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Book Arts

Gordon A. Pfeiffer Trade Binding Collection
Gift of Gordon A. Pfeiffer

The Gordon A. Pfeiffer Trade Binding Collection collects a wide array of the various binding styles employed by publishers and bookbinders in the nineteenth century. As handmade objects, these bindings employ a variety of materials and decorative designs, which often vary from copy to copy. A number of these bindings were signed by their binders, who stamped their names on the covers in text so small as to be almost invisible.

1. True Politeness, A Hand-Book of Etiquette For Gentlemen. Philadelphia: George S. Appleton, 1849. Striped cloth binding.
2. The Rainbow For 1848. Ed. A. J. Macdonald. Albany, New York: A. L. Harrison, 1848. Gift book. Signed “patent stereographic binding.”
3. Thomas Brooks. Apples of Gold, For Young Men and Women, and a Crown of Glory for Old Men and Women. New York: Charles Wells, 1832. Cathedral binding.
4. John Milton. Paradise Lost: A Poem in Twelve Books. New York: Solomon King, 1831. Signed binding.
5. The Parlour Scrap Book. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, and Blanchard, 1837. Panel stamped binding; signed in three locations.
6. Nathan C. Brooks. The Literary Amaranth of Prose and Poetry. Philadelphia: Kay and Brother, 1840. Unsigned panel stamped binding.
7. J. T. Headley. The Sacred Mountains. New York: Baker and Scribner, 1847. Striped and gilt stamped cloth binding.

Bible. German. Eck. 1550

Bibel: Alt vnd New Testament: Nach dem Text in der Hailigen Kirchen Gebraucht. Ingolstat: Alexander vnd Samuel Weissenhorn, 1550.
Gift of Carl Dawson

This volume is an early printing of Johann Eck’s 1537 German translation of the Bible. Eck was one of Martin Luther’s major Catholic adversaries during the Reformation, and this translation was intended as a Catholic response to Luther’s own translation. This copy is illustrated with printed woodcuts, a form of illustration in which the images were printed from wood carvings. The most elaborate woodcuts in this edition appear in the Book of Revelation, which presents a prophecy of the destruction, judgment and rebirth of the universe. The image shown here depicts the Great Red Dragon making war with Heaven.

Alexander ab Alexandro

Alexandri ab Alexandro Iurisperiti Neapolitani, Genialium Dierum Libri Sex. Hanoviae: Typis Wechelianis, apud Claudium Marnium & heredes Ioan. Aubrii, 1610.
Gift of Ann Deming

The endpapers in this copy are derived from an earlier printed book, probably fifteenth or sixteenth century in origin, which has been remaindered for use as scrap paper. Excess printed sheets, damaged books, and volumes which went unsold for too long had no commercial value and were not generally treated as important historical artifacts. The paper on which they were printed still had value as a raw material and was often reused in this fashion.


In Amphitheatrum Caesaris. [Venice: Philippus Pincius, 29 March 1491].
Gift of Judith Villamarin

Books printed before 1501, such as this one, are known as incunabula (Latin for “swaddling clothes”), which denotes their status as artifacts from the infancy of printing, the first book printed by Gutenberg circa 1454. The first printed books used typefaces which imitated the handwritten script which had hitherto been standard. This copy, by contrast, employs a Roman typeface, which aimed for greater readability. The proponents of this style of type also believed that it was more in keeping with the script used by the ancient Romans, and thus more aesthetically suited to editions of the Classical writers.

Bermond Chauveron

Dn. Bermondi Choueronij Caesarei [...] De publicis Concubinarijs Commentarij. Lugduni: Ad Salamandrae, apud Sennetonios fratres, 1550.
Gift of Judith Villamarin

The printer’s seal in this volume depicts the mythical salamander, a creature believed to be impervious to fire. A printer’s seal served as an insignia or trademark with which a printer could identify his work.

Gérard Charrière

Prison Book. [New York?: the artist], 1989.
Gift of Gérard Charrière

Prison Book is an artist’s book created by assembling and altering several found objects: a book, a bundle of newspapers, and a Royal Jamaica cigar book. The book is a Russian translation of A. J. Cronin’s Citadel, in a library binding, which has been cut into the shape of an “L.” (When opened it forms a “T.”) The article at the top of the newspaper bundle concerns Sylvia Seegrist, a paranoid schizophrenic woman who murdered three people and wounded seven more in a shooting in 1985; she was deemed criminally insane. A colophon of sorts is inscribed by hand at the bottom of the newspaper bundle; it offers no explanation for the assemblage, leaving the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

Gérard Charrière

Woodblocks, 1990, circa 1999-2001
Gift of Gérard Charrière

Swiss visual artist, book binder, and book artist Gérard Charrière (b. 1935) is known for his characteristic use of bisected shapes, particularly the triangle, indicative of pyramids. Shown here are several woodblocks used by Charrière for various printing projects.

Winslow Durgin

Traces/Fire. Lewiston, Maine: Great Raven Press, 1977.
Gift of Charles Robinson

This copy, the author’s autograph presentation copy inscribed to Paul Martin, is one of 325 printed. The University of Delaware Library houses the archives of the Great Raven Press.

