Press Releases

Peter Harrington is ‘Drawing a Line’ at Frieze Masters

London — Peter Harrington, the UK’s largest rare bookseller, this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, and is attending Frieze Masters for the second time, this October. This year its collection focuses on ‘Drawing a Line’.
As Adam Douglas of Peter Harrington says “In the past, we identified ourselves and our place in the world by drawing a line. We defined boundaries and our self, but at the risk of creating division. This Peter Harrington exhibition of printed books and related artworks investigates how those dividing lines have been drawn by writers and thinkers of the past. Most of the fiercest clashes over religion, nationality, race, class, gender, and civilization have been fought in the medium of print. Where one writer has drawn a line, another has questioned the need to do so.”

Courtesy of Peter Harrington Rare Books

Discours de la Methode by René Descartes (1637) on offer at Frieze Masters for £150,000.

Some of the highlights which will be on show include:
    •    Descartes’s famous argument for the distinct natures of mind and body in his Discours de la Methode (1637);
    •    Mary Wollstonecraft’s groundbreaking feminist manifesto, demanding “justice for one-half of the human race” in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792);
    •    Captain Cook’s three voyages (published 1773-85), circling the globe and drawing a line around uncharted coastlines, with fatal consequences both for him and the civilizations he encountered;
    •    Melville’s dramatization of the clash between humanity and nature in Moby Dick (1851);
    •    Marx’s analysis of the inevitable class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in Das Kapital (1867).
A printed catalogue will accompany the Peter Harrington exhibition and will be available shortly.
Frieze Masters takes place in Regent’s Park, London from Thursday 3rd October until Sunday 6th October and Peter Harrington will be on Stand B12.

Peter Harrington Rare Books is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association and offers an ‘unconditional guarantee’ for each item it sells on its authenticity and completeness, as described.


Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books Brings a Collection of Instructive Literature to Frieze Masters

Courtesy of Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books AG

Plutarch, The Lives of Romulus and Cato the Younger. Illuminated manuscript on vellum, made for Philippa of Guelders. France, Paris, c. 1508, to be offered at Frieze Masters for EUR 1.4million.

London — While autumn is the time to go back to school, Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books returns to Frieze Masters this autumn (October 3-6 2019) with an exquisite selection of museum quality, medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts, miniatures, and early printed books. This year’s special focus lies in instructive literature from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Over the years, Dr. Jörn Günther has distinguished himself as a dealer of royal books. From his collection, he will present unique, extremely rare manuscripts that were used for educational purposes at royal courts in 15th-and 16th-century Europe.

One of the highlights that Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books is bringing to Frieze Masters this year is a stunningly beautiful manuscript version of Plutarch’s The Lives of Romulus and Cato the Younger. It was commissioned around 1508 by Philippa of Guelders for her oldest son and heir, Antoine of Lorraine. This outstanding manuscript was part of the young prince’s collection of instructive literature. The lives of Romulus and Cato the Younger had much to teach a young prince who moved in the circle of the French kings. Romulus was exemplary for his inspired military and political leadership in early Rome, and Cato for his stubborn tenacity against corruption and in upholding republican values against the dictatorship of Julius Caesar. This manuscript contains 54 monumental miniatures, each as large as a panel painting, in detailed architectural gilt-frames, all in breath-taking condition. This extraordinary manuscript has only recently come on the market and will be presented at Frieze Masters with an asking price of 1.4 million euro.

Another manuscript that was commissioned by Philippa of Guelders and her husband, Duke René II of Lorraine, is an impressive, large-format volume of the second part of the popular Vita Christi, or La grande vie du Christin French translation by Guillaume Lemenand. The ducal couple’s coat of arms and their portraits adorn the finest pages in the book. This text in French would have been read aloud to Philippa and her ladies in waiting, or would have served to educate young nobility at court. The manuscript contains an extensive cycle of fine miniatures, illuminated by the Master of the Chronique Scandaleuse. The volume at hand is preserved in an almost untouched condition, conveying an unblemished, fresh, and immediate impression of the artist’s mastery. The long history of this manuscript’s provenance is known, as Philippa bequeathed her book, consisting of two volumes, to the convent to which she retired as a widow. The other volume has also been preserved and is currently housed at Lyon’s Bibliothèque municipale (ms. 5125). This outstanding work is on the market at an asking price of 2.2 million euro.

Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books’ line-up for Frieze Masters includes another piece of instructive literature for European royalty, a unique royal manuscript that was made for Juan II of Castile and Leon around 1425. It was later presumably inherited by his daughter Isabella, Queen of Spain. This compendium of texts, as a ‘mirror of princes’, offers instruction on how the king should govern. It is a previously unknown testimony of royal duties with a personal touch. The lively, colourful miniatures present the king in his role as the supreme law-giver, governor, military leader, and as an example of chivalric conduct. They show how royal identity is defined and may also provide a portrayal of the monarch for the next generations. A provocative map of the world from just before the Age of Discovery shows how 15th-century Spain saw itself and its place in the world.This engaging manuscript is on the market at an asking price of 2.4 million euro.


The Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair Returns for its 43rd Year, November 15-17

Courtesy of Brattle Book Shop

Boston – One of the oldest and most respected antiquarian book shows in the country, the 43rd Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair will be held November 15-17, 2019 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.  Featuring the fascinating collections and rare treasures of more than 130 American and international booksellers, the event gives visitors the opportunity to see, learn about, and purchase the finest in rare and valuable books, illuminated manuscripts, autographs, political and historic documents, maps, atlases, photographs, fine and decorative prints, and much more.
An alluring treasure trove awaits seasoned collectors as well as new visitors at an event that offers the top selection of items available on today’s international literary market. Attendees have the unique chance to get a close look at rare and historic museum-quality items, offered by some of the most prestigious participants in the trade. Whether just browsing or buying, the Fair offers something for every taste and budget—books on art, politics, travel, gastronomy, and science to sport, natural history, literature, fashion, music, and children’s books—all appealing to a range of bibliophiles and browsers. From the historic and academic, to the religious and spiritual, from the exotic to the everyday–the Fair has offerings in every conceivable genre and subject.

In recent years, novice and younger collectors have been increasingly captivated with unique offerings at accessible price points. For attendees wanting to start a collection without breaking the bank, there will be dealers offering “Discovery” items priced at $100 or less, including a selection of children’s books and decorative cloth bindings. The Fair is an opportunity to learn tips on how to start a collection and talk to dealers who are experts in their specialties.
Tickets are $25 for Friday night’s exclusive Opening Night event, an opportunity for the public to get a first look at items for sale at the Fair; admission is free on Saturday and Sunday.

Special events at this year’s fair, including a roster of illustrious speakers, the Ticknor Roundtable, and Free Appraisals, will be announced in early fall.

Friday, November 15                   4:00-8:00pm             Tickets: $25.00 - Opening Night       
Saturday, November 16               12:00-7:00pm           Free Admission
Sunday, November 17                 12:00-5:00pm           Free Admission
Hynes Convention Center 900 Boylston Street Boston, MA
The Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair is sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit the Boston Public Library and the American Antiquarian Society. Tickets are for sale at and at the show’s box office during Friday evening show hours. 


Extensive Underground Railroad Record Debuts at Swann’s Americana Sale

Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. Estimate $30,000 to $40,000.

New York -- Covering five centuries and the entire Western Hemisphere, Swann Galleries’ sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana is set to come across the block on September 26. Highlights include archives documenting slavery and abolition, printings of the Declaration of Independence, Civil War diaries, quality Utah and Mormon material, as well as Latin Americana.  

An extensive and detailed record of the Underground Railroad is set to come across the block in an archive that once belonged to the Shugart family. Zachariah Taylor Shugart was a known agent of the Underground Railroad circa 1840-51. The documents include his account book listing 107 passengers Shugart helped from 1841-43. Early entries in the log give complete names, such as Samuel Strawther, while others are incomplete or more evocative, including “Ellen Something” and “North Star.” Additional material includes letters from Shugart’s son during the Civil War and a pocket diary kept by Shugart. The archive, containing 63 items, is estimated at $30,000 to $40,000.

