A look at past talks

2022-2023 Schedule 

September 2022 – “Ancient Anime: Dynamic Text and Image in Medieval Japanese Handscrolls” with Kendra Strand, Assistant Professor of  premodern Japanese literature and visual culture, University of Iowa

October 2022 – “Under the Covers: Exploring Book History with Science,” a talk with Iowa Initiative for Scientific Imaging and Conservation of Cultural Artifacts (IISICCA), University of Iowa

November 2022 – “Poetic Visions: The Sackner Archive and the Avant-Garde at Iowa,” a conversation with new Sackner Archive project coordinator librarian Rich Dana, University of Iowa

December 2021 — “The Salisbury House Library at Grinnell College: Collection History, Present and Next Chapter” with librarians Chris Jones and Laura Michelson, Grinnell College

February 2022– “Casting Fingers, Casting Blame?”, a study in lithographs with Meghan O’Conner, Coastal Carolina University (this talk will be on Zoom)

March 2022- “Waste Not, Want Not: Exploring the Binder’s Waste of the John Martin Rare Book Room” with curator Damien Ihrig, University of Iowa

April 2022 New Acquisitions to Special Collections & Archives


2021-2022 Schedule

September 2021 – “The Why, How, What, and Result of Almost 65 Years of Rare Book Collecting” with Arthur Bonfield, the Allan D. Vestal Chair, University of Iowa School of Law

October 2021 – “I know what you bought last summer” with rare book dealer Pat Olson

November 2021 – “Morris at Iowa: The William Morris Archive and the Kelmscott Press” with Professor Florence Boos and Professor Kim Maher

December 2021 Special Gallery Tour of the “From Revolutionary Outcast to a Man of God: Dostoevsky at 200” exhibit with curator Dr. Anna Barker

February 2022–“Hidden Collections: Artist Books in Spanish and South American Indigenous Languages” with Karen Carcia and Julie Leonard, faculty from UICB

March 2022-“Pop Ups and Movables in Books Are Older Than You Think” with book artist and Adjunct Assistant Professor for UICB Emily Martin from Center for the Book

May 2022- — New Acquisitions at Special Collections and Archives with Curator Eric Ensley


2020-2021 Schedule 

September 2020 – “The Real Life Dilemmas of Buying Rare Books” with rare book dealer Adam Weinberger, Adam Weinberger Rare Books.

Despite the impression of the rare book business as a rarefied scholar’s trade, Adam has found it to be a very emotional one as well. Buying books involves many aspects of psychology including convincing owners to sell, overcoming competitive urges, underpaying, overpaying, restraining personal enthusiasm, taking risks outside one’s area of expertise, the highs of closing a deal, and the lows of missing out on a treasure.

October 2020 – “Pulp America: The Mass Market Paperback as Cultural Artifact” with Corey Creekmur, Associate Professor for Cinematic Arts, English, and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies at University of Iowa.

Associate Professor Corey Creekmur will provide a virtual tour of the American mass market “pulp” paperback book in its most vibrant period, between World War II and the 1960s.  During this period, cheap reprints of literary classics soon gave way to original publications of popular crime and science fiction novels, among other genres.  Paperbacks of the period also shamelessly featured juvenile delinquents, sexual “deviants,” beatniks and monsters on their often lurid covers.  Along with this overview, the presentation will consider the curious way in which these often sensational and otherwise ephemeral publications have become not only collectible but even of scholarly interest.

November 2020 – “Around the Library Table: An Evening with Luther Brewer and Leigh Hunt” with former Olson Graduate Assistant, Laura Michelson.

Learn more about Luther Brewer, the Cedar Rapids printer who collected Huntiana in the 1920s and Leigh Hunt, the Romantic era English writer and critic best known as a friend to “the famous.”

February 2021– “Children’s Lit is Serious Business” with Jennifer Burek Pierce, Associate Professor for the School of Library and Information Science

Join Dr. Jennifer Burek Pierce as she explores how books for young readers represent interesting and pivotal moments in the history of Anglophone children’s literature, and how publishing for children has turned into big business.

March 2021- “Cartography as visual history: One Iowan’s adventure in map collection” with Paul Morf, Cedar Rapids map collector.

