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RBS Announces its 2012 Winter/Summer Course Schedule

[25 October 2011] Rare Book School is pleased to announce the schedule for another exciting summer of classes at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Complete course descriptions will be available in the coming weeks. Applications will be posted in early 2012.

9-13 January 2012 in Baltimore, MD

H-20 The Book in the Manuscript Era

Will Noel

4-8 June 2012 in Charlottesville, VA

H-30 The Printed Book in the West to 1800 Martin Antonetti
I-20 Book Illustration Processes to 1900 Terry Belanger
H-70 The History of the Book in America, c.1700-1830 James N. Green
L-30 Rare Book Cataloging Deborah J. Leslie
L-70 XML in Action: Creating Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Texts David Seaman

11-15 June 2012 in Charlottesville, VA

H-60 The History of European & American Papermaking Timothy Barrett & John Bidwell
G-30 Printed Books since 1800: Description & Analysis Tom Congalton & Katherine Reagan
L-65 Digitizing the Historical Record Bethany Nowviskie & Andrew Stauffer
G-45 Analytical Bibliography Stephen Tabor
L-25 Scholarly Editing: Principles & Practice David Vander Meulen

2-6 July 2012 in Charlottesville, VA

I-30 Advanced Seminar in Book Illustration Processes Terry Belanger
M-10 Introduction to Paleography, 800-1500 Consuelo Dutschke
L-95 Born-Digital Materials: Theory & Practice Matthew Kirschenbaum & Naomi Nelson
H-90 Teaching the History of the Book Michael F. Suarez, S.J.
G-20 Printed Books to 1800: Description & Analysis David Whitesell

16-20 July 2012 in Charlottesville, VA

H-10 The History of the Book, 200-2000 John Buchtel & Mark Dimunation
G-50 Advanced Descriptive Bibliography Richard Noble
I-35 The Identification of Photographic Print Processes James M. Reilly assisted by Ryan Boatright
L-10 Special Collections Librarianship Alice Schreyer
B-10 Introduction to the History of Bookbinding Jan Storm van Leeuwen

23-27 July 2012 in Charlottesville, VA

M-20 Introduction to Western Codicology Albert Derolez
H-40 The Printed Book in the West since 1800 Eric Holzenberg
G-55 Reference Sources for Researching Rare Books Joel Silver
G-10 Introduction to the Principles of Bibliographical Description David Whitesell
H-15 The History of the Book in America: A Survey from Colonial to Modern Michael Winship


January 2012 Course

Students gather around a book in the Walters Museum in January 2011.

[10 October 2011] Rare Book School is currently accepting applications for The Book in the Manuscript Era, taking place 9-13 January at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. The course, which was last taught by Barbara Shailor in 2008, will be taught by Walters Manuscripts Curator Will Noel. Covering the period from late antiquity to the beginning of the c16, this is the first course in a three-part book history sequence that includes The Printed Book in the West to 1800 (H-30) and The Printed Book in the West since 1800 (H-40).

SHARP-RBS Scholarship Fund

[16 September 2011] CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—Rare Book School and the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, & Publishing (SHARP) are partnering to offer scholarship opportunities for current graduate students and recent masters and Ph.D. recipients who wish to attend RBS. The SHARP-RBS Scholarship recipients will receive full tuition and a travel/lodging stipend. Graduate students, post-docs, junior faculty, adjunct professors, and those within 5 years of their last awarded degree in any discipline are encouraged to apply.

To apply, please submit an RBS scholarship application by the 30 September 2011 deadline. If you are applying for a Directors' Scholarship you may be eligible for the SHARP-RBS Scholarship. Directors' Scholarship applicants will be considered for the SHARP-RBS Scholarship, so there is no need to apply twice. Terms and conditions are the same as those that apply to the Directors' Scholarship Fund.

Donations to the SHARP-RBS Scholarship Fund are being accepted by RBS. For more information about the fund and how you can contribute click here or contact Megan Gildea, Development Director, Rare Book School, at (434) 243-1010 or mgildea@virginia.edu. Thank you for your interest in RBS.

RBS featured in Washington Post

[2 August 2011] WASHINGTON, DC—Rare Book School featured in the Washington Post Metro Section on 28 July 2011. Dan de Vise, reporter for the Post, spent a day with RBS students, staff, and faculty during the fourth week of our summer sessions. Charlottesville-based photographer Stephanie Gross visited RBS classes and demonstrations during our final week.

October 2011 Course

[7 July 2011] Rare Book School is currently accepting applications for The Art of the Book in Edo and Meiji Japan, 1615-1912, taking place 3-8 October at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery Library, Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Ellis Tinios taught this course in 2008 and is the Honorary Lecturer in the School of History, University of Leeds, visiting researcher at the Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto) and special assistant to the Japanese Section of the Department of Asia, British Museum.

2011 Lecture Schedule

[14 June 2011] CHARLOTTESVILLE—Rare Book School is pleased to announce the 2011 lecture and forum series during its June and July Charlottesville sessions. Our series began on Monday, June 6 with a talk by Ann Blair, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Harvard, and it will conclude on Wednesday, July 27 with Leah Price, Professor of English at Harvard. Robert H. Jackson, collector and scholar, will deliver the Malkin Lecture on June 15 in the Rotunda.

To view the complete schedule, please visit Lectures and Events.

UVA President and Rare Book School Director to Conduct Flash Seminar

[4 April 2011] CHARLOTTESVILLE—Theresa Sullivan, President of the University of Virginia, and Professor Michael F. Suarez, S.J., Director of Rare Book School, will team up to lead the flash seminar: “What It Means to Lead the Good Life” today, April 4 at 7 pm, in Jefferson’s Academical Village in Pavilion V.

Flash Seminars are one-off seminars announced a week in advance on thought-provoking topics. These seminars give faculty and students a chance to interact in small, informal settings to explore ideas and issues outside the formal classroom. Flash Seminars work on a first-come, first-served basis and are offered a few times a week.

In scheduling the Flash Seminar for this evening, Professor Suarez made sure it would not conflict with the NCAA Basketball championship! 

Click here to read more about the history of Flash Seminars at the University of Virginia in the Washington Post.  

The Oxford Companion to the Book recognized by ALA Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) and others

[4 February 2011] SAN DIEGO—The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) has announced its selection for the 2011 Outstanding Reference Sources.

The Outstanding Reference Sources list of titles identifies the most important reference publications for small and medium-sized public and academic libraries published in a given year. The publication of this list began in 1958 and now also includes outstanding electronic resources.

