Boston Antiquarian Book Fair

As you almost certainly are aware, The 34th annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair takes place the weekend of November 12-14, 2010.  We would like to make sure you are aware of a few of the events taking place during the fair at the Hynes Convention Center, which include a few members.  For more information about the fair, directions and tickets please see

Member organization North Bennet Street School will have a table on cultural row displaying the work of the bookbinding students.  Drop by the booth and meet the next generation of book workers!

Chapter member Todd Pattison is one of the panelists for the Ticknor Society:

Ticknor Society Collectors Roundtable
Saturday, November 13, 2010 3:00 PM

Todd Pattison, discussing his collection of bindings by Benjamin Bradley.
Todd collects books bound by Benjamin Bradley, a pioneering book binder who established one of the first cloth binderies in Boston in 1832. He bound many of the publications of Ticknor & Fields, and also did binding for numerous other publishers. At one point, he employed upwards of 80 people and the bindery was able to turn out 3000 bound volumes in a day. Todd owns about 400 signed bindings by Bradley.

Todd worked as a book conservator at the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts for twenty years. This September, he begins work at the Widener Library as the Harvard College Library Collections Conservator. He studied bookbinding with Fred Jordan in western New York state in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and later studied with Hugo Peller and Edwin Heim in Ascona, Switzerland. He has an undergraduate degree in Art History from Nazareth College and an MLS from the University of Alabama.

And don’t miss a special opportunity to see Michael Suarez, director of Rare Book School, on Sunday:

The Ecosystems of Book History: Acting Locally, Thinking Globally
Sunday, November 14 – 1:00 PM

Michael Suarez is University Professor and Director of Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.  The holder of research fellowships from The American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, Michael’s most recent publication is The Oxford Companion to the Book (2010), a million-word reference work on the history of books and manuscripts from the invention of writing to the present day.  The Sunday Telegraph in London called it “colossal” and “a paradise for book lovers;” while The Wall Street Journal praised it as “a fount of knowledge where the Internet is but a slot machine.”  Michael is co-General Editor of The Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins (8 volumes, Oxford University Press, 2005–13).  His current project is Bibliography for Book Historians.

Reminder of Dominic Riley Artist Talk

Design Matters: the creation of contemporary fine leather bindings
An Artist Talk by Dominic Riley
North Bennet Street School, Boston
Thursday, October 21, 2010
6:00-8:00 pm

With the advent of the Arts and Crafts movement bookbindings became works of art in themselves.  Dominic is one of a small number of bookbinders working today who create unique Design Bindings for collectors.  This lecture shows a range of these contemporary bindings, explaining how each design grew from a response to the text and illustrations of the printed book. 

Dominic’s design bindings are in collections worldwide. He is a Felow of Designer Bookbinders, and in 2008 he won both first prizes and the Mansfield Medal in the DB competition.

This lecture is free and open to the public, but please email to reserve a seat.

This event is co-sponsored by North Bennet Street School and the New England Chapter of GBW.

Cuala Press Seminar

Another upcoming event of interest to New England Chapter members from Barbara Hebard at Burns Library:

Boston College, John J. Burns Library
140 Commonwealth Ave, Chestnut Hill, MA

November 8, 2010 

The Women of the Cuala Press and the Irish Literary Revival

Boston College Libraries, in collaboration with the Association of College & Research Libraries, New England Chapter (Women’s Studies Interest Group), are pleased to announce a seminar, “The Women of the Cuala Press and the Irish Literary Revival”, to be held at the John J. Burns Library on November 8, 2010. Presentations will be offered by Dr. Robert K. O’Neill, Librarian of the John J. Burns Library; Marjorie Howes, Associate Professor of English, Boston College; Justine Sundaram, Reference Librarian of the John J. Burns Library; and Andrew Kuhn, doctoral candidate at Boston College.  A complimentary continental breakfast will be served prior to the talks. 

In 1902, Elizabeth and Lily Yeats went into business with Anglo-Irish carpet designer Evelyn Gleeson’s Dun Emer Industries. Lily was in charge of the embroidery department and Elizabeth ran the press.  In 1908, due to personal and professional differences with Gleeson, Elizabeth and Lily left Dun Emer to found their own Cuala Industries, which included the Cuala Press and the Cuala Embroidery Department. Besides providing works for publication, William Butler Yeats acted as editor and advisor for the press. Cuala Industries, while producing books, broadsides, note cards, hand-colored prints, and embroidery designs, employed Irish women artisans, writers, and artists. The John J. Burns Library has an impressive collection of Cuala Press materials and related items in its holdings. Some of these materials will be available for viewing at the seminar. 

