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. Publishers, book artists and craftspeople, and friends of the book arts are asked to send appropriate publications for review or notice 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 interest 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 University of Tulsa Library, 2933 East 6th St, Tulsa, OK 74104-3189; (918) 631-3133; fax: (918) 631- 3791; Internet: SFH@Vax2.UTulsa.Edu; Bitnet: SHuttner@Tulsa.
The Book Review Editor welcomes notice from GBW members of their willingness to review and their areas of interest or knowledge.
Contemporary Impressions is the two-issues-a-year journal of the American Print Alliance, a non-profit consortium of printmakers' councils based in Washington, DC (711 E Street NE, 20002-5231). Each issue contains an article or two on artist's books or hand-made paper. Volume 2 #1 (Spring 1994) is handsomely printed and illustrated, 32 pages, and has an article by Johanna Drucker, "Luminous Volumes", plus a column on "exhibitions, books & catalogs" which mentions or describes several artists' books. Subscriptions are $35 a year for individuals, $50 for institutions.
William Morris and the Kelmscott Press is the title of a 5!" x 8!", 68 page catalog of an exhibition at the University of Scranton, October 23-December 6, 1994. Bibliographic and other details are given for 122 items displayed, several Morris pages and designs are reproduced, and presses and titles are indexed. Copies are $12 (make checks payable to Friends of the Weinberg Memorial Library) from Charles Kratz, Director of the Weinberg Memorial Library, University of Scranton, Scranton, PA 18510-4634.
Sue Allen and Charles Gullens, Decorated Cloth in America, Publishers' Bindings 1840-1910, Center for 17th-and-18th-Century Studies, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 2520 Cimarron Street, Los Angeles 90024. 1994. $16.95. 107pp, 32pp of colored plates. Wrappers.Reviewed by Gene Freeman.
I first learned of Sue Allen's interest in John Feely, the subject of the first of two essays in this book, shortly after publishing a note about Feely in the Fall, 1991 issue of Trade Binding Research Newsletter. The real purpose of my note was to solicit help in learning more about an unrecognized American book arts craftsman. Sue Allen supplies the "more" in truly scholarly and entertaining fashion.
Decorated Cloth in America sketches almost the entire history of trade binding design in America although it concentrates on only three designers: John Feely (by Sue Allen) and Sarah Whitman and Frank Hazen (by the late Charles Gullens). In his introduction to this book, John Espey, Gullens's collaborator on a Margaret Armstrong binding checklist, says: "In this volume we are particularly fortunate to have the papers of two specialists who, between them, nicely cover the earlier and later years of the subject." Leaving out the middle years is a good idea since little that is nice can be said.
Allen's article, Book-Cover Stamps by John Feely, 1842-1877, introduces the reader to America's first prolific designer of stamps used to decorate cloth bindings who also was willing, and permitted, to sign his work. Allen's artistic eye reveals Feely's skill at taking his designs from illustrations in the book or other derivative sources and giving them dramatic and evocative meaning. A casual comparison of Feely and his sources suggests plagiarism rather than skill, and this was my general opinion before reading Allen's paper. Allen's carefully chosen pictorial examples of Feely's stamps and their sources make this belief disappear.
To me, the most telling example in Allen's paper is Feely's treatment of the cover stamp used on Waring's Draining For Profit (c1867). His source shows flat ground and one tool in the hands of a worker who looks almost relaxed while digging a ditch. Feely slopes the ground, adds drain pipe and tools, and creates a sense of real effort in his worker. Another example, not noted by Allen in her paper, is found on the spine of J.K. Philander Doesticks, P.B. (pseudonym of Mortimer Thomson) Plu-ri-bus-tah. Thomson's book, one of the many mean spirited Hiawatha parodies, needed gentle humor, and gentility. John McClenan's illustration for the book shows Longfellow humanizing a savage Indian with Hiawatha solely by having him carry a copy of the book while removing the man. Feely adds the author's pen behind the ear of the elongated figure of Longfellow, and the idea that the author is carrying away Indians is graphically explained with a minimum of effort. McClenan is generally considered one of the best illustrators contemporary with Feely, but he is could have learned something from the humble engraver.
