The Grolier Club will be closed Saturday, December 24, 2022, through Sunday, January 1, 2023. We will reopen Monday, January 2, 2023. We look forward to welcoming you in the New Year!
Founded in 1884, the Grolier Club is America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and ent (212) 838-6690, x7, [email protected].
Founded in 1884, the Grolier Club of New York is America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and enthusiasts in the graphic arts. Named for Jean Grolier (1489 or 90-1565), the Renaissance collector renowned for sharing his library with friends, the Club’s objective is to foster “the study, collecting, and appreciation of books and works on paper.” The Club maintains a research library on
printing and related book arts, and its programs include public exhibitions as well as a long and distinguished series of publications. As part of its mission to promote the art and history of the book, the Grolier Club regularly hosts the lectures and gatherings of other bookish organizations, and opens many of its own events to the public. No advance notice is required to view Grolier Club exhibitions; however, RSVPs and reservations for other events should be made through Maev Brennan, tel.
The Grolier Club will be closed Saturday, December 24, 2022, through Sunday, January 1, 2023. We will reopen Monday, January 2, 2023. We look forward to welcoming you in the New Year!
Still waiting to visit "Building the Book"? This week is your last chance to stop by! The exhibition closes this Friday, December 23, at 5pm. The galleries are free and open to the public 10am to 5pm.
The online exhibition will remain available: https://grolierclub.omeka.net/exhibits/show/rare-book-school.
Online exhibitions for The Grolier Club of New York.
What happens after a book is built? Opened, closed, read, loved, worn, torn, written in, and, if we have precocious pets around, perhaps bitten. "Building the Book" concludes with the next step in a book’s lifecycle: its use, as evidenced by marks in books.
Here, we have two modes of marking to very different ends. This first is a portion of “Babylonian Sonnets” from Francesco Petrach’s poems, “Il Petrarcha,” bearing the heavy iron-gall ink of a 16th-centry censor. These sonnets, which attacked the Avignon papcy, a period from 1309 to 1377 during which the papal court was based in southern France rather than in Rome, were deemed heretical.
On the other end of markings, the second image shows a copy of Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book,” deliberately marked with crayons, stickers, pasted magazine clippings and computer printouts, pencil flip-book drawings, and one dog. Perhaps part of a class project, the reader has penciled in the number of alterations under the heading “Altered Book” on the front flyleaf, modifications to create new meaning. From the constraints of censorship to the freedom of creativity, marks in books tell the stories of what happens after everything has been built: when a person steps inside.
Celebrate the conclusion of “Building the Book from the Ancient World to Present Day,” open through Friday, December 23. Free and open to the public, Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm, no registration required. Our online exhibition will remain available for you to visit these materials time and again: https://grolierclub.omeka.net/exhibits/show/rare-book-school.
Photos courtesy of
 Francesco Petrarch. Il Petrarcha. Fiorenza: p[er] li heredi di Filippo di Giunta, L’anno M.D.XXII. del mese di luglio [July 1522].
 Neil Gaiman. The Graveyard Book. With illustrations by Dave McKean. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008.
Unsure of where to purchase gifts for the winter season? This postcard for the Wanamaker Store in Philadelphia might provide an answer! Described by curator Ellen G. K. Rubin as the “strangest item” in this collection, the postcard featured on slides 1 and 2 instructs recipients to “blow here” into a hole over the address, inflating a crepe paper replica of the iconic department store.
“Animated Advertising” includes a variety of movable paper objects promoting large businesses, including the example on slide 3, depicting the Matsuzakaya Department Store. Founded in 1611 in Nagoya, Japan, the Matsuzakaya Department Store is the oldest chain store in the world. This card from the 1930s reminded customers of the broad range of products available at the long-standing institution: lift each layer of paper to reveal the goods located on each floor of the building.
But getting to the store is only half the battle! Once we’re there, what to buy? The double-sided volvelle featured on slides 4 and 5 is a prototype for a department store to help customers make their Christmas gift selections. The die-cut hole on one side lists the merchandise on each floor; the reverse provides gift suggestions based on family relationships. Curator Ellen G. K. Rubin notes that “This prototype is from the archive of its designers, Gordon K. and Sam Gold, known as the ‘Kings of Premiums,’ one of the most creative and prolific producers of advertising premiums in the United States from 1920 through the 1980s.”
Learn more by visiting “Animated Advertising: 200 Years of Premiums, Promos, and Pop-Ups,” open Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm in our Second Floor Gallery. Free and open to the public, no registration required. Or visit our online exhibition: https://grolierclub.omeka.net/exhibits/show/animated-advertising
Items from the collection of Ellen G. K. Rubin, photos courtesy of Nicole Neenan.