Paul Morf takes us in a time machine exploring Iowa’s history through his map collection. We’ll look at Iowa’s history through the 1800s and focus on Iowa’s territorial period from 1838 until statehood. We’ll also explore a brief history of cartography, exploring cartographers such as Waldseemuller, Fries, Munster, Apian Honter, Gastaldi, Ruscelli, Mercator, and Ortelius.

Image from Herbal found in John Martin Rare Book Room. Plant and roots.

Image from Herbal found in John Martin Rare Book Room

April , 2021The Roots of Medicine” with Damien Ihrig, Curator of John Martin Rare Book Room, and Matt Regan and Chris Childs of Hardin Medical Library.

Representatives from the Hardin Medical Library will talk about plants and their history in medicine through the striking illustrated early printed works of medicinal plant books, referred to as herbals. The will also talk about their latest collaboration to create a medicinal garden on campus at University of Iowa.  Joining forces with representatives from the College of Pharmacy, a local gardening group, and a horticulture expert from Iowa State University, they created The Roots of Medicine project. The Roots of Medicine combines images and information from rare herbal works in the John Martin Rare Book Room (JMRBR), modern, cutting-edge medical research, and digital technology to present an augmented garden walk through history. Damien, Matt, and Chris will present on the formation of the project, a demonstration of the technology, and the individual books used in the project.

May, 2021 – “Keats Among the Private Press Printers” with Dr. Brian Rejack from Illinois State University and the John Keats Letter Project.

Join Associate Professor from Illinois State University and co-founder of the Keats Letter Project, Brian Rejack as he talks about the private press movement in England at the end of the nineteenth century, examining what it tells us about the Victorian reception of John Keats.



2019-2020 Schedule:

September 2019 – “Goya’s ‘Disasters of War’ and Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’: A Dialogue Between Art and Literature” with curators of the new Reading Room exhibit Dr. Anna Barker, Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa, and Joyce Tsai, Curator at the Stanley Museum of Art.

October 2019 –“The Man Who Loved Poe: Thomas O. Mabbott–Collector, Scholar, Fan” with Peter Balestrieri, Curator of Science Fiction and Popular Culture at Special Collections.

Balestrieri explores the legacy of the editor of Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe and book collector Thomas Ollive Mabbott by diving into the Mabbott Poe collection at University of Iowa Libraries.

November 2019 –“European Voyages, Travels, Explorations, Conquests, and Settlements in Unknown Lands as Recounted in Books Published and Printed 1532-1633” with Arthur Bonfield, The Allan D. Vestal Chair, University of Iowa School of Law

View and learn about the books exploring the tales of English, Spanish, Italian, German, and Dutch voyages of the time. Bonfield will highlight the many maps and illustrations within, which depict European views of the lands they invaded, and their perspectives of the people who had already made these lands their home.

December 2019 – “My Life with Paper* (A most rewarding ride, with only a few diversions)” with director of UICB Tim Barrett.

Join Tim Barrett, director of the UI Center for the Book and papermaking specialist, as he recounts his 47 year engagement in the craft, science, history and aesthetics of handmade paper.

February 2020 – “The Photobook: Heavy Hits and New Trends” with David Johnson, visiting Assistant Professor in Photography at the University of Iowa

Join David Johnson as he discusses some of the essential historical photobooks within Special Collections and the direction of contemporary photobook publishing using his personal collection. Drawing on his own experience, David will introduce the process of photobook publishing and collecting.



Illuminated page from Les Enluminures

Visiting manuscript from Les Enluminures.Image from Lindsay Moen and Special Collections.

The 2018-2019 Schedule:

September 2018 – “A Garden of Forking Paths: How to Read a Fifteenth-Century Venetian Herbal” with Dr. Sarah Kyle from University of Central Oklahoma

October 2018 – “Before Print: How Paris Became a Major Center for Book Publishing in the 12th-15th Centuries” with Dr. Katherine Tachau, Professor of History from the University of Iowa

November 2018 –“People and the Book: the Voices of Manuscripts from the Middle Ages” with Laura Light of Les Enluminures

December 2018 – “Scribe Notices, Up-close and Personal” with Cheryl Jacobsen from University of Iowa Center of the Book

February 2019 –  “Development of the Eighteenth Century English Encyclopedia or Dictionary of the Arts and Sciences” with Arthur Bonfield, The Allan D. Vestal Chair, University of Iowa School of Law