Both the papers presented in Decorated Cloth in America contain excellent, well reproduced illustrations, a feature absolutely critical to the subject. Allen's paper uses enlargements and black and white illustration in addition to many colored figures to clarify specific points. Gullens's use of illustration is similar and appropriate to his text.
Comparisons of the artistic styles represented in the early and late periods of book cloth decoration can't be avoided when reading this book. Feely worked as both engraver and die sinker and his medium and its costs constrained his range. I personally prefer the results of gold and hot pressed dies to those of silk screens and colored stencils, but this preference doesn't diminish my appreciation for Gullens's paper.
My first contact with Dr. Gullens was by phone, and for some reason the UCLA switchboard would cut us off as soon as Dr. Gullens answered his phone. At first, Dr. Gullens was quite peeved--sure I was a crank caller who hung up just to irritate him. Once I got past this horrible beginning, Dr. Gullens generously shared his research without restriction. This generosity is reflected in his tolerance of my interest in what he called the "machine-shop style" of earlier artists, who had a die sinker interposed between them and their art. Artists still make the same complaint about engravers, and the artists Gullens describes, who worked nearer the turn of the century, probably complained of cloth that failed to correctly absorb ink or binders who inaccurately placed the cloth on the book. But Gullens has established a basis on which to appreciate a generation of book artists almost unheralded before he began his work.
Another aspect of Gullen's article is the contrast between the two artists whose work he describes. Sarah Whitman leaves much of the cloth undecorated and seems to be influenced by the designers of hand-bound leather books. This contrasts sharply with Frank Hazen, whose designs rarely leave room for additional decoration. Hazen's designs tend to be illustrative, Whitman's ornamental. Gullens explains these differences clearly and with frequent references to the conditions in which the artists worked.
Allen provides a checklist of Feely's signed bindings, locating 109, remarkable when we consider that this era of American cloth bindings has been virtually ignored. Allen notes that British publishers gave binders much more artistic control than American publishers gave American binders. In England, an Owen Jones, or the prolific John Leighton, designed the entire binding, sometimes even specifying embossing for the cloth. Allen says an American designer seldom provided more than a stamp which binder or publisher used as they desired. Identifying more than one hundred signed binding stamps from an era that discouraged artistic recognition is indeed a real accomplishment, and one that benefits everyone interested in the history of the book and book arts. Gullens includes a preliminary checklist of bindings by Sarah Whitman, but he had an easier time of it as she worked in an era when designers were part of marketing strategy and recognition was more easily forthcoming.
Decorated Cloth in America is a great contribution to our knowledge of the book arts. I regret that the faults of the subjects are not further discussed, but this omission does not detract from the author's scholarship. The book is well printed--unfortunately, however, considering the subject, in Hong Kong. It also deserves a hard cover option. For those of us who did not attend the seminar which was the origin of these essays, the book is essential.
Donald K. Serbera, Isoperms, An Environmental Management Tool. The Commission on Preservation and Access, 1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 740, Washington, DC 20036-2217. June 1994. 16 pp. $10.00.Reviewed by Claudia Stall, San Diego State University Library
Safeguarding a collection of books, whether large or small, public or private, means more than proper physical storage (shelving, boxes), cleaning (proper dusting, ventilation), and repair (judicious mending, reinforcement). Environmental factors are also important and much has been written about the critical factors temperature and relative humidity (RH), two invisible agents that can rob years from the lives of books.
This pamphlet, however, uses the isoperm method in an attempt to answer questions about the life expectancy of a collection. What is an isoperm? "...[I]soperm--a quantitative graphical measure of relative permanence" (p.15). Also, a method "... that quantifies the effect of the environmental factors of temperature (T) and percent relative humidity (%RH) upon the anticipated life expectancy of paper-based collections" (p.1). It is based upon a ratio "... which measures the relative change in the deterioration rate resulting from the change in environmental conditions" (p.2).