This year’s titles were selected by RUSA’s Outstanding Reference Sources Committee, whose members include Deborah Katz, chair, Washington University Libraries; Chaunacey Dunklee, Fullerton (Ca.) Public Library; Cynthia Dudenhöffer, Smiley Memorial Library, Fayette, MO; Patricia L. Gregory Ph.D., Pius XII Memorial Library, St. Louis; Patrick Wall, University City (MO) Public Library; Elinor Appel, North Seattle Community College; Claire Murata, Shoreline (Wa.) Community College; Stephen Marvin, West Chester University of Pennsylvania; Danise G. Hoover, Hunter College Library; Curtis Ferree, Fairfield University; and Anne-Marie Davis, University of Washington.

Among the 2011 winners is the publication by RBS Director Michael F. Suarez, S.J. and H.R. Woudhuysen, “The Oxford Companion to the Book.” Congratulations! See the RUSA website for a complete list of 2011 winners and more details.

Kirkus Reviews cited The Oxford Companion to the Book as one of "10 Must-Have Reference Books of 2010."

Additionally, The Oxford Companion to the Book was reviewed by Bruce Eldevik, Luther Seminary Librarian. "Highly recommended for all academic and special libraries," writes Eldevik in the Critical Review of Theological Librarianship.

Meet RBS's new Development Director, Megan Gildea

Gildea[15 December 2010] Hello! I want to take a quick moment to introduce myself.

I’m Megan Gildea, the new Development Director at Rare Book School. I started in September and have been busy learning about RBS and getting to know our Friends! I’m delighted be here at the School and am looking forward to meeting many of you this summer, as well as taking a class myself.

I’ve had the privilege of working in the non-profit world for over ten years now, and I find the work extremely rewarding and challenging. I am committed to helping organizations, whose missions I am passionate about, to raise money for operations, programs, and endowment—wherever the need may be.  Before coming to RBS, I worked in fund raising at James Madison’s Montpelier (Orange, VA), Autry National Center (Los Angeles, CA), Foundation for National Progress (San Francisco, CA), California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco, CA) and KQED (San Francisco, CA). I have also worked at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and ArtForum magazine. I am thrilled to raise funds for RBS programs and to help promote the culture of the book. I hope to talk to you about your experiences at RBS.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions about becoming a Friend of our School, or about making a contribution.  I can be reached at meg6q@virginia.edu or (434) 243-1010.

Thank you for your support of RBS!

Best wishes for a happy holiday season,

Megan Gildea

January 2011 course in Baltimore, MD

[11 November 2010 ] RBS is currently accepting applications to the course 15th-Century Books in Print and Manuscript, which will run 10-14 January 2011. Paul Needham & William Noel have co-taught this course together since 2005. The course will take place in Baltimore and utilze materials from the Walters Art Musuem and Johns Hopkins University.

2010 Scholarship Awardees

[8 November 2010 ] In 2009, RBS established the Directors' Scholarship Fund in honor of founding director Terry Belanger. The Rare Book School Scholarship Committee has just awarded 2010 scholarships to 25 new students of the history of books and printing. In general, the committee preferred applicants who are at the beginning of their professional careers and those who had not previously attended RBS. For a list of recipients, see 2010 RBS scholarship awardees.

Forthcoming fall course in New York

[11 August 2010 ] This fall, RBS will be running a course at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. Roger E. Wieck will offer his, “Introduction to Illuminated Manuscripts,” which he will be teaching for the seventh time. This course runs Mon-Fri 25-29 October 2010.

Summer schedule of RBS public lectures announced

[3 June 2010 ] Rare Book School is pleased to announce its schedule of 5:30 pm public lectures during its June and July Charlottesville sessions, featuring Robert H. Jackson as the 2010 Malkin Lecturer. The roster of speakers includes John Kristensen (7 June), David Vander Meulen (14 June), Michael Russem (12 July), Robert H. Jackson (19 July), and Ian Desai (26 July), giving RBS lectures nos. 520-524. Lectures are usually held each Monday that RBS is in session, at 5:30 pm (unless otherwise noted), usually in one of two venues: the Dome Room of the Rotunda or 201 Clemons Library (no. 34 and no. 11, respectively, on the map of the historic UVa Central Grounds). Check the RBS website Lectures and Events page for more information and last-minute changes.

RBS introduces public forums on Wednesday evenings

[3 June 2010 ] As a new feature of this year's program, we are introducing the RBS Forum on Wednesday evenings. Also starting at 5:30 pm, this event is meant to be less formal and more interactive than the Monday Night Lecture. The speaker will make a presentation, before entertaining questions, which, one hopes, will lead to a conversation with and among the group. Some RBS Forums will be more lecture-oriented, and some will be more like a roundtable discussion. The RBS Forum schedule for this summer features Dan Raff (9 June), James Goode (16 June), Kurtis Schaeffer (14 July), Todd Pattison (21 July), and Steve Beare (28 July). Forums will be held in one of two locations: 109 Alderman Library or 201 Clemons Library (no. 1 and no. 11, respectively, on the map of the historic UVa Central Grounds). Check the RBS website Lectures and Events page for more information and last-minute changes.

RBS Staff Member Melissa Mead honored by the University of Rochester

[ 3 June 2010 ] Congratulations to Rare Book School Descriptive Bibliography Museums Curator Melissa Mead, who has received the University of Rochester's Meliora Award, given annually to “staff members whose work performance and dedication during the preceding year exemplify the University’s motto, Meliora (‘Ever Better’).”

Currents, the University of Rochester's faculty/staff newspaper, has this to say of Mead's award:

Meliora Award

Melissa Mead Melissa Mead, digital and visual resources librarian in Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation of Rush Rhees Library, has been a key contributor to many successful projects during her 16 years with the University.

Letters supporting Mead’s nomination cite her “unparalleled expertise, scholarly learning, creative intelligence, and generosity of time.” She is also praised for her dedication, thoughtfulness, and attention to detail. Those characteristics have proved to be crucial to the success of initiatives in which she’s involved, including the creation of Rare Books and Special Collections projects such as the Frederick Douglass Project, Lincoln and His Circle, and the Rochester Black Freedom Struggle Online project.

In addition to faculty and student classroom and research support, she provides assistance to offsite scholars and researchers in search of primary sources and rare printed materials. She supplies the Office of Communications, the Office of Development, and the Office of the President with hundreds of digital images every year selected from the special collections and University archives.

Also, she contributes images for Rochester Review, the University’s homepage, and for special reunion and service celebrations. Last year she worked with her colleagues from Rare Books and Special Collections and Mark Zaid ’89 to create the book Wish You Were Here: A Century of Postcards from the University of Rochester.

Mead says she’s proud to receive the award. “I learn something new about the special collections every day, because everyone needs something different. The more I know about what someone needs, the better I can help them, and I particularly enjoy being challenged to find just the right image,” she says. “It is a great satisfaction that my knowledge of the Rare Books and Special Collections materials helps those at the University and elsewhere to do their work better.”

