Past Member Exhibitions

Close Ties
On view July 29 – November 23, 2019

Dr. Smith shares an exhibit of a few representative family-related books by writers including her father, Will Thomas, her godfather, Chester Himes, and godmother, Zora Neale Hurston.

“I am honored to be associated with these ancestors. They were daring and prescient writers and thinkers. I am stunned whenever I dip back into their work for refreshment in reading the truth about the American past and people of color (or ”colored people” as we said in the 1950s).”

An exhibition by Anne W. Smith, DPA, Book Club member and past president.



An Episodic Journey: San Francisco Publishing in the mid-1980’s
On view May 1 – July 3, 2019

This exhibit comprises a handful of published ephemera from 1984 to 1989, shortly before the closure five years later of the Press Club of San Francisco.

As a member, Patrick Burnson was residing at the Press Club of San Francisco when he took the job as an editor of Key Magazine: This Week in San Francisco. This was a digest of performing arts listings, galleries, and other cultural destiantions and events which was distributed free by most of the larger hotels in the City. They also produced the playbill for “Beach Blanket Babylon”.

Burnson was an assistant editor of ZYZZYVA in 1985, a contributing editor to the San Francisco Review of Books; The Nob Hill Gazette, and has written author profiles for Publisher’s Weekly.

An exhibition by collector and Book Club member Patrick Burnson.

From Zero to Incunable in Five Years: Starting a Collection
On view February 27, 2018 – April 22, 2019

A new collector’s generalist approach to acquiring fine and interesting books, that began with 20th and 21st century private press specimens and eventually led back to early books from the late 15th and and early 16th centuries.

“I have always enjoyed having and reading books, but I wasn’t aware of an interest in collectable or rare books until six years ago. When I finally discovered antiquarian booksellers all around me, they helped me see the world of book collecting that I had been missing. Initially, I was drawn to the handmade character of fine press books, but my interests broadened to designer bindings, artist books, and, most recently, the centuries-old books from the early modern period of moveable type. For now, a generalist approach seems to serve me well as I learn about enjoy book collecting.”

An exhibition by collector and Book Club member Ben Cranefield.

Poetry Broadsides from Larry Rafferty’s Collection
On view December 5, 2018 – February 4, 2019

Hospitality at 5 PM | Remarks at 5:30 PM

Hit & Run Press was launched in 1974. Since that time, in addition to publication, I have collected books by poets and printers whose work I admired. Along the way, I have accumulated a couple hundred letterpress broadsides. Here, you’ll see a few treasures from my collection.

An exhibition of poetry broadsides by collector and Book Club member Larry Rafferty.

California the Wonderful
On view October 3 – December 3, 2018

Hospitality at 5 PM | Remarks at 5:30 PM

“Books have been so many other things than content. Content is what a book is about. But then the house it’s put in, the physical nature of binding and printing, becomes an embodiment of ideas.”

(Nick Bantock, author and illustrator, as quoted in an article by Colleen Smith in “Fine Books And Collections” Summer 2017, No. 15.5)
I collect California books in decorated publisher’s bindings from the 1880’s to 1920’s – books about the Golden State from the Golden Age of book cover art. The books in the collection vary in subject matter, they describe California’s “… romantic history, her picturesque people, her wild shores, her desert mystery, her valley loveliness, her mountain glory, […] her varied resources, her commercial greatness, her intellectual achievements, her expanding hopes” – as Edwin Markham so modestly states in the subtitle to his book “California The Wonderful”!

The topics range from the Indian/Spanish past (Yosemite Legends, Glimpses of California and the Missions), to the Gold Rush (The Golden Days of ’49), to travel and history (California the Wonderful, California Romantic and Beautiful, California), to the natural wonders (Lake of the Sky – Lake Tahoe, Three Wonderlands of the American West) and natural disasters (The California Earthquake of 1906); nthere’s the beginning of environmental awareness (Muir’s ‘Our National Parks’); and there’s literature (of a sort…! Ramona), and poetry (Californians).

I have been a reader and book collector from an early age on; as my interests widened I began to appreciate books not just for their content, but also as objects of art and design – “handsome books”. The cover art in many instances will reflect something about the content of the book, in other instances will just be “cover art for cover art’s sake”. My collection also contains many cover variants: variations in color scheme and gilting, titling, layout, borders, etc. It is of particular interest to me to try to identify the cover artists – a work in progress.

An exhibit of books on California by collector and Book Club member Ulrich Hacker.

Popping Up: Animated Books and Their Stories
On view August 1 – October 1, 2018

Hospitality at 5 PM | Remarks at 5:30 PM

You may think of pop-up books as children’s toys, but originally they were made for adults. The earliest known pop-up book dates from the 13th century and was used to calculate dates of holy days. Other early uses were by doctors to study anatomy (lift the flap and see internal organs), artists (open the page and a geometric shape would pop up, showing perspective and rendering), and even landscapers (to show before and after views). Pop-up books for children developed in the late 18th century. They became popular in the early 1900s as design & assembly techniques improved and prices came down.

Pop-up books enjoyed a resurgence in the 1960s as publishers began assembling the books in countries with low labor rates – an early example of off-shoring. Their popularity continues today, with dozens being published every year, even though they are still widely regarded as children’s books, and not for adults.

The books shown here illustrate the range of sizes and techniques used. Most are traditional pop-ups; animated books that move when pages are opened, or with pull tabs to provide motion. Animation is also provided by slats that slide over each other to change the image; and volvelles, a rotating set of wedges that slide over each other. Besides pop-ups, there are carousels that are opened cover to cover for a 360° view, and tunnel books that expand with accordion-like folds to give a sense of depth as the viewer peers in from one end.

Subject matter varies widely, from fairy tales to the risqué, real locations and imaginary ones, ancient history to popular culture, and more.

The next time you’re in a bookstore and see a pop-up book, pick it up and open it. You may be surprised!

An exhibit of pop-up books by collector and Book Club member Mike Jacobsen.

To view Mike’s opening presentation, click here.

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