Consider the following example: "To illustrate, suppose a certain decrease in temperature and/or relative humidity results in the initial deterioration rate, r1, dropping to a new lower rate, r2, such that r2/r1 = 0.5. This ratio carries the implication that all papers subjected to this change in environmental conditions will have their rates of deterioration cut in half" (p.2). H-m-m-m-m.
And (p.2): "The ratio of the two permanence values, i.e., the relative permanence, is mathematically in inverse of the deterioration rate ratio:"
P2 1 r2 -- = ----- = --- P1 r2/r1 r1
Two larger, more detailed formulas are given, one for the effect of relative humidity and one for effect of temperature. Then come the combined effects which are given in even larger and more detailed formulas. Then charts and diagrams and "simple" illustrations.
While this seems to be a well researched paper, it may well be too technical for the average harried archivist or collection preservation officer. It was rather tough going on the first read-through. The number of algebraic formulae is daunting. I found the diagrams and charts difficult to interpret, especially since the preservation unit of my library has never collected specific data to plug in. I believe that even if data is at hand it would take some time to properly enter it, then to decide what it all means.
In addition, I'm not convinced that this is new ground. Is this not the same old chestnut put another way? For instance, a good recent discussion of temperature and RH is contained in Northeast Document Conservation Center's Preservation of Library and Archival Materials: A Manual, edited by Sherelyn Ogden. (A review was published in the GBW Newsletter in February 1994). And, it would be well to keep in mind the warning from Ogden's work before major changes are made, (emphasis in the original): "It is critical to remember that temperature and RH are intimately related, and that the correction of one factor may alter the balance of other important factors (e.g. a dehumidifier may generate enough heat to require additional cooling). If remedial measures are taken without considering all contributors to the environment, conditions may worsen rather than improve.... The importance of continued monitoring after the institution of a change cannot be over-emphasized." [p.6]. A sobering warning untouched in this paper.
There is no doubt that temperature and relative humidity are important factors and that each library will attempt to secure their collection with the best HVAC that they can afford. The aging effects of improper temperature and RH balance is dramatic. Just one hot, uncontrolled summer can reduce the life of some items by as much as one half. If a book is expected to last 50 years, 25 of those years could be lost just by improper balance between temperature and RH.
Of course, requests for HVAC can benefit from detailed scientific analysis, however, attempting to quantify temperature and RH using the isoperm method is perhaps most useful to a select group of scientific researchers and specialized consultants. While I believe that the basis for this paper is sound, it needs to include specific cases and how this method answered their questions. I feel that to appeal to a broader range of working professionals, this paper could greatly benefit from simplification of text, clearer graphics, and less reliance upon formulae to illustrate a point.
Wucius Wong and Benjamin Wong. Visual Design on the Computer. Design Books: Lyons and Burford, Publishers, 31 West 21st Street, New York, NY 10010. 1994 edition. 288 pp. $24.95 paperback. ISBN 1-55821-298-1.Reviewed by Pamela Rups,Graphic Designer and Computer Multi-Media
Wucius and Benjamin Wong, both award-winning designers, wrote this book to teach the new design vocabulary and capabilities made possible by computers. Although dealing with computer design in particular, it is not oriented towards any specific computer or software. Processes are explained but individual software manuals must be consulted for specific detailed instructions. In the professional graphic design world, my experience shows there to be a larger number of Macintosh computers and a few common software programs, several of which were used to produce the book; for example, Aldus FreeHand and Adobe Illustrator were used for drawing. I was pleasantly surprised at how successful this book seems to be in talking about computer design without being hardware or software specific.