Meet RBS' new Program Director: Amanda Nelsen

[ 21 May 2010 ] Rare Book School is pleased to announce the arrival of Amanda Nelsen,who succeeds Ryan L. Roth as the school’s Program Director. As Program Director, Amanda will oversee RBS admissions and its scholarship program, as well as assist with course development, publicity, fundraising, and outreach.  Nelsen

Before relocating to Charlottesville this spring, Amanda lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she maintained a private bookbinding studio, as well as taught a number of book arts courses, including classes at the Art Institute of Boston, the New England School of Art and Design, and the North Bennet Street School. In addition, Amanda worked at Quercus Press, where since 2007 she assisted printer and bookbinder Johnny Carrera with sewing, forwarding, edge stamping, board attachments, and leather covering of limited edition fine press books. This spring, she was also artist-in-residence at Wellesley College’s Book Arts Lab.

Amanda Nelsen holds several degrees in visual art, with a strong concentration in book arts: she has a B.A. in studio art and an art education license from St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN), where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa; and she has an M.F.A. in visual arts from the Arts Institute of Boston at Lesley University. Additionally, Amanda holds a certificate in bookbinding from the North Bennet Street School. In 2008, she was awarded a Joan Mitchell Foundation M.F.A. Grant.

Amanda’s past administrative experience includes work with Elderhostel programs at St. Olaf College and resource development at a charter school in East Boston, MA. She is an active member of the Guild of Book Workers and the North Bennet Street School Alumni Council, as well as other national organizations. Amanda is currently working to complete the bindings for Fine Print, an artist’s book with an edition of 300 that she began as the artist-in-residence at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in January 2010. In addition to her work with book arts, she enjoys biking, baking, running, reading, and making things with her hands.  At some point she hopes to complete another cross-country bike trip, but for now she has only done that once, a paltry accomplishment when compared to her ten marathons!  Richly talented and wonderfully personable, Amanda is a great addition to our excellent team.

Please welcome Amanda Nelsen to RBS!

RBS Faculty Member Jan Storm van Leeuwen awarded ILAB Breslauer Prize

[ 26 April 2010 ] Congratulations to Rare Book School instructor Jan Storm van Leeuwen, who has received the ILAB Breslauer Prize for his book, Dutch Decorated Bookbinding in the Eighteenth Century.

This, from the HES & DE GRAAF Publishers website:

ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography
The ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography draws attention to the best academic work being done in the field. The international Prize is awarded every fourth year to the author(s) of the most original and outstanding published work in the broad field of bibliography.

Three professional scholars or librarians and three antiquarian booksellers form the panel of judges. They share a worldwide reputation for their experience and scholarship. The members of the jury, Mitsuo Nitta, Japan; Arnoud Gerits, Amsterdam; Poul Jan Poulsen, Denmark; Felix de Marez Oyens, President of the Breslauer Foundation; David Adams, Manchester University and Jean-Marc Chatelain, Bibliotheque Nationale de France met October 2009 in Vienna to choose the winner of the 15th ILAB Breslauer Prize. They saw, studied and discussed 52 books from Europe, the United States, Japan, China and Russia.

The ILAB committee has decided to award two books in 2010 instead of one:

* Dutch Decorated Bookbinding in the Eighteenth Century by Jan Storm van Leeuwen

* Catalogue of books printed in the XVth century now in the British Library. Part XI, England by Lotte Hellinga.

Both winners will receive the $ 10,000 prize money which is involved with this award. The Prize will officially be awarded during the 39th ILAB Congress in Bologna, with lectures and an exhibition of all the books submitted.

Roth Project Manager at California Rare Book School

[ 2 April 2010 ] On 11 March 2010, Ryan L. Roth became the first full-time staff member of the California Rare Book School (CalRBS). Roth had been Program Director of Rare Book School (RBS) at the University of Virginia since 2007. Based at the University of California, Los Angeles, CalRBS is a continuing education program dedicated to providing the knowledge and skills required by professionals working in all aspects of the rare book community, and for students interested in entering the field. “I’ve had to rely exclusively on part-time help since starting the school in 2005,” said Beverly Lynch, Founding Executive Director of CalRBS and a professor in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. “I’m delighted to have a full-time staff member on board, especially one with Ryan’s experience and high personal and professional reputation.”

Roth became interested in rare books and manuscripts while studying mathematics at Brown University. Before becoming Program Director at RBS, he worked in the special collections department at the University of Delaware Library. Barbara Heritage, Assistant Director of RBS, said that during his tenure as Program Director of the school, Roth made numerous contributions to the school “through his great intelligence, initiative, and hard work.” She praised his work with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the RBS Scholarship Committee, and others to enhance the school’s scholarship program through outcomes-based evaluations of its activities, providing the school “with extremely valuable information about the needs of its students and their experiences at the school.” RBS’s Director, Michael F. Suarez, praised Roth’s “extraordinary gift for remembering people and for bringing them together.” Under Roth’s direction, RBS achieved the highest attendance (97% capacity) in the school’s 26-year history. Katherine Reagan (Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Cornell) spoke for many members of the RBS faculty when she said that Roth embodies the qualities common to staff trained at the school – “a combination of deep intellectual interests and abilities where book history is concerned, with almost superhuman organizational skills. CalRBS is very lucky to have him.”

Funding for the new CalRBS position was partly provided by the Los Angeles-based Ahmanson Foundation.

New Scholarship Opportunity

[ 24 March 2010 ]The Northern California Chapter of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA) offers the following scholarship opportunity for Summer/Fall 2010:

George Robert Kane Memorial Scholarship
In memory of long-time member George Robert Kane (Oct. 6, 1913 – Nov. 28, 2009), the Northern California Chapter of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America announces the availability of two Educational Scholarships. In the interest of promoting professionalism and education relevant to the antiquarian book trade, each Scholarship will pay full tuition cost for participation in the course of study offered by the following programs in the Summer/Fall of 2010:

Rare Book School (Charlottesville, Virginia)
Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar (Colorado Springs)
California Rare Book School (Los Angeles)

Applications will be accepted until 5:00 p.m., May 3, 2010. The NCC/ABAA will notify scholarship applicants of its award decision via email by May 14, 2009. The scholarship application is a downloadable pdf, and should be sent via email to Lee Perron.

Scholarship recipients share their RBS experience

[ 14 December 2009 ] In October 2009, RBS conducted a survey of its scholarship recipients in order to assess the outcomes of its scholarship program. Of the 153 students who received and claimed their awards between 2005–2009, 109 (or 71%) completed the survey, which was distributed online. The survey assessed changes in the recipients’ behaviors and attitudes after attending RBS.