[1-2] The Complete Wanamaker Store in Philadelphia… Philadelphia, PA: Wanamaker Store, [ca. 1910].
 松坂屋 上野店 [Matsuzakaya Department Store]. Ueno, Japan: Matsuzakaya Department Store, [ca. 1930].
[4-5] Magic Christmas Gift Selector: Come with me on a Shopping Trip through … [ca. 1950].
Mark your calendars! Join us Tuesday, December 13, 6-7:30pm EST for Robin Vose's lecture on the Catholic Church's "Index of Prohibited Books." Free and open to the public, you can register for the virtual webcast: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-lecture-index-of-prohibited-books-tickets-461983945417.
Canadian scholar Robin Vose is the author of "The Index of Prohibited Books, Four Centuries of Struggle over Word and Image for the Greater Glory of God" (Reaktion/U. of Chicago Press). He will lecture on his research for this first comprehensive history of four centuries of the Catholic Church's notorious "Index Librorum Prohibitorum," with resonance for ongoing debates over banned books, censorship and free speech.
We hope to see you there!
Robin Vose on the Catholic Church's "Index Librorum Prohibitorum"
Our substrates have been pressed, formatted, and printed. It’s time to bookbind! “Building the Book” features dozens of beautiful, striking, and complicated bindings comprising leather, cloth, paper, gilt, dyes, paint, and much more, but we felt we’d be remiss not to share one of the most unusual items on view:
“Diced Russia,” ’s full 18th-century reindeer skin, sits among the bookbinding tools, stamps, dies, leather, and sloth. Rudolph, as it has been lovingly dubbed, was recovered from the shipwreck of the Danish brigantine Die Frau Metta Catharina von Flensburg, which sank more than 200 years ago in 1786.
From Barbara Heritage and Ruth-Ellen St. Onge: “The cargo was documented specifically as ‘hemp and reindeer hide’ being shipped to Genoa from Saint Petersburg. There was a trade in Russian reindeer skin at the time—particularly among the indigenous Sámi peoples of the Nordic countries and northwestern Russia, who were probably the source of this particular skin.” This reindeer skin reminds us of the many kinds of materials and beings that contribute to building books.
You can say hello to Rudolph in “Building the Book from the Ancient World to Present Day,” free and open to the public, Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm, no registration required. To protect Rudolph from any damage, it is displayed in a large “mammoth-sized fruit roll-up,” but you can see the full skin unrolled in our online exhibition: https://grolierclub.omeka.net/exhibits/show/rare-book-school.
“Diced Russia” [full 18th-century reindeer skin]. Photo courtesy of @rarebookschool
"Animated Advertising: 200 Years of Premiums, Promos, and Pop-Ups" is now open! We have many exciting events to celebrate this exhibition, including four lunchtime exhibition tours over the next two months. Hosted by curator Ellen G. K. Rubin, these tours provide personal insight into the highlights on view. Register for one of the dates online: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/grolier-club-exhibition-tour-animated-advertising-tickets-463615003957.
Join curator Ellen G. K. Rubin for a lunchtime exhibition tour of "Animated Advertising: 200 Years of Premiums, Promos, and Pop-ups."
As Rare Book School's "Building the Book" draws to a close, we're excited to host curators Barbara Heritage and Ruth-Ellen St. Onge in a virtual tour of the fabulous exhibit, followed by a live Q&A. Register for this free event, held next Wednesday, December 7, 6-7:30 PM EST: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-tour-of-building-the-book-tickets-396568496047. We hope to see you there!
Join us for a virtual tour and live Q&A with the curators of "Building the Book" at the Grolier Club
“Animated Advertising: 200 Years of Premiums, Promos, and Pop-Ups” from the Collection of Ellen G.K. Rubin is now open in our Second Floor Gallery! Drawing together 165 works, this exhibition showcases the varied uses of movable paper advertisements in every industry imaginable—food and drink, culture, sports, entertainment, industrial design, fashion and beauty, automotives, and more!
To kick off the highlights of this wide-ranging exhibition from The Popuplady herself, we are sharing one of the oldest items, a volvelle from 1824. Created by John Ayrton Paris, M.D., this Pharmacologia functioned as a dosage calculator. Physicians turned the volvelle, the paper dial at the center, to determine the equivalent doses of medication ingredients. Volvelles have been used in science, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics since the 13th century, often attached to an endpaper as a reference tool.
