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GBW STANDARDS: PRE-CONFERENCE TOURS

        Guild members were treated to a wonderful, jam-packed day of
pre-conference tours before the recent Standards Seminar in Pasadena.

        We first went to Kater-Crafts Bookbinders in Pico Rivera, a
family-owned business founded in 1949 by Mel Kavin. Our host and all of his
75 employees cheerfully answered all  our questions as we toured and admired
the impressive organization of this large bindery. The factory consists of
over 20 separate areas, from receiving through sewing, rounding and backing,
lining up, board cutting, cloth cutting, stamping, casing in, and so on
right up to the final inspection and shipping dept. Besides library
bindings, this business handles many small editions (under 1000),
restoration jobs, and special projects, such as books bound in exotic skins
appropriate to the content or title. We saw books bound in kangaroo, monkey,
cobra (with head), whale (Moby Dick), zebra, emu, rattlesnake, turkey,
camel, bull frog, not to mention Fahrenheit 451  bound in asbestos cloth or
The Tournament of Roses  bound in football leather. We also saw the
book-in-progress that David Barry has bound in elephant skin, with tusks.

     We were glad to be shown Mel Kavin's wonderful library containing
his own miniature book collection, where we signed the stunning guest book
he had made fort this occasion. And we were especially eager to see the 33
international fine designer bindings he had commissioned for Bernard
Middleton's miniature book You  Can Judge a Book by Its Cover. These
bindings were as interesting and varied as anyone could wish for, and while
it's unfair to single out just one among so many outstanding bindings, it's
impossible not to mention Jan Sobota's perfect miniature representation of
Middleton himself with arms extended to hold his own book. Mel Kavin was a
most gracious host, providing us all with refreshments and souvenir copper
trade tokens.

        The Huntington Library in San Marino was next on our agenda. It was
a beautiful day, just right for enjoying lunch on the terrace overlooking
part of the outstanding Huntington grounds. Only after I got home did I
realize that there were 15 specialized Botanical Gardens covering 130 acres
of the 207-acre grounds, only a small portion of which I had had time to
see. I missed the Japanese, Desert, and many other Gardens, as well as the
Huntington Art Galleries. Half the group wandered through the grounds and
bookstore and then switched with the other half, who had tours of the
conservation labs and a special showing of "Club" bindings bought by
Huntington in 1911 (at the Robert Hoe auction) and never before shown to the
public.

        In the paper and conservation labs, as well as discussing ongoing
research into the right combination of chemicals to remove impurities in
paper, we saw a recent binding of a high-resolution digital facsimile of the
earliest complete text of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales  (the Ellsmere
edition), the original of which can be seen on display in the Huntington
exhibition hall. We also examined the results of a 2-year project devoted to
repairing, rebinding, and boxing over 300 pamphlet-size books. In the
Library, Thomas Lange, Curator of Rare Books, gave us a short talk on the
history of American bindings. (See his remarks elsewhere in the Newsletter.)
Around the turn of the century, Robert Hoe had hired the Parisian finisher,
Leon Maillard, to run the Club Bindery (for the Grolier Club) in New York
City, where he was soon assisted by ten workers. We were able to examine
(much too briefly for most of us), but not to handle, about two dozen
bindings that had been selected from hundreds of Club bindings in the
Huntington's collection.They were in absolutely pristine condition, with
flawless tooling and amazingly different styles of design. We were grateful
to Thomas Lange for giving us this rare opportunity.

        Our only regret at leaving the Huntington was that the time had
been all too short.

        After briefly returning to our hotel, we were transported by bus to
Scripps College in Claremont for a reception and viewing of the Guild's most
recent exhibition. After feasting at the colorful Mexican buffet provided
for us, we had leisure to feast our eyes on the Guild's latest exhibition.
Peter and Donna Thomas in 1993 had designed and letterpress printed the book A
Collection of Paper Samples from Hand Papermills in the United States of
America , containing paper samples and statements from 28 different
papermakers, a limited edition of 195 copies. Copies were reserved for the
papermakers and binders among us. Copies numbered 1 through 25 were bound in
full leather with extra paper samples; the rest of the edition was bound in
quarter leather with paper sides. This text block, which combines the
talents of hand bookbinders, papermakers, and fine printers, was bound
uniquely by 21
different Guild members whose work made up this exhibition, " Paper Bound."
Catalogues of the exhibition are available for $20 plus s & h. This
exhibition will travel to four other sites: The University of Rochester,
Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts, Smith College, and Ohio
University.(See Calendar for
dates.) It may also be seen online at:http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/byorg/gbw/.

        Finally, we had a tour of the Scripps College Press, where we had
an opportunity to examine an exhibition of some of the Scripps Press books.
Kitty Maryatt, Director of the Press since l986, told us about her class
"Typography: The Art of the Book" where students learn the highest standards
of  typography and printing by publishing their own books. The Press produces
small editions of about 50 copies, some of which are now out of print. Kitty
and her students are responsible for the clever keepsake all conference
members received in their packets. The students chose an appropriate line
from the Peter and Donna Thomas's book,  printed it in 3 colors, cut it up
into twelve pieces to form a puzzle, and made attractive boxes to hold it.
We're grateful for the time, effort, and ingenuity that made our visit to
Scripps College so enjoyable.

        All of this took place the first day,  and the conference proper
had yet to begin!

Barbara E. Kretzmann


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