Substantial business records from the Dickinson & Shewsbury salt works in West Virginia are also featured in the sale. The archive contains more than 2,000 items, documenting numerous enslaved people who aided in the salt production. Most notably are records of family members of Booker T. Washington, who lived in the area after abolition. The historic lot is expected to bring $80,000 to $120,000, a testament of its potential for scholarship.

An impressive run of 12 different printings of the Declaration of Independence features in the sale. Highlights include an 1833 copy of the Force printing by William J. Stone—the first accurate facsimile printing of the Declaration of Independence and the basis for what we now know as the Declaration ($15,000-25,000). William Woodruff’s 1819 printing which features an oval border bearing the 13 original state seals topped by three portraits ($1,500-2,500); and a circa 1820s early handkerchief printing based off Woodruff’s ($3,000-4,000).

Manuscript diaries from Civil War soldiers in various parts of the country paint a picture of the war from February 1862 to September 1863. Samuel Walker’s diary, dated February 8, 1862 to September 1, 1863, chronicles his time as a Navy seaman during the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo. Walker recounts the battles he encountered as the gunboat sailed down the Mississippi: the battle of April 24, 1862 as the USS Kineo made its way past Confederate’s Fort Jackson en route to New Orleans and the Battle of Baton Rouge. The lot also includes an additional manuscript account book and memoranda pages dating as early as 1854 ($10,000-15,000). Also of note is Adam Reinoehl’s lively recordings of his time in the 76th Pennsylvania Infantry, also known as the Keystone Zouaves, from February 6, 1862 to September 6, 1863 in Georgia and South Carolina. In the rear pages of the volume Reinoehl sketched Fort Pulaski before and after its reduction by the Union artillery in April 1862, as well as small churches in Legreeville, SC and his camp headquarters at Hilton Head, SC ($2,500-3,500).

From the Western Americana Collection of Herbert S. Auerbach, the heir to a successful Salt Lake City department store and notable collector of early Mormon and Utah history, comes a choice offering. An 1845 Nauvoo Legion Association stock certificate signed by Brigham Young is present at $8,000 to $12,000; an early imprint of the First Annual Message of the Governor to the Legislative Assembly of Utah Territory, from Young’s time as Governor in 1851, is present at $3,000 to $4,000; and a first edition of The Pearl of Great Price, 1851—one of the cornerstone works published by the early Latter Day Saints and the only edition in English until 1878—compiled by Franklin D. Richards, is estimated at $4,000 to $6,000.

Mexican cookbooks include Arte de Concina, an early manuscript from 1812 with distinctly Mexican preparations such as jicama, mamey, maiz cacahuazintle and mole verde ($6,000-9,000), and an 1875-1915 manuscript cookbook that also features instructions and illustrations for making lye, ammonia and vinegar ($600-900). The Latin Americana section continues with Bartholomé de Ledesma’s treatise explaining the seven sacraments for use in the Mexican church, De septem novae legis sacramentis summarium, Mexico, 1566 ($15,000-25,000), and, four centuries later, Nosotros, 1972, a photobook by Humberto Rubalcaba that documents Festival Rock y Ruedas de Avándro, also referred to as “the Mexican Woodstock” ($400-600).

Exhibition opening in New York City September 21. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at and on the Swann Galleries app.



Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair Scheduled for Dec. 6-7

Northampton, MA – The Fifth Edition of the Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair is set for Friday, December 6th and Saturday, December 7th at the Northampton Community Arts Trust at 33 Hawley Street in downtown Northampton. The fair will feature used and antiquarian booksellers, book artists, and print & ephemera dealers.

About the venue: The Northampton Community Arts Trust is a recently renovated building that is located within easy walking distance to the many restaurants, shops and galleries in the vibrant downtown area. The Hotel Northampton, a member of the Historic Hotels of America, is an easy ten-minute walk. 

The rehearsal studios, versatile performance spaces, and bright art galleries of the Northampton Community Arts Trust  will house the fifth edition of our popular Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair. For exhibitors and attendees, there are more than 100 free, on-site parking spaces surrounding the 25,000 square foot building, which is just one block off Main Street.  Access to the building, for exhibitors and attendees is excellent.  