March 2019 – “The Publication History of the Tale of Peter Rabbit” with Lindsay Moen, University of Iowa Libraries’ Special Collections Librarian

April , 2019 – New Acquisitions Open House with Margaret Gamm and Special Collections staff

May 2019 –  Gallery Tour of the new Walt Whitman exhibit with curators Stephanie Blalock and James O’Neill



The 2017-2018 Schedule:

September 2017- Teaching with Maps and Globes with Professor Emeritus Paul Retish, University of Iowa College of Education

Professor Emeritus Paul Retish will join the Iowa Bibliophiles and speak about “Teaching using maps, globes and other objects concerning the world.”

October 2017- “The Reformation and Book, 500 Years Later” with Raymond Mentzer, Department of Religious Studies at University of Iowa, and Greg Prickman, Head of University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections

Raymond Mentzer, Daniel J. Krumm Family Chair in Reformation Studies in the Department of Religious Studies, and Greg Prickman, Head of Special Collections will present about books and the Reformation during the 500th Anniversary Year. Selections of historic books from Special Collections will be on display.

Globe with Chinese writing below

Image of map from Special Collections used in September Bibliophiles

November 2017- Iowa Bibliophiles 15th Anniversary

The November meeting marks the 15th anniversary of the group. In celebration, the evening’s talk will be given by Arthur Bonfield, who gave the inaugural Bibliophiles talk in November, 2002. We will gather for hors d’oeuvres and refreshments at 6:30pm in the Special Collections Reading Room on the third floor of the University of Iowa’s Main Library. At 7:00pm Arthur Bonfield will talk about mathematical and descriptive (anthropocentric) geography as depicted in representative European books printed between 1493 and 1750. These books were frequently titled a “cosmography”,”geography”, “chronicle”, or “history”, and sought to describe various parts of the world as the authors understood it. A number of the geography books from this period will be available for viewing at the time of the talk. The event is free and open to all. Professor Arthur Bonfield is Allan Vestal Chair and Associate Dean Emeritus at the University of Iowa Law School and for the last 60 years has been collecting original copies of books printed during this period.

February 2018- “Widows’ Work: Women, Science, and Print in Early Modern Europe” with Dr. Elizabeth Yale, College of Liberal Arts at University of Iowa

In early modern Europe, scientific work was often performed in homes. Women tested medical remedies, made astronomical observations and calculations, captured insects, translated Anglo-Saxon English, and drew and engraved shells and other natural specimens. Yet male natural philosophers and medical practitioners–husbands, fathers, and brothers–typically represented a family’s work in correspondence and in print, obscuring women’s contributions. But what happened when a patriarch died? In this talk, Yale will explore how women–often as widows–became visible as authors, authorities, editors, and publishers in early modern science and medicine.

March 2018- “Nuns Making Books in Renaissance Italy” with Dr. Melissa Moreton, Center for the Book at University of Iowa

Nun-scribes copied out thousands of manuscripts in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy. Though surviving evidence is often difficult to locate, Moreton has documented 250 manuscripts produced by over 70 nun-scribes from more than 40 different convents in Renaissance and early modern Italy. She will present an overview of her research, and discuss new methodologies she has developed to identify previously unattributed manuscripts. Moreton will also share highlights from her recent research trip to Perugia to look at Franciscan nuns’ books still at the convent of Monteluce. Moreton holds an MA in Italian Renaissance Art History (Syracuse U., Florence, 2004), a Graduate Certificate in Book Studies and Technologies (UI Center for the Book, 2009) and a Ph.D. in History (University of Iowa, 2013). In 2013, she was the recipient of the D.C. Spriestersbach Dissertation Prize, awarded by the UIOWA Graduate College for excellence in doctoral research. Her recent dissertation and publications focus on book production and exchange by religious women in Renaissance and early modern Italy (1350-1650). Her current research examines the influence of Islamic and Byzantine book decoration on Italian Humanist manuscripts in fifteenth and sixteenth-century Florence. At the Center for the Book, Moreton teaches Bookbinding I and book history courses such as ‘The Book Form in Western Culture’ and ‘The Late Medieval Book [1300-1500].’

