Beautiful bookplate book

[Alyson Kuhn] On the winged heels of my recent posts about bookplates, I want to share some good bookish news. I’ve just ascertained that copies of California Bookplates, published by the Book Club of California in 2006, are still available. I adore this book for its form, its content and its sensibilities.

The book was inspired by an exhibition at the Club in 2002 of members’ bookplates, including mine. Author Robert Dickover begins his introduction thusly: “The 2005 keepsake of The Book Club of California is a response to the continuing widespread interest in and, indeed, fascination with bookplates.” The 2002 exhibition was the third organized by the Club, preceded by bookplate shows in 1913 and 1953. For the book, Dickover selected 81 bookplates from these three exhibitions, including several recognizing donors to libraries. Styles range from neoclassical to Arts & Crafts to whimsical. His introductory essay deftly combines a bit of bookplate history, personal collecting anecdotes and wonderful descriptions of other books about bookplates. If the introduction were available digitally, it would be the hyperlinkiest thing, full of references to authors, wood engravers, “letter designers” and printers.

The book was designed and printed on Mohawk Superfine (Smooth) at Peter Koch, Printers in Berkeley, so I called Peter the other day for details to supplement those in the lovely colophon, from which my favorite bit is this: “The typefaces are a special letterpress version of Giovanni Marderstei’s Dante for the text with Greco Adornado and Rialto Italic for display.” The book is letterpress printed in red and black throughout (plus one, just one, bit of yellow-orange on the dedication page, which happens to be Peter’s favorite page in the book). Several bookplates are reproduced in color offset, printed before the letterpress, by Creative-Litho.

Peter comments that Superfine is his favorite machine-made text paper. Printing California Bookplates was a bit of a challenge because of the large solids. His shop received plenty, even a super-abundance, of overs from Creative-Litho for this project. Three-plus years later, he is still working his way through them — both as make-ready for other jobs and as wrapping paper! Do you think I will be going by very soon to get some?

California Bookplates is $30 plus shipping and tax. The Book Club of California is splendidly located at 312 Sutter Street in downtown San Francisco, next door to E&O Trading Company and a five-minute walk from Sam’s Grill and United States Stamp Co.

Alyson Kuhn has the highest regard, even a bit of absinthe-green envy, for Peter Koch’s website — and she’s not just saying this to butter him up. See her previous bookplate-themed feature here and her post on Rockwell Kent’s Candide here.

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