While more than half of the exhibition space has been filled, one, two, and three table sales booths are available for rent for this curated book and book arts fair. There are options for shared tables, booths, and larger display areas. Inquiries about space reservations and show details are accepted by email:  

The Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair website is

Our exhibitors include some of the finest used and antiquarian booksellers; ephemera, print, autograph, & map dealers; and book artists including hand papermakers, fine letterpress printers, hand bookbinders, book designers, & artists working on paper and other media.  As of September 1st, our exhibitors include:  Peter L. Stern & Co. and Commonwealth Books, of Boston, White Square Fine Books & Art, Adastra Press, Cheloniidae Press and Warwick Press, of Easthampton; Swamp Press of Northfield; Bear Hollow Antiques, Double Elephant Press, Furious Day Press, and Passionato Books of Northampton; Monroe Bridge Books, Shelburne Falls Booksellers, and Wiggins Fine Books, of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

Exhibitors from out-of-state include: Yesterday’s Gallery, of East Woodstock, CT; The Country Bookshop, of Plainfield, VT; Bridge Press, of Westmoreland, NH and Richard Mori Books, of Franklin, NH; & Catnap Books, of Cobleskill, NY, Peter Luke Old and Rare Books, of New Baltimore, NY and Wake Robin, of North Russell, NY; and Pied Oxen Printers, of Hopewell, NJ.

This year, the Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair welcomes the support of their new community sponsor: the Northampton Center for the Arts. For more than 30 years, they’ve been producing community arts events in Northampton that have drawn large and diverse audiences. At 33 Hawley Street, the Center for the Arts hosts performances, workshops, family programs, and community events; offers dance, theater, writing, and visual arts classes; and provides rehearsal space for actors, dancers, and musicians. The fair producers look forward to working with the Center for the Arts to make this year’s Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair a success for all involved. As they have for four previous years, the fair’s media sponsor is New England Public Radio, 88.5FM, 640AM, and streaming at -- their book-loving listeners live and work throughout western Massachusetts, northern Connecticut, and southern Vermont.

The Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair is produced by Book Arts Promotion, a collaboration between Mark Brumberg, an independent bookseller from Northampton and Duane A. Stevens, of Wiggins Fine Books from Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. Book Arts Promotion also produces the annual Berkshire Antiquarian Book and Ephemera Fair in Great Barrington each summer.  

For more information:  Book Arts Promotions
139 Federal Street, Northampton, MA 01062 and 4 High Street, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370
413.588.8011 (Mark) /    413.320.3701 (Duane)   



“The A.B.C. of Alphabets” Opens at the Grolier Club on Sept. 19

Courtesy of the Grolier Club

New York — Over the centuries, writers and illustrators have used the alphabet to categorize and enumerate ideas and concepts, to amuse, and, of course, to teach and read. The A.B.C. of Alphabets, drawn from the collection of member Gretchen Adkins, surveys the A to Z of ABCs at the Grolier Club from September 19 through November 2, 2019.

Alphabets have been published for hundreds of years, in a variety of languages and styles, for a multitude of purposes, some aimed at children; others definitely not. The exhibition is organized in six intriguing categories: “A Apple Pie,” “A Was An Archer,” “Manuscripts,” “Alphabets Are Not Just For Children,” “The Letter N,” and “Advertising.”

A Apple Pie (200 Years of the Famous Nursery Rhyme)

The nursery rhyme “A Apple Pie” has been known since 1671 when it was quoted in the writings of the minister John Eachard. The text is unusual in its use of verbs: “A ate it,” “B bit it,” “C cut it,” etc. The exhibition covers 200 years of the rhyme, from its first recorded appearance until the publication of Kate Greenaway’s 1886 best-seller.

A Was an Archer (Alphabets of Professions)

Like A Apple Pie, A was an Archer has a long history. It first appeared in the early 18th century, and remained popular throughout the 19th century, produced in a wide variety of editions from cheap chapbooks, to large books in color. Each letter refers to a profession or a trade: “A was an Archer,” “B was a Butcher,” “C was a Captain,” “D was a Drunkard,” and so on. Although it was more popular in England, alphabets of professions can be found in various languages, notably the 1920 French edition of A est un Archer.

