[GBW] Symposium on Publishers' Bindings, Feb.22, NYC

Clare Manias cmanias at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 8 00:17:21 EST 2008

A Symposium: The History, Technology and Conservation
of Nineteenth-Century Publishers' Bindings

Concurrent with the upcoming exhibition The Proper
Decoration of Book Covers: The Life and Work of Alice
C. Morse From the Collection of Mindell Dubansky, the
Guild of Book Workers will co-sponsor with the Grolier
Club a one-day symposium dedicated to the history,
technology and conservation of nineteenth-Century
publishers' bindings. 

Interest in the publishers’ binding and its importance
in the history of the book is growing. Please join us
as we hear from curators, conservators, artists and
historians about the history, design, construction and
conservation of this expanding area of interest. We
are delighted to hold the symposium in the context of
the first exhibition of the collected work of Alice C.
Morse and to celebrate and consider the decorated
publishers’ binding as an object of special character.

The speakers are:
Sue Allen is the foremost historian of 19th-century
American book covers. Her talk, The Thrill and Beauty
of Nineteenth-Century Book Covers, 1830-1910 will
examine the materials, technology, and styles of
publishers’ bindings during this time.  

Mindell Dubansky is Preservation Librarian at the
Thomas J. Watson Library at The Metropolitan Museum of
Art and is curator of the exhibition “The Proper
Decoration of Book Covers: The Life and Work of Alice
C. Morse,” which will be on view at the Grolier Club
during the symposium. She will give a talk on the book
designs of Alice C. Morse (1863-1961) who was a
prominent American book cover designer during the late
19th and early 20th centuries. Her clients included
many New York publishers, including Scribner's,
Harper's, Putnam's, Dodd Mead and The Century Co. This
talk will review Morse's career as a designer as well
as the technical and decorative aspects of her work.

Mike Kelly is the Curator of Books at the Fales
Library and Special Collections at New York
University. He will speak on the changes in
manufacture and binding processes used in the
publishing industry during the late 19th century and
how the design and structure of trade books changed as
a result.

Robert J. Milevski is Preservation Librarian at the
Princeton University Library, and has been studying
19th century publishers' bindings, signed bindings,
and metal bookbindings since the early 1980s. He will
speak about The Extra Bindery at Riverside Press. The
Riverside Press, part of Houghton Mifflin, had an
extra bindery department from about 1880, until the
1910s or 1920s.  From 1905, two designer binders lead
the department, one of whom was Louise Averill Cole.
He will discuss the sample books of extra bindings
from which clients could choose their bindings, show
images of these sample books and rubbings taken from
finished bindings, as well as images of covers from
the period and drawings of binding designs that were
made into the brass dies that stamped the covers of
these extra-bound books.

Richard Minsky is a prominent Book Artist and Chairman
of the Center for Book Arts. He will speak on the
evolution of design on publishers' bindings during
1872 to 1929, and how he adapted the technique of
textured gold, used for single-die stamping during
that period, for use in his own bindings.

Stuart Walker is the Conservator for the Boston Public
Library. He will speak on the career of Sarah Whitman,
one of America's most important and influential book
designers and the principle designer for Houghton
Mifflin in the 1880's and 90's.

Todd Pattison is the Senior Book Conservator at the
Northeast Document Conservation Center. His talk is
titled Why, What and How? - Conservation of 19th
Century Cloth Publishers' Bindings. The first question
that needs to be asked when looking at the
conservation of any item is "Why?" The transition from
laced-in boards to the case bound book was a dynamic
shift in the field of bookbinding and examples of
damaged bindings that show this transition are
sometimes presented to the conservator for repair.
However, these bindings may be best left not repaired
but simply protected for future study. Once it has
been determined "What" to work on the big question
becomes "How"? An awareness of the scarcity of
many19th century cloth bindings, a new understanding
in their role in the history of bookbinding and an
increased interest in exhibiting them, has required
the need for more subtle and sympathetic conservation
techniques. This talk will discuss items best left in
their deteriorated state and, for those bindings that
should be conserved, some practical repair techniques
for achieving high quality results with an emphasis on

Jessica Lacher-Feldman is the Project Manager of
Publishers’ Binding Online, 1815-1930: The Art of
Books. She will give us a tour of the site and an
overview of the project and its bounty of resources
which include nearly 5000 bindings and over 10,000
images of bindings in a fully searchable database as
well as over 150 additional web pages of resources
relating to all aspects of publishers’ bindings,
including a glossary, bib/webliography, teaching and
research tools, galleries and essays relating to
specific designers, authors, and subjects, and much
more. She will demonstrate what book artists, binders
and conservators will find in PBO and how they can
learn about structures, materials, and techniques used
to create publishers’ bindings that would help them
with their work.

The talks will be followed by a panel discussion with
all the speakers.

The symposium will take place at the Grolier Club, 47
East 60th Street, on Friday, February 22, 9am to 5pm.
Registration for the symposium is $60, $50 for members
of the Grolier Club and the Guild of Book Workers.

To register for the symposium, send a check made out
to the Guild of Book Workers by Feburary 11th to: 
Clare Manias
GBW NY Chapter
534 Leonard Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222

For more information please contact cmanias at yahoo.com
or call 212-851-5603.

Additional support provided by Talas.

Clare Manias
cmanias at yahoo.com

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