book Review Editor: Sidney F. Huttner, The Library of Tulsa Library, 2933 East 6th St., Tulsa, OK 74104-3189; 918.631.3133; fax 918.631.3791; internet: SFH@vax2.utulsa.edu
The Book Review Editor welcomes notice from GBW members of their willingness to review and their areas of interest or knowledge.
The Book Club of California produces an annual Keepsake Series, the 1994 series being titled "Hand Bookbinding in California." Edited by Florian Shasky and Joanne Sonnichsen and printed by Jnathan Clark at The Artichoke Press in Mountain View, the publication consists of twelve folios in a wrapper, with each four-page folio devoted to a Bay Area binder, bookseller or collector. Book Club publications are normally available only to members, but its publication chair, Gary Kurutz, Special Collections Librarian, California State Library, P.O. Box 94237, Sacramento, CA 94237-0001, is sometimes able to able to offer copies to non-members.
The Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young recently mounted an exhibition of its extensive Aldine collection and with the help of its Friends has issued a catalog, In Aedibus Aldi: The Legacy of Aldus Manutius and His Press. The catalog examines 77 books (with a checklist of the full collection), includes essays about aspects of the press and the lives of the printers, is well- illustrated in black and white, and is indexed. Priced at $30 (plus $3 s&h and sales tax of $1.84 Utah, $2.47 California), orders can be sent to Friends of the Harold B. Lee Library, 3080 Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602.
Susan G. Swartzburg has produced a much revised second edition of her Preserving Library Materials: A Manual, first published in 1980: Scarecrow Press, P.O. Box 4167, Metuchan, NJ 08840. It is available in two editions, a 514pp reference edition ($59.50, ISBN 0-8108-2855-3) and a 328pp abridged textbook edition with text and glossary ($29.50, in wrappers, ISBN 0-8108-2980-0). "Written to help librarians analyze the preservation needs of their institutions and develop programs to meet those needs... long-range planning ... is emphasized...," all of the media foundin libraries (including paper, photographs, sound recordings and electronic formats) are discussed. The reference edition includes a list of organizations, a selected list of periodicals, and an annotated bibliography omitted from the textbook edition.
Another great library has its history recorded: The Huntington Library Press, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108, has just published Donald C. Dickinsons Henry E. Huntingtons Library of Libraries. 300pp, in cloth, with 50 black and white illustrations, $24.95 plus $2.25 s&h, ISBN 0-89236-153-5. "Henry E. Huntington (1850-1927) was one of the most important rare book and manuscript collectors of the twentieth century, and this book documents his collecting activities from the time of his move to San Francisco in 1892 until his death in 1827... Dickinson creates a portrait not only of Huntington but of the social and economic world of book collecting in the early twentieth century."
Gaylords Preservation Pathfinder Series. Available without charge from Gaylord Bros., Box 4901, Syracuse, NY 13221-3412. Phone 1-800- 448-6160, Fax 1-800-272-3412.
Reviewed by Michael McColgin.
The intended audience of the Gaylord Pathfinder series of preservation pamphlets includes librarians, archivists, curators and collectors who are preservation neophytes. Begun in 1992, the three titles currently available are a mixed lot indeed. Theyre attractive, and the idea is commendable, but the quality is uneven.
"An Introduction to Preservation," the first in the series, would better be titled "An Annotated Preservation Bibliography," because thats exactly what it is. This six-page pamphlet includes references on six topics: environmental control, disaster preparedness, photographic preservation, collections conservation of books and documents, commercial library binding, and preservation in public libraries. As with any short bibliography, there is room to debate the selections, but those included are among the best, and the best-known, available. An unnamed editor did a very good job of combining the opinions of the five people who contributed to this first publication in the series.
The 1993 title, "Archival Storage of Paper," obviously did not have the same editor as "An Introduction." I originally wrote three paragraphs outlining its need for better punctuation, focus, format, organization, illustrations and advice, but finally decided to be brief and suggest that this title needs a great deal of revision to become acceptable. I cant recommend it as is.
"Archival Storage of Photographic Materials," the third pamphlet in the series, is basically well done. The format, like the previous title, needs to be changed so the outline arrangement is more apparent. It is currently confusing, because all the text is set flush left. Bullets, indention or larger type for major headings would make the text easier to follow. The advice, however, with one exception, is very good. The exception is thumb-cut envelopes, which appear in several illustrations. Such envelopes are not usually recommended because they encourage people to grab the photo by the edge and pull it out. Safer options in envelope design and print removal are well-known and should be included. Apart from this, the advice is sound and the text well written.
Would GBW members find this series useful? Numbers 1 and 3 might prove helpful in researching preservation issues, but one must keep in mind that these are pamphlets, and so are very limited in depth. Book workers are increasingly aware of preservation issues in their "craft or sullen art," and the two pamphlets are at best a start. Unabashed Advertisement: The Arizona State Archives has created three preservation pamphlets which are available free by contacting me at the Arizona State Archives, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007. Phone: (602) 542-4159 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. They are "Disasters: Preventing and Coping," "Preserving and Handling Photographic Images," and "Preserving Personal Papers and Photographs."
Sothebys, New York, June 2, 1995, sale 6692, part 1: The Book as Art: Modern Illustrated Books and Fine Bindings.
Reported by Nina Schneider.