Alphabets are Not Just for Children (ABCs for Adults)     

Most people associate alphabets with children and childhood, but that is not always the case, and many writers and illustrators have taken sly pleasure in turning a genre that is usually aimed at teaching children into entertainment for adults. 

In Kissed Again--Part of the Bargain, the shenanigans of Countess Screwvinsky (alias Beatrice Wood) and her “admirers” are definitely not directed at those learning to read. This playful alphabet of advice to a would-be courtesan comes from the woman who was in a ménage-à-trois with Marcel Duchamp and Henri-Pierre Roche. Their relationship was the inspiration for Truffault’s film, Jules and Jim.  And the authors of Freud’s Alphabet and Ballet Alphabet, a Primer for Laymen by Lincoln Kirsten, illustrated by Paul Cadmus, certainly had a mature audience in mind.


Six manuscripts offer a range of work from personal reflections to a universal depiction of objects. Among them is an Untitled Alphabet by Basil Withy (B.W.), who died July 2, 1916 at the Battle of the Somme when he was 30 years old. The son of a wealthy ship owner, Withy’s alphabet references family, friends and household staff before he left to fight in World War I.

The Letter N (The Challenge of Finding Animals to Represent N)

Alphabets devoted to animals may be challenged to find examples (other than birds) beginning with the letter N.

Each book in the exhibition illustrates a separate solution. C.B. Falls, in his 1923 ABC Book, chose the Newt to solve his N problem. “Noah,” as in Noah’s Ark ABC, is occasionally the solution.  Some imaginative authors, such as Gus. Av. Friendly, have forsaken the zoological world altogether and created their own four-legged universe.

Advertising (26 Selling points!)

Advertising pamphlets, printed on cheap paper and widely distributed, are a relic of the past. They sold anything and everything, from heavy machinery to food and drink, and many used the familiar and comfortable A-to-Z framework to enumerate their selling points: 26 reasons to buy life insurance, for instance.

The Alphabet Book of Coca Cola from 1928 (when a Coke cost 5 cents) is a classic, offering 26 rhyming verses on the merit of the beverage. Every nationality and level of society is illustrated in full color enjoying the carbonated drink. It even offers a testimonial from The United States Supreme Court.

Free Lunchtime Exhibition Tours:
September 25 and October 2, 16, and 30, 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Curator Gretchen Adkins will offer a free guided tour of the exhibition. Open to all, no reservations required.


Pioneer Valley Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair, Oct. 20

Northampton, MA — Book & ephemera lovers by the hundreds will join the Southern New England Antiquarian Booksellers (SNEAB) and Flamingo Eventz at the 15th Annual Pioneer Valley Book & Ephemera Fair on Sunday, October 20, 10am – 4pm at Smith Vocational School, 80 Locust St (Rt. 9), Northampton, MA. One of the largest regional shows of its kind, we present exhibitors from across the Northeast who will fill the school’s cafeteria, corridors, and lobby with vintage, collectible, rare, antique, modern, fine, scholarly and used books, vintage comic books, manuscripts, prints, maps, autographs, photographs, postcards, and every other sort of printed ephemera.

The Southern New England Antiquarian Booksellers encompasses Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island and was born in 2014 as an expanded incarnation of Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers, which began in 1976. The organization's members include bookselling firms founded as early as 1825. Our booksellers offer books from the 16th through the 21st Centuries, plus broadsides, maps, manuscripts, prints and ephemera. You can find an index of specialties on their website: Many of their members also purchase books and other material, and you are invited to contact them directly.

The Pioneer Valley is a primary foliage destination in the fall, with many scenic hikes and drives, and you can pick your own apples and stock up on cider, pumpkins and chrysanthemums while visiting. Northampton and nearby Pioneer Valley towns provide a great variety of restaurants and entertainment. The Five Colleges, Smith College, University of Massachusetts, Amherst College, Hampshire College, and Mount Holyoke College offer library and museum exhibits and cultural events, but if it is Parents Weekend, hotels may fill quickly, so book early. Old Deerfield is nearby, Yankee Candle, too.

