Saturday, March 28, 2015

the Book Beautiful in New Zealand

the photo is by Mark Beatty, and here Ruth Lightbourne, Curator of Rare Books at The Turnbull Library, Wellington, and Melissa Bryant, a Master of Information Studies student at Victoria University and a recent intern at the Turnbull show some of my books (Jenson's Greek by Loney, Lullaby by Ross Brighton, and Mondrian's Flowers by Loney and Max Gimblett which was published, not by me but by Granary Books, New York) - the books are part of The Book Beautiful exhibition running from 2 March to 22 May 2015 -  "selected by Ruth Lightbourne, Curator of the Rare Book Collection, this beautiful and exquisite grouping includes medieval manuscripts, early hand-printed works from the 15th century, the finest examples of the 19th and early 20th century private press movement, embroidered and jewelled bookbindings, and more. A New Zealand section features a specially commissioned work by Auckland printer Tara McLeod of the Pear Tree Press" - 

the term 'book beautiful' is derived of course from the essay The Ideal Book or Book Beautiful by T J Cobden-Sanderson (Doves Press 1900), in which he elaborates a set of ideals in the fields of Calligraphy, Typography and Illustration toward 'The Book Beautiful as a Whole' - I don't have a copy of the Doves Press publication, but a reprint from The Arif Press of Wesley Tanner (Berkeley 1972) - a small volume nicely printed in 500 copies, 350 'sewn in wrappers', 150 'hand bound in boards at the Press' - I wonder if, because Cobden-Sanderson's essay was written just over 100 years ago, a kind of philosophical update might be worth a try, when the world itself and the book within it have changed so dramatically since then - Doves Press was to my mind a far more accurate guide to the future of the book & of type design than was anything by William Morris, even tho Morris was the more influential thinker about the fate of the book against the procedures of industrial production in the late 19th century and the role of craft in the face of industrialisation - so it's nice to see Cobden-Sanderson recalled in the Book Beautiful, and in New Zealand as well, as far geographically from the so-called centres as can be imagined - if you can get to the exhibition, go to it -