January 6th, 2012
We love Alphabet books! They come in such a vast array of subject matters and formats. The Alphabet book got its start teaching children their ABCs while providing cute and memorable examples of words beginning with each letter. Often, there are engaging pictures or cute rhymes. We have a small display of some of our favorites Alphabet books out in Special Collections. Our small exhibit contains mostly artists’ books, with a few pop-up books and one or two others. Most of our books are not really written for children, but are just taking advantage of the genre to make a beautiful or interesting book. Come in and take a look. Here is a preview of a few titles:
The White Alphabet, by Ronald King at the Circle Press, is one of the most intricately crafted of our books. It is a double-sided concertina alphabet book, without text. Each fold opens up to reveal a pop-up letter, exquisitely crafted of RWS hand-made paper and sandwiched between inlaid wooden boards.
The Gorey Alphabet by Edward Gorey is an entire alphabet of terrible occupations and pastimes, such as Fetishist or Xenophobe. There is nothing like Gorey’s macabre sense of humor. No cute and cuddly animal friends or bright colorful illustrations grace these pages. This is an alphabet book for only the most fearless of children, and of course, all who appreciate such things.
Michael Roberts is an artist for The New Yorker magazine, a photographer, filmmaker, and fashion writer. His Jungle ABC is a colorful, beautifully conceived, collaged alphabet book using imagery from Africa. Perhaps the average child might not appreciate the beauty of this world as much as the adults, but we love the vibrant energy of this alphabet. With its exotic words to learn and fascinating images to decipher, it is definitely an entertaining book. The book is forwarded by model, Iman, who talks about inspiration found in the mystery and power of the jungle.
ABC–3D, by Marion Bataille, is another pop-up book that won awards for being the best children’s book of the year. It has a lenticular cover that changes letters as you shift the book. The color scheme is graphically interesting in red, white, and black. The book does more than just pop-up. Some of the pages have movement, such as the pinwheel S. Robert Sabuda called it “One of the most delightful and innovative pop-up books I have ever seen.”
A Tool Alphabet, by Laura Davidson is an artists’ book we like a lot. Beautiful printed tools and letters are on each page. The book is offset printed, with an embossed cover and held together with copper grommets. Some of the tools are not ones I recognize, but then, my experience with hardware may be somewhat limited.
December 27th, 2011
Last year, Special Collections was contacted by Fraser Maclean, an animator and teacher from Scotland. He was finishing up a book on the art of animation layout and wondered if he could use some materials from the Don Bluth Collection of Animation in his book. We already had some layouts from the Secret of NIMH scanned, so sent him some samples. He loved them and selected a few to use. That was the easy part. The hard part was all of the legal stuff to allow permissions to publish, etc. Somehow we got through that and sent the images on to Fraser.
We saw that the book came out just a few weeks ago and ordered copies for the library. Setting the Scene: The Art & Evolution of the Animation Layout came in to the library the other day and it is beautiful! And so full of information! The book contains interviews, examples, gossip, history, and process on the art of the layout for animation. Full of lavish color illustrations, it gives the reader a peek into the history of how animators plot the scenes and pull all of the elements together into one cohesive work. There is a copy in Special Collections, and also a few in the circulating collection. Come in to the library and take a look at this beautiful book (if you can find a copy on the shelf.) Here is one of the images SCAD supplied for the book. It appears on pages 159.
November 30th, 2011
Recently, Professor Patricia Butz brought students in to Special Collections to see some books we recently purchased at her request. The books were by Father Edward Catich on calligraphy and handwriting. We are always happy to assist faculty in finding resources for their classes! And, this is an area that we may have been lacking in materials, so it helped our collection, also.
Father Edward Catich was a well known author and artist working in many fields. He was interested in history, liturgical art, photography, music, sculpture and stone cutting, but he is best known as a calligrapher. He was born in Stevensville, Montana. After he and his 3 brothers were orphaned, they were relocated to Illinois. While in an orphanage in Illinois, he undertook a sign-writing apprenticeship with Walter Heberling. He went on to work as a union sign-writer in Chicago and attended the Art Institute of Chicago for three-and-a-half years and then went to St. Ambrose in Iowa. He went on to receive a graduate degree from the University of Iowa, and then went to Rome in 1935 to study at Pontifical Gregorian University and also pursue an interest in paleography and epigraphy. It was there that he observed a relationship between the inscription letter-making of Imperial Rome and the Chicago sign writing he learned in his internship. After ordination, he returned to St. Ambrose College to teach art, music, and math. He founded the Art Department at St. Ambrose and taught there until his death in 1979.
