My Kind of Town

CCBP nameplate

Last week I went to Chicago for two days, to see what there was to see. I had lunch with Maia Wright, a now-even-more-cherished visitor to this blog, and spent an afternoon tooling around with Sheila Ryan, whom I also originally met in the comments here and who led me over to my blog-away-from-home, Clusterflock. In between these two planned and much anticipated treats, a friend hooked me up with an impromptu personal tour of the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts, led by Clifton Meador, who—in addition to making his own gorgeous books—directs the MFA program there.
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from the Guardian

They’ve been doing a lot of nifty slide shows at the Guardian. Here are four recent ones:

  1. British Library launches online newspaper archive

    We Buy False Teeth

    As you may have guessed, I love this kind of stuff. Unfortunately, the archive website’s not working—at least, for me. I click on links and get nothing but error messages. I’ve written to Gale’s tech support, but I’d be interested to know if the site’s working for other people, especially those in the UK.

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A-lines are always in style

five A-frame designs from Print magazine's Flickr slideshow

Brainiac Josh Glenn takes issue with Steven Heller’s facile assertion that although “The human leg has evolved continually over many eons, adapting from an underwater propeller to its current form . . . on book covers and on film and theater posters, the leg has evolved very little.”

I hate to quibble with the master, since I’m a fan of Heller’s books. But this time he hasn’t put his best leg forward. Even a cursory glance at the leg-scenarios on display in Heller’s Print essay — and at Print Magazine’s A-Frame photoset at Flickr — indicate that the A-Frame is forever evolving.

The Flickr set is not entirely work-safe, but do check it out if nobody’s looking over your shoulder. Much excellence therein.

Now I just have to think of some excuse to put an A-frame illustration on the front of . . .

Fore-edge books

Had you heard of fore-edge paintings? I hadn’t. From Karen at

During Merrilee’s and my visit to the Boston Public Library last Friday, Tom Blake and Maura Marx introduced us to the results of the BPL’s digitization of its fore-edge books—books with paintings on their edges that can be viewed only by looking at the sides of the book. Some are “double fore-edge” books – one painting is visible when the leaves are fanned one way, and another painting appears when fanned another way.

The BPL has posted a CC-licensed Flickr set of fore-edge paintings with detailed captions. Love!

Thanks, Dylan!

Photo: [View of London Bridge.] posted by the Boston Public Library; some rights reserved.

Another sliver of history


I’ve been working on cleaning up another set of public domain images and posting them to Flickr, and my plan was to unveil them all at once when I’d accumulated a nice, fat stack comparable to this earlier collection. I’m really, really busy this month, however, and I’m afraid I won’t get back to this project for a while, so here’s an aperitif, in the meantime: Selected illustrations—editorial and commercial—from the San Francisco Call, which was published from 1895 to 1913. The newspaper came to my attention via the famous Alberto Forero, who posted a great illustration of hands to his massive collection of Flickrized antiquities back in January. I asked where he’d found it, he sent me the link, and there went my next week and a half. Thanks a lot.

This newspaper—which I’d never even heard of—published so many fantastic illustrations during just the first month of 1900. Take this gorgeous full-page gangster by Methfessel, for example; or these dissolute gamesters by Cahill; or this fluid sketch; or the adorable torpedoes above. And don’t even get me started on the advertisements for quacky gadgets and rather dubious medicines.

I’m still adding captions, tags, and URLs, and eventually I’ll post more images to this set, but I wanted to at least begin to release these into the wild. If you like this kind of stuff, be sure to check out Alberto’s many awesome photo sets. Just don’t blame me if you lose a couple of days or weeks down in that rabbit hole—remember, it’s all Alberto’s fault.

The Motherlode of Vintage Bookbinding History

swirly bindings

Earlier this week, Miss Sheila Ryan, archivist extraordinaire, drew my attention to the 2008 winner of the award for Best Online Archival Exhibition, as reported by Kate Theimer at “Publishers’ Bindings Online, 1815–1930: The Art of Books,” created by the University of Alabama, University Libraries, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries.

It has taken me so long to blog the news because this collection is sick—sick, I tell you: more than five thousand books, in various states of decay. Some are fabulous; some are homely; it would take weeks to look at them all. Every time I thought I had a good selection with which to illustrate this post, I’d find twenty more that I love.

The only problem with this archive? You can’t bookmark specific pages within the collection, as you have to have a valid session ID. And if you let your browser sit idle for too long, your session times out. Maddening! If anyone can find a way around this, please let me know. I’ve been dumping covers into Flickr so I can find them again.

More samples after the jump . . .
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