The main thrust of the manual is the manipulation of type and other elements to produce various graphic effects. Layout and design of logos and printed matter is not dealt with at all. The introduction does give a cursory overview of the design process as a whole and ends with a good list of items to accomplish in every design project as well as a method of evaluation. A brief overview of equipment appears in the next chapter, given at a very basic level which assumes that the reader has never worked with a computer at all. Unfortunately, as anyone who already works with computers knows, the computer world changes very quickly and some of the recommended hardware specifications already seem insufficient to me. This is only a paragraph in the book, though, and I don't feel it detracts from the wealth of good information in the rest of the volume. The majority of chapters deal with the manipulation of shapes, lines, type and scanned images. A final chapter gives cursory mention to other aspects of the production process such as laser printing, choice of paper, folding and die cutting, simply as things to be considered when designing. There is also a handy glossary with fuller explanations than are sometimes given when terms are first encountered.
I found the book itself to be well designed and pleasing to the eye. Although printed only in the color black (except for the cover), the chapter page illustrations and numerous examples make full and creative use of screened tones for some stunning visual effects. This supports the purpose of the authors, which was to deal with one ink color as the basic design challenge. The pages have a pleasant light and open look to them, thanks to the larger than normal amount of leading between lines of text and a typeface that is light in weight but legible. With the many heavy, dark areas in the examples, normal leading and a slightly heavier typeface would have lent a more ponderous appearance to the pages. Although the page layout is in a contemporary style, making use of sans serif page headers and page numbers, the text face is, thankfully, serif and easy to read.
Numerous graphic examples accompany the text, providing appropriate and clear visual support. The style of writing is concise and straightforward, although at times perhaps a bit too technical for the total layperson.
Although the authors maintain in the preface that the book "...offers a structured course enabling anyone to learn design fundamentals and computer techniques," my experience leads me to disagree with the target audience. "We have entered a time in which whoever designs must know how to use the computer, and whoever uses the computer for the presentation of any information may have to do some design work," they go on to state. This was not true only three or four years ago, but I'm sure many people have found that design has somehow crept into their jobs and their lives if they have a computer. There is a perception that if you have the software and the computer, anyone can design a brochure or newsletter or logo because with a computer you don't have to know how to draw, and design is almost automatic. If this were true, designers would no longer have jobs (this was predicted at one time); instead, there is an increase in poor typography practices and badly designed printed matter. Certain aspects of design result from innate abilities, such as being able to visualize an idea or having a sense of spatial balance and color; these can be developed, but only if the talent already exists.
I feel this book is directed more towards the person with some talent and possibly a little experience who wishes to develop design skills in detail and do so on the computer. Having taught several computer software classes and given presentations to non-professionals on design techniques, my experience leads me to believe that this book is too abstract and technical for, say, the secretary whose boss suddenly wants a brochure next week and a newsletter every month. Such people are usually inexperienced and lack the innate talent to visualize and create layouts, deal with type and evaluate designs. This book could be of great benefit, though, to those who already have some experience in design and the creative process and who want to explore the wider range and precision the computer now allows. The wide and creative range of examples alone are enough to inspire new avenues of thinking even if you don't use a computer.
The National Committee to Save America's Cultural Collections, Arthur W. Schultz, Chairman. Caring for Your Collections. New York, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 100 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011, 1992. 216 pp. $39.95. ISBN 0-8109-3174-5.Reviewed by Elinor Eisemann.
The two most impressive aspects of this book are the caliber of the authorities brought together and the wide range of topics covered. The dust jacket entices the reader with its sampling of colorful artifacts and the promising subtitle: Preserving and Protecting Your Art and Other Collectibles: Paintings, Furniture, Ceramics, Glass, Books, Manuscripts, Stamps, Photographs, Works on Paper, Musical Instruments, Textiles, Ethnographic Materials, Metal and Stone Objects.
The book is divided into chapters according to medium or type of collectible, each written by an expert in that particular field. While the 115 illustrations, including 50 plates in full color, contribute to the book's beauty, much of the photography does not clearly illuminate the essays's points.
