Thursday, January 16, 2014

FABS in Cleveland, June 11-15, 2014

FABS in Cleveland, June 11-15, 2014

Cleveland is the city of our seventeenth annual FABS Book Tour & Symposium.  Sponsored by The Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies and hosted by The Rowfant Club, this years’ tour is sure to call out the book adventurer in us all.  Join fellow FABS members, as we explore Cleveland’s unique and celebrated book culture, meeting fellow collectors, dealers and book professionals along the way.

Wednesday afternoon, June 11th begins our bibliophilic adventure as you check into The Glidden House, a former “robber baron” mansion, turned full-service boutique hotel, located in the heart of Cleveland’s cultural district known as University Circle.   With its legendary hospitality and charm, the hotel is the perfect base camp.  This same afternoon, we visit the Western Reserve Historical Society Library.  Home to over 250,000 books and 25,000 newspapers, it’s Northeast Ohio’s historic repository.  The library also has several collections that are national in scope. These include a world-renowned collection of Shaker materials consisting of manuscripts, books, broadsides, artifacts, and spirit drawings. The William P. Palmer Civil War collection is among the finest of its kind covering slavery, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War.

We then blaze a trail; actually we simply cross a street, to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for dinner and an official FABS’14 welcome.  There will be plenty of time to explore the museum’s rare book library.  Wendy Wasman, the CMNH Librarian and Archivist will lead us on a tour of their stellar ornithological collection, including works by John Gould and Daniel Giraud Elliot.  Association collectors will delight as we take flight over the holy grail of bird books, the first edition, double-elephant folio “Birds of America” by Audubon along with the personal sketchbook of Robert Havell, Audubon’s engraver!  Outside of the museum, tour participants will find their selves in the festive atmosphere of Wade Oval Wednesdays.
Thursday, June 12th morning starts with a visit to Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra and called by many, “ America’s Most Beautiful Concert Hall”. Originally opened in 1931, the hall underwent a major restoration and expansion in 2000. It is included in the National Register of Historic Places and has received an Honor Award by the Trust for Historic Preervation. 

Next we visit the Cleveland Museum of Art.  This world class museum has recently undergone a $350 million dollar renovation and expansion designed by Rafael Vinoly.  After our short walk from Severance Hall, we can catch our breath and relax a moment in the architecturally awe inspiring atrium.   Stephen Fleigel, Director of Medieval Art, will surely take our breath away again when he introduces us to the museum’s collection of important illuminated manuscripts, including Isabella's Book of Hours.  Louis Adrean invites us into the museum’s Ingalls Library, one of the largest art libraries in the country with over 472,000 volumes.  This includes a complete set of works printed by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press.  A fitting compliment to the medieval manuscripts so admired by William Morris and his Kelmscott Press.
At midday we trek, actually we simply cross another street, to the Allen Memorial Library, Dittrick Medical History Center where we will take lunch.  James Edmonson, the Chief Curator will be our luncheon speaker and host to their outstanding collection of rare books and equipment related to anatomy, science & technology, surgery, and herbals. 

In the afternoon, small groups will tour the Cleveland Institute of Art Library, where librarian, Cristine Rom, plans to share their artists’ book collection.  The Institute's nationally recognized collection of artists' books contains about 1,600 books from the 1960s to the present, and is international in scope. The collection is especially strong in early conceptual artists’ books and contains many of the most historically significant books of this genre, including Edward Ruscha’s seminal Twenty six Gasoline Stations. The collection also includes artists who, more recently, have focused on the book’s physical characteristics. In total, the collection reflects the history of this dynamic art form since the genre’s emergence in the second half of the 20th century.  Your visit to the Cleveland Institute of Art Library will perhaps challenge you to rethink your ideas of the book as object and as concept.

Gary Esmonde, the librarian at the Eleanor Squire Library of Cleveland Botanical Garden will be displaying Pierre Joseph Redoute's “Les Rose,” commissioned by Napoleon and considered by many experts as the finest example of botanical illustration.  Also, Gary informs us that tour members will have the opportunity to purchase collectible books, including books from the noted American artist, Viktor Schreckengost's private library.

Thursday evening, the Kelvin Smith Library of Case Western Reserve University invites us to its bookish venue for dinner and a symposium.  University Associate Provost and Librarian, Arnold Hirshon, serves as our host as we revel in an evening of fellowship centered on books and their various capacities to delight and enrich us all.  Reflecting its 190 year old history as a leading private university in Ohio and one of the major research libraries in the country, the Kelvin Smith Library has collections across a range of disciplines.    

