Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Colophon Club

The Colophon Club’s January event was a fascinating talk on volvelles, by Professor Emerita Mary Kay Duggan, University of California (Berkeley) School of Information.  Those members in attendance especially appreciated the invitation—a working volvelle printed by members Richard Seibert and Li Jiang with lovely engraving by Keith Cranmer. We also gave special thanks to retiring President Susan Filter and retiring Secretary, Nancy Wickes. Lucy Rodgers Cohen is our new president and Mary Manning the secretary.
In February we were treated to a talk by Michael Sack, “From Illustrated Books to English Blue and White China.” He described the process of European travelers to India and China creating illustrated travel books, whose images were later used as the basis for the famous blue and white transfer printed china. A collector of both the china and the books, the talk was richly illustrated from his own collection.
In March we marked the sesquicentennial of the Civil War with a talk by Beverly Wilson Palmer of Pomona College, speaking on From Delaware to Dixie: The Civil War Diary of Ann Read Reeves. This is a newly transcribed diary recounting a woman’s choice to move to the Confederacy. It will be included in an exhibition of women’s Civil War diaries that opens October 14 at the Schlesinger Library, Harvard University.
Gary Kurutz, Director Emeritus of  Special Collections at the California State Library, entertained and enlightened us on the “Peregrinations of the Sutro Library, 1913-2013.”  San Franciscan Adolph Sutro created the largest private library in North America before his death in 1898. Unfortunately his plans to donate it as a public research library were not realized and the earthquake and fire of 1906 destroyed at least a third of the collection. Mr. Kurutz, himself a former director of the Sutro Library, described the Library’s various homes such as the Montgomery Block, the basement of the San Francisco Public Library, a portion of The Gleeson Library at The University of San Francisco, and temporary space at San Francisco State University. In 2012 the Sutro, a state library required by law to remain in San Francisco, moved into a permanent home on the top 2 floors of the newly earthquake-retrofitted J. Paul Leonard Library at SFSU.
In June members of The Colophon Club were given a private tour of The Sutro, graciously hosted by The Sutro staff and Mr. Kurutz. We were able to examine many treasures, such as James Bateman’s The Orchidacae of Mexico and Guatemala (1837-43) and the Mishneh Torah of Moses Maimonides (1299).
The May meeting brought a talk by Marcia Reed, Chief Curator, Getty Research Institute. She spoke on a set of French engravings commissioned by the QianLong Emperor of China to commemorate a great military victory. They were delivered to the Court along with two printing presses and the original copper plates. These prints document cultural exchange and contact between Europe and China, an interest of the Getty.
As we enjoy our summer hiatus we are planning this fall’s 35th anniversary of The Colophon Club.

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