In 1907 The Grolier Club of New York mounted an exhibition of early American bookbindings, largely the holdings of Beverly Chew, and published a companion Catalogue of Ornamental Leather Bookbindings Executed in America Prior to 1850. The catalogue briefly described 123 bookbindings, identified 116 bookbinders by name, and recorded 28 signed bindings. Along with the work of William Loring Andrews, it signals the beginning of a century of scholarly attention toward American bookbinding. 1907 would prove significant to this field for a second reason: the birth of Hannah Dustin French, the pioneering scholar of American bookbinding, whose careful research and generosity of spirit have inspired a number of followers.
The happy combination of exhibition and companion catalogue appeared again in 1957, half-way through the century, with another ground-breaking display at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the publication of Dorothy Miner's History of Bookbinding 525-1950 A.D. These two catalogues and their exhibitions, the exemplary research of French, and the support and hospitality of the Canaday Library of Bryn Mawr College have led us to follow the example set for us a hundred years ago.
This catalogue accompanies an exhibition titled Bound and Determined: Identifying American Bookbindings, on display at the Canaday Library, Bryn Mawr College, January 30 to May 30, 2007. It follows our earlier catalogue titled Ticketed Bindings From Nineteenth-Century Britain (1999). The present catalogue describes many of the acquisitions made by the library since its 1983 publication on American bookbinding, Bookbinding in America: 1680-1910, from the Collection of Frederick E. Maser.
The collaborators on this catalogue have spent, jointly, some 75 years in devotion to their research into the history of bookbinding. All such lengthy studies amass debts to hundreds of people, and we are deeply grateful to those who have generously shared their knowledge and called our attention to texts and archives that we otherwise would not have seen. Here, we want to thank the staff of the Mariam Coffin Canaday Library, Bryn Mawr College, especially Eric Pumroy, Marianne Hansen, and Barbara Grubb, who have been most helpful at every stage of writing this catalogue and producing the accompanying exhibit. We also thank Elliott Shore, John Dooley, Kim Pelkey, Mark Colvson, Jennifer Barr, John Renjilian, James Tanis, Daniel Traister, James Green, and the staff of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Individually, Kinsella is grateful for support as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow at The American Philosophical Society Library, for a sabbatical granted by The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, both in 2002, and for the help of G. F. Farina. Spawn is grateful for the 20-plus years he has spent since his retirement continuing his binding research at Bryn Mawr College. Most of all we thank Carol Spawn and Christine Farina, who have encouraged, assisted, endured, and shared our enthusiasm for bookbinding.
Willman Spawn & Thomas E. Kinsella