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Decorative Bookbinding Exhibit Opens March 12

On display at Smith College's Mortimer Rare Book Room from March 12 to May 29 is "Decorative Designs: Publishers' Cloth Bindings in the Finison Collection." The exhibit, which is located on the third floor of Neilson Library, is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible. The exhibition is on view during regular Neilson Library hours.

Consisting of 150 American bookbindings from the 19th and early 20th centuries, the show gives an important overview of changes in book cover design from 1865 to 1928. Present in the exhibit are designs by some of the most famous commercial artists of the period, including Sarah Wyman Whitman, Margaret Armstrong and Frederic Goudy.

According to bookbinding historian Sue Allen, "This is such a bright, brilliant, altogether attracting period in American book work when, for a short time, greatly gifted architects, painters and artists of distinction were pressed into service as cover designers of 'ordinary' trade books."

By utilizing new cloth-binding methods of book production and hiring professional designers to create dazzling and seductive book covers, the book became an object of fine design, and a whole new population of Americans gained access to books.

Allen will give a free public lecture on featured book cover artist Sarah Wyman Whitman at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18, in the Mortimer Rare Book Room.

The items displayed in this exhibition are selected from among the approximately 2,000 volumes collected by Harvey and Myrtle Finison of Northampton and donated to the college by Mrs. Finison in 1999.

For more information on the exhibit or the Mortimer Rare Book Room, contact Barbara Blumenthal at (413) 585-2906 or bblument@smith.edu, or visit the Web site at http://www.smith.edu/libraries/mrbr/.

Contact: Marti Hobbes, mhobbes@smith.edu

March 12, 2001

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