Past Events

A Kelmscott Chaucer for Our Times: Celebrating a New Binding by Dominic Riley
Monday, July 10, 2017, 5–7 PM

When it was produced in 1896, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer by William Morris’s Kelmscott Press was hailed as the greatest book of its age. Designed by Morris and lavishly illustrated by Edward Burne-Jones, 425 copies were printed (one of which resides at the Book Club of California). Some are still in their original bindings and others are in extremely fine bindings done since, leaving a few in poor bindings in need of a new cover. In 2012, Dominic Riley was commissioned to rebind such a copy, with a view to create a contemporary fine binding for it.

In this lecture, Dominic will talk about the genesis of the design, from rough ideas to final execution, and the laborious process of building the binding for this iconic book, which is being donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Dominic Riley is one the most renowned bookbinders working today. His design bindings are in collections worldwide, including the British Library, the St Bride Library, the Rylands in Manchester, the National Library of Wales, the Grolier Club, and the San Francisco Public Library. He has created over seventy design bindings to date, and when he is not making contemporary artistic bindings he restores antiquarian books and teaches.

The Space Within
Monday, June 12, 2017, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

Karen Kunc explores inventive color abstractions of the natural and human-fashioned world in her prints and artist books, creating ideas of “strange beauty.” Kunc is Willa Cather Professor of Art at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she has taught since 1983. She has received numerous awards for her work, including Fulbright Scholar Awards to Finland and Bangladesh, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a Nebraska Arts Council Fellowship. Her works have been shown in exhibitions worldwide and are held in numerous private, public, and university collections. She has taught workshops in Egypt, Italy, Finland, Bangladesh, Poland, Japan, France, Mexico, and Iceland, and has lectured as a visiting artist as over 200 institutions. In 2014, she opened Constellation Studios in Lincoln, Nebraska as a creative worksite for print, paper, and book, inviting artists for residencies, workshops, collaborations, and exhibitions.

Join us for this illustrated talk, in which a poetic metaphor leads to an associative understanding of influences, tactility, and meaning in the bookworks of artist Karen Kunc.

Seating is limited. RSVP here.

Evening in the Library with Kathleen Walkup: Women in the Studio, Women in the Collection
Monday, May 15, 2017, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

What do the Titanic, a frisky colt, and a Greek priestess have in common? Find out at the May 15th Evening in the Library, when we will spend time with some of the illustrious women whose work is part of the club’s collection. We’ll explore the work of actor-printer Gloria Stuart and the irrepressible Jane Grabhorn, as well as bindings by a charter member of the Book Club, Belle McMurtry Young, and its first woman president, Florence Walter. We’ll examine a facsimile that features Diotima, a type designed by Gudrun Zapf, along with many other gems, around the club’s long library table.

This program is for members only and seating is limited. Email to make a reservation or for more information. 

Photographing Libraries
Monday, May 8, 2017, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

“Robert Dawson’s work is an irrefutable argument for the preservation of public libraries. His book is profound and heartbreakingly beautiful.” – Toni Morrison

Author and photographer Robert Dawson will discuss his twenty-three year interest in photographing libraries throughout the United States and now globally. Starting with his eighteen-year survey of American public libraries, he will also share his more recent work from projects in Stockton and San Joaquin County, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C., and his Global Library Project. His book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay was published in 2014.

Seating is limited. RSVP here

The Fourth Annual Bay Area Book Arts Programs Student Showcase
Monday, April 17, 2017, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

5 pm: Exhibition & Hospitality
6 pm: Presentations

A one-night-only exhibition of work by select students from Academy of Art University, California College of the Arts, City College of San Francisco, Mills College, and the San Francisco Art Institute, with presentations by each.

Isabel Cardiff / Mills
Natalie Freed / CCSF
Amelia McCrea / CCA
Deborah Hoyt / SFAI
Benjamin Murray / SFAI
Heather Peters / Mills
Margo van Rooyen / AAU
Kate Vular / AAU
Claudia Wornum / CCSF

Click here to download a flyer of the event, and here to download the bios of each artist.