The seminar and breakfast are free of charge and open to the public. The breakfast will be served at 9:00 am and the seminar will begin at 10:30 am. To place a reservation to attend, please contact Barbara Adams Hebard,

View a slide show of some Cuala Press archival materials from the John J. Burns Library: 

Directions to Boston College (note: parking locations and rates are listed here): 

Campus map (note: the John J. Burns Library is located in the Bapst Building, enter the door nearest to the main gate):

Dominic Riley Artist Talk

The New England Chapter of GBW will co-sponsor with North Bennet Street School another installment in our lecture series.  This artist talk features the entertaining and talented Dominic Riley while he is in Boston teaching a couple of master classes at the school.

This lecture is free and open to the public, but please email to reserve a seat.  You can use the same email to inquire about the workshops, or see for more information.

Dominic Riley
Thursday, October 21, 2010
6:00-8:00 pm
North Bennet Street School
Boston, MA
Dominic Riley is a bookbinder, teacher, and filmmaker. He first learned bookbinding at 16 from Benedictine Monks at Douai Abbey in Berkshire and later with Paul Delrue and at the London College of Printing. Dominic has worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and for various binderies in London, New York and San Francisco.

Upcoming in New England

We want to bring your attention to a few upcoming events in the neighborhood that may be of interest to chapter members.

From The Ticknor Society:

Katherine Wolff discusses Boston’s Early Bibliophiles & Their Athenæum

Boston Room, Johnson Building, Boston Public Library, Copley Square.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010, 6:30 P.M.

Enter from Boylston Street entrance and turn left. The Boston Room will be on your left.

For our inaugural Fall event, Katherine Wolff, author of Culture Club: The Curious History of the Boston Athenæum, will discuss “Boston’s Early Bibliophiles & Their Athenæum.” The Boston Athenaeum’s founders–many of them devoted book collectors–worked hard to build a community of like-minded amateur intellectuals. In the early decades of the nineteenth century, these gentlemen looked to Great Britain for their cultural heroes. A careful reading of Athenaeum documents reveals passion, anxiety, and veiled assumptions about class. Indeed, the values of the nascent institution became a kind of scaffolding for one notion of American culture. Our society’s namesake, George Ticknor, was among the bibliophiles whose taste and motivation helped solidify the early Athenaeum. Katherine Wolff is an independent scholar, who received her doctorate in American literature and history from Boston University.

From the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University:

The Charles H. Watts II History and Culture of the Book Program
Thursday, September 30, 2010.  5:30 pm, JCB Library
Bookbinding through Five Centuries: Bottlenecks and Breakthroughs
A Lecture by Sam Ellenport

Free and Open to the public.  A founding member of the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers, Sam Ellenport is a hand bookbinder and historian of the craft.

From the Art Gallery at Bunker Hill Community College:

The Art of Discovery and Boston Book Art
until October 29, 2010
Reception on Thursday, October 7. 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Gallery Talk on Thursday, October 14. 1:30-2:30 p.m.

This exhibition combines a photo exhibit and essay by Eva Timothy, “Lost in Learning: The Art of Discovery,” with a group exhibition showcasing local book artists.  Includes work by GBW president, James Reid-Cunningham, and other chapter members.


The annual conference of the Guild of Book Workers, with the grand title of “The Seminar on Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding” probably sounds a little daunting to those not familiar with the event.  The conference is held each year at different places around the country, and is in fact a highly social as well as highly educational.  The conference is a wonderful opportunity for the annual cross-pollination in our wide-ranging field of “book workers.”

In addition to the formal presentations there are tours, social events, a banquet with an entertaining auction– and one of the best reasons to attend might be the vendor room which will be packed with temptations.

The conference topics offer something for everyone, with presentations on traditional bookbinding, book arts and book conservation.  There are frequently presentations that cross disciplines, and the variety is part of the very structure of the Guild of Book Workers.

This year the conference is in Tucson, AZ.  October 14-16, 2010.   There is an extraordinary group of presenters (see below), and we know the local host committee has worked hard to put on a great event.  There is still time to register, and you can do so online for the first time this year.  See the Standards page on the GBW site at

Standards Presentations 2010

Michael Burke – Byzantine Binding
Michael Burke started his working life as a chemist researching the transformation of coal into oil. He later worked in occupational health with asbestos. Michael studied bookbinding with Dominic Riley and paper conservation with Karen Zukor. He was involved in establishing the bindery at the San Francisco Center for the Book, and edited Gold Leaf, the journal of the Hand Bookbinders of California.

Michael lives in the Lake District, England, where he teaches bookbinding at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal and at Society of Bookbinders (SoB) events across the UK. He is a past chair of the North West and North Wales region of SoB. He has taught for diverse book arts groups across the USA, including Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake City and in 2007 he taught at Paper and Book Intensive in Michigan. Last year he travelled to São Paulo to teach for the Brazilian group ABER. In recent years Michael has been researching the structures of ancient and medieval bindings. Michael will demonstrate the making of a medieval Byzantine binding. This leather binding is unique in that is bound from the boards to the center, resulting in a natural rounding of the spine, at which point the two halves are joined.

