Inspired Design: The Mentoring Stamp

An exhibition of bookbindings is on display in the Book Arts Gallery, 3rd floor Neilson Library. Exhibition runs through Dec. 20, 2008.

Binding for Designing the Mentoring Stamp by Alegria Barclay: steel-gray goatskin with orange, green, and purple onlays. The design is inspired by Lance Hidy’s Penumbra font and depicts several letters in varying sizes and font styles. There is gold and blind tooling as well as gold lettering.
Photograph by Stephen Petegorsky.


Curated by Barbara B. Blumenthal, Mortimer Rare Book Room, and Barbara Adams Hebard, Boston Athenaeum, this set book exhibition features bindings by members of the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers. The Guild, founded in 1906, is a national organization of practitioners and devotees of all aspects of the book arts. Each binder interpreted the same text: Designing the Mentoring Stamp by Lance Hidy, designed by Michael Russem and published by his Kat Ran Press in 2007.

Date Event
Aug. 10 -Dec. 20
Book Arts Gallery, 3rd floor, Neilson
Sept. 28, 2008
4:00 pm
Illustrated Lectures
Neilson Library Browsing Room, followed by reception, Books Arts Gallery

Illustrated Lectures

On Sunday, September 28 at 4 pm, in the Neilson Library Browsing Room, Lance Hidy will deliver a brief illustrated lecture, “Digital Craft,” followed by Michael Russem’s brief lecture, “A Primer on Postage Stamps by Type Designers.” A reception will follow in the Book Arts Gallery, and awards will be announced for three of the bindings: Artist’s Award by Lance Hidy, Publisher’s Award by Michael Russem, and Curator’s Award by Martin Antonetti, the curator of rare books at Smith College.

Binding for Designing the Mentoring Stamp by Deborah Howe: blue goatskin spine and cancelled stamps on the cover.
Photograph by Stephen Petegorsky.

More on the Exhibition

A three-fold exhibition complements these bindings. First there are Lance Hidy’s poster and postage stamp designs, with preliminary sketches and color trials for many of them. There is also a modest sampling of postage stamps designed by graphic artists who have also designed typefaces. Finally, there are several items of philatelic interest from the collections of the Mortimer Rare Book Room. The exhibition labels were written by Barbara Blumenthal and designed by Michael Russem with Penumbra, designed by Lance Hidy, and Dante, designed in the 1950s by Giovanni Mardersteig, a printer, book designer and font designer renowned for the work he produced at Officina Bodoni and Stamperia Valdònega, his two printing offices in Italy.

A fully-illustrated catalogue of the exhibition, with descriptions of the bindings, biographies of the binders, and artist statements, is available for sale in the Mortimer Rare Book Room. Order form.


Binding for Designing the Mentoring Stamp by Lesa Dowd:
black goatskin binding with purple goatskin and wove
paper onlays, and blind tooling.
Photograph by Stephen Petegorsky.
Paper trade binding for Designing the Mentoring Stamp by Acme Bookbinding, Charlestown, Massachusetts.
Photograph by Stephen Petegorsky.

Description of the Set Book

In Designing the Mentoring Stamp Lance Hidy, an accomplished designer of books, posters, types, and stamps, takes us through the process of designing a postage stamp while explaining how the small Mentoring stamp relates to his larger body of work. Thirty-eight full-color reproductions illustrate the photographs, designs, and drawings which were part of the design process, as well as related posters and illustrations from the last thirty years of Hidy's work. Composed in Dante and Penumbra types, the latter designed by Hidy, the books were printed at Stinehour Press on Mohawk Superfine paper and bound as a Smyth-sewn paperback at Acme Bookbinding. Thirty-five deluxe copies, which include actual specimens of the postage stamps illustrated in the text, were bound by Sarah Creighton with her own pastepapers. Michael Russem provided copies in sheets for this set-book exhibition.

Philately is a field often overlooked by bibliophiles and historians of printing and typography. Yet, a small group of the most important contributors to twentieth century book and letter arts have made significant contributions to the design of the seemingly modest postage stamp. Eric Gill, Reynolds Stone, Jan van Krimpen, S.L. Hartz, S.H. DeRoos, Georg Trump, Walter Brudi, and Hermann Zapf—designers who are celebrated for their masterful accomplishments in the field of type design—have all considered the specific concerns of philatelic design. They, and the hundreds of stamps designed by them, are an unexplored resource of superb lettering and calligraphy, and also provide exceptional insights into how these designers worked and solved problems. Designing the Mentoring Stamp is the first in a series of books published by Kat Ran Press to explore these heretofore forgotten bodies of work. More information on postage stamps by type designers can be found at the Kat Ran Press website.

For More Information

Please contact:
Barbara Blumenthal,
The Mortimer Rare Book Room
(413) 585-2906