Radiant with Color and Art: McLoughlin Brothers and the Business of Picture Books, 1858-1920
Friday, April 7, 2017, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

Laura Wasowicz, Curator of Children’s Literature at the American Antiquarian Society, is delighted to return to the Book Club of California to share her recent research on New York picture book publisher McLoughlin Brothers. Rising from the gritty printing district of lower Manhattan, McLoughlin Brothers blew the international picture book trade wide open with its embrace of cutting edge technologies like chromolithography, and branding techniques that are still strikingly modern today. Drawn from the two great repositories of McLoughlin archives, the AAS and the Fox Collection at San Francisco Public Library, this presentation will also illuminate the little known partnership in foreign language picture book publishing shared by McLoughlin Brothers and D. Appleton & Company. Some of the stunning pieces discussed will be on display at New York’s Grolier Club as part of a major exhibition on McLoughlin opening in December 2017.

Seating is limited. RSVP here.

Join us for a ceremony celebrating the recipients of the 2017 Oscar Lewis Awards. This year, the Book Club of California honors Robert Bringhurst for his contributions to western history, and Kitty Maryatt for her contributions to the book arts.

The Book Club of California established the Oscar Lewis Awards in 1994 in honor of the prolific and popular San Francisco writer-historian who served as Book Club secretary from 1921 to 1946. Two awards are presented annually to outstanding individuals for their achievements in western history and the book arts. Please find more information about the awards and a list of past recipients here.

Seating is limited. RSVP to


Exhibition Opening: The Working Library: Clifford Burke and Fine Printing
Monday, March 20, 2017, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

The Working Library: Clifford Burke and Fine Printing will showcase selected works from Cranium Press, founded by Clifford in 1967, as well as books that informed and inspired his distinguished career as poet, printer, and publisher. Join us for the exhibition opening, with remarks from Cranium Press.

The Poet and the Printer: Trading Eights
Monday, March 13, 2017, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

Dana Gioia, Poet Laureate of California, and Richard Wagener, book artist and wood engraver, in conversation.

The Magnificent Library of Abby Ellen Pope
Monday, February 27, 2017, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

Beginning as a young single woman in Chicago in the 1880s, Abby Ellen Pope rose from obscurity to build a book collection of surpassing rarity, including treasures now housed in some of the greatest libraries in the world. She was on track to become one of the great book collectors of her generation. Yet despite her stunning successes, few traces of her extraordinary life remain. Her books are dispersed, house and library demolished, papers gone, and even her portrait has vanished. This talk explores her life and reconstructs her collection to provide a glimpse into a lost library.

Join us for this illustrated talk by Emiko Hastings, Curator of Books and Digital Projects at the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.

Provenance and the Zen of Collecting
Monday, February 13, 2017, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

Eugene Flamm has been an academic neurosurgeon for over 50 years. He has been Professor of Neurosurgery at New York University, University of Pennsylvania, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and has served as Vice Chairman and Chairman at these institutions for 30 years. He has also served as a Director of the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. He is the immediate past president of the Grolier Club and former board member of the Bibliographical Society of America. He is currently Vice President of the Association internationale de Bibliophilie.

Dr. Flamm will speak on the reasons one collects books with provenance, and how this has been a focus of his own collecting in the areas of early medicine and bibliography.

The Book Club of California at CODEX VI Book Fair and Symposium
Sunday–Wednesday, February 5–8, 2017

Come by the Book Club of California table at CODEX! For tickets and more information, visit

Lu Jingren: Master of Chinese Book Design
Monday, February 6, 2017, 5–7 p.m.

Attendees of the CODEX International Book Fair will join members and friends of the Book Club of California for a talk by Lu Jingren, in conjunction with our ongoing exhibition, Lu Jingren: Master of Chinese Book Design.

Please find more information on our exhibition here.
Please find the CODEX schedule of events here.

Art Made Tongue-Tied by Authority: Scenes from the Censorship of Shakespeare’s Plays
Thursday, January 19, 2017, 5:30–7:00 p.m.

The Book Club of California is honored to present a special event for members only. Seating is limited. RSVP to or call (415) 781-7532 to receive priority seating.

The Book Club of California is honored to host a true leader in the field. Michael F. Suarez, S.J. has served as Director of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia since 2009, where he is also Professor of English, University Professor, and Honorary Curator of Special Collections. RBS is a mainstay of bibliographical education in the United States and the English-speaking world. Since 2010, Suarez has served as Editor-in-Chief of Oxford Scholarly Editions Online. His recent books include The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume V, 1695–1830 (Cambridge University Press, 2009), co-edited with Michael Turner, and The Oxford Companion to the Book (Oxford University Press, 2010), a million-word reference work co-edited with H. R. Woudhuysen.


View 2016 events here.

View 2015 events here.

View 2014 events here.

View 2013 events here.

View 2012 (and earlier) events here.

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