April 2018- Iowa Bibliophiles New Acquisitions Open House with Margaret Gamm, Assistant Head and Curator of Rare Books from University of Iowa Special Collections

Join us for a talk and open house. Margaret Gamm will speak and introduce an overview of the past year of collecting in Special Collections. Selected new acquisitions will be on display.


The 2016-2017 Schedule:

September 2016 – Shakespeare’s First Folio with Adam Hooks (Shakespeare in Iowa Event)

Shakespeare at Iowa August 29-September 25

First Folio visits University of Iowa, image from UI Special Collections.

October 2016 – Shakespeare Book Arts with Emily Martin (Shakespeare in Iowa Event)

November 2016 – Shakeosphere: Visualizing Shakespeare’s Networks with Blaine Greteman (Shakespeare in Iowa Event)

December 2016 – “The Why, How, What, and Result of 60 Years of Rare Book Collecting” with Arthur Bonfield

February 2017 –  Iowa’s Method Man: Himie Voxman and instrumental instruction books with Katie Buehner

March 2017 – Open*Set Gallery Opening & Special Collections New Acquisitions Open House with David Esslemont and Margaret Gamm

April , 2017 – Codex Conquest: The Game of Book History with Amy Chen

May 2017 –  End of the Year Open House



The 2015-2016 Schedule:

September 2015 – Medieval Calligraphy with Cheryl Jacobsen, Calligrapher and instructor with Center for the Book

 Iowa City’s master calligrapher and instructor at the Center for the Book will describe the process of creating manuscript letters in the medieval era, drawing on examples from Special Collections as well as her own work.

October 2015 – “A Summer at the Recoleta” with John Fifield, Olson Graduate Assistant for Special Collections

The newly-appointed Olson Graduate Assistant in Special Collections will recount his experience at the Convent of the Recoleta in Arequipa, Peru, where he assisted with identifying and cataloging early printed books in the monastery’s collection. He will describe the collection and comment on its place in the history of the transatlantic Spanish book trade.

Drawing of a fortified city from the Nuremberg Chronicle.

Pages from the Nuremberg Chronicle

November 2015 – The Nuremberg Chronicles with Greg Prickman, Head of Special Collections

Prickman will present a rare opportunity to view three complete copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle, printed in 1493. He will describe the provenance of the three copies and discuss why the copy-specific features of each book are important to our understanding of the book trade.

December 2015 – “English Collections of Travel” with Arthur Bonfield, The Allan D. Vestal Chair, University of Iowa School of Law

Bonfield will discuss early printed travel literature and provide examples from his own extensive private collection.

February 2016 – “The Mysterious Chain of Psalms: Identifying and Recovering an Otto Ege Manuscript” with Heather Wacha, PhD Candidate in the Department of History and specialist researcher in Special Collections

Wacha will present her findings from examining medieval manuscript leaves in the collections

March 2016 – Book Collecting with Douglas S. Russell, Senior Judge of the Iowa District Court

Russell will address the Bibliophiles on books by and about famous bibliophiles, their book collections and the books they have written about collecting.

April 2016 – “Bookselling in the 21st Century” with Jane Murphy, owner of Murphy-Brookfield Books

  Jane Murphy and Mark Brookfield, 36 year partners in Murphy-Brookfield Books, will talk about the enormous changes brought on by Internet bookselling in the last 20+ years.

May 2016 – “The Millionaire and the Bard” with Biblio Book Club

 Looking forward to Shakespeare’s First Folio visiting campus in the fall, please read, “The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio,” and come prepared to discuss it.



The 2014-2015 Schedule:

Late 19th century map of Iowa

Late 19th C map of Iowa from Maps Collection

September 2014 – Maps with H. Dee Hoover

October 2014- English Chronicles with Arthur Bonfield

November 2014- SPECIAL THURSDAY EVENT: UI Libraries Conservation Lab 30th Anniversary Celebration

February 2015- “Collecting Iowa’s History” with Michael Zahs

March 2015- Round table discussion on collecting

April 2015- Science Fiction and Filmwith Dennis Lynch

May 2015- “Holinshed’s Chronicle” with Arthur Bonfield



2012-2013 Schedule:

September 2013 – 15th Century Books with Pat Olson

19th C. book Costume antico e moderno from Special Collections

19th C. book Costume antico e moderno from Special Collections

Pat Olson, Special Collections Librarian, presents on fourteen incunables newly-acquired by Special Collections. He will be discussing the antiquarian book market and the process that was undertaken to acquire these books. Attendees will be able to examine the books.

