What follows is a brief summary of the Southern California chapter’s field trip to the San Francisco Bay Area on July 19 & 20, 2013 coinciding with APHA’s annual Lieberman Lecture held at the San Francisco Public Library on July 20th. We thank everyone that came and especially those that made the weekend an overwhelming success: Randal Brandt, Peter Hanff, Mary Morganti, Jaime Henderson, Alastair Johnston, and in particular, John McBride and Kathleen Burch. Thanks to the staff at the Bancroft Library, the California Historical Society, the San Francisco Public Library, and the San Francisco Center for the Book.
If you were there and took photos, we’d love to add them!
LtoR: Randal Brandt, Peter Hanff, David De Lorenzo
1. Friday, July 19th
Bancroft Library Tour, UC Berkeley
We met our hosts, Peter Hanff (Deputy Directory of the Bancroft) and Randal Brandt (Principal Cataloger) at the library’s security desk. We were escorted upstairs and into the Bancroft Library Press Room, a well-lit space outfitted with three Albion presses (two of them are tabletop presses). Peter explained that the Bancroft Library was begun in 1863, by its namesake, Hubert Howe Bancroft, a book dealer in San Francisco who began collecting in earnest after realizing that some early materials were unique, ephemeral, or overlooked. Understanding that his accumulated collection was an important source of California (and western) history, and unable to find a publisher, he dedicated himself to a project that took almost 30 years and resulted in a thirty-nine volume history. He sold his collection to the University of California, making it the core collection of the library. Rare book acquisition began in 1954 under the aegis of the English Department.
Paper mould from Book Artifacts Collection
In the Press Room, we were shown some of the typecases (filled with University of California Oldstyle, the proprietary face designed by Frederic Goudy in 1938), as well as a Reliance press and the Albions mentioned above. The Bancroft was given the handpress by Roger Levenson, an instructor in Berkeley’s school of library and information science. Bancroft’s former director, James Hart, suggested teaching a class and Frances Butler was recommended. Since Butler didn’t have experience using the hand press, she enlisted the aid of Alastair Johnston. This, by the way, is how Butler and Johnston met and Poltroon Press was formed. Wesley Tanner was later hired after creative differences forced Frances and Alastair to move on. Today, graduate and undergraduate students have the opportunity to take a class “The Hand Printed Book in its Historical Context”, a hands-on history course taught by Les Ferris.
Our group was then introduced to David De Lorenzo, Associate Director and Head of Technical Services. David had prepared a sample of items from the Bancroft’s Book Artifacts Collection. This teaching tool of over 5,000 items spans the history of communication and the transmission of the written word. Ranging from cuniforms to Apple computers, the collection was started over 50 years ago and organized by former rare book librarian, Leslie Clark. The collections are organized and described individually but until now, only searchable in the Bancroft’s notebooks. With a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the records can now be explored through the Online Archive of California. We were particularly impressed by the range of materials we saw Friday afternoon: engraved music plates, quill pens, John Henry Nash’s paper mould, and early brass bosses and corners. We then stopped in the Reading Room to see how scholars are currently using the collections for their own research and projects. The afternoon at the Bancroft wrapped up with a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of the Technical Services area where we could see the numerous objects being cataloged, processed, and preserved by the Berkeley librarians.
Press Room typecases
For more information on the Bancroft and its collections: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
2. Friday evening
Michael Burke & Dominic Riley, San Francisco Center for the Book
Our timing to the Bay Area coincided with a previously planned lecture with Michael Burke and Dominic Riley at the San Francisco Center for the Book’s new space in Portrero Hill. Michael discussed some of his recent research with the Fountain’s Abbey manuscript collection held at the British Library–specifically, how these manuscripts were collated, bound, and attached to boards, and how developing book production required faster methods of bookbinding. Dominic won first place in this year’s prestigious Designer Bookbinders International Competition for his work and the audience was treated to a number of slides of his beautiful bindings.