Of the 109 students who completed the survey, 107 (or 98%) reported that RBS improved their ability to analyze book or print-related material. A smaller, but still significant number of recipients (88 or 74%) agreed that attending RBS improved their professional standing or situation (e.g. job prospects, job security, salary, and potential to remain in the field).

Students were most likely to include their RBS course on their resumes or curricula vitae or grant or fellowship applications, to recommend RBS to a colleague or a friend, and to share informally the information they learned at RBS with others. Other likely activities included attending a book or print-related lecture or exhibition; however, students were not as likely to attend a book or print fair or to give a lecture or presentation on a book or print-related topic. In general, students were not as enthusiastic about blogging or sharing their research online, publishing a scholarly article, joining a professional organization, or attending a professional conference.

In assessing RBS’s relevance to the scholarship recipients, 90 (or 84%) of 107 respondents reported that RBS was “very relevant” or “relevant” to their professional development and 93 (or 87%) found the course offerings “very relevant” or “relevant” to their professional development. Of the 107 respondents, 92 (or 86%) found their RBS coursework “very relevant” or “relevant” to their specific job or research interest.

Most respondents reported that the scholarship award (which covers tuition only) was “sufficient” to cover expenses for attending RBS (but not “somewhat sufficient” or “very sufficient”); however, some students commented in their prose responses to the survey that it was difficult for them to arrange for time away from work or school and to pay for their own travel and housing expenses. Roughly half (52, or 48.6%) of respondents received professional leave time attend RBS, while 21 (or 19%) had to take vacation or unpaid leave to attend. A little more than a third of students received comprehensive or partial institutional support for their travel and housing expenses, while the remainder (52% housing; 56% travel) personally covered their own expenses.

When asked to identify the most useful components of their experience at RBS, students found course materials (workbooks, handouts, &c.) and advance reading lists to be more useful than networking opportunities with other students and building relationship with faculty members. Surprisingly, RBS discovered that most students did not feel strongly about needing to connect with other scholarship recipients either during or after the RBS week.

We know it’s not always easy for students to arrange time away and cover travel and housing expenses and are looking for ways to provide more support in the future. We appreciate the sacrifices that students have had to make to attend courses and will continue to do our best to make sure the RBS experience measures up to the cost.

For more details about the scholarship program, see the RBS Scholarship page.

RBS founder Belanger profiled in The Chronicle of Higher Education

“We have a better chance of saving books if people see that they have a use than if they are simply religious objects.”

RBS founder Terry Belanger quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education
(6 Dec 2009).

[ 7 December 2009 ] Last year, a local friend of Rare Book School funded an oral history project about the school to help mark the occasion of Terry Belanger’s retirement as Director. Andrew Witmer, an intern at UVa’s Institute for Public History, was engaged to interview Belanger and others about RBS’s history (and that of its original umbrella organization, the Book Arts Press). One of the spinoffs of the project was a long profile of Belanger by Witmer called “The Book Mechanic” that appears in the current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Witmer is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania. His article quotes Belanger extensively on subjects ranging from pretty books to the glamours of librarianship.

See the The Chronicle of Higher Education’s website for the complete article.

2010 course schedule posted, five new courses announced

[ 7 December 2009 ] The 2010 RBS course schedule is now available online. Five new courses join a line-up of tried-and-true favorites. David Pearson, Director of Libraries, Archives, and the Guildhall Art Gallery in London, will teach Provenance: Tracing Owners and Collections. In addition to his vast experience as a librarian, David is the author of several books, including Provenance Research in Book History (1995) and, most recently, Books as History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Texts (2008). Heather Wolfe, Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library and a veteran teacher for the Folger Institute, will be guiding her students through English Paleography, 1500–1750. Law Books: History and Connoisseurship will be offered by Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian at the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale University. Andrew Stauffer, Associate Professor of English at the University of Virginia and Director of NINES, will lead Digitizing the Historical Record. Another new course, Born Digital Materials: Theory and Practice, will be team taught by Matthew Kirschenbaum, Associate Professor of English at the University of Maryland and Associate Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, and Naomi Nelson, Coordinator for Research Services in Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library. Kirschenbaum’s Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (2008) received the 2009 Richard J. Finneran Award from the Society for Textual Scholarship (STS) and the 2009 George A. and Jean S. DeLong Prize from the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP).

We are delighted to offer the bibliographical community these exciting new courses and to welcome these wonderful new members of our world-class faculty. See the RBS Current Schedule page for a complete course listing.

2009 RBS scholarship awardees announced

[ 6 October 2009 ] The great generosity of our benefactors has enabled Rare Book School to award scholarships to a bumper crop of new students of the history of books and printing. There were an enormous number of applications and the judges found their task incredibly difficult. Many highly qualified applicants did not receive aid. Those who did should be justifiably pleased and proud. In general, the RBS Scholarship Committee preferred applicants who are at the beginning of their professional careers and those who had not previously attended RBS. For a list of recipients, see 2009 RBS scholarship awardees.

See the RBS Scholarships and Fellowships page for a description of the school’s scholarship program.

RBS Directors Scholarship Fund triples its goal

RBS Directors Scholarship Goal Thermometer

[ 29 June 2009 ] In late April 2009, a group of friends and colleagues of Terry Belanger mailed out letters to Friends and other friends of Rare Book School, soliciting contributions to a scholarship fund established in honor of his retirement as founding director of the school, and in order to help get RBS – and its various student constituencies – through the next couple of years, which are likely to be tough financially.

The stated goal of the Director’s Scholarship Fund (DSF) was $30,000. On 29 June, contributions to the DSF passed the $110,000 mark, headed north. Many thanks from retiring director Terry Belanger, incoming director Michael Suarez, and the RBS staff to the more than 500 persons who contributed to the DSF!

The Fund will be spent out in scholarship awards over the next few years. Contributions will thus be immediately useful, and Michael Suarez will be able to focus on other matters before turning to the fundraising for further RBS scholarships that will inevitably be part of his job.

Michael Suarez to head Rare Book School

Michael F. Suarez, S.J.
Michael F. Suarez, S.J.

[ 18 June 2009 ] Michael F. Suarez, S.J., will be the new director of Rare Book School (RBS), a bibliographical institute based at the University of Virginia. UVa President John T. Casteen III announced the appointment this morning during his keynote address at the 50th annual preconference of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association, being held in Charlottesville this week.

Suarez, 49, succeeds the retiring Terry Belanger, a 2005 MacArthur Fellow who founded RBS at Columbia University in 1983 and brought the school to UVa in 1992. Like Belanger, Suarez will be a University Professor at UVa, a senior rank that gives its holders unusually broad opportunities for teaching and research. He will take up his new position beginning September 1, 2009.

