GALA DINNER, PHILADELPHIA CLUB, JUNE 6TH, 2015 FABS BOOK TOUR
MARK DIMUNATION, CHIEF OF THE RARE BOOK AND SPECIAL COLLECTION
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
The grand finale of the FABS Book Tour was a wonderful banquet, a "Gala DInner."
Our hosts, The Philobiblon Society of Philadelphia, hosted us at the private Philadelphia Club. Founded in 1834, it is one of the oldest gentlemen's clubs (men only) in the United States. 400 members continue the tradition of playing cards and meeting in fellowship, as did their founders. The building has a card room, dining rooms, smoking rooms, bar, library (with a large collection of prints), displays such as Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.'s game trophy heads, and lodging/nap rooms on the upper levels. Members have included General George Meade (admitted only after having won the Battle of Gettysburg), author Matthew Owen Wister, William McIntire Elkins (who donated the Elkins Room to the Free Library of Philadelphia), George Widener (book collecting family), Adolph Rosengarten, the Dupont and the Biddle family members.
Famous guests include twelve presidents, soldiers and sailors such as McClellan, Sherman, Buffalo "Bill," writers, artists, actors, and musicians such as Thackeray, Longfellow, Irving, Tarkington, Stoker, Stokowski, Barrymore (John), Lord Randolph Churchill and Winston, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Clay, to name a few. In 1953 women were allowed to be guests only, continuing the men only tradition.
The Gala Dinner began with a reception on the main floor of stunning mahogany paneled rooms, with many book cases, paintings, beautiful rugs and a lovely living room grand piano, and was sponsored by Bruce McKittrick Rare Books, Inc. So, we all thank you for a truly wonderful feast.
Bruce took to the podium to thank us for coming, and for those who had helped us become so knowledgeable about Philadelphia in such a short time, and the chef and staff who had served up this event. But, he had been saving the best for last, our speaker. With that he introduced us to Mark Dimunation, Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress. Thunderous applause greeted him
Mark entertained us with a speech titled: Encounters of the Nation's Rare Book Collection. Needless to say, a standing ovation was given to our speaker, Mark Dimunation, who never disappoints us with his passion and love of books and of this country. Thank you so much. Your stories are priceless, and we owe so much to your ingenuity. I could hear your voice as I tried to recall the evening. Thanks for the memories!
Joan Knoertzer, Book Club of Detroit, Florida Bibliophile Society, Miniature Book Society, Clements Library of Americana