Two introductory essays cover "The Mortality of Things" by Joyce Hill Stoner, Director, Art Conservation Program, University of Delaware/Winterthur and "Creating and Maintaining the Right Environment" by Steven Weintraub, Conservation Consultant, Art Preservation Services. The first defines conservation, advises that common sense is the most important factor in handling art works, and touches on the effects of moisture. In addition, other headings include "Let There Not be (Too Much) Light", "Nicotine, Foodstuffs and Other Miscellaneous Culprits", "Pets and Pests", "The Importance of General Planning", and "Consulting an Expert". The second excellent essay reviews the causes of environmental damage with an in- depth treatment of light, temperature and relative humidity. Air pollution and pest control are also described in detail. The suggestions in this article are definitely geared to a home context but its scope is broadened by outlining what is modern museum practice.
The remainder of the essays emphatically and repetitively cite these five elements: light, temperature, relative humidity, air pollution and pest control, as they pertain to each specific category. Each chapter, only ten to twelve pages in length and liberally illustrated, begins with a short scientific explanation of the materials to be discussed. The author goes on to explain the hazards threatening each collection due to its chemical and physical properties. There is often further discussion of chemical and physical properties of the objects used in display and storage of art works.
Doris A. Hamburg, Head of Paper Conservation, Library of Congress Conservation Office, contributed the essay on "Library and Archival Collections". She writes that there is an effort today to encourage the use of alkaline papers in printing in order to prevent the deterioration usually associated with acidic papers. Surprisingly, there was no indication that this book was itself printed on alkaline paper. Other topics she covers are: the Nature of Library and Archival Materials; Environment; Storage; Protective Housings and Enclosures; Manuscripts, Documents, Ephemera, and Stamps; Large Flat Paper Objects; Books and Pamphlets; Guidelines for Display; Preservation Guidelines; and When Damage Occurs.
The dilemma for collectors is well stated by Carolyn L. Rose, Senior Research Conservator, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, in her essay on ethnographic materials. "Ideally, we should store our objects in archival boxes out of the light and under very controlled conditions to reserve them for posterity. In practice, however, we would like to enjoy our collections and share them with others".
As if all the previous topics were not sufficient, the book gives its readers a special bonus with coverage of several other important areas. Wilbur Faulk, Director of Security, The J. Paul Getty Museum, discusses Security for Cultural Objects in the Home". John L. Marion, Chairman, Sotheby's North America, writes in a charming, informal manner about "The Increasing Value of Art and Historical Artifacts". Richard Newman, Research Scientist, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is concerned with "Authenticating Your Collection". "Appraising and Insuring Your Collection" is covered by an insurance executive and "Donating Your Collections" by a lawyer. Shelby G. Sturman, Head of Object Conservation, National Gallery of Art, advises on "Obtaining Professional Conservation Services". A fairly detailed listing of conservation resources is also included.
The broad guidelines in "Caring for Your Collections" are well-stated and the specific care for every category well-defined. The quality of writing is uniformly high throughout and there are elements worth pondering and implementing in each essay.
Ellen McCrady. North American Permanent Papers, Abbey Publications, Inc., 7105 Geneva Drive, Austin, TX 78723. 1994 Edition, 48pp. $7. ISBN 0-9622071-2-8.Reviewed by Artemis BonaDea, Alaska State Library.
Book workers are constantly seeking information concerning the materials and techniques used in the field of book arts. Whether we are conservators, book artists or calligraphers, we are continually asking questions regarding the best, most permanent materials to use in our work. Ellen McCrady, well known in our field for her work on the Abbey Newsletter and the Alkaline Paper Advocate, has answered many questions regarding permanent papers in her latest work, North American Permanent Papers.
The material in this booklet is arranged in several ways, which makes it easy to find information by paper type, manufacturing company, or the name of a paper. The paper-type categories (i.e., bible paper, text & cover, or label stock) are also used as cross-references to other sections, so the reader can move quickly between lists to compare and contrast information. In addition, a list of paper merchants is included for those who want to purchase directly from the manufacturer.
Book workers who want to know more about the history and manufacture of permanent papers will be pleased to find essays on both subjects. "The Nature of Permanence", written by Ms. McCrady, describes the methods used to test permanent papers while "Some Happenings on the Way to the Development of Permanent Record Papers" by William Wilson, a chemist at the National Bureau of Standards, details the history of permanent paper from before 1900 to the present.