The special exhibit that the Kelvin Smith Library will mount for FABS will highlight collections cultivated by previous donors that are treasures of our rare book collection.  As time permits, during the FABS visit KSL will also gladly retrieve items from our collections that are of particular interest to FABS members.  At our dinner Arnold Hirshon will give a brief talk on “Infinite Visions of Alice.”  His presentation will concern visual imagery as contained in the work of the many illustrators and artists who have translated into art Carroll’s text for Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass.  Arnold’s presentation will be an excellent prelude to our Friday visit to the home of Jon Lindseth to experience his extraordinary collection of Lewis Carrolliana.

At this point, it may read as if we have journeyed hundreds of miles in pursuit of good books.  But alas the days’ events have occurred within a short walk of our hotel, such is the cultural richness of Cleveland’s University Circle area.  Rest up bibliophilic adventurer for on Friday we travel further afield in our quest for good books.

Friday, June 13th it will be raining books, despite what the meteorologists claims, as our day begins with trips to two of Cleveland’s most notable book collector’s, Jon Lindseth and Bob Jackson.  Ensuring a more intimate experience, smaller groups of 25 will visit the private collections of these two consummate bookmen.  Jon Lindseth who is a scholar and a collector plans to speak about his forthcoming book (late 2014) about his collection of Jewish fables and will show us some of this material. He has worked on the project for sixteen years with Emile Schrijver of the University of Amsterdam, Professor of Jewish Book History and Curator of the Rosenthaliana collection at Amsterdam. This is believed to be the first scholarly analysis of the extensive use of fables in Jewish writing.

Lindseth will also share his passion for collecting Alice when talks about the forthcoming book (2015) on the translations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  How many editions of Alice have been printed a curious bibliophile might ask?  More than 7500 editions in over 140 languages have been published.  The book is part of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice with a conference in New York from Oct 8-11, 2015 and simultaneous exhibitions at eight NY locations. The translation exhibit will be at The Grolier Club with Alan Tannenbaum as co-curator.  The project is sponsored by The Lewis Carroll Society of North America.

Robert Jackson, a FABS past president, needs no introduction in the rare book world.  He is also a collector who has studied and written extensively on his collecting interests.  Jackson will be displaying items from his Rockwell Kent Collection which is arguably the most important Kent collection in private hands.  We will also view his notable collection of 19th and 20th Century English and American literature, with a focus on the Bloomsbury Group.  Lindseth and Jackson are two gentlemen who indubitably defy the stereotype about collectors not reading their books!

Wending our way toward center city we stop on the near east side at the Morgan Conservancy . While enjoying a light lunch , Director, Tom Balbo and his staff,  will give us a tour of their facility.  The Morgan is reviving the noble arts of hand-made papers (some say the finest this side of Japan) and letter press printing in Cleveland.

Continuing West, we stop at the Cleveland Public Library where Pamela Eyerdam and Kelly Brown will surely move us with their special collections.  Especially of note is the John J. White collection on chess. 
We continue to the near westside to Zubal Books (  It is without a doubt one of the world’s largest independent bookstores, with approximately 2 million books in stock!  We will get a private tour of a book shop that has successfully made the transition from a customer friendly, browsing shop of old to a 21st century internet driven shop that is thriving. Recently they have reopened a small section for those of us who love to browse.  Mr. Zubal will explain his techniques for surviving in the shifting sands of bookdom.  The more culinary daring among us or those simply looking for dessert after our lunch, will have an opportunity to taste old syrup once used to make Twinkie filling that still fills the pipes in a 300,000 square feet Hostess Bakery building bought by Zubal to house their ever expanding stock of books.

We will be back at our home base, the Glidden House, and tour participants will have some free time before catching the bus to Loganberry Books.  This book shop is one of the few remaining independent shops in Cleveland.  This is no surprise as the shop’s owner, Harriett Logan, has created a “bookish” paradise of literary delight.  Browsers are welcome and you are sure to discover the unexpected as you peruse the seemingly never ending shelves.  Larry Rakow, a Cleveland dealer specializing in children’s books will share his collection of “movables.”  These visually intriguing books pop up, down and every which way.  Tonight’s dinner will be held at the nearby Cleveland Skating Club.

