C. Lovat Fraser, illustrator. The Lute of Love.
London: Shelwyn & Blount, n.d. Printed by the Curwen Press.
The last few months have found me practically camped out at a favorite shop. A large collection of books interesting in my field had arrived and I was busy making sure nothing I really needed got past me. It was exhilarating, a bit of the old book times, with lots to see and lots to buy. But as the material specifically in my own field ebbed, with less found with each visit, I was still buying up a storm, returning home almost each day with a box of new acquisitions. I started to question my own sanity a bit, wondering if I had turned the corner and become a hoarder, albeit a professional one. That still may be the case, but as I’ve sifted through my purchases, I’ve noticed another theme emerging. Most of the books I’ve bought in the past weeks, these odd, out-of-field purchases, have in some way been real “books”. Whether slight of size or slight of content, in some way they powerfully manifest the power or beauty of the physical book and were, I think, singing out to me from the boxes on the floor of that shop. With the constant drumbeat in the media hailing the “death of the book”, these little books spoke of the myriad aesthetic approaches to the book, to differences in paper and cloth, in illustration and typography, to the representations of ownership through the years. So here are a few of those books, all inexpensive, none on the radar of major collectors, but all lovely.