For more information on the Designer Bookbinders: http://www.designerbookbinders.org.uk
3. Saturday morning, July 20th
Kemble Collection on Western Printing and Publishing,
California Historical Society
Jaime Henderson and Alastair Johnston
Mary Morganti, Jaime, Linda Dare, and Jessica Holada
The next day’s rendevous was at the California Historical Society. We met Mary Morganti, the Director of the Library and Archives. She gave us a brief introduction to the CHS before leading us into the library. We were welcomed by the library’s archivist, Jaime Henderson and printer, scholar, and CHS volunteer, Alastair Johnston. The items we were shown are part of the Kemble Collection of Western Printing and Publishing. This amazing resource was given to CHS in 1964 by the Society’s former president, George Harding and named in honor of California printer and publisher Edward Cleveland Kemble (1828-1886). Harding’s original gift of his printing and publishing library was quickly augmented by William E. Loy’s typographical library, and the business archives of San Francisco printing firm Taylor & Taylor. It continues to grow and is available through the library’s catalog (http://126.96.36.199/C95040/OPAC/Index.aspx) and through the Online Archive of California (http://www.oac.cdlib.org/institutions/California+Historical+Society).
Alastair exploring postcard samples
Mary, Jaime, and Alastair had picked out some of their favorite items and publications that they knew would be of particular interest to the group. The samples were pulled from both the type specimen and ephemera collections. We were shown Moxon Chappel publications, Strathmore Paper color samples, sample books of printed postcards, half-tone plates used for printing postcards, reference books relating to the business and mathematics of printing, invoices and bill heads for San Francisco-based companies, numerous type specimens from Loy’s collection, brochures from Nelson C. Hawks (the inventor of the modern point system and founder of the Pacific Type Foundry), and archives from Taylor & Taylor including work dockets, work logs, and salary information. The Kemble Collection is an invaluable resource to everyone interested in printing history. More than one of us decided that working at CHS is our new dream job.
Jaime and Linda
For more information on CHS and its collections (http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/)
4. Saturday afternoon
Lieberman Lecture, San Francisco Public Library
This year’s Lieberman Lecture was given by David Pankow, former curator of the Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Collection at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. His talk, entitled Reproductive Arts in America: Lithography Challenges Letterpress, provided a technical, yet accessible background on the development of color lithography and how it superseded letterpress as a viable commercial process. This excellent lecture will be fully reviewed in APHA’s next newsletter.
David’s talk was followed by a reception in the library’s Skylight Gallery where we were able to see an exhibition from the Hand Bookbinders of California. Andrea Grimes and Lisa Dunseth, librarians in SFPL’s Books Arts & Special Collections department, pulled some of the books that David mentioned in his lecture so that we could see them up close and personal. Here’s a link their blog post about the event: http://sfhcbasc.blogspot.com/
5. Saturday evening
Northern CA/Southern CA chapters mixer
San Francisco Center for the Book
Saturday wrapped up at the San Francisco Center for the Book where we were treated to a supper buffet, hosted by APHA’s Northern California Chapter. John McBride and Kathleen Burch orchestrated a great party that gave us a chance to meet other APHA members and printing history enthusiasts. APHA’s President, Robert McCamant, was in attendance. He wins the award for Fearless Leader since he flew out from Chicago specifically for the Lieberman Lecture and for the mixer, then turned around and flew back to Chicago the same day!!
LtoR: John McBride, Gwido Zlatkes, [unidentified], Kathy Walkup, Robert McCamant
Jessica Holada and Robert Gore viewing Johanna’s retrospective
We were also able to linger over the SFCB’s current exhibition Druckworks:Forty Years of Books and Projects, a retrospective of works by our very own Johanna Drucker. The plates and glasses were filled well into the night and the bonds between the chapters have definitely been strengthened. The Northern California chapter will be meeting in August to plan future programs and hold an election for officers. We hope that one of their activities will be field trip to Southern California!
a little bit of everything
A couple of us made a stop at the Book Club of California on Friday morning to see the exhibition curated by Kathleen Burch & John McBride. The Legacy of Florence Walter, featuring features forty-five fine design bindings that Walter’s family has treasured for many decades. Her working sketches, photographs, keepsakes, and other printed works, as well as a portrait of Walter were on view.
Our trip to the San Francisco Bay Area was fun and educational. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, and we got to see amazing collections and meet new friends. We were glad to see that the trip attracted folks from Southern California, Northern California, and Salt Lake City!
Saturday night mixer!
SoCal officers ending our trip with more books! (LtoR: Nina Schneider (Programs), Jessica Holada (Membership), Jane Carpenter (Secretary))