Suarez currently holds a joint appointment as J. A. Kavanaugh Professor of English at Fordham University and as Fellow and Tutor in English at Campion Hall, Oxford University. A Jesuit priest, he is both co-editor of “The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume 5, 1695-1830,” to be published in September, and co-general editor of “The Oxford Companion to the Book,” expected in January 2010. He is also co-editor of the eight-volume Oxford University Press edition of the Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins, in progress. A former president and long-time board member of the Northeast American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, he has published an edition of Robert Dodsley’s “Collection of Poems by Several Hands (1748-58),” the best-selling poetry anthology in 18-century Britain; the selected essays of D. F. McKenzie (“Making Meaning: ‘Printer’s of the Mind’ and Other Essays”), and he has written many articles on various aspects of 18th-century English literature, bibliography, and book history. He has held research fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Rare Book School is an affiliated foundation of UVa, with its own endowment and board.

“Michael Suarez is admirably qualified to take on the RBS position,” said William T. Buice, III, the chair of the RBS Board of Directors, and a partner in the New York City law firm of Davidson, Dawson & Clark. “I was impressed by his intelligence, enthusiasm, and eagerness to lead RBS.”

The search committee for the RBS directorship consisted of three members of the RBS board and three members from the UVa community.

“The search committee was greatly impressed by Suarez's insight into the part that RBS has played in humanistic research over the past 25 years,” said chair Beverly P. Lynch, a professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. “We liked his ideas about continuing RBS’s traditions while expanding the ways in which the school can be useful.”

A former Marshall Scholar, Suarez has won several awards for his poetry, as well as for bibliography and literary criticism. He holds bachelor’s degrees from Bucknell University and Oxford University (first class hons.). He has a D.Phil in English literature from Oxford University, where he studied with D. F. McKenzie, and he holds M.Div and Th.M degrees from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology.

RBS currently offers short non-credit courses for adults on subjects ranging from medieval bookbinding structures to modern fine printing. Each year, about 250 students take courses at the school both in Charlottesville and in New York City, Baltimore, and Washington DC. Admission to the school's five-day courses is competitive. RBS is noted for the excellence of its faculty, many of whom are world-renowned in their fields.

RBS students include curators and rare book librarians, academics, antiquarian booksellers, book conservators and binders, and book collectors. About 6,000 students have taken courses at the school since its founding in 1983.

The school employs a widely admired — though rarely imitated — course evaluation system in which attendees write detailed prose accounts of their experience at the school. Their comments are then mounted permanently and in their entirety on the school's website.

Suarez brings an unusually varied background to RBS. “He will fit right in here,” says retiring director Terry Belanger. “At RBS, our theme song is ‘other duties as required.’ I’m honored that a person of Michael Suarez’s distinction has agreed to take over the directorship of the school.”

‘Exit, pursued by a bear’ and other RBS summer lectures

Exit, pursued by a bear: Reflections on Libraries, Wall Street, and Things that Last.
RBS lecture no. 515, “‘Exit, pursued by a bear’: Reflections on Libraries, Wall Street, and Things that Last,” takes its title from the famous Shakespearean stage direction in The Winter’s Tale.

[ 14 May 2009 ] Rare Book School is pleased to announce its schedule of 6 pm public lectures during its summer sessions in Charlottesville. The roster of speakers includes Stephen Enniss (8 June), Roger Stoddard (22 June), Mark Dimunation (20 July), Stephen Greenberg (27 July), Andrew Stauffer (3 August), giving RBS lectures nos. 515-519. All lectures will begin at 6 pm, and most of them will be held in Room 201 Clemons Library, with a reception following each lecture in the first floor Alderman Library staff lounge (check the RBS website Lectures and Events page for last-minute changes).

8 June 2009 in Charlottesville

Stephen Enniss, Eric Weinmann Librarian, Folger Shakespeare Library: “‘Exit, pursued by a bear’: Reflections on Libraries, Wall Street, and Things that Last.”

22 June 2009 in Charlottesville

Roger Stoddard, Department of English & American Literature & Language, Harvard University: “B. H. B. in Retrospect: Bernard H. Breslauer, Bookseller of the World.”

20 July 2009 in Charlottesville

Mark Dimunation, Chief, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress: “I Cannot Live Without Jefferson’s Books: Rebuilding a Foundation Collection at the Library of Congress.” The 2009 Sol. M. and Mary Ann O'Brian Malkin Lecture.

27 July 2009 in Charlottesville

Stephen Greenberg, Coordinator of Public Services, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine: “They've Got WHAT? Hidden Treasures of the National Library of Medicine.”

3 August 2009 in Charlottesville

Andrew Stauffer, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Virginia: “Are Digital Editions for Real?”

Support our cemetery

General Grant (made from a scan of the steel plate)
General U. S. Grant (made from a scan of the steel plate)

[ 4 March 2009 ] Rare Book School has recently acquired a set of three American steel-engraved plates, each about 10" x 7", made (perhaps in Philadelphia) in 1864-65. They show vignetted head-and-shoulders portraits of Generals U. S. Grant, Joseph Hooker, and William D. Whipple. The steel plate used for Grant is stamped with the name of the platemaker on the reverse: John Sellers & Sons | Sheffield. The plates used for Hooker and Whipple are stamped on the reverse: W. Dougherty | Philadelphia.

The plates have almost identical captions: “Sold for sole benefit of the National Cemetery | Chattanooga, Tenn.” All three images are identified in the plate as having been drawn by A. F. Brooks [in fact, all three derived from photographs easily found online] and engraved by R. Whitechurch. In small letters at the bottom of each of the plates is the boilerplate legend: “Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1864 [for Grant; the date is 1865 for Hooker and Whipple] by Rev. Thomas B. Van Horne in the clerk’s office of the district court of the United States in and for the eastern district of Pennsylvania.”

General Grant (made from a scan of the steel plate)
General William D. Whipple (made from a scan of the steel plate)

According to information provided by the website of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Thomas B. Van Horne was the chaplain placed in charge of the cemetery’s development:

In a report of May 14, 1866, the chaplain indicated that one-third of the cemetery site could not be used for burials due to large rock outcroppings. As a result, he suggested a design dictated by the rocky terrain. Much was accomplished during Van Horne’s tenure at the cemetery. Flowering shrubs, evergreens and other trees were planted to replace a portion of the dense forest of oak trees that had been cut down as a part of the battleground. Each interment section consisted of a central site for a monument surrounded by plots for officers with the graves of enlisted personnel arranged in concentric circles around them. In 1867, it was designated Chattanooga National Cemetery. (excerpt from the Chattanooga National Cemetery website, accessed on 4 March 2009).

One supposes that Van Horne developed an idea of selling prints taken from our plates as a money-making venture to support the cost of creating the cemetery; but we cannot find a reference to these prints – or, indeed, anything at all about the venture. Given the generals chosen for this project, it appears that the cemetery was used for Union, not Confederate, soldiers. The 120-acre plot in central Chattanooga is still in active use as a national cemetery. Can anyone provide us with additional information?

