Oak Knoll Books Issues its 300th Catalogue
Oak Knoll #300.
Oak Knoll Books, of New Castle, Delaware, has reached an important milestone – the issuance of their Catalogue 300. It has taken them 36 years to attain these heights, even at the prolific average of over 8 catalogues a year. This is a larger catalogue than the previous 299, for which owner Bob Fleck apologizes to those who have the other 299 neatly lined up on a shelf. This one shall always stand out. The material follows in the footsteps of those earlier volumes, books in the “books about books” category. This one is divided into subheadings for bookbinding; book collecting, selling and publishing; book illustration; cartography; Delaware history; book and graphic design; private and fine press; papermaking; printing history; reference and bibliography; type specimens; and writing and calligraphy.
While the featured books of each section (and the ones we will focus on in this review) are either antiquarian works or fine press items, there are also more recent books offered by the Oak Knoll Press. Founded a couple of years after Oak Knoll Books, the Press has been publishing items in the “books about books” field since 1978. These are titles which will help you learn more about the various aspects of the book arts. Now, we will open the catalogue to look at a few of the items to be found inside #300.
No man is more closely associated with fine bookbindings than Jean Grolier, though he was not a binder. Grolier's father was a wealthy merchant, and Jean inherited both wealth and certain government positions from him. However, it is not his day job or comfortable surroundings for which we remember Grolier. It was a his book collecting that is remembered to this day. He began building his library in the early 16th century, when printing was barely more than half a century old. What distinguished Grolier's books was the bindings. He commissioned the finest bindings for his books, making them works of art as well as repositories of knowledge. He could well be described as the father of books as art. Item 23 is Jean Grolier de Servier Viscount d'Aguisy, Some Account of His Life, by William Loring Andrews and published by the DeVinne Press in 1892. This was a limited edition (140 copies) on hand-made paper which includes plates displaying some of Grolier's bindings. Andrews, a successful businessman and notable collector himself, appropriately enough was one of the founders of New York's Grolier Club. Priced at $600.
From the category of cartography, item 82 is The Earliest Diplomatic Documents of America, the Papal Bulls of 1493 and the Treaty of Tordesillas Reproduced and Translated. This book of reproductions of maps and documents was produced by Paul Gottschalk in 1927. This is a limited edition folio printing that contains very important information on the direction America would go in the succeeding centuries. The issue was the division of the New World between Spain and Portugal. The Pope was involved in far more than spiritual matters at the time. The original division gave everything in the Americas to Spain. Not to worry for Portugal, as it was given exclusive rights in the East. The Treaty of Tordesillas would move the demarcation in the Americas a bit farther west than the bulls had allowed, thereby granting Portugal rights to eastern Brazil, but the remainder of the Americas remained available exclusively to the Spanish. Of course, other nations, notably England, would later ignore the Pope's proclamations. $1,700.
Item 134 is the Ashendene Press edition of Sir Thomas Malory's The Noble and Joyous Book Entytled Le Morte d'Arthur, published in 1913. Mallory wasn't around to approve the press proofs, he having died in 1471. This is a tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, originally published by William Caxton in 1485. It was hand-printed by Ashendene's Charles Henry St. John Hornsby, who published 40 fine press books in his 40 years running the press. This is a fine one. $7,500.
Oak Knoll Books Issues its 300th Catalogue
Some of Henry Aiken's animal etchings.
Item 60 combines the art of etching with a fantastic amount of history about one American subject. It is a set of Bernhardt Wall's Following Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865. It contains an incredible 85 volumes. Wall started as an illustrator, but developed a love for American history, serious etchings, and started his own fine press. Nonetheless, 85 volumes is an extreme labor of love. Originally intended for 15 volumes, Wall continued through 60, the 60th being an index. However, he went back at it through 85, that last one also being an index. Additionally, there were two ancillary volumes, one of which is included with this set, along with various ephemeral items pertaining to the books and various Lincoln sites. Each volume contains 8-16 of Wall's etchings, 1,035 in all. The first volume was published in 1931, the last in 1942. There were supposed to be 76 sets in all, but it appears substantially fewer were actually printed, and only two other complete sets have been located. $15,000.
If you would like to create a book with 1,035 etchings too, here is a great place to start: The Art and Practice of Etching... by Henry Aiken, published in 1849. Aiken was an avid sportsman, and drew illustrations for numerous sporting periodicals. In this guide, he shares the secrets of his 40 years of experience in etching scenes. Item 49. $500.
Item 185 is not just some token collection. It's a very serious collection of... tokens, and medals too. Henry Morris of Bird and Bull Press put together a collection of tokens and medals over the years, and published several books on the subject. He also produced several medals for various booksellers and his press. In 2002, Bob Fleck of Oak Knoll Books purchased the collection, and combined it with his own collection of medals and tokens. The result is the entire collection now includes 457 items, along with some reference works on the subject. Some date as far back as the 17th century. $48,000.
Oak Knoll Books may be reached at 800-996-2556 or email@example.com. Their website is www.oakknoll.com.