Archive: "History of Printing and Fine Press" Category

Celebrating Dante Alighieri

Today marks the 700th anniversary of the death of the Italian poet, Dante Alighieri. His Divine Comedy (completed in 1320) is considered both one of the greatest works in Italian literature and one of the greatest literary works of the European Middle Ages. Dante’s poetry and prose works were copied widely in Medieval Italy—around 800 …

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New exhibit: Making the Kelmscott Chaucer

125 years ago this month, William Morris and his compatriots at the Kelmscott Press finally published the book which had occupied them since 1892. The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer Now Newly Imprinted, also known as the “Kelmscott Chaucer,” was the most elaborate – and significant – work issued by the press. Morris was a lifelong …

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Modern Fine Press Collection exhibit

This winter, the L. Tom Perry Special Collections salutes the work of modern fine printers and artists working with the book as a medium with a small case exhibit titled “A Printer Wonderland.” It has been common practice for many modern fine printers to produce small keepsakes at Christmas or New Year’s, including cards, broadsides, …

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Beautiful bindings: the vellucent binding

In the 1890s, English bookbinder Cedric Chivers (1853-1929) introduced a new book decoration process which he called the “vellucent” binding. First, an artist would create a painting on a very thin medium. The design might include mother-of-pearl inlays, gold leaf, or other decoration. It would then be overlaid with a specially-treated sheet of vellum — …

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New acquisitions: Printing proofs for the Kelmscott Chaucer

Special Collections recently acquired five printing proofs of wood engravings from William Morris’ masterpiece, the 1896 Works of Chaucer. The illustrations were designed by Victorian artist Edward Burne-Jones, and then would have been transferred to blocks of wood by Robert Catterson-Smith and then engraved by William Harcourt Hopper. These proofs would have been created as …

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The Giunti and the Medici

As part of the History of Printing and Renaissance/Reformation Collections, Special Collections has acquired numerous examples of the work of the Giunti family, a prominent Italian printing dynasty of the 15th and 16th centuries. The family’s printing business extended across Europe, with presses in Venice, Florence, and Lyon and a book distribution network which spread …

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Art Nouveau Bindings for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, we’ve created a gallery of some rather gorgeous poetry books. The bookbindings shown here were all designed in the art nouveau style, and published between 1880 and 1910. Art nouveau features long, flowing lines, inspired by organic forms. It was popular in decorative arts of the late Victorian …

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Christmas with the Grabhorn Press

Special Collections has a large collection of the work of the Grabhorn Press, a San Francisco fine printing establishment founded in 1920 by brothers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn. The Grabhorn Collection is comprised of books, broadsides, and ephemeral pieces produced by the press over several decades, including this undated Christmas card sent by Edwin and …

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The Cuala Press

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting the work of one of the first female fine press printers, Elizabeth Corbet Yeats (1868-1940). Elizabeth was the sister of poet William Butler Yeats. Elizabeth, known as “Lolly,” and her sister Susan, called “Lily,” were both involved in the Arts & Crafts movement in England and Ireland. …

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Peter and Donna Thomas: a book arts exhibit

Special Collections’ holdings of works by California book artists Peter and Donna Thomas are featured in the latest Art in the Library exhibit. Since 1977 the Thomases have worked both collaboratively and individually—letterpress printing, hand-lettering and illustrating texts, making paper, and hand binding both fine press and artists’ books. The exhibit features examples of their …

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