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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Books by the dozens

While this blog entry is a bit behind the moment of the event (CBAS field trip to Columbus), it is absolutely worth writing about almost two weeks later! On August 13th a group of CBAS members took a Book Arts field trip to Columbus. It was a full and interesting day that began in the Ohio State University Manuscripts library with Geoffery Smith. We continued to an exhibit “The Prehistory and Abiding Impact of the King James Bible: An exhibition celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible”, hosted by The Rare Books & Manuscripts Library in the Thompson Library Gallery (Exhibit ends August 28, 2011). In the gallery we saw a full range of bibles from medieval manuscripts beautifully painted with illuminated letters, early printed books, contemporary illustrated bibles, comics illustrating the bible and an amazing set of etchings by William Blake “Illustrations of the Book of Job” 1826. The delicate lines, precise lettering, and dramatic images Blake envisioned were a highlight for me. 

The Holy Bible illustrated by Barry Moser 1999, OSU Libraries
Eric Johnson, curator of the King James Bible exhibit gave a great lecture and tour of all the works and I wish I had taken more thorough notes! He took us through the early history of the bible as a crafted book. The early hand lettered, illustrated and bound bibles had to be housed in several volumes and there was one portion of the exhibit that showed the progression of medieval bibles (housed in several volumes) to later manifestations that reduced the overall size (columns, lettering) and resulted in the Proto Paris Bible and the Pocket Bible that succeed in containing all of the written content of the bible in one volume or book.  He went on to talk about the printing of the King James Bible. It was a fantastic inspiring and edifying exhibit and talk by Eric Johnson. (Patty Bertsch contributed the photos of the exhibit to this blog, thank you Patty! )

First printing King James Bible 1611, OSU Libraries

First printing King James Bible 1611, OSU Libraries

Bob Tauber of Logan Elm Press was also along for the day and he inked up some letterpress type he had set on an old Albion Press. We were each given a small broadside with information about the exhibit on it. A wonderful keepsake! 

We went on to see Ann Hamilton’s installation at the University libraries/OSU. It is a mesmerizing assortment of cork alphabet/words/text installed and inset on an OSU library floor. I enjoyed walking the words and saying them to myself in a random fashion - the floor read as a piece of poetry. From there we headed over to see a private collection that was inspiring to see and hear about. First, before seeing the books we were treated with a lunch, an unexpected delight. We viewed and could touch (after cleaning our hands!) many small press books that contained beautiful calligraphy, watercolors, wood engravings, and of course letterpress! There were many miniatures, some movables, and dozens of small press books finely printed and bound and a super collection of books that featured Pochoir, a technique using stencils to create an illustration. Stunning and lush!
We had a great day and special thanks to Cody Calhoun and to all those in Columbus for arranging this field trip, it was a reminder of the tremendous resources we have in our region.

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