Browse Exhibits (3 total)
The Grolier Club Library was established to support the mission of the Club: the study and promotion of “the arts pertaining to the production of books.” The Library began in 1884 as a casual collection of a few hundred donated volumes. Today, largely through the generosity of its members past and present, the Library includes over 100,000 books, manuscripts, prints, and archival collections. Originally intended to serve the Club’s bibliophile membership, the Library has become one of America’s premier collections on the art and history of the book, nurturing the interests of collectors, aiding in the development of private and institutional collections, supporting the businesses of antiquarian book dealers and auction houses, and facilitating the research of bibliographers, typographers, designers, and students in the history of the book from all over the world. Little has been published about the Library, and a quarter of a century has elapsed since it was last exhibited. In offering this overview and its catalogue we hope to renew in the book-loving public some lasting impressions of the treasures available here.
I have finished a monument more lasting than bronze
and loftier than the Pyramid’s royal pile,
one that no wasting rain, no furious north wind
can destroy, nor the countless
chain of years and the ages’ flight.
—Horace Odes III.xxx.1–5
Aldus Manutius (ca. 1452–1515) was born in the small town of Bassiano, about 40 miles southeast of Rome. He studied under the great classical scholars of his day, and by 1480 obtained a position as private tutor to Alberto and Lionello Pio, the young nephews of the great Renaissance philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Around 1490, Aldus decided to leave the comfortable and contemplative life of a scholar and tutor, and move to Venice to enter the cutthroat world of printing.
The change of career was not as radical as it seems. Aldus’ own words reveal that his motivation was to apply the relatively new technology of printing to the decidedly old heritage of ancient literature, thereby ensuring its preservation and diffusion. In doing so, Aldus the teacher could expand his classroom beyond his two young charges and, in the words of Erasmus, build “a library without walls.”
In the years that followed, Aldus printed no fewer than thirty first editions of Greek literature, developed and refined Italic and Greek typography, and launched the “portable library” of little books that allowed reading this literature to become a personal pursuit for the first time. No single individual is more responsible for the preservation of the classical tradition.
In this 500th year after Aldus’ death, Aldus Manutius: A Legacy More Lasting Than Bronze explores the enduring influence of Aldus and his successors on the development of classical scholarship, typography, book design, production, publishing, and collecting.
Behind every great collection lies a great story. That was the premise of the first Grolier Club Collects show in 2002/2003, and a dozen years later it remains the central idea of The Grolier Club Collects II, a gathering of books, manuscripts and works on paper drawn from the international membership of the Grolier Club. Reflecting the breadth and quality of those members’ varied collecting interests, the exhibition encompasses medieval manuscripts and early printed books as well as contemporary literature; rarities ranging from Old Master drawings and prints, to nineteenth- and twentieth-century posters, cartoons and ephemera to livres d’artiste, children’s books, book objects, and photographs. Each object comes with a tale, written by the collector, describing how and when the book, manuscript, or print was acquired, under what circumstances, how it fits (or does NOT fit) into an overall collecting scheme and—most importantly—why it is precious to the collector. These unique objects illuminate the remarkable range of subjects pursued by bibliophiles on an international stage and provide proof that the collecting of books and prints in the age of the internet is not only alive and well, but thriving.
To mark our 132nd season, The Grolier Club Collects II brings together objects from 132 member collections, arranged by theme: History, Theology, Science & Medicine, Voyages & Maps, Association Copies, Bibliography & Book History, Literature, Illustrated & Artist’s Books, Fine Printing & Book Arts, Bindings, Photographs, and Prints, Drawings, & Other Works on Paper. It is a survey of collecting today, as reflected in the interests of current Grolier members. It is not a ‘treasures’ show of jewel-encrusted and gilt-edged rarities, but rather a collection of objects chosen for their power to inspire, including:
- Book artifacts, ranging from an 8th-century Japanese Buddhist scroll, to a manuscript fragment in Greek of the Testamentum Domini (The Last Will and Testament of Jesus), to a modern miniature book (Robin Llywelyn’s Portmeirion).
- Historical works, from a copy of the 1483 Chronicon of Eusebius, to the first book printed in New Jersey (1723), to a copy of Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television;
- Autographs, letters and annotations by figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Madame de Sévigné, Carl Sandburg, J. K. Rowling, and King George I of England;
- Literature of all places and ages, including Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptameron, Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, Herman Melville’s Typee, Oscar Wilde’s The Sphinx … and an alphabet by Edward Gorey;
- Examples of the book arts, including Mughal Indian miniatures, illuminated manuscripts, the 1904 Doves Press Bible, and fine bindings by Michael Wilcox, George Kirkpatrick, Pierre-Lucien Martin and others;
- Works on paper in all forms, from an elaborate hand-made nineteenth-century valentine, to prints by Dali and Ben Shahn, to photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron and Candida Höfer.
Reflecting the interests of the Club’s membership, the variety in these cases is remarkable. They range in age from the third century to the twenty-first century; some are valued in seven figures, and some have no commercial value whatever; many are in English, but others are in Greek, Latin, French, German, Russian and Hebrew; some are pristine, and others are in tatters. Yet they all have something in common. To find it, simply look about you, and share the passionate interest of collectors in objects which they think are beautiful, intellectually stimulating, and personally significant. This passion is what the Grolier Club is all about.
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