Behind every great collection lies a great story. That is the premise of the The Grolier Club Collects, a selection of books, manuscripts and works on paper drawn from the international membership of the Grolier Club. Reflecting the breadth and quality of their varied collecting interests, the exhibition encompasses medieval manuscripts and early printed books as well as contemporary literature; rarities ranging from Old Master drawings and prints, to ninteenth and twentieth century posters, cartoons and ephemera to livres d'artiste, children's books, panoramas and photographs. Each object comes with a tale, written by the collector, describing how and when the book, manuscript, or print was acquired, under what circumtances, how it fits into an overall collecting scheme and-most importantly-why it is precious to the collector. These unique objects illuminate the remarkable range of subjects pursued by bibliophiles on an international stage and provide proof that the collecting of books and prints in the age of the internet is not only alive and well, but thriving.
The Grolier Club Collects is a survey of collecting today, as reflected in the interests of current Grolier members. It is not a 'treasures' show of jewel-encrusted and gilt-edged rarities, rather a collection of remarkable objects chosen for their power to inspire. Included in this diverse assemblage are a complete Roman Praetorian gladitorial "diploma" dating to the third century A.D.; a history of New York bound in Javanese shark-skin by Tiffany & Co., a hand-written poetic valentine from Jack London to a childhood sweetheart; Oscar Wilde's corrected page-proofs for The Ballad of Reading Gaol; a 1762 diary of George Washington; a copy of the very first Christmas card; Coryats Crudities, the first handbook for European travelers; and Emily Dickinson's recipe for coconut cake. Contemporary authors span Virginia Woolf to Charles Bukowski, while drawings range from a luminescent Odilon Redon Shakespeare illustration to an original cartoon strip for Al Capp's "L'il Abner."
Beyond their personal interests, more than 3,000 Grolier Club members over the course of 120 years have helped to shape the history of book collecting as a field. Since 1884 the Club has sponsored over 500 exhibitions exploring topics from Blake to Kipling, chess to murder mysteries, Japanese prints to Art Nouveau posters. Most of these exhibitions have been accompanied by catalogues, many of which have become standard reference works-on Whistler, Dürer, Mayan writing, as well as the renowned "Grolier 100" series of bibliographies in English and American literature, science, and medicine.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue designed by Jerry Kelly, with an introductory essay by curators T. Peter Kraus and Eric Holzenberg. The 192-page catalogue will be available at a cost of $45.00. In addition, a free public symposium featuring "Some Approaches to Book Collecting" by Grolier Club members will be held at the Club on Tuesday, January 14, 2003, from 5-7 pm.
LOCATION AND TIMES: The Grolier Club Collects will be on view at the Grolier Club from 10 December 2002-1 February 2003, with the exception of Dec. 24-26 and Dec. 31-Jan. 1, when the Grolier Club will close in observance of the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM. Open to the public free of charge.