The section "Recycled Paper" will answer some, but not all, of the questions one might have regarding the permanence of recycled paper. While this section is short, a list of sources for additional information is included for the reader who wishes to pursue the subject. Finally, there are sections on the ANSI/NISO standards, the Second Report to congress on the National Policy on Permanent Papers, and a brief update of state and local action on acid free paper.
While North American Permanent Papers may not be the most glamorous volume in your book arts library, it is certainly one that can be used time and again to navigate through the complexities of choosing a suitable, permanent paper. Book workers of all persuasions will find this information invaluable in their endeavors, and all will be pleased to know it will be updated annually.
Carol Barton. Instructions for Assembly. Nexus Press, 535 Means Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. 1993. $55 bound, $35 unassembled. 600 copies. ISBN 0-932-526-46-2.Reviewed by Mary Dryburgh, Assistant Professor of Printmaking, University of
Three playful how-to Text, images, and Maps, forms projects are con- overlying pop-ups diagrams, patterns, structed just by combine in a visual pictures & direct- turning the pages! assembly process. ions are included.
The above lines from the prospectus for Instructions for Assembly only hint at the lovely ironic tone and charming printed ephemera which come together in this publication. Like a map which tells you "you are here" without any referents, or a clock which says "the time is now", this delightful book offers complete, detailed plans on how to construct three existentially useful tools for twentieth century life: a desk with a drawer for each expectation; a clock/compass for the time/space traveler; and ready to wear for the rarest of occasions.
Instructions for Assembly feels like a three-way collision between a Dadaist, Max Ernst, and Joseph Cornell. It projects both profound whimsy and obscure meaning, the latter reinforced through the use of cropped texts that surround and overlap the pop-ups and are only partially readable. Initially these chopped-up fragments of text irritated me: I wanted to be able to follow words as one does in a traditionally formatted book. But, after a few journeys, the trail of incomplete language came to seem an appropriate guide to the impossible objects the book describes. The lack of textual cohesion also lures the reader into considering the wonderful selection of reprinted historical ephemera which inform the pop-ups. Celestial charts, old dress patterns, construction diagrams, schematic drawings, and ancient maps all engage the eye and then the mind.
Like many contemporary artists books, Instructions for Assembly is the work of one person, who served as artist, designer, typographer, printer, and binder. I myself champion collaboration in the book arts and frequently complain when one person attempts to wear all the hats: how often do we get a William Blake? But this is a case where one woman has done it all well and all by herself. The vision is unified and rich. Thanks to Carol Barton for a delightful book.
Bookbinding in Colorado. An exhibition at Auraria Library, Denver, Colorado. Curated by Karen Jones with catalog text by Terry Ann Mood and photographs by Rutherford W. Witthus, October 24- December 15, 1994.Reviewed by Jane Dalrymple-Hollo.
Inspired by Tom Conroy's "Teaching genealogies of American hand bookbinders" (The Guild of Book Workers Journal Spring/Fall 1990), this exhibit may have been the first to explore retrospectively the field of bookbinding within the borders of a single state. The exhibit was relatively small, lovingly presented and accompanied by a handsome and thorough catalog with an annotated description of each binding. The exhibit provided binders and binding connoisseurs in Colorado with books to place in context with names we've all heard for years. I had the pleasure of viewing the exhibit wit Laura Wait, a Colorado native and current President of the Brad Rogers Bookbinding Group. Laura represents the kind of link with the past emphasized by this exhibit: in several of Rogers's bindings, she could recognize tools she had bought from his estate.