Learn more by visiting “Animated Advertising: 200 Years of Premiums, Promos, and Pop-Ups,” open Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm in our Second Floor Gallery. Free and open to the public, no registration required. Or visit our online exhibition: https://grolierclub.omeka.net/exhibits/show/animated-advertising.
Items from the collection of Ellen G. K. Rubin. Photos courtesy of Nicole Neenan.
 Kellogg’s Krumbles. Battle Creek, MI: Kellogg’s, 1912. Courtesy of Ellen G. K. Rubin. Poster design by Jerry Kelly.
 John Ayrton Paris, M.D. Pharmacologia. New York: F. & R. Lockwood, 1824. Courtesy of Ellen G. K. Rubin
Extra, extra! We're thrilled that "Building the Book" is recognized for its fabulous educational display. Read on for coverage of the "bibliographic archaeology" on view at Rare Book School's exhibition in Forbes:
From Medieval tomes with brass fittings to mass-market paperbacks repackaging classics as potboilers, books speak volumes as historical artifacts. The Grolier Club in New York is displaying some of the most eloquent examples from the University of Virginia's Rare Book School.
With substrates, formats, and letterforms under our belt (or should we say platen?), this week we’re sharing examples of two types of printing processes, as exhibited in the graphically arresting progressive color proofs.
The first example of progressive proofs, from Ga***rd Schanilec’s “Farmers: Wood Engravings, Interviews,” displays a two-page wood engraving relief printed from six separate end-grain maple blocks to layer color, bringing this grain farmer into sharp focus in the second slide. Relief printing surfaces, such as carved woodcuts, are among the oldest means for creating multiple copies of books, a process that developed in East Asia as early as the late 600s.
But progressive printing is not limited to layering color from reliefs; the third slide shows the large lithographic stone used to print Hero jam jar labels. The stone is a planographic printing surface, developed at the turn of the 19th century, that transfers texts and images from flat planes onto the surfaces of substrates. In this case, the German lithographer Hans Ulrich employed the stone to layer vibrant colors for these eye-catching labels.
Discover more printing surfaces—relief, intaglio, planographic, photographic, and more—in “Building the Book from the Ancient World to Present Day,” free and open to the public, Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm, no registration required. Or visit our online exhibition: https://grolierclub.omeka.net/exhibits/show/rare-book-school.
All photos courtesy of
[1-2] Progressive proofs, created in 1992, from Ga***rd Schanilec’s Farmers: Wood Engravings, Interviews. Stockholm, WI: Midnight Paper Sales Press, 1989.
[3-4] Hero jam jar labels. Esslingen am Neckar, Germany, ca. 1950. Proofs commissioned from Hans Ulrich in 2006 by RBS.
In 1924, the Grolier Club received dozens of silver bindings from Beverly Chew (member 1884-1924), but one binding was separated from its book. Read our most recent blog post for a mini biblio-romance of reuniting a book with its binding from Scott Ellwood, Acting Librarian and book-matchmaker. It includes an illuminated manuscript, silver bindings, and reflections on the proud moments and pitfalls of librarianship:
By Scott Ellwood, Bruce and Mary Crawford Assistant Librarian Part of the silver binding display in the Grolier Club’s 2nd floor gallery, summer 2022, with the binding discussed in this post …
Join us Friday, November 18, 1-2:30 PM EST for a virtual lecture by Daisy Hay on Bookseller-Publisher Joseph Johnson. Register online: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-lecture-daisy-hay-on-bookseller-publisher-joseph-johnson-tickets-422518102017.
We're excited to welcome British scholar Daisy Hay to discuss her new book about 18th-century bookseller and publisher Joseph Johnson and his literati circle whose books he published, including Ben Franklin, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Mary Wollstonecraft. We hope to see you there!
Join Daisy Hay on bookseller-publisher Joseph Johnson
Join us Tuesday, November 15, 6-7:30pm for a lecture by Walter Evans and Jenny Robb on Black cartoonist Ollie Harrington's work.
Free & open to the public, this event can be attended in-person (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/in-person-lecture-black-cartoonist-oliver-harrington-tickets-444653569797) or virtually (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-lecture-black-cartoonist-oliver-harrington-tickets-440601911177). Read on for more information:
Georgia physician Walter Evans, collector of historical and contemporary African American art and literature, in conversation with Jenny Robb, Head Curator of Comics and Cartoon Art at the Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, about Black cartoonist Oliver "Ollie" Harrington (1912-1995).
