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Grolier Club Exhibitions

Examples of Typography

Konrad Sweynheim & Arnold Pannartz

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St. Augustine.

[City of God.    Subiaco: Konrad Sweynheim & Arnold Pannartz, 1467].

This is the first printed edition of Augustine’s City of God, and one of the four books printed by German printers Konrad Sweynheim and Arnold Pannartz in the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco, the cradle of Italian printing. It is also the earliest complete printed book in the Grolier Club Library. The illumination of this initial leaf of text incorporates a roundel portrait of Saint Augustine, holding in his hands Hippo and the “City of God.”

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, 1897.

Nicolas Jenson

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[Little office of the Blessed Virgin Mary]. — Venice: Nicolas Jenson, 1475.

A rare example of a miniature incunable, from the press of printer and typographer Nicolas Jenson (1420–1480). This is one of just two recorded copies, and the only one printed on vellum. The elaborately painted pages and other text decorations recall contemporary illuminated manuscripts, making this volume a splendidly successful blend of new printing technology and medieval scribal decorative practice.  

Bequest of Mrs. William Loring Andrews, 1931.

Henri Estienne

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Estienne, Henri.

Poetae graeci principes heroici carminis et alli nonnulli ... fragmenta aliorum. — [Geneva]: Henri Estienne, 1566.

The typographic masterpiece of Henri Estienne (1531–1598), using the two largest sizes of the “Royal Greek Types” originally cut in 1544 by Claude Garamond (d. 1561) for Robert Estienne (1503–1559). The letters are based on the handwriting of Angelo Vergezio, a contemporary Greek scholar and calligrapher. They are still acknowledged to be among the finest Greek types ever cut, and their influence on Greek typography elsewhere in Europe and in England was immediate, widespread, and long-lasting.  

Gift of Leonard L. Mackall, 1928.

Imprimerie Royale

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[Works]. Publii Terentii comoediae. — Paris: Imp. Royale, 1642.

In 1639 Cardinal Richelieu persuaded Louis XIII to establish a new press dedicated to the revitalization of book design and typography in France.  The Imprimerie Royale, or Typographia Regia, commenced work in 1640 under the direction of Sébastien Cramoisy (1585–1669). This edition of Terence, published in 1644, is typical of the ornate and sophisticated volumes issued by the press. This copy belonged to a great seventeenth century bibliophile, Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619–1683), the powerful minister of finance under King Louis XIV. 

Gift of Philip Hofer in memory of Ruth Shephard Granniss, 1956.

Benjamin Franklin

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Cicero, M. T.

Cicero’s Cato major, or his Discourse of old-age … —  Philadelphia: Printed and sold by B. Franklin, 1744.

Generally considered to be the finest specimen of printing produced at Benjamin Franklin’s press, this edition of Cicero’s Cato Major is also one of the first Latin classics to be translated and published in America. This copy originally belonged to Grolier member Robert Hoe, who added the engraved frontispiece portrait of Franklin and had the book bound in red crushed morocco. In 1876 Hoe presented the volume to typecasting magnate David Wolfe Bruce, with a note apologising for the fact that the book was no longer in its original binding.

Gift of David Wolfe Bruce, 1894.

Strawberry Hill Press

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Gray, Thomas.

Odes by Mr. Gray. — [Strawberry-Hill]: Printed at Strawberry-Hill, for R. & J. Dodsley, 1757.

Horace Walpole (1717–1797), writer, collector, diarist, and aesthete, in 1757 established a private press at his estate of Strawberry Hill, in order to print “books and trifles” by himself and friends, as well as unpublished manuscripts of antiquarian interest. The Press produced more books of literary merit than any English private press before or since, beginning with the first edition of Thomas Gray’s Odes.  

Gift of Alfred Barmore Maclay.

Joaquín Ibarra

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La conjuración de Cati-lina y La guerra de Jugurta. — Madrid: Joaquín Ibarra, 1772. 

As printer to the Spanish court in Madrid Joaquín Ibarra (1725–1785) developed an international reputation for his elegantly classical approach to book design, influenced by the work of François-Ambroise Didot in France and Giambattista Bodoni in Italy. His masterpiece is this 1772 edition in Spanish and Latin of Sallust’s La conjuración de Catilina y La guerra de Jugurta, in which Ibarra combines a traditional richness of material and illustration reminiscent of the French Imprimerie Royale with a strikingly “modern’’ typeface of his own design.

Middle Hill Press

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Sachsen, Ludolf von.

Itinerarium ad Terram Sanctam …. — [Middle Hill]: Typis Medio-Montanis, in Turre Lativiensi impressus, 1825.