Saturday, June 14th we journey to the Oberlin College Library.  Situated in the charming town of Oberlin about 45 minutes west of Cleveland, this historic liberal arts college is home to one of the finest undergraduate libraries in the country.  We will need the better part of a day for our planned “bookish” events.  In the morning there is a Rowfant Panel Discussion on books and their various capacities to please the mind.  For the second part of the symposium on Saturday morning, Ray English, will moderate a panel of Oberlin faculty members from several disciplines who will describe Oberlin’s developing book studies curriculum as well as the ways in which they teach with rare books and special collections materials. In the afternoon following lunch, FABS members will have the opportunity choose among several of Oberlin’s special collections and also take a look at the library’s letterpress studio.  Collection viewing opportunities will include materials from the library’s well-known antislavery collection, history of book materials, fine press collections, the Eric Selch Collection on the history of music and musical instruments, the Thomas Jefferson Architectural Books Collection, and medieval manuscripts from Oberlin’s library and the Allen Memorial Art Museum.  Participants may also spend time in the Allen, which is considered one of the finest college/university museums in the America.  After which, we return back to the Glidden House to prepare ourselves for that evening’s banquet.

This Saturday evening the Rowfant Club opens its doors and hosts us in their historic Clubhouse for a dinner banquet, an after dinner speaker and a Club book exhibit.  The venerable Rowfant Club was founded in 1892 and is one of the few American book clubs with its own home and library.  Fine food, fine books and “bookish” fellowship define the club as they continue their thrice weekly meetings.  Yes, that is correct, club members meet three times each week, certainly making this club is one of the most active book clubs in country.  Our speaker is a name well known in our book community, Paul Ruxin.  Paul has presented numerous talks on the book and the various ways that books and book collecting delight and inspire us.  He is an avid Boswell Johnson collector.  David Novak, the Club librarian, plans a special exhibit of Club highpoints.

Sunday, June 15th tour participants spend the morning touring Lakeview Cemetery.  This is not your typical cemetery, it is known as "Cleveland's Outdoor Museum and Arboretum." It's Cleveland's historical, horticultural, architectural, sculptural and geological gem found just minutes from University Circle.  A magnificent collection of trees, shrubs and plants make for an exceptional urban green space and provides a wonderful refuge for birds and small animals, as well as a showplace of extraordinary architectural and sculptural treasures, including Garfield’s monument, the Wade Chapel with its stunning Tiffany stained glass, and the Rockefeller obelisk.

Later Sunday morning we conclude our bibliophilic adventures with a visit to the John Carroll University and the Grasselli Library.  Chuck Zaborbila will share their special collections which includes Abraham Lincoln material.  Then there is time for brunch at the Shockey residence, before we set off to the airport departing for destinations far and wide.  Until next year… book friends!

We hope our invitation has awakened the book adventurer in you.  Whether this is your very first FABS tour or whether you are a tour veteran, FABS Cleveland 2014 promises to be a bibliophilic adventure not to be missed.  We encourage you to sign up today as the event is limited to the first fifty attendees.
Please address your tour questions to Terry Shockey ( or Larry Siegler ( ) and use FABS’14 in your email subject line.
Registration: $595 per person.  Reservations accepted until March 1st, 2014.  Cancellations refunded until March 11th.  Communications for the FABS Cleveland Tour & Symposium should be by e-mail or self-addressed stamped envelope.  Please reserve ______ places for:
Name: __________________________________ and __________________________________
Address: ______________________________________________________________________
Phone: ___________________________ e-mail: ______________________________________
Club affiliation: _________________________________________________________________
Collecting interests: _____________________________________________________________
Special restrictions (food, mobility, etc.)_____________________________________________
I enclose a check for $ _________________ Payable to The Rowfant Club
I plan to arrive before 3 PM for the opening event on Wednesday, June 11th  (please check).                                                                                                                                                                     Yes____  No ____
I plan on staying for the Sunday, June 15th Brunch.                                                          Yes____  No ____
Send to: The Rowfant Club, 3028 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland OH 44115 Attn. Terry Shockey
Hotel Reservations: The Glidden House, 1901 Ford Drive, Cleveland, OH 44106.  Please make your own hotel reservations.  Thirty rooms are being held at the Glidden House.  Phone: 866 812-4537. E-mail:  Ask for the The Rowfant Club “FABS” rate of $139 + tax.
Please note that our schedule is subject to change.