Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 111
April 1997


Bay Area Book Arts Scene

The Hand Bookbinders of California are planning several activities in the fall of 1997 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of its founding. The annual Members' Exhibition to be held in the new San Francisco Public Library and a dinner at the University Club are among them. A smaller exhibition, "California Bound", is on show now at the San Francisco Center for the Book. It remains until May 3. Last summer their series of one- and half-day workshops was so successful that they are planning six more for the coming summer.

The Printers' Fair, held each year at Ft. Mason, is organized by the Pacific Center for Book Arts (PCBA). It takes place April 19 this year. The Hand Bookbinders will share a table with PCBA. PCBA's Biennial Members' Exhibition, also at SFPL, will be held May 11 - June 28. The opening reception will be held May 15, 6-8 pm.

The new San Francisco Center for the Book is off and running with back-to-back exhibitions - currently the Hand Bookbinders' exhibit, which followed "The Art of the Business Card" - and almost daily workshops in all aspects of book making: binding, letterpress printing, calligraphy; and more.

On May 25th John Newland, president of NSW Craft Guild and editor of Morocco Bound will give a slide talk on Australian binders at the Center for the Book, sponsored by HBC.

Other exhibits in the area include "Circa 1900: The Golden Age of Book Illustration" at The Book Club of California and, at The Artists Forum, a gallery at 251 Post St., a show, with workshops, on "The Brighton Press: The Art of the Book".

Opening on May 1 at the San Francisco Public Library is the important exhibition, "Twenty-five Gold-Tooled Bookbindings: An International Tribute to Bernard C. Middleton's Recollections." Oak Knoll Press has published the catalogue. The exhibition has been on view at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where it closed on April 10. Before coming to the U.S., it was shown at The British Library. For further information, please contact Asa Peavy, Rare Book Librarian, SFPL, Special Collections, 415 557-4560. (See Publications: Exhibition Catalogs).

The California International Antiquarian Book Fair took place February 21-23 with demonstrations of various aspects and methods of bookbinding, hidden and visible, given by members of all the Bay Area Book Arts groups. Members of GBW organized by Joanne Sonnichsen, included John DeMerritt, Eleanore Ramsey, Judy Houghteling, Gillian Boal, Jane Aaron, Margaret Johnson, Dominic Riley, Dick Shepard and Tom Conroy folding and sewing, paring leather, sewing headbands, gold tooling, covering a book in leather, gold stamping; you name it, we did it.

The ongoing saga of the new San Francisco Public Library continues with the resignation of the City Librarian Ken Dowlin in the face of a massive shortfall of funds and accusations of mismanagement. But some funds have finally been released for book purchases after a freeze imposed last November. One of the expectations (and promises) when the glitzy building was built was that several hundred thousand dollars could be raised each year from rental of space to organizations for holding parties and other events. But the non-profit organization, the SF Library Foundation that was to book such events, managed to take in only $30,000 in the first year, a drop in that very empty bucket. The party scheme explains some of the unfortunate architectural decisions that makes visiting the Library so exasperating. But it is only a part of the overall problem.

Library's 450-Year-Old Find

A book originally published in Cologne, Germany in 1546, a compilation of letters and works by Archbishop Cyril of Alexandria, a fifth century theologian, turned up among the donations made to the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library that are sold at Ft. Mason. It was unusual enough to be set aside for the librarians to look over. The book , covered in gold tooled calfskin over paper boards, is remarkably well preserved. Rips in the binding reveal manuscript fragments older than the book itself. It will eventually be on display in the Robert Grabhorn Collection on the History of Printing and the Development of the Book.

Rare Book School Begins July 14

Books at Virginia: Rare Book School (RBS) offers a collection of five-day, non-credit courses on topics concerning rare books, manuscripts, and special collections. Educational and professional pre-requisites for RBS courses vary. Some courses are primarily directed toward research librarians and archivists. Others are intended for academics, persons working in the antiquarian book trade, bookbinders and conservators, professional and avocational students of the history of books and printing, and others with an interest in the subjects being treated. For an application form and a copy of the RBS 1997 Expanded Course Descriptions (ECD), providing further details about the courses offered this year, write Rare Book School, 114 Alderman Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903-2498; or fax: 804 924-8824; or e-mail: biblio@; or telephone: 804 924-8851. Electronic copies of the Expanded Course Description and various other RBS documents can be accessed through their World Wide Web site:

