Joie du Livre: FABS Newsletter for February 2024


Chansonnier de Jean de Montchenu, a heart-shaped manuscript of French and Italian songs (1470-1480). Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des Manuscrits. Rothschild 2973 (979 a). Photo: Jennifer Larson

J'ay mis mon cuer et ma pensee,
Sachiés de vray certaynement,
A vous servir, dame honnouree…

-Anonymous, lyric set to music of Guillaume Dufay

Here is the news from FABS for February.

In this month’s FABS blog, John Neale Hoover discusses A Bibliography of The Printery: The Private Press of Kay Michael Kramer (St. Louis: Mercantile Library Association, 2023). This work by Virginia Kramer and Timothy Hawley recognizes and remembers an important Midwestern fine book artist and printer who held to the highest standards of quality and design. The Bixby Club and The Caxton Club collaborated on the production of this volume, each copy of which includes an overrun sheet from Kramer’s final book.


A series of six lectures on Codicology by Dr. Ilya Dines has been uploaded to Youtube by Catholic University Special Collections. They are titled “The ABCs of Codicology: Describing Manuscripts.”


A Grotius Census

The year 2025 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), De jure belli ac pacis (Paris, 1625) (PMM 125). A group of legal historians and international lawyers has been busy since 2019, under the aegis of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, with Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft support, preparing a worldwide census of the first nine appearances of the book between 1625 and 1650 inclusive, identifying institutional and private holdings and pursuing facets of publishing history, watermarks, textual variances, provenance, marginalia and other annotations, book design, publisher and bookseller consortia, and related matters of book history. Preliminary reports have been issued on each of the nine appearances with located holdings. The aim is to produce a census on the scale of Gingerich on Copernicus; Rasmussen and West on Shakespeare’s first folios; and Margocsy, Somos, and Joffe on Vesalius. For further information please contact William E. Butler (


The FABS Special Interest Groups are thriving! Join us for an hour's informal discussion of your favorite topic. All groups meet at 4:30pm Pacific, 6:30pm Central and 7:30pm Eastern. To get on the list for one of these groups, contact Jennifer Larson at


Feb 12: Handpress Era. Presentations by FABS Chair Jennifer Larson (a 16th-century New Testament with hand-colored woodcuts) and Dr. David Wolf (TBA).

Feb 15: 19th Century Group. Congenial discussion of all things 19th-century and bookish.

Feb 26: Bindings Group. Sophia S. W. Bogle on Book Restorations Unveiled.


And introducing our newest group:

Feb 28: Living With Books. private libraries and the pleasures of books in the home. This month's topics are bookplates, "hand" weights and the Pleasures of Books.

FABS Member Society Online/Virtual Events for February: Free and Open to the Public

"Whodunit? Key Books in Detective Fiction" features selections from Grolier Club member Jeffrey Johnson’s more than 400-piece collection of detective novels from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Join him for a virtual tour of works by Francois Vidocq, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Anna Katherine Green, A. Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and more. (Feb 5, The Grolier Club)


Whodunit, you ask? Carolyn Wells—82 times between 1909 and 1942. Yet she is all but unknown today, unless it’s for her bibliomystery classic, Murder in the Bookshop (1936). In the early 20th century, she was an immensely popular author, excelling at country house and locked-room novels of detection and becoming one of the original grande dames of mystery. Rebecca Rego Barry will discuss "the vanishing" of Wel


In “a story both timely and timeless,” noted book historian Andrew Pettegree will speak on “The Book at War,” exploring both the destruction of books and their roles in shaping history. (Feb 9, The Caxton Club)


lan H. Nelson, Professor Emeritus in the Department of English at Berkeley, will speak on “The Life, Motto, and Library of William Walker (1570-1642), Vicar of Chiswick.” Among other items owned by Walker, Nelson will discuss the history of the “best” manuscript of Sir Philip Sidney’s “Old Arcadia.” (The Book Club of California, The Bibliographical Society of America and the American Trust for the British Library, Feb 12)


Always an engaging and enthusiastic speaker, Curator Allie Alvis will show us “The Wonderful (and Weird) Winterthur Library” in Delaware (comprising the collections of the DuPont family) and some of the beautiful and bizarre items it contains. (The Book Club of Washington, Feb 18)


“Special Collections” is a term we all know. But how have these libraries-within-libraries changed over the decades? “From Treasure Room to Reading Room: The History of Special Collections” will be presented by Cassie Brand, Curator of Rare Books at Washington University Libraries in St. Louis. (The Baltimore Bibliophiles, Feb 22)


Kenneth Gloss, internationally known rare book specialist, appraiser, and proprietor of Boston’s famed Brattle Book Shop, will talk about the “improbable finds” of his decades-long career and discuss the value of old and rare books in a presentation to the Book Club of Detroit (Feb 22). 


And a sneak peek at March:


Dating from 1853, the Washington State Library is the state's oldest cultural institution, preserving for decades items not duplicated elsewhere that hold the answers to so many questions about the past. Come along on our virtual guided tour of this research playground! (the Book Club of Washington, March 3)



Contact: Jennifer Larson,

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