October 2013 – 16th Century Books with Blaine Greteman

November 2013 – 17th Century Books with Adam Hooks

February 2014 – 18th Century Books with Arthur Bonfield

March 2014 – 19th Century Books with Dr. Kendall Reed

April 2014 – 20th Century Books with Lisa Martincik and Kalmia Strong

May 2014 – 21st Century Books with Gary Frost



2011-2012 Schedule:

September 2011 –  “The Wig and Powder School: Gender, Empire, and 1890s Illustration” with Sarah Horowitz, Special Collections Librarian from Augustana College

 As Horowitz writes: The most famous British illustrated books of the 1890s were those of Aubrey Beardsley and William Morris, but there were many other illustrators working at that time. This talk will explore the work of the Wig and Powder School illustrators, who tended to illustrate canonical British novels. The talk will use examples from Special Collections as well as Sarah’s personal collection. It will also look at the question of how these illustrations shape the reader’s experience of these books.

October 2011 – An evening at the Herbert Hoover Library & Museum

November 2011 – “Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century English Herbals: Turner; Dodoens-Lyte; Gerard; Johnson-Gerard; Parkinson; Salmon” with Arthur Bonfield

Cover of book with a Scottish Terrier on it.

Book from the Harvey Dog Book Collection at Special Collections.

Bonfield will be speaking about these books as a collector, and we are thrilled that he will be bringing his own copies of these books to show us.

February 2012 – Nineteenth Century Photography with Paul Juhl

  Although not a photographer himself, Paul has amassed a large collection of early Iowa images and will share with our group information concerning not only the earliest types of photography but also marketing techniques used by the early photographers to prosper in their trade. Many interesting stories accompany the people who made up this profession and the choices of images that they made during the early decades of the “art.” There will be special emphasis on Paul’s favorite type of photography – stereography – that produced the three dimensional image viewed through the stereoscope that some of us remember from childhood.  Looking carefully at a historical image in whatever form can reveal many things and tell us much about the daily life of the people living at that time.

March 2012 –  “How Sherlock Holmes Turned Me Into a True Bibliophile!” with Al Dawson

 Come get a preview (with behind-the-scenes material) of a paper which will be published this year in Toronto. The bulk of the research, however, was done right here in Iowa. The topic concerns a mystery as to the identity of the recipient of twelve letters written by Arthur Conan Doyle some 116 years ago. Get ready for a Wilde ride that will start in Egypt and end in Los Angeles, with several stops in between. Three first editions are involved in solving the case.

April 2012 – Rare and antiquarian dog books from the 16th through the end of the 19th centuries with Brian Harvey, retired UI staff member and collector and dealer in rare and used books

Harvey will show examples of the earliest breed books, early works where dog stories were used for social satire, and the development of several new genres popularized during the 19th century such as the sentimental dog story and dog biographies and even dog autobiographies. Be prepared for a fun time!

May 2012: Field trip to the Masonic Library in Cedar Rapids

 This should be a fascinating opportunity to learn more about one of Iowa’s oldest libraries, one with deep connections to the beginnings of the State and the University.



2010-2011 Schedule:

September 2010 – UNESCO’s City of Literature with Jeanette Pilak, Executive Director

 Pilak is the newly arrived executive director of the organization that will bring meaning to Iowa City’s designation as the third UNESCO City of Literature in the world, the newest chapter in our long tradition of teaching writing, reading, book production, and book collecting. Jeanette describes some of the initial programs that are developing as well as her own ideas for the future.

October 2010– “Book Group as Business: Discussion Seven Days a Week.” with Nialle Sylvan, proprietor of The Haunted Bookshop.