More Old Books

The New York Public Library will be showing, until May 17, "Let There Be Light: William Tyndale and the Making of the English Bible". The centerpiece of the show in Gottesman Hall is the only two known complete copies of a 1526 printing of the New Testament. One copy comes from the British Library, the other from the State Library of Württemburg in Stuttgart, Germany. The British copy was thought to be the only complete one in existence until last November when the German one turned up as researchers in the State Library were re-cataloging its Bible collection. Tyndale, an English priest born about 1494, was the first person to translate the Scriptures into ordinary English, an act that appalled church authorities, who believed that allowing lay people to read and interpret the Scripture on their own would undermine the social order. What copies were not intercepted and burned by the authorities are believed to have been literally read to pieces.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will include 50 books of illuminations in its exhibition, "The Glory of Byzantium", on view until July 6. The Pierpont Morgan Library will show "Medieval Bestseller: the Book of Hours" from September into January 1998.

DeGolyer Triennial For American Bookbinding

The Bridwell Library of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University announces The Helen Warren DeGolyer Triennial Exhibition & Award for American Bookbinding to take place in conjunction with a national conference, at Bridwell Library, May 29-31, 1997.

Although such awards exist in England, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and elsewhere in Europe, there has been no regular prestigious award for American bookbinding until now.

Binders were asked to submit one binding, completed within the past three years, and one design for binding a book from Bridwell's collections. The book for the first Triennial is the Daniel Berkeley Updike printing of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer on vellum. The First Prize is a $5,000 commission for the binding of the Bridwell book. Three Honorable Mentions awards will also be presented, with a cash value of $500. Books will be judged for artistic merit and innovation in design, as well as excellence in structure, workmanship, and selection and use of materials.

Established in 1996, the Helen Warren DeGolyer Triennial at Bridwell Library is made possible by a generous gift from Mrs. DeGolyer's heirs. Mrs. DeGolyer supported the arts and education in numerous ways during her life and was, herself, a skilled bookbinder. Her children, Everett Lee and Edith DeGolyer, have donated their mother's collection of fine bindings to Bridwell Library, and have placed on deposit at the Bridwell 25 of Mrs. DeGolyer's own design bindings.

Bridwell Library will host a conference on bookbinding every three years in conjunction with the exhibition and award. Bridwell has a significantcol lection of historical and fine bindings, most of which were acquired under its director of thirty years, Dr. Decherd Turner.

During the conference Jarmila Sobotova and Ladislav Hodny, Czech design binder , will conduct a workshop on Oil Marbling on Water, and Jan Sobota will give a workshop on Hard Cover Vellum Bindings. Those workshops, as well as the Reception & Award Ceremony will be held on May 30 at the Bridwell; the lecture, luncheon meeting of the Lone Star Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers, and a workshop to be given by Priscilla Spitler on Gary Frost's Sewn Board Binding will take place on May 31 at the Craft Guild of Dallas. Dinner speaker on Saturday night will be Mark Lamb of Harmatan Leather, Ltd. in England. For information call: Jan Sobota at 214 768-3733, or David Lawrence at 214 768-3483.

Wood Type Museum Planned

The Two Rivers Historical Society in Wisconsin is planning to create the Hamilton Museum of Wood Type and Printing in Two Rivers, the home of the original Hamilton Manufacturing Co., established in 1880 as the leading producers of wood type. The organizers are soliciting donations to bring the museum into existence. For more information, contact James E. Van Lanen, Sr., Two Rivers wi 54241, 414 793-4524.

New Book Arts Guild

The North Redwoods Book Arts Guild, located in the Eureka area of Northern California, has been in existence for about 15 months. It currently has 53 members and produces a newsletter. They are interested in reaching other book arts guilds and will be exchanging newsletters with GBW. They may be contacted through Peggy Mars, Editor, North Redwood Book Arts Guild, 1110 Swantado Ct., McKinleyville ca 95519, 707 839-8896; e-mail: pmarrs@

High On Literature

From The Times Union in Albany ny, Ralph Weller sent us this clipping: "High on Literature: Does Ken Kesey know about this? The fungi that feed on old paper may be mildly hallucinogenic, and the "fungal hallucinogens" may cause an "enhancement of enlightenment" in readers, says a report in the British medical journal The Lancet cited in Men's Fitness magazine. The source of inspiration for many great literary figures may have been nothing more than a quick sniff of the bouquet of moldy books, the report says." Ralph wonders what happens to bookbinders?