Introducing the Arthur Tress Collection of Japanese Illustrated Books

Julie Nelson Davis

A 40-minute Zoom webinar followed by 30 minutes of Q&A scheduled for Wednesday, 22 July 2020, 4–5:10 p.m. ET, via Zoom.

Due to Zoom’s restrictions, this event is limited to the first 300 people who register. The event will be recorded and made available for viewing on the RBS YouTube channel.

In June 2018, photographer Arthur Tress gave his collection of more than 1,400 Japanese illustrated books to the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. In this talk, Davis will begin by describing how that gift came to Penn, will draw its contours, and will highlight some of its masterworks. The collection is one of the largest at any university and includes work ranging from the late seventeenth century through the 1940s. It also includes representative examples of woodblock printing through the period, from popular comic novels to kabuki programs, from books on painting to travel guides, erotica, and pattern books, and many, many more. Reflecting on what it means for this to be a “study collection,” Davis discusses how these materials are being employed in focused, object-based teaching, from Rare Book School classes to university classes. In addition, she will discuss how these books are being employed in hands-on classes, as well as in developing an exhibition with students, with both online and print components—and how that project was adapted due to the current pandemic.

Follow the conversation on social media using hashtags #RBSOnline and #RBSTressColl.

Everyone is welcome to attend. To ensure the security of the event, advance registration is required; to register, click here. Registration closes at 8 a.m. the day of the event.

Your registration will be automatically accepted. You will receive an email reminder the day before the event. The day of the event, we will send you the Zoom URL and password. Please direct any questions to RBS Programs at (


Header image: Various artists, assorted book wrappers for Inu no sōshi (Tale of the Dogs), 1848-1881, Arthur Tress Collection of Japanese Illustrated Books, University of Pennsylvania Libraries.