Powerful Impressions. The Book: Work of Art, and Object of Desire - or Obsession.
Jeremy M. Norman Count Guglielmo Libri Collection.
There are few figures in book history as infamous as Count Guglielmo Libri (1803-1869). An erudite and accomplished Italian aristocrat, Libri was appointed in 1841 as Chief Inspector of French Libraries and began to leverage his unsupervised access to these collections to enrich his own personal library of rarities. By 1848 his mounting thefts could no longer be hidden and, warned that he was about to be arrested, Libri fled to London with 18 large trunks of books and manuscripts containing about 30,000 items. He was able to convince his English friends that his problems in France were political rather than criminal, and he retained the trust of many, even after being convicted in absentia in France in 1850. Several sales in the 1850s and 1860s reputedly netted him over a million francs.
The Club’s extraordinarily rich collection of pamphlets, catalogues, and letters relating to “L’Affaire Libri” was acquired in 2016, the gift of Grolier member Jeremy Norman, in the wake of his exhibition of this material at the Club in 2013.
Letters and bills to Sir Thomas Phillipps.
The donation in 1996 of Harrison Horblit's collection of books, manuscripts, and papers relating to the complicated life, spectacular library, and problematic printing activities of Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872) was a game-changer for the Grolier Club Library, and it is safe to say that no collection at the Club has generated more research and more scholarly published work. Significant additions to the Horblit Phillipps Collection were made at auction in December 2004, a few months too late to be included in the Club's "Lasting Impressions" survey of the Library. These included, among many other items of Phillipps interest, a collection of letters and sketches relating to Phillipps' genealogical and historical interests, including a color sketch of his own coat of arms, and, most importantly, three rough wooden boxes, the only surviving remnant of Sir Thomas Phillipps's "modular shelving" system for his 100,000-volume library of books and manuscripts, stuffed with several thousand late medieval and later fragments of English documents, the last unsaleable remnant of the legendary Bibliotheca Phillippica.
Monuments inédits ou peu connus: faisant partie du cabinet de Guillaume Libri et qui se rapportent à l'histoire des arts du dessin considérés dans leur application à l'ornement des livres.
Guglielmo Libri, 1803-1869. London: Dulau & cie., 1862.
This extraordinary volume is associated with two notorious figures in the history of book collecting: Sir Thomas Phillipps (1782-1872) and Count Guglielmo Libri (1803-1869). The book itself illustrates, in brilliant chromolithography, some of the highlights of Libri’s collection of rare books, manuscripts, and fine bindings, most of which Libri pilfered from French public libraries. This copy belonged to Sir Thomas Phillipps, perhaps the most voracious (and unpleasant) collector of the English nineteenth century, and is annotated by Phillipps to mark the books he acquired at the Libri auction of 1861.
Purchased in 2004 with Grolier Club Library Harper Funds.
Hroswitha Club Records.
On November 3, 1944, Sarah Gildersleeve Fife wrote this letter to Catherine Dickey (née Dunscomb) inviting her to join a newly formed club for women authors, book collectors, curators, and librarians. Two weeks later, the Hroswitha Club held its first meeting at the Cosmopolitan Club in New York City. For over fifty years, the members of the Hroswitha Club gathered in libraries and private homes to share their bookish interests and activities. The Grolier Club’s own librarian, Ruth Shepard Granniss (1872-1954), was one of the founding members, and when the Grolier Club began admitting women in 1976, many Hroswitha Club members were among the first to join.
Gift of the Morgan Library & Museum, 2004.
Mao Zhuxi Yulu=Quotations of Chairman Mao.
Mao Zedong, 1893-1976. Beijing: Central Intelligence Bureau of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, May 1964.
The first published edition of Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book” is shown here in two binding variants. Copies in the original printed wrappers were released first while the red vinyl bindings were still being manufactured. In his bibliographical study of the Quotations, Grolier Club member Justin Schiller noted that the printed wrappers were intended for individual high-ranking officers, while the sturdier red vinyl copies were made for brigade teams of up to eight men. Eventually, the latter became preferred as the symbol of Mao’s slogan “The East is Red.”
Gift of Doug and Curt Dombek, 2011.
Jean McGarry. New York: Flockophobic Press, 1990.
Strip Poker, mis en mot par Steven J. Bernstein; mis en bouteille exclusivement par A.S.C. Rower.
Steven J. Bernstein. New York: Flockophobic Press, 1991.
On the Slates.
Clark Coolidge. New York: Flockophobic Press, 1992.
The Flockophobic Press was started in 1989 by Sandy Rower, a grandson of sculptor Alexander Calder, and operated through the early 2000s. In keeping with its name (“fear of the flock," an aversion to mainstream mentalities and societal norms) Flockophobic Press productions challenge our customary notions of what constitutes a “book,” dressing poetry and prose in decidedly unbook-like forms, such as bottles, menus, and even shoes, in order to draw attention to overlooked writers.
From a gift of ten Flockophobic Press titles made in 2009 by the Milton S. Eisenhower Library Special Collections department of Johns Hopkins University.
Cuban Artists' Books
Nancy Morejón, b. 1944. Rolando Estévez Jordán, b. 1950 (illustrator). Matanzas, Cuba: Vigía, .
La caída del cielo.
Cristina García, b. 1958. Ivet Báez Andux (illustrator). Matanzas, Cuba: Vigía, .
In 2009 the Grolier Club hosted an exhibition of Cuban artists’ books and prints (Libros y Grabados de Artistas Cubanos 1985-2008), focusing on the innovative work of Ediciones Vigía. Founded in 1985 by a group of imaginative young artists and writers caught up in the political, social, and cultural challenges of late twentieth-century Cuba, Ediciones Vigía produced (and still produces) elaborate and sophisticated handmade books, characterized by remarkable invention, poignant poetry, and technical mastery of print media, especially with found materials. These titles were among several donated to the Club at the close of the exhibition by curator Linda S. Howe.
Deux poèmes: Prière de paix: Élégie pour Martin Luther King; lithographies originales de Nicolas Alquin.
Léopold Sédar Senghor, 1906-2001. [Paris]: Les Bibliophiles de France, 2006.
Peggy Brown’s 2018 gift of eight limited-edition books issued to the members of Les Bibliophiles de France between 1989 and 2014 made a sparkling addition to the Grolier Club’s collection of modern livres d’artistes. Founded in 1948, the society commissions fine artists, book designers, and printers to explore themes in French-language poetry and prose. This dynamic lithograph by Belgian sculptor and illustrator Nicolas Alquin (b. 1958) was created in response to the 1979 elegy to Martin Luther King, Jr. written by Senegalese poet Léopold Sédar Senghor, the first African elected to the Académie française.
Gift of Elizabeth A. R. Brown, 2018.
Giulio Iacchetti, b. 1966. [Turin]: Alberto Tallone Editore, .
With Libroinfinito, Italian industrial designer Guilio Iacchetti sought to create a book that would be “inadmissible” on a shelf. The letters of the Latin alphabet are fanned out to generate an infinite, circular reading experience, paying tribute to the 26 symbols that give form to Italian literature. Through the book’s visibility and presence, Iacchetti draws attention to the meticulous craftsmanship of the books produced by Tallone Editore, all typeset by hand and letterpress printed in one of the oldest and most prestigious typographic studios in the world. The Grolier Club copy is one of six produced on handmade Umbria paper.
Purchased in 2017 with Grolier Club Library Harper Funds.