The three plates arrived in excellent condition, coated with a layer of protective wax (we’ve left the wax coating on General Hooker, for teaching purposes).

Tanselle bibliographies now online

[ 2 March 2009 ] G. Thomas Tanselle's Introduction to Bibliography: Seminar Syllabus and Introduction to Scholarly Editing: Seminar Syllabus are comprehensive guides to the literature of these two fields, including suggestions for basic reading and chronological lists of the writings on specific topics. Through the generosity of their compiler, the two volumes are now available free in their entirety for consultation or downloading online.

The two guides have been published in hard copy (as substantial paperback books of 370 and 258 pages respectively) by Rare Book School's publishing wing, the Book Arts Press, since 1990 (for the Introduction to Bibliography) and 1998 (for the Introduction to Scholarly Editing). Hard copies of the latest version of each, dated 2002, may still be purchased from Rare Book School. The online versions also have a cutoff date of 2002; Tanselle hopes eventually to update them.

G. Thomas Tanselle retired in 2006 as senior vice president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is co-editor of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition of the writings of Herman Melville; among his other book-length publications are Textual Criticism and Scholarly Editing, A Rationale of Textual Criticism, Textual Criticism Since Greg, Literature and Artifacts, Royall Tyler, and The Life and Works of Fredson Bowers. Each year since 1963 [sic], he has contributed an article, many of them of fundamental importance to the study of the history of the book and related subjects, to "Studies in Bibliography," the annual publication of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia (of which he is the current President). He is a former president of the Bibliographical Society of America and of the Society for Textual Scholarship. He is an old and very good friend both of Rare Book School in particular and of the history of the book in general.

Save the date: Belanger farewell party on 20 June 2009

2007 caricature of Terry Belanger by Ismael Roldan
Caricature of Terry Belanger by Ismael Roldan (2007)

[ 4 February 2009 ] This summer, Terry Belanger (founding director of Rare Book School, UVa; University Professor and Honorary Curator of Special Collections at the University of Virginia; and 2005 MacArthur Fellow) will be stepping down from his position as RBS director in order to ensure a smooth transition in the future management of the school. We will miss the leadership of Terry, who has indefatigably championed the school, its faculty, and students since the school's inception in 1983.

To honor Terry's contributions to the school and its associates, we will be throwing a farewell party for him during the late afternoon and early evening of 20 June 2009 in the auditorium of the Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. The party will follow on the heels of the 50th Annual Rare Books and Manuscripts Preconference here in Charlottesville, and we recommend that those who wish to attend the party consider making hotel reservations in Charlottesville for Saturday night. Future details about the party, including information about sending RSVPs, will be posted to the RBS website soon at the Belanger farewell webpage.

Forthcoming fall and winter courses in NYC, Baltimore, and DC

[ 2 September 2008 ] This fall and winter, RBS will be running courses in New York City, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. At the Freer/Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, Ellis Tinios will inaugurate a new course on “The Art of the Book in Edo and Meiji Japan, 1615-1912,” running Mon-Fri, 20-24 October 2008. In the same week, but at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, Roger E. Wieck will offer his course, “Introduction to Illuminated Manuscripts,” which he will be teaching for the sixth time. In Baltimore, at the Walters Art Museum and Johns Hopkins University, Terry Belanger will give his “Book Illustration Processes to 1900” course (taught annually since 1983), and Albert Derolez will offer his “Introduction to Western Codicology” (taught most years since 1987), both running Mon-Fri, 3-7 November 2008. The Tinios, Wieck, and Derolez courses are sold out; there are still a couple of spaces open in Belanger’s course.

In January ‘09, RBS will return to Baltimore. Paul Needham and William Noel will co-teach “15th-Century Books in Print and Manuscript.” Jan Storm van Leeuwen will again offer his “Seminar in the History of Bookbinding.” In 2007, seminar topics included (among others) c16 French and German bibliophile bindings, c17 English Restoration bindings, c18 Dutch and French luxury bindings, and c19 special publishers' bindings in Europe and America. Both courses will run Mon-Fri, 5-9 January 2009.

Application forms for the fall and winter sessions are available online.

Summer schedule of RBS public lectures announced

Location of John Feely's farmhouse, Madison Township, NJ (1876)
Location of John Feely's farmhouse, Madison Township, NJ (1876)

[ 3 June 2008 ] Rare Book School is pleased to announce its schedule of 6 pm public lectures during its June and July Charlottesville sessions. The roster of speakers includes Steve Beare (9 June), William Noel (16 June), Sumner Stone (18 June), Alice Hudson (7 July), Russell Johnson (9 July), Richard Kuhta (21 July), and Andrea Krupp (28 July), giving RBS lectures nos. 506-512. All lectures will begin at 6 pm, and most of them will be held in Room 201 Clemons Library, with a reception following each lecture in the first floor Alderman Library staff lounge (check the RBS website Lectures and Events page for last-minute changes).

9 June 2008 in Charlottesville

Steve Beare, Independent Scholar: “John Feely Meets Samuel Dodd: The Use of Internet Databases in Studying the History of the American Book Trades.”

16 June 2008 in Charlottesville

William Noel, Curator of MSS and Rare Books, Walters Art Museum: “Writing Off Archimedes: Ten Years of Work on the Archimedes Palimpsest.”

18 June 2008 in Charlottesville

Sumner Stone, Typefounder, Stone Type Foundry: “Warp & Woof: History, Craft, Concept and Culture in Early Digital Type Design.”

7 July 2008 in Charlottesville

Alice Hudson, Chief, Map Division, New York Public Library: “Alice’s Top Ten List: Rare Maps: Keeping Them Under Control, Letting Them Go Public.”

9 July 2008 in Charlottesville

Russell Johnson, Archivist/Cataloger, Special Collections, Louise Darling Biomedical Library, UCLA: “More Baby Books than You Can Shake a Rattle At: Building a New Collection for Research in the History of Infant Development.”

21 July 2008 in Charlottesville

Richard Kuhta, Eric Weinmann Librarian, Folger Shakespeare Library: “The Future of Research and Rare Book Libraries (and What It Will Take for Them to Have a Future).” The 2008 Sol. M. and Mary Ann O'Brian Malkin Lecture.

28 July 2008 in Charlottesville

Andrea Krupp, Conservator, Library Company of Philadelphia: “Nineteenth-Century Books Up Close: Bookcloth Grain Patterns.”

