The Well-Dressed Book
Hornbake Library, University of Maryland
Saturday, December 6, 2008
The exhibition will likely be open through the month of January even though it is only scheduled through December and everyone is encouraged to have a look.
A small group of Chesapeake Chapter members joined with the Delaware Bibliophiles attending a talk about 19th-Century Baltimore bookbinders along with a tour of The Well-Dressed Book at the Hornbake Library of the University of Maryland, an exhibition highlighting the history and artistry of 19th-century bookbinding in the United States from 1830 through 1920.
"Books should be appropriately appareled.
Their bindings should indicate and distinguish
their various characters.
Herman Melville, 1850
The visit was hosted by Brian Draper, Collection Conservator, and Doug McElrath, curator, Marylandia and Rare Books, both of the University of Maryland libraries.
After the tour, ten of us moved over to Franklin's for an early dinner while we watched the snow fall.
It was an absolutely pleasant way to spend a Saturday.
Mid-19th Century American Sunday School Union publications showing the variety of colors for book cloth.
A book binding opened to show its structure.
A photo taken specifically for Gordon Pfeiffer who could not attend the tour showing a cover by designer Will Bradley. Thoughout the exhibition were wonderful examples of lettering, but this one stood out. Note the dotted capital Is which are different. The top one is dotted above the ascender line and the second falls below. I wonder how I would have done this cover if I had been forced to use these exactly same words and been supplied the type in metal. The exhibition did a nice job of saying "Ray, think way farther outside your comfort zone with typography, lettering and layout."
Another of the wonderful book cover designs.
Life on the Plains by General George A. Custer illustrated the type of covers that were dominant during the 1870s.
Susan Bryntensen, Director of the University of Delaware Library (left), and Jill Cypher, Chesapeake Chapter (right), get close.
Doug McElrath gave a well-informed lecture on 19th-Century Baltimore bookbinders with a great discussion of the problem of finding who was there when you don't have the Yellow Pages to help you do the walking.
Doug McElrath guiding us through the exhibition.
Doug McElrath (left), Tom Doughtery (President of the Delaware Bibliophiles center) and Bryan Draper (right) providing some interesting details about the exhibition and the books.
A nice example of pastepaper technique applied to book cloth.
This was a wonderful illustration of the various methods for sewing a book produced by Bryan Draper for the exhibition. From the top down: Kettle or chain stitch, Coptic or link stitch, split leather strip or thong, double raised cord, single raised cord, sawed-in or recessed cord; linen tape, and kettle or chain stitch, each accompanied with a nice illustration of the technique.
Another sample of interesting lettering.
A poster illustrating the location of approximately 20 bookbinders who had establishments within a few blocks of each other in 1890 Baltimore.
A nice bit of gold for a favorite Lead Graffiti author.
This was a wonderful little moment in the exhibition where a book, with corners of pages folded in, had been rebound and retrimmed. Once the corners were opened up you could see the size of the original pages. These are called "witnesses" which is quite appropriate.