The school is on Route 9, near Cooley-Dickinson Hospital; there’s plenty of free parking. The event is catered by Black Sheep Deli from Amherst. Admission is $6, $1 off with a card or advertisement; $3 ages 12-21; under 12 free with paid adult. Click and for more information as many local SNEAB members always exhibit. All are cordially invited.

Dates/Hours: Sunday October 20, 2019; 10am-4pm.
Location: The Smith Vocational School, 80 Locust Street (Rt. 9), Northampton, MA 01060.
Admission: Adults: $6, Students & Young Collectors 12-21: $3, under 12 free w/Paid Adult.
Directions: I-91 Exit 18, left on Pleasant Street, left on Rt. 9, Elm St, follow Rt. 9, it becomes Locust St.
Miscellaneous: Plenty of free parking and refreshments will be available at our café during show hours.



Freeman’s Moving to New Flagship Location in Philadelphia

Courtesy of Freeman's

Philadelphia — After nearly a century at 1808 Chestnut Street, Freeman’s will be relocating its flagship location to Center City’s prestigious 2400 Market Street. Featuring a purpose-built gallery and auction room with corporate offices above, Freeman’s is excited to join the 600,000 square-foot development that has been recently hailed as one of the biggest and most visible mixed-use projects in Philadelphia.

The New Freeman’s Experience
Designed to meet the needs of both emerging and established collectors, the modern development at 2400 Market Street will enhance the auction experience for the company’s local and international clientele. In the new gallery, Freeman’s will host a year-round season of curated fine auctions across multiple disciplines. They are also planning to cultivate the space as a premier cultural venue and are currently developing a program of events set to begin in Spring 2020 that will be open to the Philadelphia community and beyond.

“We are very much a part of the fabric of Philadelphia and have been for centuries,” remarks Chairman Alasdair Nichol. “We have been in our current building since it was built for us in 1924, but the auction market has dramatically changed since then. This move to a new, custom-designed headquarters is a key component in our contemporary business model and will further establish us as a leading and dynamic 21st century auction house. In our new location, we will be ideally positioned to meet the growing demand for global service, while continuing to be engrained within the heart of the city that we have called home since 1805.”

The First Auctions
Currently scheduled for November 24, 2019, the inaugural sale to be held at 2400 Market is A Grand Old Flag: The Stars and Stripes Collection of Dr. Peter J. Keim. This landmark, single-owner sale will be the largest collection of historic American Flags ever to be offered at auction. It will be followed by the house’s marquee American Art and Pennsylvania Impressionists auction on December 8, 2019. Fine sales across collecting genres will follow throughout Winter/Spring 2020.

Other Developments
This winter, Freeman’s will also be opening a second Philadelphia location within The Civic Building at 1600 West Girard Avenue. This venue will cater more specifically to emerging markets and young collectors.

About 2400 Market Street
Situated along the Schuylkill River, 2400 Market was formerly a Hudson Motor Car Company fabrication plant. The property was re-acquired and renovated in 2016 into a contemporary, mixed-use structure; it now serves as the new global headquarters for Aramark.


The Rosenbach Presents “American Voyager: Herman Melville at 200”

Courtesy of the Rosenbach

Inscribed copy of Pierre Or, the Ambiguities, presented by Herman Melville to Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne, 1852.

Philadelphia — The Rosenbach is proud to announce American Voyager: Herman Melville at 200, a new exhibition to commemorate the iconic author’s bicentennial. American Voyager opens at The Rosenbach on October 3, 2019.

Few American writers have achieved the cultural impact of Herman Melville, author of the eternal classic Moby-Dick, yet he died unrecognized by his contemporaries for his genius. This new exhibition will explore the life, work, and legacy of this iconic but under-read author.

