Beret & Book Club

P1190657P1190658 I love a beret, His bow tie is from The Grolier Club of New York, the oldest book club.

ON THE EVENING OF JANUARY 23, 1884, New York printing press manufacturer and book collector Robert Hoe invited to his home eight fellow bibliophiles to discuss the formation of a club devoted to the book arts. Although the nine men differed in age, occupation and social position, they shared the opinion that the arts of printing and typography in late 19th-century America were in need of reform. Hoe and his associates were all involved in the editing, design, production, sale or acquisition of fine books, and his invitation fired their imaginations. They were also men of action, and before the evening ended, a resolution had been adopted specifying the purpose of the organization, a committee had been appointed to choose a name for the group, and another to draft a constitution. Within two weeks, a suggestion that the fledgling organization call itself after the great French bibliophile Jean Grolier (1489/90-1565) had been passed by acclamation, a constitution duly drawn up, and “The Grolier Club of the City of New-York” was a going concern. The object of the Grolier Club (to quote from its Constitution) is “the literary study and promotion of the arts pertaining to the production of books, including the occasional publication of books designed to illustrate, promote and encourage those arts; and the acquisition, furnishing and maintenance of a suitable club building for the safekeeping of its property, wherein meetings, lectures and exhibitions shall take place from time to time, likewise designed to illustrate, promote and encourage those arts ….” Breaking that description down into its constituent parts, the Grolier Club is, first of all, a fellowship of men and women devoted to books and the graphic arts. The Club currently numbers over 700 members, mostly American, but including a number of English, European, and Asian bibliophiles as well. Membership is by nomination, and recommendations for membership are made on the basis of a candidate’s passion for books, as revealed in his or her activities as a collector, scholar, librarian, printer, or participation in some other bookish pursuit.