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Book Arts: Fine Press

Subject-specific lists of book arts materials available in Special Collections at the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library


John and Rose Randle. “A Bird’s Eye View of the Press.” Illustration by Miriam Macgregor, 1987. Collection of Broadsides by Artists and Presses AOB 41

This broadside has a very traditional layout of one illustration and one textual element.  The subject is the press itself:  a drawing and descriptive text of the historic British building in which the press is housed along with a layout and inventory of the equipment.  Many fine presses have subscribers, who agree to purchase every item the press produces, yet at a discounted cost, or in advance.  This guaranteed income allows the press to continue to produce what ultimately are works of art and works of love, i.e., not always commercially-viable ventures.  This broadside is an example of something created with supporters of the press in mind, a keepsake of sorts to commemorate the work of the press and the owner’s dedication to the art and craft of printing by hand.


Typopolis: A Journey to the City of Type. Designed and printed by John Ross. [Cornuda, Italy]: Tipoteca Italiana fondazione; East Hampton, NY: High Tide Press, 2002. NJ18 R6987 A12 2002 (LC)+ Oversize

Ross’ book uses historic wood type from the Tipoteca Italiana museum in Italy to create fantastical architectural structures: skyscrapers, a bridge, a castle, a factory, and more. The front cover includes a sculptural title that evokes the wood type from which the book was printed; the letterforms are in relief and in reverse.  Ross has published 19 books through his personal imprint, High Tide Press.  While he is a well-respected book artist, he is best known as the co-author of The Complete Printmaker, a frequently consulted reference book on printmaking technique.

Ronald Keller. Aesop's Fables: Illustrated with Architectural Adornments on New York City Buildings. Bremen, ME & New York City: Red Angel Press, 2011. (New acquisition)

Andrea Palladio.  Excerpts from the Four Books on Architecture. Translated by Robert Tavernor & Richard Schofield. Bremen, ME & New York City: Red Angel Press, 2008. (New acquisition). Located in wall case.

Ronald Keller is the proprietor of Red Angel Press.  A long-time resident of New York City, he has a great respect for architecture and it is often featured in his fine press work.  In these two very architecturally-reverent works, cast paper models of a facade and decorative elements give the reader a more sculptural understanding than a rendering might.  The uncolored paper pulp is reminiscent of the stone from which Palladio’s La Rotonda/Villa Almerico-Capra was built and the New York City animal decorations carved.  The structure of the books themselves also has an architectural feeling, as non-traditional structures unfold in unexpected ways to create an environment for the cast paper elements within.

Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.  The City of Carcassonne. Wood engravings by Elfriede Abbe. Manchester Center, VT:  Press of Elfriede Abbe, 1988. DC801 C24 V513X 1988 (LC)+ Oversize

A printer, sculptor, and graphic artist, Abbe started printing her own limited edition works in 1950; it was unusual for a woman to own a printing press at this time.  She visited the French city of Carcassonne in 1939 and was intrigued by its architecture.  As Abbe often printed works related to her interest in historical subjects, she did research about the city.  She discovered that the nineteenth century French architect Viollet-le-Duc had restored the city and written a guidebook.  Abbe reprinted that text with her own modern clarifications added.  She illustrated the text with her own wood engravings (in black) and reproductions of Viollet-le-Duc’s illustrations (in silver) from his work Dictionnaire Raisonné de l’Architecture Francaise.