Terry Ann Mood, the author of the catalog text, wrote her master's thesis on bookbinding in the Arts and Crafts era, and she has done a fine job of summarizing the history of Colorado bookbinding. The catalog includes vintage photographs, collected by Rudy Witthus, which link early bookbinding history to the pioneer days when most binding was associated with newspaper publishing. Legislative records of the Territory of Colorado for 1861, 1864, and 1867 are included in the exhibit, along with a selection of ledger bindings. The catalog traces the complicated evolution of commercial bookbinding in early Colorado and provides a historical description of the two major Denver firms still operating today. My favorite photograph is of a painted sign advertising "Hartmann Bruderlin Printing Company, Printers and Bookbinders" which can still be seen at the corner of Speer Boulevard and Wazee Street in Denver. I won't attempt to summarize the connection here, but Emil Bruderlin at one time operated the Colorado Book Bindery, which also still exists today.
Edward McLean is credited with introducing design binding to Colorado. McLean was born in the tiny mining town of Victor, Colorado and, along with his sister, Jane, he first pursued a career in modern dance. A 1934 accident forced McLean to give up dancing and, after a five year apprenticeship with Hazel Dreis in Carmel, California, McLean embarked on a career in bookbinding. In the early 50s he returned to Colorado where he bound books for libraries and private collectors and took on a number of students, several of whose bindings were included in the exhibit. McLean worked with unusual materials, and two of his snakeskin bindings lent an appropriately "Western" feel to the exhibit (as did a binding by one of his students which featured a cloth cover printed with a Colt single action revolver).
Harry Mooney's embroidered and beaded covers in turn lent a stunning note of color and pattern. Mr. Mooney, who worked at the Denver Public Library for 26 years, embroidered a cover for a pattern book called "Samplers and Stitches" after a colleague who had initially planned the project died in an automobile accident. He obviously became enchanted: I was told that the works on display were just a small sample of a collection of pattern books owned by the Denver Public Library, each covered with an embroidery based on a plate within it. Although the bindings themselves were executed in a rather pedestrian manner by commercial binderies outside of Colorado, the embroideries and beadwork are an inspiring hint at the possibilities for needleworked bookbindings.
All of that said, however, Laura and I found the most enchanting books in the exhibit were those executed by Clara Hatton. With master's degrees from the Cranbrook Academy and the University of Kansas, Ms. Hatton studied graphic arts at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art in London where she came under the tutelage of Sidney Cockerell and William Matthews. The influence shows. Although bookbinding was her second career, Hatton's work is characterized by a delicacy and refinement largely missing from that of other binders far more widely celebrated in the state of Colorado. Ms. Hatton taught calligraphy at Colorado State University, became head of the art department there in the late 1940s, and remained until 1964. Laura and I lamented the fact that Ms. Hatton's work was not more widely known and speculated as to why her craftsmanship had not set the standard for fine binding throughout th
This exhibition was the brainchild of Karen Jones, conservator of books at the Jefferson County Public Library. Karen told me that a televised public service announcement publicizing the event elicited some additions to the ongoing history of bookbinding in Colorado. Another student of Edward McLean's surfaced, and a binder Karen and Terry had sought, Lou Dieter, called. Dieter, the last proprietor of Dieter Bookbinding, which closed in the 1960s, had moved to Colorado Springs. He was so pleased with the exhibit that he has decided to give historical materials from Dieter Bookbinding to the Jefferson County Public Library, which, under Karen's guidance, has amassed an impressive collection of bookbinding and preservation related materials.
It is clear that this exhibit and catalog only bring the history of bookbinding in the state of Colorado up to the recent past; there is no mention of the exciting work being done now in fine binding, fine printing, and hand papermaking. This does not diminish the value of bringing together information from primary sources into a concise illustrated history of bookbinding in the 38th state. The catalog of this exhibit provides a foundation for further work on the history of bookbinding in Colorado while recognizing and clarifying lineage in a field that recognizes its importance. Beyond that, it is my hope that binders and binding historians in other states will be inclined to mount similar exhibitions linking the past with the future of this remarkable craft.
The catalog of the exhibition, with numerous photographs of individual items, is available from The Friends of Auraria Library. Catalogs may be ordered ($5.00 + 1.50 postage and handling) by phone at (303) 556-3526; by fax, 556-3528; or by mail: Mary Dodge, The Friends of Auraria Library, Lawrence at 11th Street, Denver, CO 80204.