Currently closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the House of Illustration has shuttered its rented space at Granary Square in London’s King’s Cross neighborhood and will reopen in autumn 2022 at a new location across the city when it will morph into the world’s largest public arts space dedicated to illustration: the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration.

Redevelopment work repurposing four eighteenth- and nineteenth-century industrial buildings by Tim Ronalds Architects is due to start in June next year at the Centre’s new permanent home at New River Head in Islington.

The new complex will contain larger exhibition galleries, an education hub, event spaces, a shop and café, as well as illustrator Quentin Blake’s personal archive of 40,000 items. More than £3 million of the £8 million needed to finance the move has already been raised including £1 million from the Architectural Heritage Fund through its Heritage Impact Fund. Donations, grants, and a public fundraising campaign will provide extra financial support.

“We are thrilled to be embarking on a project that will secure a permanent and much-needed public centre for illustration and graphics in the UK and a home for Sir Quentin’s archive,” said Olivia Ahmad, artistic director of House of Illustration. “We look forward to expanding and developing our pioneering work that explores the importance of graphic art in our lives, supports emerging creators and empowers people of all ages to use visual communication.”

Blake added, “I am enormously proud to have my name associated with this international home for an art which I know and love, and for artists who speak in a myriad of visual languages, but are understood by all. It is going to be amazing.”

During its closure, the Centre will mount online exhibitions and continue with its program of education events.

Inspired by one of the feature stories in our new issue and in honor, of course, of Beethoven’s upcoming 250th anniversary this fall, we’d like to suggest this “virtual tour” through the Morgan Library’s Beethoven manuscripts with Robinson McClellan, assistant curator of music.

Have a suggestion for Video Fridays? Add in comments below, or email me directly.

Doré, at least in the world of antiquarian books, is a name that hardly needs an introduction. Gustave Doré (1832-1883) was a French artist who found enormous commercial success by illustrating everything from classics to comics, and notably, Bibles. As the Getty Museum notes, “Dramatic, chiaroscuro illustrations of the Bible and literary giants such as Rabelais, Balzac, Cervantes, Dante, and Milton made Doré's name.”

Headed to auction in Paris next month are five metal stereotype plates (engraved metal matrices mounted on blocks of wood) used during the printing process of the two-volume La Sainte Bible of 1866. All were engraved by different engravers — Héliodore Pisan, E. Goebel, A. Francois Pannemaker — under the direction of Doré.  

Each matrix (lots 56-60) is valued at €800-1,000 ($940-1,180).

The “Agag” plate appears to have been offered at Bonhams in London last year to no avail.

Our Bright Young Librarians series continues today with Amelia Hugill-Fontanel of the Rochester Institute of Technology:

What is your role at your institution?

Associate Curator at RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection. We have a lean staff at the Cary, so we each wear many hats. I curate online and on-site exhibitions, devise programming, and do a lot of special collection library instruction. I write grants and do collection development regarding 19th to 21st century graphic design and printing technology. I oversee several student employees and manage our photographic reproductions for online cataloguing.

How did you get started in special collections?

As an art history undergraduate student, I interned at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York. They hired me after graduation as a curatorial assistant in their photography collection. I have sought special collections positions since then.

Favorite rare book / ephemera that you've handled?

We hold a plaster cast of the right hand of American type designer, Frederic W. Goudy, (1865-1947.) While Goudy was a fine draftsman, his hand was quite large, so the cast is affectionately called “The Paw.” Many years ago, an RIT professor started a legend that whomever touched the Paw would have bad luck for an indeterminate amount of time. That has not happened to me yet, as I have handled it! I would like to think that I’m immune to the curse as I often teach about Goudy in a positive light because of his great accomplishments in design. (Picture of the Paw here:

What do you personally collect?

I collect rocks from my travels. They are small enough to carry in my pocket and best of all, they are free! If the rock has naturally-occurring stripes, that’s a bonus. I love the serendipity of finding a keeper.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I have a personal printmaking practice that overlaps with work. I am a letterpress printer, who uses vintage relief type and printing presses to create fine-press prints. So even though I also get to do this activity in my daily work, whenever I travel, I seek out printshops or technology-history museums. My kids roll their eyes at how many side-trips we’ve taken on a family vacation to see printing presses! (Picture of a poster I designed and printed

What excites you about special collections librarianship?

There is a lot of reward in facilitating research for our patrons in special collections. I have seen it so many times: when a graduate student has an “a-ha!” moment because you brought her the box with items that support her thesis question, or when an artist visually responds and appropriates a piece you showed in a tour. It’s an affirmation that the products of past human endeavors that are held in our collections, have so much to inform the future in scholarship and practice.

Thoughts on the future of special collections librarianship?

Let’s think about the incunabula period in printing history: from 1455 to 1501. This was the first 50 years of printing with moveable type when widespread technology changes in communication informed the next several centuries of publication traditions. We are living right now through the “digital incunabula” period: 1985 to 2035. The digital impact of on-screen reading, graphic reproduction, global access, and applied computer technologies with regard to special collections is palpable but still unquantifiable. So much experimentation is going on to digitally deliver and analyze special collections materials. It’s exciting to be a part of a movement that might have such enduring impact. I think the future of special collections librarianship is right at the intersection of preserving collections while aiding innovative digital research about them.

Any unusual or interesting collection at your library you'd like to draw our attention to?

Cary holds a wide collection of 45,000 books and hundreds of primary source archives on printing, graphic design, and the book arts. In addition to these paper-based collections, we maintain a unique working Technology Collection of 30 printing presses, and thousands of fonts of metal and wood type. My belief is that these industrial realia are preserved through use. I lead printing demonstrations, hold workshops, and produce our own Cary limited-edition prints on this equipment. We are also in the midst of cataloguing our type collections using ArchivesSpace, as there is quite a network around the world of typophiles and printmakers who would appreciate this resource.