Edgar Allan Poe

The Raven. Newark, Delaware: Raven Press, 2005.
Gift of Raymond Nichols

The Raven Press is a letterpress studio located on the University of Delaware campus. The Press is affiliated with the Visual Communications Group, the Department of Fine Arts & Visual Communications, and the Center for Material Culture Studies.

Gregory Benford

Matter’s End. New Castle, Virginia: Cheap Street, 1991.
Gift of Jan O’Nale

Copy “C” of twelve lettered copies, out of a total 177 copies printed. This copy is signed by the author and illustrator on the colophon.

Steven Clay

Nine Sentences on Friendship. [New York, New York] : Thomas A. Clark, Laurie Clark & Granary Books, c2003 (Portland, Oregon: Textura Letterpress).
Gift of Steve Clay.

This book, collaboration between Granary Books and Moschatel Press, was printed for the Chinese New Year “in gratitude to all our friends — past, present and future.”

Anne McCaffrey

The Girl Who Heard Dragons. New Castle, Virginia: Cheap Street, 1985.
Gift of Jan O’Nale

The Cheap Street Press was operated for over 20 years by the husband and wife team of George and Jan O’Nale. The press specialized in printing high quality, artistic editions of science fiction and fantasy writings, always in strictly limited print runs. This copy was one of 199 copies printed; it is also signed by the author and the illustrator. The press ceased operations in 2003 after George and Jan O’Nale, who were beset with increasing health problems, took their own lives in a double suicide.

Ted (Edward T.) Cronin

Castration is Proposed As Sentencing Option. [New York: T. Cronin, 1991?]
Gift of Gérard Charrière

Author’s autograph copy.

John Digby

British–born poet and collagist John Digby (b. 1938) was first inspired to write poetry by the French poet Arthur Rimbaud. Time spent in Paris exposed Digby to Dada and Surrealism, which has influenced much of his poetry and art. In the 1970s, Digby co–founded Caligula Books with artist and illustrator Steve Wheatley, and after his emigration to the United States, Digby established two presses with his wife Joan Digby, The Ragged Edge Press and Feral Books.

John Digby

Improvisations on Arthur Rimbaud’s Le Bateau ivre. Oyster Bay, New York: Feral Press, 2004.
Gift of Joan and John Digby

Third, revised edition printed as a keepsake for the 150th anniversary celebration of the birth of French poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891), Charleville–Mézières, la Galerie du Petit Bois, in April 2004.

John Digby

Collage from Arches series
Gift of Joan and John Digby

One of a series of surrealist scenes that take place under or viewed through a set of arches. A 1998 volume titled The Arches pairs poems by Welsh poet Tony Curtis with twenty–five pieces from Digby’s arches series.

John Digby

Owls, undated
Gift of Joan and John Digby

Digby’s interest in birds at a young age led him to find work in the Small Bird House at the London Zoo, where he encountered a variety of species of birds and other animals. Animals and birds in particular figure highly into Digby’s work.

John Digby

Collages for Improvisations on Rimbaud’s Drunken Boat, circa 1995
Gift of Joan and John Digby

Initially influenced by Surrealism and later by a sense of structural unity, Digby’s collages are unique for their achromatic color scheme and use of inlaid paper.
This series of collages were part of an exhibition at Suzuki Graphics in New York, May 2–31, 1995. A working draft of Digby’s Improvisations was printed in 1995; the collages were numbered to correspond with the verses as they appeared in the text.

Now I grasped that moment
and utterly submerged myself
in the Poem of the Sea
infused with stars
milky white
devouring the shifting
green azures
where like ghastly flotsam
a drowned man sometimes
pensively descends
into the depths

I have come to know
the sky torn apart
with lightning
etching its vivid scars above me
seen waterspouts spew forth
seen breakers
tides and streams clash
I have seen night
And from its swirling darkness
watch the dawn rise
like a nation of fluttering doves

Yes yes yes
Believe me when I say
I have seen
what man could only imagine!

Michael Heller

Figures of Speaking. With Collage by John Digby. Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin: The Perishable Press, 1977.
Gift in memory of Willard Speakman III

Marnie Flook Miniature Book Collection

A miniature book is usually defined as any book smaller than three inches in height. Miniature books have existed since the earliest days of printing in the fifteenth century; in manuscript, they have existed since at least the Middle Ages. Like their larger counterparts, they range from works printed to serve as portable reading material to artistic items printed to showcase the craftsmanship of their printers and binders. While some are printed in type which is legible to the naked eye, others are so small as to require the aid of a magnifying glass. Many miniature books continue to be printed using hand-press technology, which requires exceptional skill on the part of all craftsmen involved. Marnie Flook began collecting miniature books in 1980; her collection, which encompasses all manner of subject and genre, amounts to well over two thousand volumes.

