Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 108
October 1996


Edgar Mansfield Dies at 89

August saw the passing, at the age of 89, of Edgar Mans-field, a pioneer of modern British bookbinding. Mansfield, who was raised and educated in New Zealand, came to London in 1934 to study, among other things, bookbinding at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and design at the German Reimann School. After the war he taught color and design at the London School of Printing until he retired in 1964. His students included Don Etherington, Faith Shannon, and Anthony Cains. In 1955 Mansfield joined Bernard Middleton, Trevor Jones, and Arthur Johnson to form the Guild of Contemporary Bookworkers, serving as its president until 1968. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1934 and Member of the German Bookbinders Guild (MDE) in 1950, made an Honorary Fellow of Designer Bookbinders in 1968, received the Order of the British Empire in the 1979 Birthday Honors, and elected Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1980.

Trevor Jones, in an obituary appearing in the Independent, cites as Mansfield's main contributions to the field the revitalization of the artistic aspects of bookbinding and the introduction of modern art concepts into binding design. His designs were inspired by natural forms and the works of the abstract, cubist, and surrealist artists of his time - Picasso, Miro, Klee, and Henry Moore are evident in his designs - and he encouraged his students to find inspiration in contemporary artistic concepts. Indeed, Trevor Jones credits Mansfield with freeing British bookbinding from the stasis into which it had sunk during the first half of this century, and laments that his contributions were not more generally recognized in his time.

Mansfield's almost revolutionary role in British bookbinding arose from the unique combination of his far-ranging artistic interests, his energy and enthusiasm, and the fact that he grew up outside the European establishment. Bookbinding was only one outlet for Mansfield's creativity; he was continually active in sculpture, drawing, and painting, and as his failing sight forced him, in the 1970s, largely to give up bookbinding, he concentrated on those other areas. Throughout his career he developed artistic ideas in other media that he applied to his binding design. Fortunately, his design philosophy and thoughts on technical means are preserved in the book, Modern Design in Bookbinding: the Work of Edgar Mansfield. Trevor Jones states, "Mansfield will be remembered for demonstrating that bookbinding is as appropriate a medium for the artist as painting and sculpture."

New Book Group in Houston

Artists Bookworks Houston is a newly formed group "dedicated to the promotion of new and traditional artforms of the book. Their mission is to provide the space, support and educational programming for creative explorations and collaborative activities for those interested in the book." GBW member Cindy Haller has been elected President of the group. She looks forward to Artists Bookworks Houston becoming an active participant in the book world. The group has planned an active fall schedule of workshops on pop-up book structures, decorative papers, Asian book techniques and artists books, and classes in calligraphy and bookbinding. Their address is: 919 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX 77006-5442; 713/526-2691; Fax: 713/526-7486.

People on the Move

Paul Banks, who originally founded the Preservation and Conservation Studies program at Columbia University, and moved with it five years ago to the University of Texas at Austin, has resigned from his position as Senior Lecturer (effective June 1) and moved back to New York. He can be reached there by phone (212/865-1304) and e-mail (

Rolf Kat has been promoted to Senior Conservator at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia. He received his degree in conservation in 1982 in Amsterdam. In 1994, after working in Rotterdam, Haarlem, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, Kat joined the CCAHA staff as book conservator.

Getty Conservation Institute Has New Address

In late July, the Getty Conservation Institute moved from Marina del Rey to: 1200 Getty Center Dr., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1684. Tel: 310/440-7325, fax: 440-7702. Both numbers are new.

NYU Preservation LectureSeries

The Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Lecture Series will hold lectures and other events semi-annually for at least two years in the Fales Library within Bobst Library at New York University. For information, or to be put on the mailing list, call Kate Murray at 212/998-2562 or e-mail, <>

The first lecture was "New Tools for Preservation: Assessing Long-Term Environmental Effects on Library and Archives Collections," given by James Reilly from IPI on Sept. 19, 1996.

Study Opportunity for Conservators

The University of Iowa Libraries is again offering advanced conservation workshops designed to provide specialized training to individuals with prior experience in book conservation techniques. They have held 15 sessions since 1990 in diverse topics such as 19th c. publishers' cloth bindings, sizing and resizing paper, book boards and board attachment, paper character and mending paper, lessons and techniques from the history of bookbinding, and book structure history and conservation given by , among others, Barbara Meier-Husby, Tom Conroy, Tim Barrett, Martha Little and Chris Clarkson.

They will conduct two workshops this year, limited to four participants each. Workshops are one week in length, held in the University of Iowa Libraries Conservation Dept. There is no fee, but a stipend of $500 will be provided after the workshop is completed, by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which supports the workshops, to help defray travel and living expenses.