Any upcoming exhibitions at your library?

For fall, we are mounting a pop-up exhibition of a portfolio of prints by Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. Quotes by Rosa Parks are a central theme of this body of work. We wanted to display something inspirational that addresses the current BIPOC movement. We are also working on digital exhibitions, so check our site soon. Or curate your own exhibit from our Digital Collections site!

On September 24 at 7 p.m., the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, will hold a “Very Virtual Benefit & Auction,” featuring appearances by Julie Andrews, Yo-Yo Ma, and Andrea Davis Pinkney. This online-only gala is a COVID-era substitute for the museum’s annual Carle Honors fundraising event. Proceeds support the museum’s art and literacy programs, exhibitions, and educational resources for children and families.

A silent auction of art from leading children’s book author/illustrators, including Sandra Boynton, Maurice Sendak, Rosemary Wells, Mo Willems, and Eric Carle (of course!), will open on September 18, and two pieces of art will be auctioned live during the 45-minute broadcast. You can register for the virtual benefit & auction here.

In the meantime, the Carle Museum has reopened with an homage to Swiss artist Paul Klee, whose drawings and paintings of angels inspired Eric Carle to create his own set of found-object collages depicting angels.

Here are the sales I'll be keeping an eye on this week:

Forum Auctions sells Books and Works on Paper on Thursday, August 27, in 209 lots. Sharing the top estimate at £1,500–2,000 are two Hebrew grammatical texts from the 1520s bound together and a volume containing five Shakespeare plays, including the 1730 Dublin edition of the Merry Wives of Windsor). An imperfect copy of Portlock's Voyage Round the World (1789) is estimated at £750–1,000.

At Swann Galleries on Thursday, Vintage Posters, in 353 lots. A 1949 Charles Loupot poster for Lion Noir shoe polish rates the top estimate, at $20,000–30,000. A small-format "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster (1939) could fetch $12,000–18,000. A rare variant of the 1896 Sutro Baths poster is estimated at $10,000–15,000, and a copy of Percy Albert Trompf's 1929 "Australia" poster could sell for $7,000–10,000.

Rounding out Thursday's sales Fine Books with Americana, Travel & Arthur H. Clark Publications at PBA Galleries. The 386 lots include a large collection of publications from the Arthur H. Clark Company from the library of George M. Steinmetz, as well as many Book Club of California and Limited Editions Club publications. Most of the starting bids are in the low three-figure range or below.

On Saturday, Addison & Sarova Auctioneers sell Rare Books, Art & Ephemera at Addison & Sarova on Saturday, August 29. They've got 304 lots on offer this time, with a good mix as usual of early printing, American imprints, manuscript material, and a few large lots of bookplates.

Here’s a fun Video Friday that speaks not only to the services libraries are providing to the community during the pandemic but what they have to do to promote themselves. Meet ‘Curbside Larry,’ aka John Schaffer, a senior library program specialist at the Barbara Bush Branch Library of the Harris County Public Library in Spring, Texas. Don’t miss it:

Yesterday, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted a virtual media preview of its forthcoming in-person exhibition -- the museum recently reopened with a timed ticketing reservation system -- called Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through Children's Books. The fifth in a series coordinated with the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts, this exhibition focuses on crafting children’s books that explore the people and events of the Civil Rights era and is billed as the first of its kind to do so.

“One of the guiding aspects of our mission is a commitment to family audiences,” said the High’s director Rand Suffolk. “Through our children’s book exhibitions, we aim to help adult visitors open meaningful dialogues with the children.” 

In that spirit of openness and a desire to foster important conversations about the Civil Rights Movement, I turned this assignment over to rising sixth-grader Abby Richter, who regularly writes book reviews and interviews authors for Literary Features Syndicate. She sat in on the media preview and filed this report:

Coming soon to a theater near you — if it’s open, that is — is a new film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel, David Copperfield, directed by Armando Iannucci and starring Dev Patel as the titular character. The cast also includes Hugh Laurie and Tilda Swinton.

Originally published as a serial beginning in May 1849, David Copperfield is a rags-to-riches story set in Victorian England. Iannucci’s splashy remake debuted abroad last year and won a BAFTA Film Award. The Guardian called it “a surreal cinematic odyssey that is as accessible as it is intelligent and unexpected … It really is a wonderfully entertaining film, managing to both respect and reinvent the novel from which it takes its lead, creating something new and exciting in the process.”  

The Personal History of David Copperfield is slated for American release on August 28. Hopefully, a streaming option will follow for those of us not yet willing or able to venture out into movie theaters. Until then, take a look at this very appealing trailer:

A collection of antiquarian cookery books heads to auction at Bonhams in London tomorrow, almost all with a British bent. It is, after all, a collection built by Ruth Watson, who ran a country house hotel in Suffolk, England, for many years and is now the owner of the newly opened Watson and Walpole restaurant in Framlingham. She is also known for hosting the television programs, The Hotel Inspector and Country House Rescue.

But one American cookbook stands out, not only because of its early date and place of publication — 1830 in Watertown, New York — but because it retains its original, linen-backed, blue-gray paper-over-board binding with a shadowy figure depicted on the back cover. Moreover, no copy has appeared at auction since 1977, according to the auctioneer. The volume is titled The Cook Not Mad, or Rational Cookery, and in it, the anonymous author promotes the use of native ingredients, such as cranberries, corn, turkeys, and watermelon. Their stated aim was “Good republican dishes,” a phrase meant to convey wholesome, no-nonsense food like pickled beef, certainly nothing “English, French, and Italian,” cuisine the author considered “indigestible.”  

The book is estimated to make £500-700 ($650-900).

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