In 1822 Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792–1872) set up a private press at his estate at Middle Hill in Worcester. Like Lee Priory, the Middle Hill Press was established to produce editions of ancient, obscure and interesting texts, many of them drawn from the proprietor’s enormous collection of over 100,000 manuscripts and printed books. They are fanatically sought by bibliophiles today, not so much for their beauty, as for the insight they give concerning one of the greatest and most eccentric collectors of all time.

Gift of Jean Mermin Horblit in honor of her husband, Harrison D. Horblit.

Lee Priory Press

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Brydges, Sir Samuel Egerton.

Select poems. — [Kent, England]: Printed at the private press of Lee Priory …, 1814.

One of the first true private presses, Lee Priory Press was established in 1813 by Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges (1762–1837) to provide collectors “with some of the most curious tracts of former days, in which there shall be an attempt to add beauty of typography and wood-engraving, to the interest of the matter ….” Brydges stands at the threshold of the English private press movement, and his works hold an important place in the Club’s collection of press books.

Gift of Philip Hofer, 1933.

Daniel Press

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Sixe idillia. — Oxford: H. Daniel, 1883.

The Reverend C. H. O. Daniel (1836–1919) had a natural eye for typography and book design, and also had the great good fortune in the 1870s to discover at the Clarendon Press an unused font of type donated nearly two centuries earlier to the university by Dr. John Fell. Beginning in 1877, Daniel printed using the Fell types a number of beautiful editions of important but obscure early texts, including this edition of an Elizabethan translation of the idylls of Theocritus. 

Gift of Joseph Manuel Andreini, 1910.

Kelmscott Press

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The poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley. — Hammersmith [London]: Printed by W. Morris, at the Kelmscott Press, 1895.

The Club’s modest collection of books from the Kelmscott Press, including this copy of the Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley, bearing the bookplate of Grolier member Charles W. McAlpin, are all donations of fairly recent vintage. However, we do have a substantial collection of printed ephemera from the Kelmscott Press, much of it received by subscription at the Club during Morris’s lifetime.  

Gift of Charles W. McAlpin, 1938.

Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue

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The Altar book …. — Boston: D. B. Updike, The Merrymount Press, 1896.

This 1896 edition of the Altar Book stands as a tribute to the distinctive style of the Kelmscott Press, and to William Morris’s handcraft approach to bookmaking. Type, borders, and initials, as well as a spectacular neo-gothic binding scheme, were all created for Daniel Berekeley Updike (1860–1941) and his Merrymount Press by member Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (1869–1924).  This drawing for one of the Altar Book borders is part of a collection of original Goodhue artwork in the archives of the Grolier Club Library. 

Gift of Royal Cortissoz, 1904.

Gregynog Press

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Rhys, Ernest.

The life of Saint David. — Newtown, Montgomeryshire [Wales]: Gregynog Press, 1927.

The Gregynog Press was founded in 1922 by two wealthy sisters, Gwendolen and Margaret Davies, as part of a larger institute whose purpose was to promote and teach traditional crafts. The life of Saint David is one of the rarer titles from the press’s best period, and the first to use hand-colored wood engravings. The Grolier Club copy is no. 109 of 175. 

Gift of John M. Crawford, Jr., 1984.

Curwen Press

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Browne, Sir Thomas.

Urne buriall and The garden of Cyrus. — London: Cassell; printed at the Curwen Press, 1932.

The Curwen Press edition of Sir Thomas Browne’s Urne burial is one of the great illustrated books of the twentieth century. The thirty-two illustrations by artist Paul Nash were printed in collotype and hand-colored using a pochoir stenciling process developed at the Curwen Press; Nash also designed the morocco-inlaid gilt vellum binding. The Grolier Club Library owns an interesting archive of correspondence and other items relating to this and later editions, including a set of bound proofs of the 1932 Urne burial annotated and corrected by John Carter in preparation for his 1967 edition published by the Cambridge University Press.

The Harper Fund, 1979.

Albert Dupont

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Dupont, Albert.

Nathalie et Justine (lettrimage)3: livre objet. — [France: Albert Du-pont], 1983.

These two “poem objects” by artist Albert Dupont (b. 1951) are articulated on the principle of a “Rubik’s Cube,” allowing the reader to create endless symbolic texts by changing the relative positions of the hand-drawn panels. In this work Dupont is fol-lowing the precepts of lettrisme, a form of visual poetry in which calligraphic symbols—letters or meaningless signs—are combined and layered, often dynamically.  Works like Nathalie et Justine represent one area of future collecting for the Grolier Club Library, as artists continue to explore the relationship of text and object. The Club’s copy is no. 5 of an edition of twenty. 

Gift of Robert and Marjorie S. Graff, 1999.