Marnie Flook Miniature book Collection
Gift of Marnie Flook

1. The Bible in Miniature or a Concise History of the Old and New Testaments. London: Printed for E. Newberry, 1780.
2. [Bookshelf, with assorted minibooks by Éditions Montparnasse]. 1993.
3. [A Collection of Fables, For the Instruction and Amusement of Little Misses and Masters. England?:] Sold at the Bible and Sun [in] St. Paul’s Churchyard, [18th century?].
4. François de La Rochefoucauld. Maximes et Réflexions Morales. Paris: Imprimerie de Didot le Jeune, 1827. Rebound in gilt-tooled morocco over boards by Bedford.
5. [Set of French children’s books, in custom book case]. Paris: Pairault et Cie., 1896
6. Howard Hornstein. Wind in the Sails: Sea Chanties. Bisbee, Arizona: Pequeño Press, 1999.
7. [Tilt’s Hand–Books For Children.] London: Charles Tilt, [ca. 1830–1840]
8. Officium Paruum Beate Marie Uirgenus. [Vancouver, Washington?: Shannon Mitchell], 1990. Manuscript minibook, issued with custom book lectern.
9. Le Petit Paroissien de L’Enfance. Paris: Firmin Didot, [early 19th century].
10. [Russian Folk Tales]. Phoenix: Dubna, 1996–2000. Set of 4 volumes in custom case. The illustrations on each cover are replicated on the case.
11. Schloss’s English Bijou Almanac for 1841. London: A Schloss, 1841. Issued in a custom case, with miniature magnifying glass. Schloss’s almanacs once had a possible claim to the title of world’s smallest books.
12. Mihály Zichy. Erato Graphiken. Budapest: Corvino, 1988.

[Lord’s prayer. Polyglot]

The Lord’s Prayer. [Munich: Waldmann & Pfitzer, 195–? or 196–?].
Gift of Marnie Flook

The Lord’s Prayer was advertised as the smallest book in the world; there actually are smaller books in existence, although, measuring at 6 x 6 mm, it comes close. The text, which was printed from handset moveable type, is the Our Father, rendered into seven languages. The book’s binding was also executed by hand. The Lord’s Prayer is issued in a custom plexi–glass which includes a built in magnifying glass, which is needed to read the text. Some copies were sold in a four volume set entitled Die kleinsten Bücher der Welt (The smallest books in the world); others were sold individually by the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, in order to finance the Museum’s reconstruction.

Henry Morris

Printer’s apron
Gift of Henry Morris

Printer and papermaker Henry Morris founded Bird & Bull Press in 1958 in Newtown, Pennsylvania, when he began experimenting with papermaking. Bird & Bull Press has been producing fine press, limited edition works for over fifty years. This printer’s apron was worn by Henry Morris at the Bird & Bull Press for twenty–five years. Morris inscribed the apron: “3–12–98. Finished printing D.H. & Son [Dard Hunter & Son] my ‘magnum opus.’ (I wore this apron from first to last.)” Below this inscription is a note to Robert D. Fleck, Jr., owner of Oak Knoll Books: “Bob: this apron is about 25 years old–I printed some of your books on it. (Exciting, isn’t it?)”

Engraving burins
Gift of John DePol

American artist and wood engraver John DePol (1913–2004) is considered one of the great exemplars in the field of wood engraving; his work, a masterful demonstration of technical precision and finesse. After experimenting with lithography and etching, DePol began to teach himself wood engraving in 1947.
Wood engraving employs a variety of tools which are used to cut around the design so that only the raised areas are inked and printed on the block. These three burins were among the many tools DePol used.

Unfinished Goudy’s Press woodblock, 1977
Gift of Thelma and Patricia DePol

This block of a Goudy press was abandoned due to a mistake DePol made in the design of the image, which demonstrates the artist’s attention to detail and commitment to accuracy in his work. On the back of the block, DePol has written: “Damn! Just noticed the left leg does not curve in–a fault when I was moving tracing around for another area–6 hours down the drain! Well, start it again–Sunday, July 31, 1977 / DePol.” DePol’s notes about his work can be found throughout his collection at the University of Delaware Library.

Wesley Bates (pseud. Henry Morris)

The Booksellers of San Serriffe: Wood Engravings. Newtown, Pennsylvania: Bird && Bull Press, 2001
Gift of Henry Morris

San Serriffe is a fictional island nation created by Britain’s Guardian newspaper for the April Fool’s Day edition, April 1, 1977. Under various pseudonyms including Theodore Bauchus and here, Wesley Bates, Henry Morris has produced several publications about San Serriffe’s booktrade out of his Bird & Bull Press, under the imprint San Serriffe Publishing Company.

Henry David Thoreau

I Fear That He Who Walks Over These Fields... Bethseda: Wild Apple Press, 2007.
Gift of James C. Wilder

Illustrated by Lee Ann Scotto. Established in 1960, Wild Apple Press operates out of Bethesda, Maryland. The press produces new material written on Irish literature and history.

Robert La Vigne

Gasoline sign, 1958. Oil on board
Gift of Robert Wilson

Sign to advertise American Beat poet Gregory Corso’s volume Gasoline (City Lights, 1958). The sign was hung outside of City Lights bookshop in San Francisco. Signed in bottom left corner by La Vigne.

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