Nancy Ruth Leavitt – In Search of Content, the Joys and Challenges of Creating the Book Form
Nancy Leavitt is a calligrapher specializing in unique hand-lettered and painted manuscript books. Leavitt’s interest in the hand-lettered book developed as a result of her studies in the U.S. and Great Britain. Her work resides in many prestigious collections and she has received several grants from the Maine Arts Commission for research into her craft, including quill cutting. She lives, works, and sings in Stillwater, Maine.

Like an engineering project, a book is a complex three dimensional design made up of many parts. Content is the central idea of the design and narrative is how it unfolds, how the story is revealed and concealed. Our goal as bookmakers is to intentionally integrate all aspects of the design to strengthen the structure, form, and content of our works. Through demonstration and example, Nancy discusses her rigorous yet playful method of researching, compiling data, developing, and realizing materials for her manuscript books.

Martha Little – Book Forensics: Interpreting Evidence of Structure
Martha Little has been a bookbinder and book conservator since 1976. She was Book Conservator at the Yale University Library and Head of Conservation at the University of Michigan Libraries, and is now in private practice in California. Her early training was with Jane Greenfield, who incorporated a study of historical structures and the making of models into the work day, and with Roger Powell in England, whose powers of meticulous observation will always be an unattainable standard. Martha took part last year in a condition survey of manuscript books at the National Library of Egypt in Cairo, where she learned that two people can look at the same detail and see two different things. 

Every book conservator accumulates knowledge of some of the small details that are clues to a book’s invisible or lost structure. A remnant of a leather strap may lie in a board; extra holes suggestive of an earlier sewing may be apparent in the folds; raised areas where the covering material has become worn reveal where cords are laced in underneath. Martha’s presentation will examine more ways of interpreting physical evidence when examining a book, in order to determine how it was made and what materials were used. She will bring old books to look at and discuss; recreate evidence though different means to see which interpretation seems more plausible; demonstrate some simple tests to identify materials, and show how the knowledge of the observer can both help with and get in the way of seeing what’s there.

Jeffrey S. Peachey – Late Eighteenth Century French Binding Structures
Jeffrey S. Peachey is the owner of a New York City-based studio for the conservation of books and the inventor of conservation tools and machines. He is a Professional Associate in the American Institute for Conservation and a previous chair of the Conservators In Private Practice. For more than 20 years, he has specialized in the conservation of books and paper artifacts for institutions and individuals. A consultant to major libraries and university collections in the New York City region and nationally, he has been the recipient of numerous grants to support his work. A well-known teacher, Peachey also provides conservation-focused guidance to students in art, bookbinding and conservation programs.

This presentation will focus on the structural aspects of a typical 18th century full calf French binding by comparing contemporary descriptions in bookbinding manuals, examining extant bindings and experimenting with reproduction tools and equipment. In some respects, this structure is the end of utilitarian leather binding–50 years later the cloth case begins to predominate. Some features of this binding style include cutting the boards with a pointe, ploughing the edges in-boards, four variations of transverse spine liners and sprinkled cover decoration. Primary texts include Diderot’s Encylopedie (1751-1780). Gauffecourt’s Traite de la Relieure des Livres (1763) and Dudin’s L’Art du Relieur-doreur de Livres (1772). Specific conservation concerns for these structures will also be discussed.

Preservation of Books at the Folger Shakespeare Library

The Preservation of Books at the
Folger Shakespeare Library
A Lecture by Renate Mesmer
North Bennet Street School
Boston, MA
August 12, 2010.  6:00pm

Renate Mesmer will speak about a variety of projects undertaken at the Folger Shakespeare Library including the conservation of 19th century scrap books, The Halliwell-Phillipps Albums, and other treatments.  Paper splitting and other techniques, tips and tricks used at the lab will be discussed.

This lecture, another installment in the North Bennet Street School/Guild of Book Workers lecture series, is free and open to the public.  Registration is not required, but if you plan to attend it would help us plan if we have a rough headcount.  RSVP to

The associated workshop, “Tips and Tricks for Book and Paper Conservators,” to be held at North Bennet Street School August 12-16, is currently fully enrolled.  If you would like to be added to the waiting list please contact the NBSS workshop director, Jourdan Abel at

About the Presenter:
Renate Mesmer is the Assistant Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the former Director of the Book and Paper Conservation Program at the Centro del bel Libro in Ascona, Switzerland. She has a Masters in bookbinding from the Chamber of Crafts of Palatinate in Germany and gained experience in conservation during ten years of work as head of the conservation department at the  Speyer’s State Archives in Germany.

