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Grolier Club Exhibitions


Roger Payne

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Schemata caelestia [manuscript in English], ca. 1797.

The bindings of Roger Payne (1738–1797) combine outstanding craftsmanship with real artistry, and this binding in russia leather, with its delicately ornamented cover panels and richly gilt doublures, is typical of his best work. Payne is equally famous for his highly eccentric invoices. In this one to Dr. Moseley, who commissioned the binding, Payne describes his work in characteristically obsessive detail. 

Gift of Meredith Hare, 1947.

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Harding, Silvester.

Rogerus Payne, 1800. 


Payne’s eccentricities are captured in this etched portrait of the binder at his bench by Silvester Harding (1745–1809).  This print is one of nearly 8,000 portraits of printers, engravers, collectors and other bookish figures held by the Library. 


Bozérian Brothers

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Barbier, Antoine Alexandre.

Catalogue des livres de la bibliothèque du Conseil d’état. — Paris: Imprimerie de la République, an XI [1803].

Presentation binding in straight-grain red morocco, gilt, with the arms of King Louis XVIII of France, attributed to the Bozérians. In the years following the French Revolution the rich gilt bindings of the Bozérian brothers (Jean-Claude the elder, and François the younger) were much sought after by bibliophiles in the new social and administrative regimes of post-Revolutionary France. The library of the Conseil d’État was assembled in 1803 from a collection of smaller administrative libraries and put under the management of librarian and bibliographer Antoine Alexandre Barbier (1765–1825), who immediately prepared this magnificent catalogue. It is one of only 200 copies. 

Purchased from the Harper Fund.

Joseph Thouvenin

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Thouvenin, Joseph.

Album of blank leaves, ca. 1830.

A noble example of a mosaic binding à la cathédrale, executed in straight-grain morocco, inlaid and gilt. Along with the “rose window” and pointed arch motifs, note the acanthus leaves forming the bases and pediments of the columns, a mixture of classical and gothic revival elements typical of the Romantic era. The binding is signed “Alphonse Giroux,” a retailer who specialized in the work of Joseph Thouvenin (1790–1834) and other leading Parisian binders. 

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, 1901.

Charles Meunier 

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Techener, Jacques. 

Histoire de la bibliophilie …. — Paris: Librairie de J. Techener, 1861.

Charles Meunier (1865–1940) was noted for his innovative and energetic approach to binding, as well as for his prodigious output; but he was also criticized for his reliance on colorful—even gaudy—emblematic and pictorial themes.  This example, which reproduces the painting “Grolier in the House of Aldus,” by François Flameng (1856–1923), incorporates all of Meunier’s impressive repertoire of binding tricks, including inlay, onlay, paint, gilding, marbling, tooling, and cuir ciselé. The result is a bit unnerving; but it is valued at the Club both as an example of particularly exuberant fin de siècle French binding, and because of its association with Samuel Putnam Avery. Avery donated the binding, as well as the painting from which it derives; it hangs in the Grolier Club lobby today. 

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, Jr., 1919. 

Tiffany & Co.   

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Chronological handlist of various editions of the Complete angler by Izaak Walton … exhibited at the Grolier Club. — New York: The Grolier Club, 1893.

Commissioned by Grolier member Samuel Putnam Avery (1822–1904), this binding was produced by Tiffany & Co. in Javanese sharkskin, with borders made from the skin of the Florida garpike.  Every aspect of the design emphasizes the piscatorial theme: the front cover with the Grolier Club device and an ichthys monogram in silver; the doublures of dark blue watered silk painted or stamped in gilt with a design of swimming fish; and the silk bookmark terminating in a carved jade fish pendant. 

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery.

Roger Powell 

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Dürer, Albrecht.

Of the just shaping of letters …. — New York: The Grolier Club, 1917.

Beautifully designed and exquisitely executed, Powell’s books are also sturdily and durably crafted.  This binding on a copy of the Grolier Club’s 1917 edition of Albrecht Dürer’s Of the just shaping of letters is in black morocco decorated with forty-eight inlays, each embossed or tooled with a letter of the alphabet derived from one of Dürer’s designs. It is signed on the rear board with Powell’s RP monogram and dated 1962.  

Gift of John M. Crawford, Jr. for the Grolier Club centennial, 1984.

Paul Bonet 

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Valéry, Paul, et al.

Paul Bonet. — Paris: Librairie A. Blaizot, 1945. 

Trained as a maker of wooden fashion mannequins, Paul Bonet (1889–1971) only turned to bookbinding in 1920, and did not rise to prominence until a decade later, when the Depression forced many of his clients to sell their examples of his daring and original work. This catalogue, published in 1945 by Blaizot, summarizes Bonet’s achievements at the height of his powers. It is bound in Bonet’s characteristic irradiant style, which gives an optical illusion of three dimensions through the use of undulating gilt rules radiating from a common center. 

Gift of Laura K. and Valerian Lada-Mocarski.

Tim Ely 

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Book of roses [binding over original art work and blank pages], ca. 1990.

Designer, book artist and binder Tim Ely began making books as early as 1957. His work reflects a wide range of interests and preoccupations, including science, alchemy, UFOs, comic books, and odd religious arcana, and many of these elements are present in the volume he gave to the Club in 1992. Two years earlier the book had been used as a prop in a photo shoot at the Club; at the end of the session, Grolier Librarian Martin Antonetti asked to have the volume in lieu of a fee, and Tim Ely not only presented the book, but also illuminated some of the interior pages. 

Gift of Tim Ely, 1992.