Upcoming Events


The Book Club of California at the California International Antiquarian Book Fair, Pasadena. Friday-Sunday, February 12-14, 2016

Visit the Book Club at the 49th annual Book Fair in Pasadena, located at

The Pasadena Convention Center
300 East Green Street
Pasadena, CA 91101

More about the fair may be found here.


The Rise of the Literary Annual, Powerful Femininity, and Beautiful Books: An Illustrated Talk and Pop-up Exhibition. Monday, February 22, 2016, 5-7 p.m.

The Rise of the Literary Annual, Powerful Femininity, and Beautiful Books offers an exhibit and lecture about the rise of the beautifully-bound and wildly popular British literary annual, a genre of early-nineteenth-century publication that is based on the rich diversity of European religious emblems, French almanacs, and British conduct manuals. The literary annual provided a space for re-creating a massive reading public who enjoyed poetry, travel tales, gothic short stories, images of popular (yet difficult to reach) artwork, morality short stories, fantasy, and other early forms of literature. By 1828, the craze for literary annuals overwhelmed booksellers and drawing rooms in England, France, South America, and finally, America, where publishers shamelessly pirated copies of the London volumes, even exchanging an anglo-centric poem for one that celebrates the nascent formation of American pride. Harris’ talk will touch on these topics as well as the beauty of these 200-year old books with an invitation to audience members to browse through an exhibit of representatives from her personal collection of silk-bound literary annuals (American, British, and French), hand-sewn almanacs, and gilt-edge anthologies. (Based on Harris’ literary history, Forget Me Not: The Rise of the British Literary Annual 1823-1835)

Katherine D. Harris, an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, San José State University, specializes in Romantic-Era and 19th-century British literature, women’s authorship, the literary annual, textuality, editorial theory, and Digital Humanities, all of which culminates in her three studies surrounding the literary annuals: The Forget Me Not: A Hypertextual Archive, The Forgotten Gothic: Short Stories from British Annuals 1823-1831 (Zittaw Press 2012), and Forget Me Not: The Rise of the British Literary Annual 1823-1835 (Ohio UP 2015). Harris is chair of the California Open Educational Resources Council, a state-funded initiative to promote adoption of OER textbooks in the UC, CSU, and CCC.

Lithograph by Brown: Pioneer Woolen Mills, by Aquatic Park and Fort Mason 

San Francisco Lithographer: African American Artist Gafton Taylor Brown. An Illustrated Talk by Robert Chandler. Monday, March 7, 2016, 5-7 p.m.

Grafton Tyler Brown (1841-1918) was the first son of light-skinned African Americans Thomas and Wilhelmina Brown in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This precocious teenager arrived in Sacramento in 1858, where he became a hotel steward. He quickly gained public attention for his artistic ability, and in 1860 “passed” into the majority society by taking a job down river with San Francisco lithographer Charles Kuchel. Brown bought the business and for 15 years engaged in a design battle with San Francisco’s letterpress printers and other lithographers. This talk illustrates by comparison how Brown’s ability triumphed.

Robert J. Chandler is a past president of the Book Club of California and was the long-time editor of its Quarterly News-Letter. He is a member of the Roxburghe and Colophon Clubs and numerous historical associations, including the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus. He is the author of San Francisco Lithographer: African American Artist Grafton Tyler Brown (University of Oklahoma Press, 2014).


The 2016 Oscar Lewis Awards. Monday, March 28, 2016, 5-7 p.m.

Join us for a ceremony celebrating the recipients of the 2016 Oscar Lewis Awards in Western History and the Book Arts. The Oscar Lewis Awards were established by the Book Club of California in 1994 in honor of Oscar Lewis (1893-1992), San Francisco author, historian, and Book Club secretary from 1921-1946.

Please click here for more information about the awards and a list of past recipients.


The Third Annual Bay Area Book Arts Showcase. Monday, April 11, 2016, 5-7 p.m.

5 pm: Exhibition & Hospitality
6 pm: Presentations

A one-night-only exhibition of work by select students enrolled in Bay Area book arts programs, with presentations by each.


The Challenge of Paper Engineering: Conserving The Map that Changed the World, William Smith’s 1815 Geological Strata of Great Britain. Monday, May 9, 2016, 5-7 p.m.

Join Karen Zukor for a talk on the repair of Smith’s spectacular, twelve-foot-long, hand-colored engraved map, which expanded the field of geology, and whose importance was celebrated on its 200th anniversary in 2015.

Karen Zukor has been a paper conservator in private practice for thirty-eight years. Her work encompasses a full range of work on paper, from the fifteenth century up to contemporary pieces. She has been responsible for many collections, including fine art, archival material, maps, historic currency, and rare books, both in private hands and in institutions. The studio is involved in both conservation and preservation treatments; she and her staff not only repair damaged items but provide information for archival display, housing, and storage. Karen has trained both pre- and post program conservation interns for over twenty years, and lectures widely to the general public.


The Hidden Waters of San Francisco Monday, July 11, 2016, 5-7 p.m.

Everyone knows that San Francisco is surrounded on three sides by water. But few realize that live, running water bubbles up from the ground throughout the city, from Islais Creek in Glen Canyon to a rivulet high up on Twin Peaks to a spring in Alemany Farm. Gary Kamiya will look at the fascinating history of San Francisco’s lost waters and explore the surprising ones that still exist.

Gary Kamiya was born in Oakland, grew up in Berkeley and has lived in San Francisco since 1971. He is the author of the bestselling Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco, which was awarded the 2013 Northern California Book Award in creative nonfiction. His first book was the critically acclaimed Shadow Knights: The Secret War Against Hitler. He was a founder and longtime executive editor of the pioneering Web site Salon.com. His work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Sports Illustrated, ArtForum, Mother Jones and many other publications. He is currently the executive editor of San Francisco Magazine and writes a history column, “Portals of the Past,” that appears every Saturday in the San Francisco Chronicle.


POSTPONED: Gold Beating: How Gold Leaf Is Made. An Illustrated Talk by John Hastings.

Please check here for the rescheduled date. 

In 1820, John Hastings’ great grandfather founded Hastings and Company, a gold leaf manufacturing company in Philadelphia. It went on to become the largest gold leaf manufacturing company in America, lasting nearly 150 years. In this illustrated talk, Hastings will describe the age-old craft and all the traditions, methods, and surprising facts surrounding it–for example, it takes one ounce of gold to make 175 square feet of gold leaf. Hastings will also discuss gold beating in Japan and Burma, various uses of gold leaf, and why the market for gold leaf collapsed, and he will show an 80-year-old film about gold beating.

John Hastings was the fourth generation to run his family’s business, Hastings & Co., which manufactured gold leaf in Philadelphia for 148 years. After the business closed in 1968, he spent twenty years at the archeological museum of the University of Pennsylvania, developing computer databases for archaeology, and also working on digs in France, India an Tunisia. He moved to the Bay Area in 2001 and lives in Orinda. In recent years he has written several books about gold leaf and his family’s genealogy.

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