2017 Events

Bookplates: A Contemporary Art Form
Monday, December 11, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

James Keenan has been an avid collector of bookplates for nearly 40 years. He is director of the American Society of Bookplate Collectors & Designers, founded in 1922, and serves as editor and publisher of the society’s journal, Ex Libris Chronicle. His books include American Artists of the Bookplate (Cambridge Bookplate, 1990 & 1996) and The Art of the Bookplate (Barnes & Noble, 2003). In this presentation, Keenan will share a brief history of the bookplate and bookplate societies, highlighting examples of the contemporary art form and the international friendships built between artists and collectors today.

Co-presented by the Northern California Chapter of APHA.

Featured image: fine etching by Engelina Reitsma-Valença (Netherlands, 1889–1981)

Fourth Annual Holiday Card Exhibition Opening: Treasures from the Book Club
Monday, December 4, 2017, 5–7 PM

This year’s holiday card exhibition features cards sent, received, and collected by the Book Club and its members over the past 70 years. The collection celebrates the work of California presses both big and small, including Tamal Land Press, Feathered Serpent Press, Lawton and Alfred Kennedy, the legendary Grabhorn Press, and many more. Also on display are holiday cards printed in the small, little-known print shops of our members. On view December 4, 2017–January 8, 2018.

Featured card by Feathered Serpent Press, San Rafael.

Franciscan Frontiersmen: How Three Adventurers Charted the West
Monday, November 27, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Based on a newly published book of the same title, this presentation explores the lives of three pioneering friars, Pedro Font, Francisco Garces, and Juan Crespi, who accompanied Junipero Serra to California in the last half of the eighteenth century. Drawing on the long-forgotten journals, extensive trail observations, and correspondence of the three padres, as well as the author’s own exhaustive field research, the presentation will provide fresh insights into the rigors of daily life on the frontiers of New Spain. These three Franciscans were the chaplains and official diarists of Spain’s pathfinding expeditions on the West Coast of North America. In the tumult of the Spanish crown’s colonization, Font, Garces, and Crespi endured terrifying storms at sea, blood-soaked Indian attacks, starvation, scurvy, and lonely isolation as they carved trails through uncharted lands. Together, they explored a swath of the continent that was larger and more important than that explored by Lewis and Clark a generation later. But their exploits have been overlooked, because Americans are eager to learn their English past but largely ignore their Spanish past.

An illustrated talk by Robert Kittle, journalist and historian.

The Beauty and Threat of an Evolving Reading Brain
Monday, November 13, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Dr. Maryanne Wolf presents an overview of the reading brain and why its plasticity makes it exquisitely adaptable to cultural change while also threatened by some of the characteristics of digital mediums. We will explore the positive and negative impacts of our digital culture and why the strengths of the expert reading brain, particularly deep reading, must be understood to be preserved.

Dr. Maryanne Wolf is the John DiBiaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University. She is also Director of Tufts’ Center for Reading and Language Research. Her research interests include the reading brain, dyslexia, and global literacy. She is currently a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

The First Annual Kenneth Karmiole Endowed Lecture on the History of the Book Trade in California and the West: Anton Roman: San Francisco’s Pioneering Bookseller & Publisher
Monday, October 30, 2017, 5–7 PM

Reception at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

John Crichton presents the story of San Francisco bookseller and publisher Anton Roman (1828–1903), who came to California from Bavaria in 1849 to make his fortune in the gold fields. He converted his gold into books and became one of the most important and successful bookseller-publishers in the history of the book trade in California and the West. Roman published seminal California and Western American texts; he founded the Overland Monthly; and he connected California to the East.

An encore of this program will take place at the Huntington Library in Pasadena on January 17, 2018. Reservations required. Submit your RSVP here.

Litquake Literary Festival: Changing Our Minds: LSD and the Pursuit of Happiness
Monday, October 9, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

In an ongoing quest to alleviate chemical imbalances that can wreak havoc in our brains and make our lives (and those around us) miserable, scientists and journalists alike are turning to the drug our parents warned us about: LSD. Two authors, Don Lattin and Ayelet Waldman, who have tried cutting-edge treatments involving the psychedelic substance will discuss their respective books on the subject, and what LSD has done for their lives.

Presented by Litquake.

Evening in the Library with John McBride: Stanley Morison: His Studies of the Fell Types
Monday, October 2, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 5:30 PM

On October 12, 1967, Oxford published John Fell, The University Press and the ‘Fell’ Types; Morison had died the day before, having handled a copy of this masterpiece which had been in preparation for 40 years. John McBride, editor of Invisible City, will survey the volume, as well as offer a surprise concerning Morison’s book Typographic Design in Relation to Photographic Composition, published by the Book Club of California in 1959.

Acts of Devotion and the Spread of Printing
Monday, September 25, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Buddhism has been called the “Silk Road of printing.” As proselytizers moved east, from China to Korea and Japan, they took with them beliefs, texts, and eventually, the means for printing texts. The phenomenon is supported not only by the historical record, but also by the earliest examples of Asian printing extant, many of which are Buddhist texts. But what evidence is there in the texts themselves?

This presentation will look at evidence drawn from texts in the Fong Yun Wah Rare Book Room of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library at UC Berkeley, which now holds one of the largest collections of Song and Yuan printing among academic libraries in North America. Focusing on texts printed from Chinese engravings, we will consider why, at a time when literacy rates were low, so many texts were printed, who paid for the printing, and how the texts traveled.

An illustrated talk by Deborah Rudolph, Curator, Fong Yun Wah Rare Book Room, C.V. Starr East Asian Library at UC Berkeley

Evening in the Library with Thomas Schwartzburg: The Bindings of Florence Walter
Monday, September 18, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 5:30 PM

Discover the bindings of Florence Walter with Thomas Schwartzburg, bookbinder and collector.