Ollie Harrington used his voice and artistic talents as a cartoonist to attack racial, economic and social injustice with razor-sharp wit and insight. From the perspective of a cartoonist of color, his commentary chronicled many of the events and issues that defined the 20th century, from segregation and apartheid to war and poverty. His life and career intersected with the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights movement, the Black emigre community in Paris after WWII, and communist East Germany. Starting in the 1930s, Harrington's work was widely published in the Black press. His long-running series "Dark Laughter" - later known as "Bootsie" - cast a satirical yet affectionate gaze on Black America through the adventures of an observant African American "everyman." During WWII he served as a war correspondent and later worked briefly as the NAACP's PR director. Harrington was an unapologetic activist and critic of racism and capitalism, who emigrated to Paris in 1952 and ultimately to Berlin in 1961, in response to concern about FBI surveillance due to his outspoken criticism of the U.S. government. He continued his career there, publishing trenchant editorial cartoons in the "Daily World" and the German satirical publication, "Eulenspiegel."
Walter Evans and Jenny Robb speak on Ollie Harrington's life and work.
As we bid goodbye to “Aubrey Beardsley, 150 Years Young,” we reflect on the end of his short but influential life.
This portrait was captured by Beardsley’s friend William Rothenstein in 1897. While the two comic artist-writers bonded over their shared interests in contemporary French art and Japanese prints, Rothenstein depicted not the laughing, but the serious side of Beardsley, as he was increasingly debilitated by tuberculosis. With his mother and sister at his bedside, Beardsley died months later on 16 March 1898 in Menton, France, where he was buried.
Aubrey Beardsley created over 1,000 drawings in his 25 years, most of which were concentrated in the intense period of 1891 to 1898. Curator Margaret D. Stetz writes, “That art gave his life purpose; he struggled to create even in his final days. In her 1921 manuscript notes (on view in this exhibition), his mother reported discovering, after his death, the pen he favored ‘sticking into the floor’ where ‘he must have thrown it away [on] finding he could not draw’ any longer. Erect and defiant, it was Beardsley’s last stand.”
Free and open to the public 10am-5pm, this weekend is the last chance to visit Beardsley at the Grolier Club, which closes November 12, 2022. The digital exhibition will remain available online, where you can continue to read and learn about Beardsley’s life and art. https://grolierclub.omeka.net/
Photo: William Rothenstein. Aubrey Beardsley. Lithograph, 1897. Proof, inscribed by William Rothenstein to Aubrey Beardsley. Courtesy of Mark Samuels Lasner Collection.
[Image ID: Sketch on paper of Aubrey Beardsley sitting in an armchair, his left profile to the viewer as he stares pensively out a window. The frame of the window makes it look like he is wearing a birthday hat, but he is not. /end ID]
Mark your calendars! Next Monday, November 14, 6-7:30pm, we welcome Denise Gigante for her lecture on "Book Madness." Register for the free virtual webcast via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-lecture-denise-gigante-and-book-madness-tickets-461979792997. Read on for more about Prof. Gigante:
Denise Gigante, a professor in the Humanities at Stanford University, will lecture on her new publication, "Book Madness: A Story of Book Collectors in America." For this fascinating history of American bookishness, Prof. Gigante's springboard is the sale of Charles Lamb's library in 1848 in New York. At his death, the British essayist owned 60 scruffy tomes, singed with smoke, soaked with gin, sprinkled with crumbs, bescribbled by Lamb and friends, and stripped of illustrations. The dispersal of the relics of a man revered as the patron saint of book collectors caused a sensation in the transatlantic book world. Dr. Gigante's studies of Lamb's volumes shed light on bibliophiles who shaped American intellectual life: booksellers, publishers, journalists, editors, bibliographers, librarians, actors, antiquarians, philanthropists, politicians, poets, and clergymen. Her tales of loss, obsession and spiritual revival bring to life a lost world of letters at a time when many of America's major libraries were born.
Denise Gigante on "Book Madness: A Story of Book Collectors in America"
Curators Barbara Heritage and Ruth-Ellen St. Onge deliberately titled this exhibition “Building the Book” to evoke the complexity and process of building architecture, and all the details thereof. This week, we continue our construction with letterforms, which “not only carry language, but also bear the story of the cultures and technologies that produced them. They convey a sense of how aesthetic values and the presentation of information itself are both shaped by processes that are not readily apparent to the untrained eye.”