April 21 - 26, 1997: Workshop I: Bookbinding and the Traditional Technologies of the Commonplace World, given by Joel Spector. This workshop will concern itself with questions of material literacy in traditional and modern cultures and the role of commonplace technologies in the everyday life of societies from the Medieval period through the late 19th c. Workshop activities will include the production and modification of tools and equipment, both specific to the craft of bookbinding and common to a variety of traditional crafts. Following an historical and geographical framework, an effort will be made to trace the development of the material technologies of wood, metal, skin, and fiber.

Application deadline: January 31, 1997.

June 23 - 27, 1997: Workshop II: Intermediate Mending, given by Cynthea Mosier. This workshop is designed to allow a group of intermediate level conservators to gain some facility in several methods of paper lining (including direct couching of gossamer tissue) and filling losses (including pulp fills). Attention will be directed toward trying to understand when, or if, certain methods are better than others, and what considerations are important, e.g. adhesive strength, drying methods, eªciency, aesthetic concerns. Group experiments may be carried out in an attempt to clarify some of these issues. All the techniques tried out will be able to be carried out in a modestly equipped conservation lab.

Application deadline: March 30, 1997.

Both Cynthea Mosier and Joel Spector are 4th year Mellon Foundation Apprentices in rare book and paper conservation at the University of Iowa Libraries under Pamela Spitzmueller, University Conservator.

Application procedure: Indicate your workshop preference. Required are a resume, statement of purpose indicating why the workshop is important to you and/or your institution, your previous book or paper conservation training, and a short list of topics or experiences you could present relating to your work and/or the subject of the workshop. Send the above, along with your name, address, phone, fax, e-mail, institution or business, position or job description, and social security number to : Joel Spector (Workshop I) or Cynthea Mosier (Workshop II), Conservation Dept., Univ. of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, IA 52242. Workshop leaders may be reached by phone at 319/335-5908 or fax: 319/335-5900. Applications will be reviewed by the workshop leaders and Pamela Spitzmueller and the Library Administration for final selection.

Miniature Book Collection at the University of Iowa

Charlotte Smith of Newton, Iowa, recently donated her collection of 3000 miniature books to the University of Iowa Libraries. The collection, valued at more than $250,000, includes pop-up books, children's books, classics, and "thumb Bibles", none more than 3 inches high.

OSAC Changes Its Name

On July 1, 1996 the Oregon School of Arts and Crafts became the Oregon College of Art and Craft, the new name reflecting their identity as a post-secondary institution and relating the emphasis on their curriculum. The college offers a BFA degree with specialization in Book Arts, Drawing, Fibers, Photography, Metal, Ceramics, and Wood. They also provide a 3-year Certificate in Crafts and an extension series of Open Program classes. The college traces its origins to 1907 when the Arts & Crafts Society of Portland first began holding classes. It will celebrate its 90th year of education and dedication to the arts next year.

News from AIC

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works has elected the following new officers to their board: Secretary - William A. Real, Carnegie Museum of Art; Director, Specialty/Sub Groups - Kathleen M. Garland, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Dir. Professional Education - John Burke, Oakland Museum of California. Betsey Palmer Eldridge was re-elected to a second term as treasurer. Board members continuing their terms of office are: Debbie Hess Norris, president; Jay Krueger, vice president; Suzanne Deal Booth, dir., committee liaison; and Beverly Perkins, dir., public information.

At their 24th Annual Meeting in Norfolk, VA., the AIC awarded their Distinguished Award for Advancement of the Field of Conservation to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Getty Grant Program, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. They also awarded the Sheldon and Caroline Keck Award for sustained records of excellence in the education and training of conservation professionals to Bettina Jessell, a private conservator in Washington, D.C., and Mary Lee Wood, director of the Campbell Center, a training center specializing in preservation courses.

Mary-Lou Florian, a conservator of ethnographic objects and natural science was made AIC Honorary Member in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of conservation. (GBW members who attended the Guild Seminar in Portland, Ore., in 1989 may re-member her talk on leather conservation at the banquet.)

Also at the June 14th meeting, Marilyn Kemp Weidner received the University Products award for distinguished achievement in the field of conservation. Mrs. Weidner founded the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia in 1977 and invented the suction table in 1972. She left CCAHA in 1984 and has since established her private practice, the Weidner Art Conservation Laboratory, in Philadelphia.

The Gaylord Collections Conservation Award was given to Yana Van Dyck at the June 14th meeting. Ms. Van Dyck is library conservation assistant at the University of Delaware Library and will use the training funding provided to attend the Penland School of Crafts and Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.

The 1997 meeting of AIC will be held in San Diego June 9 - 15. Its topic will be "Compensation for Loss".

Fore-edge Painter to Give Workshops

Martin Frost, noted British master of the antique book art form of hidden fore-edge painting will be in the San Francisco Bay Area in early November for workshops and lectures. Workshops, which are in the planning stages, will be offered through the San Francisco Center for the Book. Information will be sent out from the Center, or call Mary Austin at 415/826-2627. Mr. Frost will be the featured speaker for the Colophon Club meeting of Tuesday, November 12 in San Francisco.