Edible Bibliophilia; its beginnings and contributors
Monday, September 11, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are. –Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1825

Antiquarian bookseller Ben Kinmont will take us through the early history of gastronomy collecting, highlighting the foundational works that have contributed to gastronomy as a subject of study. Among the collectors and authors to be discussed are Joseph Berchoux, Georges Vicaire, Baron Jérôme Pichon, Alexandre Balthasar Laurent Grimod de la Reynière, Giovanni Felice Luraschi, Carl Friedrich von Rumohr, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, Henry Huth, Ludwig Rosenthal, Elizabeth Pennell, Blanche Halleck Dupuy, Claudia Quigley Murphy, and George Ellwanger. Along the way, Kinmont will also share some of the books and manuscripts that he has described and placed in various private and institutional collections in his past nineteen years as an antiquarian bookseller specializing in gastronomy.

Co-presented by the Northern California Chapter of the ABAA.


Exhibition Opening: From The Great Age of Scientific Voyages & Travels 1767–1890: Twenty Notable Explorers & Related Works
Wednesday, September 6, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

The Book Club of California’s fall exhibition showcases first and early editions of books, engravings, and maps from the voyages and travels of Bougainville and La Pérouse, Mungo Park and von Humboldt, Darwin and Franklin, Livingstone and Stanley, Burton and Speke, and ten other notable explorers in-between.

The exhibition in on view September 6–November 27, 2017. Join us for the exhibition opening on Wednesday, September 6 with remarks by historian, geographer, and curator Peter Farquhar.

The Book Club of California Celebrates the Summer of Love
Monday, August 21, 2017, 5:30–7:30 PM

Join us to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love! Enjoy a festive evening of music, drinks, and a display of memorabilia from 1967, along with remarks by David Lance Goines, designer and printer of the club’s 2017 commemorative poster.

Writing Satire in Barberini Rome: The Publication History of Gian Vittorio Rossi’s Eudemia
Monday, August 14, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

The Baroque period in Rome is perhaps best exemplified by visual artists and writers such as Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Giambattista Marino, who pushed the boundaries of their respective mediums beyond the strictures determined by Renaissance aesthetic. Running parallel to these more experimental impulses was an active and vibrant community of adherents to Classical humanism who continued to write and publish in Latin, taking as their models ancient Roman authors who represented the pinnacle of literary achievement. It is in this context that Gian Vittorio Rossi composed Eudemia, a somewhat risky endeavor that made fun of the cultural program endorsed by one of Rome’s most powerful families.

Join us for this illustrated talk by Jennifer Nelson, Reference Librarian, the Robbins Collection at UC Berkeley School of Law. Co-presented by California Rare Book School.


The University Library as Collector, Exhibitor, and Publisher
Monday, August 7, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Stanford University is a model for incorporating artistic content into its libraries, encouraging a slow paced consideration of fine arts and printing sans today’s tendency to tether the library to current technological innovations. Printer Peter Koch joins Stanford University’s Roberto Trujillo and Becky Fischbach for a panel discussion, moderated by Anne W. Smith, past president of the Book Club of California, to examine the intricate process of the library as collector, exhibitor, and publisher. Topics include how the library identifies artists, increases accessibility to curated exhibit collections, and publishes beautifully crafted catalogs and bibliographies. The Green Library’s 40-year retrospective honoring Peter Koch offers a case study of how and why such exhibits happen, especially as they pertain to the world of bookmaking

Seating is limited. Submit your RSVP here.

Film Screening: Paris, Once Upon a Time
Monday, July 31, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Paris, Once Upon a Time is a portrait of Paris in the early 20th century and is based on vintage postcards from filmmaker Leonard Pitt’s private collection. The invention of the postcard in 1869 was a revolution in communication that changed the world and created a new industry that became a key to the French economy, with tens of thousands finding employment. During the Golden Age of the postcard, France produced one million postcards a day. Here was the first form of social networking ever devised. Human relations were greatly impacted and people’s view of the world changed. Every aspect of the fabled city that people had only heard about, the monuments, avenues, boulevards, cafes, and cabarets were now available to all for a only penny a piece. Postcards became such a mania that complaints were commonly heard of no one reading anymore. People just look at pictures. People don’t talk to each other any more, they just read and write their postcards. Here is a portrait of a Paris that has long since disappeared. Charm is not wanting.

Leonard Pitt was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1941. He traveled to Paris in January 1963 and stayed for seven years, during which he studied mime with Etienne Decroux for four years. He returned to the United States in 1970, settled in Berkeley, and opened a school of physical theatre. He has been teaching ever since. Leonard has performed and taught at theatres and festivals throughout the United States, Europe, Brazil, New Zealand, and Australia. He studied mask theatre in Bali in 1973, performed with his teacher in local villages and temple festivals, and returned to Bali in 1978 to study mask carving. He has written five books, including Walks Through Lost Paris (2002), Paris, A Journey Through Time (2008), and Paris Postcards: The Golden Age (2010). His fourth book, A Small Moment of Great Illumination, is about the life of the 17th century Anglo-Irish healer Valentine Greatrakes. His latest book, a memoir, My Brain on Fire, Paris and Other Obsessions, was released in March 2016.

Evening in the Library with John Crichton: Henry Evans and the Peregrine Press
Monday, July 24, 2017, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 5:30 PM

Discover the work of Henry Evans and the Peregrine Press, 1950–1962, one of the progenitors of the small press movement on the West Coast.

John Crichton is proprietor of the Brick Row Book Shop in San Francisco and twice past president of the Book Club of California.

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 programs@bccbooks.org 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 programs@bccbooks.org.


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 codexfoundation.org.

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 programs@bccbooks.org 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.

Napa Valley web design and development