Danielle Culpepper joins the RBS Staff

Danielle Culpepper with RBS's collection of Bobbsey twin series books
Danielle Culpepper with RBS's collection of Bobbsey twin series books [approximately 160 titles]

[ 10 May 2008 ] Danielle Culpepper started work as RBS's new administrator at the end of April, succeeding Carolyn Cades Engel (who has accepted a position on the program staff of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities). As RBS Administrator, Culpepper will be responsible for supervising the school's finances, procurement, events programming, and part-time support staff.

Culpepper has a B.A. in history from Lewis and Clark College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from UVa. Most recently, she was a CLIR postdoctoral fellow at the George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University. Her dissertation: "Court, convent, and counter reformation : Ursulines in the Farnese duchy of Parma and Piacenza, 1575-1731," examined the role of the Ursulines in the world of the Farnese, and the roles gender and religion played in a courtly society. She has taught courses on early modern European history at the University of Mary Washington, Miami University, and at UVa.

Culpepper joins Terry Belanger (Director), Barbara Heritage (Assistant Director and Curator of Collections), Ryan Roth (Program Director), and Kenneth Giese (Assistant to the Director) on the full-time RBS staff.

Book Arts Press Address Book, 25th year edition

Matt Kennedy working on BAP Address Book mailing
RBS staffer Matt Kennedy working on the BAP Address Book mailing

[ 9 April 2008 ] Approximately every two years since 1989, Rare Book School and its publishing arm, the Book Arts Press, have published a directory of RBS attendees, ABAA members (in alphabetical order by owner), and others with a connection to the school. The directory is distributed gratis to Friends of Rare Book School. We are pleased to announce the publication of the 10th edition of the Address Book, bigger than ever and with a number of new bells and whistles included as part of the celebration of RBS's 25th anniversary. This edition contains a new history of RBS, a list of a list of BAP/RBS lectures nos. 1-500 together with an account of this long series, a current list of ARL senior librarians. Copies of the Address Book are available to non-Friends of RBS for $30 per copy plus postage.

Directory of ARL special collections librarians

[ 2 April 2008 ] Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 123 large research libraries in the US and Canada. In recent years, the ARL has become interested in rare books and special collections, and its website contains useful material about the ARL Special Collections Task Force, the Hidden Collections initiative, and related matters.

Two years ago, the RBS staff compiled a directory of the principal librarians, curators, directors, and the like working in member institutions of the ARL. The list sets forth the names, addresses, and contact information of persons who have (or might appropriately have) the words "rare books" or "manuscripts" or "special collections" in their titles but who report to a person who reasonably does not and would not have these words in their titles.

Some ARL libraries in our directory are represented by a single person - typically the case with smaller institutions, and those with a tight, system-wide hierarchy. Other ARL libraries are represented by several persons who are in different administrative hierarchies within their institutions (e.g. the heads of special collections in their law and medical libraries).

We annually email a copy of the directory to those listed in it, in order to improve its accuracy and keep it current. We've recently completed a correction cycle, and (thanks to demon RBS webpersons Ryan Roth and Joseph Ennis) we have now mounted the directory on the RBS website and provided a geographical index to the institutions listed. Let us know if you find it useful.

Board changes

New RBS board chair William Buice
New RBS board chair William Buice (click image to see full-size)

[ 29 February 2008 ] In January 2008, RBS Board of Directors chairman Hans Tausig completed his second and final term on the board, as did the board's vice-chair, Peter Herdrich. RBS is grateful to them both for their many years of service to RBS. Hans Tausig has taken 15 RBS courses since 1994; he is enormously knowledgeable about the school's programs, and as the first chair of the board he made an extraordinarily effective contribution to the success of our undertakings; it has been an enormous pleasure working with him. Peter Herdrich has been associated with RBS for more than two decades; he was the director of all three Book Arts Press video presentations - From Punch to Printing Type (1985), How to Operate a Book (1986), and The Anatomy of a Book: Format (1991) - all of which still have brisk sales, by the way.

Neither Tausig nor Herdrich has seen the last of us: we hope that Tausig will join the board's advisory committee when its establishment is approved at the board's summer 2008 meeting; and Herdrich remains the chair of our development committee.

The new chair of the RBS board is William T. Buice, III (RBS board member since 2002); since 1971, he has been a partner at Davidson, Dawson & Clark, LLP, in New York; the picture shows him at RBS last July, when he and his wife Stuart took Sue Allen's course on publishers' bindings. The new vice-chair is Robert A. Gross (a board member since 2004); he is James L. and Shirley A. Draper Professor of Early American History at the University of Connecticut. The board's new treasurer, Joan Friedman, CPA, has been connected with RBS since 1983, when (as Curator of Rare Books at the Yale Center for British Art) she began to co-teach "Book Illustration to 1860: Techniques in Context" with me. Beverly P. Lynch (Professor, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, UCLA), continues as secretary of the board.

William P. Barlow, Jr, remains on the RBS board for another year, but he has stepped down as treasurer, a position he has held since 2002. He has been connected with RBS since 1993, when he began to teach courses at the school. He will be co-teaching "Donors and Libraries" with Susan Allen at the California Rare Book School this summer; we hope that the Allen/Barlow course will alternate between the two coasts from now on. Barlow's collecting interests are well-known; but he is also the proprietor of the Nova Press, an imprint that has published a number of titles having to do with water skiing. Barlow was elected to the Water Ski Hall of Fame in 1993, and he has held practically every office there is to hold in the American Water Ski Association, including terms as president from 1963 through 1966, and chairman of the board of directors in 1966-69 and in 1977-79. He has been honorary vice-president of the Association since 1980.

James Reilly to teach Photographic Print Process ID at UVa

[ 30 January 2008 ] James M. Reilly, the Director of the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) will teach a new course on The Identification of Photographic Print Processes, assisted by Ryan Boatright (also of the IPI). The course will offer instruction in the identification and dating of all the major photographic print processes. It will also touch on the evolution of photograph technology, considering the major processes in chronological order. For a full description, consult the I-35 course page.

Rare Book School now has a Facebook group

Image of Rare Book School's new group profile
An image of Rare Book School's new group profile on Facebook (click image to see full-size)

[ 31 October 2007 ] Rare Book School has recently formed a group on Facebook, the online social networking site that allows members to share news and announcements, photographs, contact information and more. With a growing demographic that includes working professionals and students, Facebook has become a useful tool for staying in touch with both friends and colleagues. For more information about Facebook, visit the Facebook home page or see the Rare Book School group page.

As an RBS group member, you will receive the latest updates from RBS in your newsfeed. Members can upload and tag photos, share links and videos, post shout-outs on our wall, participate on our discussion board, and even poke Terry Belanger. This is an open group, which means any Facebook member can join and invite others to join. Nominations for group officers are welcome!

The RBS website (where you are now) will remain the primary site for information about the school and its activities, but Facebook groups tend to develop a life of their own. We hope students will find the group useful in connecting with each other outside of class. Now if you lose your Vade Mecum, you'll have a place to ask where the nearest laundromat is!