In these three examples, we see those aesthetic and information-oriented values in different forms: the first is “A Specimen of Printing Types by William Caslon,” the first leaf of an 18th-century specimen that displays 114 fonts of varying sizes in what looks not altogether unlike a modern-day eye exam poster!
The second image includes four pieces of Hindi Devanāgarī script wood type created around 1950. Devanāgarī script (देवनागरी), one of the most widely used writing systems in the world, was developed from the Brahmi script that first appeared circa 3 BCE. These large wood type pieces may have been used for printing signage.
The third image shows Cherokee Syllabary Flash Cards, published by Cherokee Language & Culture in 1998, are a testament to the innovation of Sequoyah, who developed the 86-character Cherokee over 12 years from 1809-1821. The Cherokee National Council accepted the syllabary and by the mid-1820s, the syllabary was widely adopted by members of the Cherokee Nation of reading and writing in manuscript, later serving as the foundation of a font of printing type.
See many more letterforms and forms of making letters in “Building the Book from the Ancient World to Present Day,” free and open to the public, Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm, no registration required. Or visit our online exhibition: https://grolierclub.omeka.net/exhibits/show/rare-book-school.
This Thursday, November 10, 6-7:30pm: Join us for our upcoming lecture by Angelina Lippert, Chief Curator of NYC's Poster House, on "Ethel Reed: America's Aubrey Beardsley." Held in connection with the member's exhibition "Aubrey Beardsley: 150 Years Young," this lecture is free and open to the public.
Angelina Lippert on "Ethel Reed: America's Aubrey Beardsley"
Can't get enough of Aubrey Beardsley? Read on for more coverage of the exhibition in PRINT magazine, and visit the show through November 12! Free and open to the public 10am-5pm.
A new exhibition on the illustrator celebrates the past as it hints at a reawakening.
Mark your calendars! Join us Tuesday, November 8, 2022, from 6pm-8pm for the exciting panel "From Jikji to Gutenberg." This event can be attended virtually or in person. Read on:
An international scholarly collaboration, the "From Jikji to Gutenberg" project will culminate in publications and exhibitions related to the origins of printing from cast-metal type, commemorating the 650th anniversary of the Korean printed book "Jikji." Speakers will include Randy Silverman, Preservation Librarian, University of Utah Marriott Library; Jonathan Thornton, Professor Emeritus, three-dimensional object conservation, SUNY Buffalo; and Jennifer Giaccai, Conservation Scientist, National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution. For more information about this topic, see the Atlas Obscura write-up.
To register for the in-person event: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/in-person-panel-from-jikji-to-gutenberg-tickets-444647762427
To register for the virtual webcast: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-panel-from-jikji-to-gutenberg-tickets-422510970687
Despite Beardsley’s devastating experience of being fired by John Lane and thrown to the lions of British prudery during the Wilde Trials of 1895, he retained his impish design impulses and found new footing in working with Leonard Smithers. Two examples of his work for Smithers are shown here.
Of the first, a cover for the ‘Catalogue of Rare Books Offered for Sale by Leonard Smithers,’ Margaret D. Stetz writes: “Beardsley’s delight in the idea of pansexuality was literal: he delighted in drawing a sexual Pan. Which book sold by Leonard Smithers was this grinning Greek nature god so improbably reading aloud, in a sylvan setting, to a Victorian woman? There were many choices: perhaps one of the respectable antiquarian volumes listed in this catalogue; a work of poetry or prose, written by a member of the contemporary decadent movement and published by Smithers; or an example of the po*******hy in which Smithers had been doing a clandestine trade for years.”
No such British prudery barred Beardsley from further work: in addition to one-off covers for books and publications, Smithers hired Beardsley as the art editor for ‘The Savoy,’ a role he relished in, among other reasons, to mock the Bodley Head firm and compete with its flagship magazine. So writes Stetz: “Still, there were limits to how openly Beardsley could show his disgust at what The Yellow Book was without him. Although he remained, so to speak, pi**ed off, no periodical with ambitions to be sold in W. H. Smith’s railway stalls could ever display Beardsley’s initial design for the cover of its first number, with a half-dressed putto aiming a stream of urine onto a copy of The Yellow Book. With that visual element removed, however, the rest of The Savoy’s cover was left intact, including the ambiguous presence of a whip in the woman’s hand, hinting at sadomasochistic possibilities.”
“Aubrey Beardsley, 150 Years Young” is on view for nine more days, closing November 12, 2022. The exhibition is free and open to the public Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm, or read on at our digital exhibition: https://grolierclub.omeka.net/exhibits/show/beardsley-2022.
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