The Book Beautiful Honors course draws to a close. Over the past 15 weeks the students have forged the stacks of the Morrow Library, learned to know and love the special collections, and appreciate all the wonderful librarians who assisted us in research, as well as our creative endeavors. All of the students designed, carved and printed their own bookplates; designed and created edible books for the International Edible Book Festival; researched, selected and located books and items for sale to build a personal collection; wrote weekly blogs on the study of a book of their choice; and designed, selected the materials and made, with their own hands, beautiful bindings. A group of enthusiastic and engaged students like no other. They accused the course of tricking them into learning. This is good.
Culinary delights abound in bookish form in the Drinko Library Atrium at Marshall University on April 8th, 2015. Students in The Book Beautiful Honors Seminar created and presented their edible books to faculty and friends. Enjoy all of the books below – each entry most certainly of winning quality! Thank you to all who attended and a special thank you to our judges. Britani Black, Honors Graduate Assistant; Dr. Monica Garcia Brooks, Assistant VP for IT: Online Learning and Libraries; Dr. Nicki Lo Cascio, Intern Dean of the Honors College; Dr. Susan Gilpin, Associate Dean of the Honors College; Mitzi Cyrus, Honors College Office Administrator; Lori Thompson, Digital Preservation Librarian and Records Manager.
Case binding is a common type of binding found in both fine, and commercial books. Commercial paperback books use perfect binding, where individual sheets are held together with glue and a paper spine. Binding a case bound book requires the gathering and sewing of signatures with binding tape or cord. The signatures are then placed into the case. The case is constructed of binding board that is wrapped in leather, cloth, paper or a combination of one or more of these materials. There are different methods for decorating the book; gold tooling, stamping, inlay, beading, fore-edge painting and other extremely creative methods employed by bookbinders.
Binding is an art, and the work of master binders belongs in art museums. I believe the best way to learn about and appreciate fine binding is well… to view it. Follow this link for a virtual tour of binding. The first two rooms (middle/top) in the museum explain the basics of bookbinding. Please visit them first, for they will help in understanding the specialty rooms to follow. Do you recognize the floor plan? Enjoy!
A book may start out as one of many in an edition, but they live individual lives. An edition will share some special characteristics, paper, type, design and content, but individual owners may add notes on the pages, order a new binding, or paste in their bookplate, creating a unique history for that book. Collectors look for these individual characteristics that can add value to a book. An edition may have an added special edition, that is, a small number of books produced with special paper, in a larger size, or include a portfolio of special illustrations. When looking at library entries, or investigating to purchase the book beautiful, the collector learns the language behind book descriptions. Featured at this link is a interactive image on deciphering book descriptions.
It is almost here! The Book Beautiful’s fourth observance of the International Edible Book Festival on 7 April 2015. All of the participants in The Book Beautiful will be creating edible books. The book making will culminate with awards, tea and book eating! Worthless prizes will be offered for Best in Show, Most Drop-dead Gorgeous, Most Delectably Appetizing and Most Pun-derful. Rules dictate that the edible book must be bookish in nature and that the professor suffers not from food poisoning.
“I MUST BEFORE I DIE, create the type for today of ‘The Book Beautiful’ and actualize it –paper, ink, writing, printing, ornament and binding. I will learn to write, to print and to decorate.” T. J. Cobden-Sanderson
The private press flourishes under the late 19th century Arts and Crafts movement influenced by William Morris (1834-1896) and Sir Emery Walker (1851-1933). The book beautiful is named in honor of the statement above made by Walker’s partner T. J. Cobden Sanderson. The two men operated the famous Doves Press and bindery in Hammersmith, London from 1900 until a dispute dissolved the press in 1909. Contemporary private presses produce books of high quality, taking into consideration the elements of the book beautiful as Cobden Sanderson (1840-1922) defines it.
Traditionally private presses use historic and elegant forms of typesetting and printing. Handset foundry type, Linotype and Monotype casting, and letterpress printing on historic iron and platen presses were performed by master craftspeople. Today, digital type used by means of polymer plates; and the Vandercook proof press is popular as well as the historic methods. The quality of the materials use, as in the paper and binding, are of special stature. Paper can be hand-made with a unique watermark for that particular edition, and that edition alone. Private press books are normally produced as limited editions and quite collectible. Libraries and private collectors are the primary buyers for these handsome books.
A description of the materials and methods used to create a private press book can be found on the book’s colophon page. The colophon will often list the paper and type used, printer, and number of copies produced for that edition as well as indicate the number of that particular copy. The colophon will also list additional large paper or other unique editions.
Another special element often found in private press books is the printer’s device. The use of a printer’s device can be traced back to incunabula as visual signature of the printer’s work and generally appear on the title page. In today’s commercial books, publisher’s logos claim this space. A short list of historic and contemporary private presses can be found listed below next to their printer’s mark.
Building a collection of books, artifacts and ephemeral can not only be a scholarly endeavor but a personal love that lasts a lifetime. Often these collections find homes in academic and public libraries as gifts from the collectors. They are valuable archives that will not diminish in value as the world digitizes. In fact, their value increases as digitized collections can be used without the expense of traveling to where the collections are housed. But it cannot be ignored that viewing a beautiful binding with one’s own eyes, or feeling the pages of handmade paper cannot be replaced by images. The art of collecting books, and all things related to those books, is a needed one. To support this effort several organizations have joined (list of links below) to sponsor the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest recognizes college and university students for their work in book collecting in and effort to “encourage young collectors to become accomplished bibliophiles”. Several Universities and colleges support their own competitions with the winners then representing those institutions in the national event. The National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest rules state: “A collection should reflect a clearly defined unifying theme or interest. It may incorporate ephemera, maps, prints, autograph material as well as books, either hard cover or paperback, as long as they are germane to the collection’s focus. How well a collection reflects the collector’s intent is more significant than either the number of items or the monetary value of the collection.” (rules)