Anybody seen my hammer?

Beating gatherings; from Diderot
Beating gatherings; from Diderot (click image to see full-size)

[ 19 March 2007 ] In 1997, RBS acquired a stack of printed but unbound folio sheets intended to make several volumes of early c19 British House of Commons committee reports. The sheets were roughly folded for storage shortly after printing in bunches of several gatherings each, and then warehoused. If the books had been bound shortly after the dampened sheets were printed, the binder would as usual have had to flatten out the bunches and refold the individual sheets more accurately, in order to even up the gutters and get the text pages squarely one on top of the next (the imposition is folio in 2s). He would then have had to beat the folded sheets with a binder's hammer, several gatherings at a time, in order to consolidate them and make them lie flat and snug, one next to another.

The beating process is illustrated in one of the copper-plate engravings accompanying the bookbinding entry in Diderot's Encyclopédie (Paris 1751-65), a relevant detail from which is reproduced here. We're looking for an actual example of a hand-press-period binder's hammer used for this purpose, the earlier the better: does anyone know anyone who has one? If so, please email < > with information about it.

There is an excellent picture of a binder's hammer on the Mainz Gutenberg Museum website. The head of the hammer, presumably made of (cast?) iron, is probably similar to what the Encyclopédie artist drew, but his copper-plate engraver (who might not himself have been familiar with the object depicted) misread some of the detail.

Zaehnsdorf's “Art of Bookbinding” (1897) also shows a picture of a beating hammer.

Here is a description of the beating process, from George Cowie's Bookbinder's manual (London, c. 1828; facsimile edition [ed. Sidney F. Huttner, NY: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1990] as the second of Two early c19 bookbinding manuals):

Such books as are intended for the process of beating, require a large stone, with a smooth surface, and a hammer (somewhat in the shape of a bell) weighing from twelve to fourteen pounds; having these in readiness, the books are beat in the following manner: — About a dozen sheets (or sections) are held at a time, between, and near, the ends of the fingers and thumb of the left hand, while with the right hand the hammer is raised about a foot, and must fall with rather more than its own weight on the edges of the sections, which should be continually moved round, turned over, and changed, in order that they may be equally beat. During this process, the sections should be occasionally examined, to ascertain whether they have set off; if such be the case, they should have no more beating. If the work have cuts, a leaf of tissue paper should be placed between these and the letter-press. [pp. 8-9]

Contemporary bookbinding manuals like this one are an important source of information about the techniques of hand-press-period forwarding — that is, the process of folding, beating, and sewing the sheets, and attaching the boards or other covering material, before finishing — that is, decorating — takes place.

In 1747, R. Campbell published The London Tradesman, a guide to parents looking for advice on the choice of a trade into which to apprentice their children. He had little to say in favor of bookbinding:

The Bookbinder is a Dependant on the Bookseller. He receives the Book in Sheets from the Bookseller, and his Business is to bind it, and cover it with Leather, Vellum, or otherwise, as he is directed. The Trade of a Bookbinder has no great Ingenuity in it, and requires few Talents, either natural or acquired, to fit a Man to carry it on; a moderate Share of Strength is requisite, which is chiefly employed in beating the Books with a heavy Hammer, to make the Sheets lie close together. The Profit of the Trade is but inconsiderable in itself, and most Masters in this Branch carry on the Business of Stationary or Pamphlet Shops. The Journeymen make but a mean Living; they seldom earn more than Ten Shillings a Week when employed, and are out of Business for Half the Year. [p. 135]

Quiz question: Why were c18 London binders out of business for half the year?

Shaggy dog

[ 26 September 2006 ] Rare Book School has recently acquired a large (15 x 18") intaglio plate, showing a head-and-shoulders portrait of a cheerful long-haired dog, engraved on steel by John C. McRae after a painting by Sir Edwin Landseer. The plate [shown below, reversed] is titled “Fritz.” The image size is 13.375" x 10.375":

We have been unable to identify the original Landseer painting (perhaps it is a detail from a Landseer painting), and we do not know the purpose for which this plate was made: the subject seems a bit simple for a framing print, but the image size is a bit large for most magazine or book purposes. Can anyone identify the print or its source? Any information gratefully received!

Sheepish cloth

[ 3 June 2006 ] A couple of months ago, eagle-eyed Vincent Golden noticed an eBay auction featuring an interesting book in a remarkable binding. The book is the fourth edition of Hymns for the Millennium, composed from the prophetic writings of Joanna Southcott and published by her order by Philip Pullen (London: Manbey, Spencer, Haggar, Essom, 1835), The small book (it is about 6" tall) is bound in cloth printed (as we suppose) to resemble mottled sheep or calf, and the effect is pretty convincing , as you can see by the accompanying illustration.

The book has the remains of a paper spine label. In her recent PBSA article on early bookcloth (100:1 [2006], pp. 25-87), Andrea Krupp reproduces (p. 32, Illus. 1: Middle) a smaller section of this printed cloth pattern, taken from an 1835 book published in New York City; but you really need to see a larger color sample to get a sense of the interest of this pattern, which repeats at a spacious 4" intervals vertically and 6.5" horizontally.

Digital target shooting

[ 10 April 2006 ] We recently added a copy of Henry Blackburn's The art of illustration (London 1894) to the RBS reference library. Blackburn informs us (pp. 21-22) that the first systematic attempt at illustration in a daily newspaper was the insertion of a weather chart in the Times in 1875, but that "in June, 1875, the Times and all other newspapers for England were far distanced by the New York Tribune in reporting the result of a shooting match in Dublin between an American Rifle Corps and some of our volunteers." To be sure, "there were long verbal reports in the English papers, describing the shooting and the results; but in the pages of the New York Tribune there appeared a series of targets with the shots of the successful competitors marked upon them, communicated by telegraph and printed in the paper in America on the following morning."

(Click on the thumbnails below to view the full-size photos.)

With advice from Vincent Golden (Curator of Newspapers, American Antiquarian Society) RBS purchased a copy of the 30 June 1875 New-York Tribune, and we were delighted with the result, held up here by Barbara Heritage, RBS Curator of Collections: the front page of the issue is dominated by no fewer than 36 relief blocks of rifle targets, advertised as "a new feature in journalism - the shots made by the riflemen ... accurately shown by cable, through a process invented by the Tribune Correspondents ... the Americans victorious."

The process probably involved laying a thin sheet of graph paper containing numbered rows and columns on top of the targets in Ireland and determining a set of coordinates for each bullet hole. The coordinates could be cabled to New York for replication on similar sheets of graph paper, transferred to individual stereotype blocks reproducing the target squares, and the indication of bullet holes punched into the appropriate positions.