Making use of The Rosenbach’s extensive Melville holdings and numerous loans from partner organizations, including rare manuscripts and first editions, the exhibition will examine how Melville fled to the watery fringes of 19th-century life to grasp core truths about American society—and even human nature itself. The exhibition will challenge visitors to consider what Melville’s work has to say about modern America through the lens of marine conservation, globalization, social justice, and LGBTQ+ identity.

“The Rosenbach’s interpretive team wanted to present our extraordinary Herman Melville collections in a fresh way on this important anniversary.” says Judy Guston, Curator and Director of Collections. “The exhibition explores Melville’s life and work in a way that both describes the author’s own outlook and mirrors important contemporary conversations. We hope our visitors will find Melville’s exploration and analysis of the world, his nation, and his internal self, more modern, exciting, and meaningful than ever.”

Highlights of the exhibition include an inscribed copy of Pierre: Or, the Ambiguities, presented by Melville to Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife in 1852; an inscribed copy of The Whale (original title of Moby-Dick) presented by Melville to his father in-law Lemuel Shaw, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court; a rare copy of Timoleon, a book of poems published just four months before his death; various tools and hunting implements from a historic whaling vessel on loan from the Independence Seaport Museum; and much more.

American Voyager: Herman Melville at 200 will be on view at The Rosenbach October 3, 2019 through April 5, 2020. Major support for American Voyager is provided by The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, The McCausland Foundation, Susan Tane, and Clarence Wolf. Full details about American Voyager can be found at

"I can think of no better way of bringing to life The Rosenbach's growing Melville collection – already one of the finest in the world – than by placing it at the center of an exhibition and related programs that show the ongoing relevance of the issues Melville raised in his work." says Derick Dreher, the John C. Haas Director of The Rosenbach.

Alongside the exhibition, The Rosenbach will present a series of programs, tours, and courses with themes relating to American Voyager. Highlights include a stage performance by actor Stephen Collins, Sailing Towards My Father on October 8; a mini-series entitled Three Looks at Jonah that examines the biblical figure of Jonah through Judaism on October 16, Christianity on December 11, and Islam on January 15; the second annual Moby-Dick Marathon Reading at the Independence Seaport Museum on November 9-10; an in-depth course called Beyond Moby-Dick starting on November 17; and a new Behind the Bookcase: Hands-on Tours focused on the exhibition that will be offered multiple times throughout the season. Full dates and details about all programs at

Also coming this fall to Parkway Central Library’s West Gallery is a complimentary exhibit, Voyages by Road and Sea: Philadelphia Perspectives on Walt Whitman and Herman Melville. To mark the 200th birthday of two American writers, Voyages by Road and Sea explores the lives and legacies of Walt Whitman and Herman Melville, as well as creations of Philadelphia-area artists who find inspiration in their works.


The Grolier Club Presents a Peter Koch Printer Retrospective

Courtesy of the Grolier Club

New York — Peter Rutledge Koch has been designing and printing limited edition books, portfolios, and ephemera since 1974. He has long been recognized as one of the most accomplished printers and typographic designers of his generation. His training, influences, and achievements place him in the lineage of San Francisco literary fine press printers. A forty-five-year retrospective opens at the Grolier Club on September 11 and remains on view through November 23, 2019.  

The works on display, published by Koch between 1974 and 2019, span wide-ranging territory, from cowboy surrealism to pre-Socratic philosophy, and from contemporary and Renaissance poetry to hard-hitting photo-based requiems to the American West.

Koch spent his youth in Montana, steeped in the lore of the American West and witness to its aftermath of environmental and cultural destruction, which continues to influence his work more than four decades later. His aesthetic was subsequently shaped by apprenticeship to the great San Francisco printer Adrian Wilson as well as close study of the work of Jack Stauffacher and William Everson, and matured through various imprints in studios in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Venice.

Koch’s printing career began in Missoula, where he founded Black Stone Press in 1974. The press’s first publication, Montana Gothic (1974–1977), best described as a cowboy surrealist literary journal, prompted William S. Burroughs to comment, “Montana Gothic poets may seem like strapping cowboys chugging absinthe and shooting out streetlights, but they are damned fine shots.” The press relocated to San Francisco in 1978 and closed six years later.  Koch subsequently published under press names that reveal his eclectic interests and seriousness of purpose as well as his irreverence: Peter Rutledge Koch, Typographic Design; Peter and the Wolf Editions; Editions Koch; Hormone Derange Editions; Last Chance Gulch; and Peter Koch Printer.   