He also founded his own press, the Catfish Press, which operated out of his studio at the University. He published several of his own books at the press. He was a prolific artist in many different formats from stone cutting to painting to calligraphy. St Ambrose University owns 5,000 pieces of the artist’s work and they are available in an online digital archive. Many of his paintings have calligraphic elements. He is also responsible for the designing of two typefaces: Petrarch and Catfish.
He created a number of alphabet stones, some in permanent collections of seven museums. St. Ambrose University house the largest collection of Father Catich’s work, some 5,000 pieces from sketchbooks and drawings to finished works in watercolor, ink, and slates. He also left his manuscripts and correspondence. St. Ambrose has digitized much of the artwork and is available at The Catich Collection: A Digital Archive of the Works of Fr. Edward Catich.
October 17th, 2011
The Codex Seriphinianus has been called the strangest book in the world. It is by Luigi Serafini, and was originally published in 1981 by Franco Maria Ricci, who has dedicated himself to publishing unique, limited edition books by independent artists. Luigi Serafini is an Italian architect and graphic designer. Born in Rome in 1949, he has created scenery, lighting, and set designs, illustrated books, sculptures, and taught graphic design.
The book itself is an encyclopedia of an unknown world. It is written, presumably, in the language of that world, which looks completely alien, yet somewhat familiar. You get the feeling it that if you just looked a little differently, you might decipher some meaning. The illustrations are even more perplexing, filled with familiar elements, but arranged in unfamiliar ways.
The book is arranged into chapters, each dealing with a different element of this very strange world. Some of these include flora and fauna, which have characteristics we know, but they behave in ways we have never seen. The science is explained by truly alien math. The machines seem to have functions outside our ability to guess. Apparently, your sink can fill up quickly with fish. The clothes are very interesting, some more like armor. There is a very interesting deck of cards. My favorite section is the architecture. Parts of this world appear very watery.
If you Google the Codex Seraphinianus, you will find that it is a highly discussed publication. There is a lot of speculation on what it means. Several sites talk about translating the book, referring to subtle and not so subtle keys to the meaning in the book. Serafini, speaking bfore the Oxford University Society of Bibliophiles on May 12, 2009, stated that there is no meaning behind the script he used, that his writing was asemic, which means the writing has no specific semantic content. The interpretation is entirely up to the reader. You can come in to the library to see the book or view it completely on line. There are several sites that host it, here is one: CodexSeraphinianus
If you want to read a little more about the book or perhaps, purchase your own copy, there is a great article with images and a short video at the Abe Books site.
July 7th, 2011
Recently added to Special Collections is Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, a book published to coincide with an exhibition at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, organized by The Costume Institute. The book contains detailed studies of several of McQueen’s collections, focusing as much on his elaborate runway presentations as on the designs themselves. An introduction by Susannah Frankel and an interview with McQueen’s longtime assistant and successor, Sarah Burton, provide insight into the mind of one of the most accomplished and provocative modern designers.
This week, a student who visited Special Collections to use Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty asked why the book is here rather than in the circulating collection. This is not an uncommon question, and one that we are always happy to answer. There are many possible reasons why an item would be placed in Special Collections rather than elsewhere in the library: value, rarity, fragility, multiple parts, loose plates, autographed/inscribed by the author/artist, small press, limited edition…the list goes on and on. The Alexander McQueen book is here because it has a lenticular plate mounted on the cover. There was no way to place a barcode on the cover without damaging this plate, and because the plate was mounted to the cover, it could easily be removed or otherwise damaged. The library wanted to preserve a copy of the book with the lenticular plate intact, and so it was placed in Special Collections.
Don’t be afraid to ask us why something is in Special Collections, and please remember that if you cannot come in during our normal hours, you can contact us, and we will do our best to find a way to accommodate your research needs.