Upcoming Exhibitions

Abraham Lincoln: His Life in Print

Ground Floor Gallery

Abraham Lincoln: His Life in Print

September 25 – December 28, 2024

In many ways, books made Abraham Lincoln. He became a lawyer through self-disciplined study, won the White House through the concurrent rise of American popular publishing, and remains one of the most written about figures over the 160 years since his death. Abraham Lincoln: His Life in Print uses original printings of books and ephemera to create a sweeping, conceptual portrait of the man. The exhibition features important editions of Lincoln’s greatest accomplishments, including the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, the Cooper Union Speech, his debates with Stephen A. Douglass, and many others. More than 150 objects describe the life of Lincoln as he was born in the American West, captivated by literature, shaped by the portentous 1850s, tested by the American Civil War, responsible for the end of slavery, and murdered and mourned at the age of 56. Featuring materials from the David M. Rubenstein Americana Collection, the exhibition is curated by Mazy Boroujerdi, special advisor to the collection, and will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Marquand Books.


Photo Credit: Cover of Abraham Lincoln: His Life in Print (Marquand Books). Cover design by Ryan Polich.




The Jumping Frog cover

A First-Class Fool: Mark Twain and Humor


January 15 – April 5, 2025

A First-Class Fool: Mark Twain and Humor examines the humorist Samuel Clemens, who crafted the great “Mark Twain” persona. Twain identified as a “first-class fool,” capturing his dual literary role as a simple, folksy author and speaker on the one hand, and an intelligent, cultured, and nuanced literary craftsman on the other. Twain worked carefully to construct his public persona, and his legacy continues to influence humorists to the present day. With more than 120 works drawn from the private collection of Susan Jaffe Tane, A First-Class Fool presents first and rare editions of Twain’s published works, including presentation copies, first periodical appearances, and uncommon variants; books from Twain’s library and other personal effects; autograph letters and manuscripts; photographs; and a wide variety of ephemera. Many of these items are displayed for the first time in this exhibition. An accompanying book, published by the Grolier Club, features scholarly essays edited by Kevin Mac Donnell and the exhibition’s curators, Susan Jaffe Tane, Julie Carlsen, and Gabriel Mckee.


Photo Credit: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches. Edited by John Paul. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1867.








The Jumping Frog cover

After Words: Visual and Experimental Poetry in Little Magazines and Small Presses, Post-1960


April 23 – July 26, 2025

Poetry underwent a profound re-conception post-World War II, as poets experimented not only with techniques such as projective verse, but also with the verbal and visual qualities of poetic language. Known variously as visual, concrete, and sound poetry, these practices reached new heights of innovation in the 1960s and beyond sustained by the mimeograph revolution and the proliferation of small independent presses. After Words: Visual and Experimental Poetry in Little Magazines and Small Presses, Post-1960, curated by Steve Clay and Grolier Club member M.C. Kinniburgh, explores the decentering and re-imagining of language from the perspective of visual poetics, and the varieties of ways these ideas took published form. The exhibition presents a wide range of international works with approximately 150 publications, including Assembling, Kontexts, Poor.Old.Tired.Horse., blewointment, Rhinozeros, The Marrahwanna Quarterly, Granary Books, Something Else Press, Edition Hansjörg Mayer, Ou, and Stereo Headphones. Poets presented include Cecilia Vicuña, bpNichol, Johanna Drucker, Tom Phillips, Emily McVarish, d.a. levy, Mirtha Dermisache, and Philip Gallo among many others. An accompanying catalog will be published by Granary Books.


Photo Credit: Journeyman, no. 12. Courtesy of Granary Books.






Second Floor Gallery

Poster for

Melville’s Billy Budd at 100

September 12 – November 9, 2024

Melville’s Billy Budd at 100 commemorates the centenary of the posthumous and first publication of Herman Melville’s novella Billy Budd (1924), the story of a young “Handsome Sailor” impressed into the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars in the late 18th century, falsely accused of mutiny, and hanged after a drumhead trial for striking and killing his accuser. The exhibition highlights the composition, preservation, discovery, and ongoing transmission of a singular work of art – a “prose and poem concoction” – left unfinished on Melville’s desk at his death in 1891. Curated by Grolier Club member William Palmer Johnston from his extensive Melville Collection, the exhibition features more than 50 items, including multiple scholarly transcriptions of the Billy Budd manuscript, as well as illustrations, photographs, dust jackets, movie posters, the opera libretto, playbills, a commemorative stamp, unique fine bindings for limited editions, and artwork by Barry Moser. Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue published by the Grolier Club, and a symposium on October 9 will feature a panel of six prominent Melvillians.


Photo Credit: Billy Budd at 100: Billy Budd graphite drawing by Barry Moser. Copyright Barry Moser, 2023.




Necronomicon

Imaginary Books: Lost, Unwritten, and Fictive Works Found Only in Other Books

December 5, 2024 – February 15, 2025

Part bibliophilic entertainment and part conceptual art installation, Imaginary Books: Lost, Unwritten, and Fictive Works Found Only in Other Books features a collection of books that do not really exist. Curated by Grolier Club member Reid Byers, the exhibition includes approximately 100 books and associated arealia from his collection—all simulacra created with a team of printers, bookbinders, artists, and calligraphers—of lost books that have no surviving example, unwritten books that were planned but left unfinished, and fictive works that exist only in fiction. Highlights of the exhibition include William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Won, the lost sequel to Love’s Labours Lost; Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, stolen from his wife’s bag on a French train in 1922; and the Necronomicon, John Dee’s copy of the eldritch grimoire that has been kept sealed in a Wells Fargo strongbox, as a precaution, since the Krickle accident of 1967. An accompanying book will be published by Oak Knoll and Club Fortsas.


Photo Credit: The Necronomicon. John Dee's copy of the eldritch grimoire has been kept sealed in this Wells Fargo strongbox, as a precaution, since the Krickle accident of 1967. Photo by Reid Byers.



King's New York

Wish You Were Here: Guidebooks, Viewbooks, Photobooks, and Maps of New York City, 1807-1940

March 6 – May 10, 2025

Wish You Were Here: Guidebooks, Viewbooks, Photobooks, and Maps of New York City, 1807-1940 will illustrate how New York City developed and was depicted in images for visitors and residents. Curated by Grolier Club member Mark D. Tomasko from his collection, the exhibition features more than 130 objects, including guidebooks, viewbooks, photobooks, maps, and pamphlets. Guidebooks on view trace the growth of the city, including Dr. Mitchill’s Picture of New York (1807, the first guide to New York City), as well as specialty guidebooks and viewbooks, such as for the new Central Park, Ellis Island, speakeasies, restaurants, and skyscrapers. Street panoramas on view, such as Both Sides of Broadway (1910) and Fifth Avenue from Start to Finish (1911), show every building on those streets in detail, and featured photobooks include Bernice Abbott’s Changing New York (1939), and E. Idell Zeisloft’s The New Metropolis (1899) that celebrates the 1898 Consolidation of the City. An accompanying book will be published by the Grolier Club.


Photo: King’s Views of New York, 1908-1909. Drawing by Harry M. Petit. From the collection of Mark D. Tomasko