Point Lobos (1987) was Koch’s first mature contribution to the tradition of Bay Area fine press printing as well as his first post-Black Stone Press publication and remains a masterwork. It consists of a portfolio of fifteen poems by Robinson Jeffers and fifteen photographs by Wolf von dem Bussche (Peter and the Wolf editions) housed in a black walnut slipcase.

In 1990, with Herakleitos, Koch began a series of works by Greek pre-Socratic philosophers that ventured into a new realm of art practice. “Herakleitos led me out of the framework of traditional typographic refinement into what I believed to be the arena of the book as a work of art,” he said in a 2015 interview. Several works based on Greek philosophical texts followed. The Fragments of Parmenides (2004), a ten-year, multi-faceted collaboration with poet/translator Robert Bringhurst, stonecutter Christopher Stinehour, type designer Dan Carr (whom Koch commissioned to cut and cast a new Greek type for the edition), typesetter Richard Seibert, engraver Richard Wagener, and bookbinders Peggy Gotthold and Daniel Kelm.

The 2005 bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition became a galvanizing point for a group of publications described collectively as the “Montana Suite.” To date, this group of work consists of four titles: Hard Words (2000); Nature Morte (2005); The Lost Journals of Sacajewea (with writer Debra Magpie Earling, 2010); and Liber Ignis (with poet Adam Cornford, 2015). Each work reveals aspects of the transformation of the American West by European migration and the destruction of native territory and traditions through what Koch describes as “photo interventions.” Describing his motivation, Koch says “by my fifty-seventh year, I had buried most of my Montana family and inherited their books and manuscripts, as well as their dreams and responsibilities. I came, finally, to the realization that I owed a deep debt to the land and tribe(s) I grew up in. . . .I had the tools and the knowledge to shape a new way of seeing Montana, shorn of the myths that I was expected to swallow—especially the gospel of Manifest Destiny and all the inglorious puffery about civilizing the American West.”

Poetry—contemporary American, classical Greek, and Italian Renaissance—forms the warp of Koch’s publishing cloth; its weft is the creative work of his many collaborators, whose engravings, etchings, drawings, collages, and paintings accompany and animate the texts he chooses to print. Richly varied but never predictable, Koch’s work has an integrity that arises out of his engagement with ideas, and design solutions that, in his own words, “cut close to the bone of meaning and content.”

In addition to traditional codex fine press books and portfolios printed on paper, Koch at times expresses his ideas in varied formats he refers to as “text transmission objects.” Materials include the use of lead as a printing substrate, acid-etched zinc plates, and innovative binding structures and housings custom-designed to support the pages. The Defictions of Diogenes (1994) presents twenty-one short philosophical performance pieces by Thomas McEvilley based on the life of the arch-cynic Diogenes of Sinope (b. 404 BC).  The text is hand-lettered by Christopher Stinehour, printed letterpress from zinc engravings onto lead tablets by Koch, and housed in a unique ceramic box by sculptor Stephen Braun.

Koch is co-director with his wife, art conservator Susan K. Filter, of the Codex Foundation (est. 2005), devoted to preserving and promoting the book as a work of art. The foundation organizes the biennial CODEX International Book Fair and Symposium, which brings artists who work in the form of the book from all over the world to the Bay Area with support from Stanford Libraries among many other institutions and individuals.

To accompany the show is a heavily illustrated three-volume catalogue. For a full description of the catalogue see The Grolier Club exhibition originated with Stanford Libraries Department of Special Collections, the repository of Koch's archive.  

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Grolier Club will host a joint Symposium on artists’ books with the CODEX Foundation: A CODEX/Grolier International Symposium: The CODEX Effect: A Conversation Between Artists, Curators, Scholars, and Collectors, October 18 -19, 2019, at the Grolier Club. For more information and tickets go to