Islamic Bindings

Islamic Bindings: A Conservator’s Perspective on Form and Function
An Ilustrated lecture by Katherine Beaty
Schlesinger Library, Cambridge MA
July 28, 2010.  6:00 PM

Another installment in our series co-sponsored by the North Bennet Street School: Katherine Beaty, rare book conservator at Harvard College Library, will describe and illustrate the fundamentals of Islamic bookbinding structure and conservation challenges.  Katherine will provide a compilation of imagery drawing upon selected examples from the Library of Congress, as well as Harvard’s recent Islamic Heritage Digitization Project.

This lecture is in conjunction with the North Bennett Street School’s workshop on Islamic Bindings, taught by Katherine on July 29-31.  For workshop information and online registration please see

The lecture is free and open to the public.

NBSS Student Exhibition

North Bennet Street School’s annual student exhibition is on view until May 28 at the site of the Old Corner Bookstore, corner of Washington and School Street (Downtown Crossing) in Boston.

The New England Chapter will sponsor an informal gallery talk on Monday May 24, 2010 at 6:00pm.  This event is free and open to the public.  Bookbinding Department Head (and New England Chapter Chair) Jeff Altepeter will speak briefly about the bookbinding program and the exhibit, and introduce some of the student binders.  Don’t miss this opportunity to speak with some up and coming binders (and GBW members!) about their work.

While there is wonderful work from first and second year students on display in the bookbinding cases, the focal point of the bookbinding exhibition is the set book fine binding project.  The second year students have all bound copies of an exceptionally appropriate imprint from Incline Press.

Cuts of Craftworkers by Jost Amman reproduces fifty-seven cuts from Amman’s Standbüch or Book of Trades of 1568. Book binders, paper makers, bakers, musical instrument makers, tailors and pin makers are only a few of the craft workers depicted in Amman’s lively and realistic woodcuts.  The paper is 140 gsm Magnani; Berthold Wolpe’s Hyperion is used for the captions; and the introduction written by the historian Veronica Speedwell.

 In addition to the many bindings we have crowded into our display cases there are examples of student work from most of the other programs at North Bennet Street School on exhibit.  You can shield your eyes from those items and focus on the books… or feel free to enjoy the entire show!

The exhibition hours are varied.  Please contact Jason Gregoricus at NBSS to confirm specific times before visiting at 617-227-0155 or

Karen Hanmer

Karen Hanmer, Artist Talk
April 29, 2010
6:00 pm
North Bennet Street School
Boston, MA

This event is free and open to the public, but advance registration will help us select the appropriate size room.  Please contact Jeff Altepeter at bookbinding @

The New England Chapter is proud to sponsor another free lecture at North Bennet Street School.  Chicago artist Karen Hanmer will introduce the range of her work, which includes artists’ books, design bindings and installation.  A lecture will be followed by an opportunity to handle many of the books. 

Chicago binder, book and installation artist Karen Hanmer’s intimate, playful works fragment and layer text and image to intertwine memory, cultural history, and the history of science. Her work weds the ancient act of book binding with the high tech use of the computer to aid her process. The intimate scale and the gestures of exploration required to travel through each piece evoke the experience of looking through an album, a diary, or the belongings of a loved one. However, her works often take the forms of games or puzzles, and many include witty text.

Hanmer exhibits widely, and her work is included in collections ranging from Tate Britain and the Library of Congress to National Museum of Women in the Arts and Graceland. Recent solo exhibition venues include Florida Atlantic University, University of the West of England Bristol, and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (OH). Recent curated exhibition venues include the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Brooklyn Museum, Harvard University’s Fogg Museum of Art, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and The Center for Book Arts (NYC); and traveling exhibitions sponsored by the Guild of Book Workers, the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists’ Guild, and Les Amis de la Reliure d’Art du Canada.

Karen Hanmer serves as Exhibitions Chair for the Guild of Book Workers, and on the editorial board of The Bonefolder.

“Karen Hanmer is that rare artist who thoroughly understands the vast potential of the book as an art form. Her books consistently unify structure and content in a way that makes her work unforgettable. At the same time, you can tell that she’s having a heck of a lot of fun, too.”

 — John Cutrone
Book Arts Coordinator
Jaffe Center for Book Arts
Florida Atlantic University

You can see some examples of Karen’s work at 23 Sandy Gallery and of course check out her own site


April is quite a month for book lovers in New England , and North Bennet Street School is the place to be.  Recall that the New England Chapter is sponsoring a lecture by Todd Pattison on April 12, and of course we are bringing Karen Hanmer to the school on the April 29.  But also note that North Bennet Street School is hosting British book artist Paul Johnson on the following night, April 30, 2010.  See for more information.