Here in Boston the turn of August to September brings with it the arrival of college students, who spend most of the first week of the semester anxiously navigating the subway and hauling heavy loads of books from class to class. To celebrate this season of learning, we have assembled a list of books by students of typography, binding, drawing, and printing. They remind us that the nature of the classroom is a broad one, and that the pursuit of knowledge takes place not only at a desk but also in a workshop, at an easel, and in the library.
As we round the corner into the season of bounty and gratitude, we wanted to share our own good fortune in the form of a recently-acquired miniature book collection. Comprising over 600 volumes, we can only present some of the highlights in this e-catalogue. We left a seat at our table open for you to join us.
We are pleased to present a grouping of recent acquisitions from across our specialty areas, including fine printing, miniature books, and children's books.
As always, we thank you for reading and wish you only the best for this holiday season!
In his bibliography, Miniature Books Relating to Postage Stamps, noted collector Kalman Levitan observes that, “If a picture is worth a thousand words, then one might say that postage stamps are miniature books in that they are single page broadsides that have their own story to tell.” When one considers the artistry and design that go into the creation of postage stamps, one can certainly see the correlation to miniature books beyond the simple fact of proportion. Levitan identifies fifty miniature books that have postage stamps as a central theme and are incorporated into their design, and as a nod to this effort, we have gathered together roughly half of Levitan’s bibliography from the contents of two recently-acquired miniature book collections for your consideration.
The recent acquisition of a private collection of Mosaic Press material consisting of approximately three-quarters of its output served as the impetus behind our latest e-catalogue. A considerable number of titles are represented in deluxe states, and some feature binding variants that appear never to have been used. Other notable pieces include a small archive of process material, as well as acrylic-fronted wooden miniature bookcases Irwin offered for sale through the Press.
The list before you takes as its inspiration Colin Franklin’s observation that “(I)n its long history even the most rational critic will agree that vellum well used has inspired extraordinary enthusiasm.” That this statement appears in our very own Mystique of Vellum certainly deepens the appeal as a guiding principle. Herein you will find books that explore the subject of printing on vellum in depth; exemplars of vellum printing, from Essex House Press's elegant panorama of English monarchic history in their Masque of the Edwards of England, to Melchior Lechter’s mystical meditation on sacred symbolism in Das Maerchen vom Sinn; and books bound in vellum—a material in which “(F)lexibility and strength were skillfully balanced,” as Ana Paula Cordeiro noted in her brief introduction to Lightweight, a celebration of the enduring binding material. In this list, you will find it both limp and stretched over boards, painted, calligraphed, and tooled in gold and palladium—the ideal blank canvas.
In the mid-20th century, the advancement and proliferation of new technologies democratized the art of the book, and of printmaking in general, to such a degree that, as many artists adopted innovative processes of Xerox, risograph, and silkscreen, so too did many rediscover letterpress. Print was chic, print was groovy, print spread the word of protest and opposed the systems and strictures of its traditional predecessors. Alongside the overt political statements of poster-makers and underground newsletter printers were the aesthetic forces of conceptual and serial artists, and it was a natural result that the birth and growth of artists’ books and private press publications boomed with the help of Kim Merker, Walter Hamady, Morris Cox, and so many others.
In the present e-catalogue, we celebrate this crucial moment in print history. We hope this list inspires you with the power of print, whether for its nostalgia or its invention, its relevance or its history.
This e-catalogue shines a spotlight on fine printing from our neighbors to the north. We have, of course, long admired the excellent work of Rollin Milroy, whose Heavenly Monkey and HM Editions are quite well represented here. Other Canadian presses represented in this e-catalogue include a few exemplars from Crispin and Jan Elsted’s Barbarian Press, including a seldom-seen title they printed for Muddy Foot Press in Vancouver, as well as two early books from the Locks’ Press—so early, in fact, that Fred and Margaret Lock had not yet departed Brisbane for the Great White North.