When I was asked to report to the Guild of Book Workers on Sothebys auction of artists books my first reaction was to hesitate. Historical fine bindings, especially French historical fine bindings, are something I am not especially familiar with. When it turned out that GBW Newsletter wanted a reaction to the auction itself, I thought that it might be fun after all, and perhaps I could learn a thing or two as well.
Having seen livestock auctions on television but never attended an actual auction, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I could go, in fact, to Sothebys the Saturday before the sale and preview the books that would be sold. Soon after plunking down a weeks lunch money for the catalog, I discovered that I could even ask an attendant to open the glass cases so that I could sit down with the books of my choice. It was similar to having an appointment at the Special Collections department of the library, except no librarians breathed down my back.
Perhaps it shouldnt have surprised me, but the other people at the preview were a good 20 years older than me, and they looked like they were there to buy and to check out the competition. Where were the students of bookbinding and book arts? This was a great opportunity to see the books before they were locked away in private collections. Two hours of looking and reading and I felt the same way I feel after a few hours of gallery visits: completely exhausted.
On the day of the auction itself, I arrived at Sothebys with about 15 minutes to spare and my first thought was: Im under- dressed. Sothebys is in the affluent neighborhood of the Upper East Side, and I do mean East. The closest subway is four short blocks north and four long blocks east, on 72nd and York. At 9:45 in the morning, the temperature was already 75 degrees and the humidity about 95%, so by the time I got to the front doors I was not only overheated but also developing blisters on my heels. The prospect of facing designer suits and limousines was not encouraging. It was heartening, however, to have the doorman allow me inside without a second thought.
The sale was taking place in the main room. I found a seat in the back so that I could observe the action. About 25 people were already seated when I arrived. A minute after I found my seat, although there were plenty of other open seats nearby, a group of three people sat down directly in front of me (proving that this phenomenon does not happen only in movie theaters). They immediately began to complain that the chairs were too close together and took it upon themselves to adjust a complete row of chairs so they had the proper leg room. Shortly after this, three more people, who apparently knew the first three, arrived, and they all wanted to sit together. One man even asked me to give up my seat so that he could sit next to his friend. Was this high school?
The set-up in the front of the room reminded me of a courtroom, not exactly O.J. Simpson style, more Olde English. There was a podium for the auctioneer, a platform for two people to the left of the auctioneers podium, and six small podiums to the auctioneers right (which I thought would be used to display the books for sale). Behind and above this layout was an electronic display board similar to those which announce train arrivals and departures in Grand Central Station. At exactly 10:15 a.m. a small army appeared. The auctioneer went to his podium, two people went to their platform and sat down, and six others appeared at the smaller podiums with only their catalogs in hand (which ruled out my thought about book displays). The auctioneer bade us welcome, explained the technical terms of the sale, and announced with pleasure that Sothebys will now accept the American Express card. He mentioned that the sale of these books would benefit a not-for-profit organization, although he did not mention which one (nor could I find this information in the catalog).
The auctioneer began the bidding and depending on the first bid the increments were either in quarter or half increments. The electronic board announced the current bid, the lot number, and the equivalent exchange rate in English ounds, francs, deutschmarks, lira, yen, and Swiss francs. The six people behind the small podiums acted as "finger scouts"--look-outs for theauctioneer--would sometimes take bids over the phone. Four women at a table to my right were also taking telephone bids, from international bidders, I expect, since I heard French, Spanish, and what I think was Japanese.
As I observed the action in the room, I could begin to discern several methods of actually making a bid. Some people--these seemed to be the regulars--would nod or flick their wrists or wiggle pencils they were holding. Others would raise their arms or paddles, thus making their actions more obvious. From time to time, I would feel an itch on my nose or on the top of my head, but I was careful to wait to scratch at a time the auctioneer couldnt possibly think that I was competing.
Most of the buyers in the room were men. However, three of the higher bidders were women, and they were relatively young. Competitions between a person in the room and another on the phone were particularly interesting. This happened more than once, and all eyes went to the person in the room to see what his limit would be and how calm he remained under pressure. I can only imagine what the person on the phone was thinking. The action did get a bit monotonous after an hour, but the auctioneer went through 217 lots in exactly two hours. The women at the phone bank on my right complained that he was going through them too quickly, but since there were so many, it didnt seem inappropriate. The auction was to continue after the two hour lunch break (!!), but I had to leave when the first section was completed. The highest bid that morning was $60,000 for Guillaume Apollinaires Le Bestiaire, ou Cortege dOrphee. Claude Bernieres Le visage des heures sold for $42,500 and another of Apollinaires books, Calligrammes, sold for $40,000. Quite a few sold in the 20 and 30 thousand dollar range. Most, however, sold for less than $10,000, and there were even some that didnt break a thousand. Perhaps the afternoon would have higher sales since Lot #393: Paul Verlaines Parallelement was one of the offerings. Although I am not familiar with the book myself, it received a three paragraph treatment in a five paragraph introduction and is described as "...pathbreaking, and a shock to the taste of its day; and whose eternal summer has not faded..." The estimate for Le Bestiaire was $30,000 and the estimate for Parallelement $60,000. I probably missed an exciting afternoon. [Editors note: Nina did indeed--Parallelment was knocked down for $123,500, to which the successful bidder was required to add a 10% buyers premium and, perhaps, sales tax].