The mid-nineteenth century saw a new type of bookstore explode in popularity – stores that offered a prize with every book purchased. In these establishments, called “gift book shops,” each book had a number or code on it corresponding to a random prize – anything from a fine gold watch to an inexpensive pin. Often … Continue reading The Brief, Wondrous Life of Gift Book Shops
In 1894, the Grolier Club Library received a generous gift of eighty-five incunables from David Wolfe Bruce (1824-1895), heir to the successful New York City Bruce Typefoundry. The books formed part of the library of “typographical literature” that Bruce and his father, George, assembled over fifty years, featuring works significant in the history of typography … Continue reading A Fifteenth-century Manuscript Wrapper on a Rare Incunable in the Grolier Club Library
The rare book world has moved online since Covid-19 lockdowns began. Thankfully, a wealth of material and resource have rapidly gone digital in the past decade. Working from home, though, I’ve noticed myself still wishing I had access to the Grolier Club Library’s printed reference collection. Despite their continued usefulness to researchers, print resources have … Continue reading Ode to a Reference Collection
In 1915 the governing Council of the Grolier Club came to the conclusion, after five years of debate, that the Grolier clubhouse at 29 East 32nd Street, built to the Club’s specifications only 25 years before, was too small for its expanding membership, too fragile to support the weight of its rapidly-growing Library, and too flammable to protect … Continue reading There goes the neighborhood: The Grolier Club(s) and environs, 1916-1918.
In a back corner of the Grolier Club’s library, a curly-bearded gentleman carved in creamy marble is perched atop a bookcase. This little noticed object, recent research has revealed, resulted from a meeting of Victorian global influencers. The portrait sitter revolutionized journalism, and the sculptor brought Australian art into the international limelight. The artifact's back-story … Continue reading Finding Our Marbles
In a previous post, I wrote about Isabella “Tibby” Tinkler (1701 or 1702-1794), an early bookseller from Richmond, Yorkshire, whose enigmatic aquatint portrait is part of our Librarian’s current display of women authors, collectors, typographers, and booksellers. This post looks at the individual behind an equally eye-catching portrait that stands in the same display. Fig. … Continue reading A Bookseller by Another Name; or, Theodora Grahn; or Baron de Verdion; or Chevalier, or Dr., or Mr. John de Verdion (1744-1802).
The books of the Daniel Press, one of England's earlier Victorian private presses, are rarely illustrated although interesting on many other counts. As a Daniel Press enthusiast and an art lover, I was thus delighted to acquire for the Grolier Club Library a copy of Robert Bridges’s Prometheus the Firegiver (Oxford: H. Daniel, 1883) with … Continue reading Marginal Pen and Ink Drawings on a copy of ‘Prometheus the Firegiver’ (Oxford: H. Daniel, 1883)
In fall 1895, Grolierites returned from their summer breaks to a heady surprise in their six-year-old clubhouse at 29 East 32nd Street. Their Romanesque Revival building’s “stiff little colonial grill room” had metamorphosed into a semblance of a Dutch tapperij (taproom), “dim with the light of tallow dips,” as Leslie’s Weekly reported. (The article’s headline: … Continue reading How the Tapperij Came to Be
The Grolier Club Library’s copy of Conrad Gessner’s Bibliotheca Instituta et Collecta (Zürich: C. Froschauer, 1574), donated in December 2019 by Club member, Jim Periconi, features two powerful Biblical women on its contemporary pigskin binding. The upper cover is stamped with a panel depicting Jael and Sisera from the Book of Judges (81 x 46mm), … Continue reading Jael and Judith: A Pair of Old Testament Heroines on a Sixteenth-century Panel-Stamped Binding
Please note: The Grolier Club Library will be closed March 23-27 due to construction work. Library staff will be available to answer reference questions by email and phone. Please contact Librarian, Meghan Constantinou, email@example.com, 212-838-6690. Thank you, and we apologize for the inconvenience.