Leading a rousing conversation particularly on Fridays and Saturdays, Sylvan observed, when the shop is busiest, the Haunted Bookshop staff and patrons seem to be engaged in a day-long conversation. One patron’s mention of a gardening fact may trigger a discussion about organic farming that may lead to the history of 19th century utopian movements and on to the Stone City artists, then the WPA, during which all participants share knowledge, book recommendations, and occasionally debates. People join in or move on as their schedules and parking meters permit. On a rainy afternoon or over a card or chess game, some stay for hours. Sometimes they’ve reached outside the shop to bring in more points for discussion, phoning religious leaders, scholars, politicians, and other experts to add opinions and correct facts. Is this really a small business at work? By facilitating the ongoing discussion, the shop sells more books, as patrons and staff recommend things to each other; customer retention increases as patrons feel more like ‘part of the gang’; but there are also more important results: more and better books arrive and depart, the staff learn more about the inventory, discussions of current issues flourish and gain momentum, more formal groups – writers’ workshops, theater readings, and actual book groups – choose this location for meetings, and kids get excited about reading. It’s not a formal program with a timeline or a goal; it’s just life on one node of the vibrant network forming our City of Literature; but there is a purpose and a method.

November 2010– Maps as communication with Mary McInroy, Head of the Map Collection

 Maps prove a fascinating and universal method of communication, as illustrated by McInroy’s presentation with sample maps, photos, and atlases from the map collection, including a propaganda map from Nazi Germany and shipwreck maps of the five Great Lakes.

A hand holding at least a dozen miniature books from Special Collections

Miniature books from Special Collections

February 2011 – “Miniature Books” with Sid Huttner, Head of UI Special Collections

 Those small objects purists insist must be (a) books, and (b) no larger than three inches in any dimension.  Ten stalwart Bibliophiles brought their spectacles with them on one of the coldest nights of the year to “read” a bunch of minis gifted to the Library by Charlotte Smith and since acquired through her final generosity.

March 2011 – Moving Images with Greg Prickman  and Jacque Roethler, UI Special Collections

 With Oscar highs and lows (not all costume-related!) in mind, a  small but dedicated band re-directed their focus from books to moving images – at least to the many kinds of debris that result from the making of movies — as Greg Prickman and Jacque Roethler lead a discussion/dissection of examples drawn from the more than a thousand linear feet of archival material, from script outlines and set designs through storyboards to stills, lobby cards, and fan zines — even some surreptitiously taken candids of Gypsy Rose Lee in performance — that come from the perhaps surprising large number of Iowa alumni who are or have been members of the various motion picture academies.

April 2011– Iowa’s Broadcasting History with Dennis Reese, Program Director for KSUI/IPR

Reese talked to a small but hearty band about Iowa’s rich broadcasting history and some of the archives preserving that history. Reese has been collecting ephemeral materials that document Iowa radio history for decades.

May 2011– Greg Prickman and Special Collections staff discuss the Civil War diaries transcription project




September 2009- Character and composition of historic papers with Timothy Barrett, Papermaker (and now McArthur Fellow!) from UI Center of the Book

Tim has been examining and collecting information on hundreds of dated sheets in books and manuscripts from the 14th through the 18th century using non-damaging techniques to identify the chemistry of the papers, particularly the sizes that were applied after the sheet was formed.  14th and 15th century papers are sized with significantly more gelatin than later papers — which may be a key to these papers durability and longevity.

October 2009 Iowa Bibliophile Dan Daly and his wife Beth hosted the group at their Eastside Iowa City home.

Dan, and eclectic collector, frequents garage and book sales and regularly haunts used book and second hand shops, over some decades, paying bottom dollar, amassing a loosely organized hoard, spreading to nearly every room of their home. The private library includes many hundreds of Little Golden Books, handsome bindings, books focusing on photography, Iowana, and over 7,000 78 rpm recordings. Dan has found an amazing variety of small spaces into which to tuck this item and that!

November 2009 – Bookplates with Jacque Roethler, UI Special Collections Librarian

Book plate from Vincent Starrett's collection at Special Collections

Book plate from Vincent Starrett’s collection at Special Collections

Bookplates: types, collectors, designers, methods of creation, bookplate societies, bookplate competitions, and bookplate journals.

February 2010 – Meeting at the Center for the Book North Hall facilities

University printers Sara Langworthy and Sara Sauer presented 14 Bibliophiles with a program which started with examination of a number of examples of letterpress printing using multiple techniques, then warmed up a Vandercook Proof Press and allowed each person to print off a copy of a famous Beatrice Ward quote and to set their name in type (and distribute the type back to the case). Attention was rapt, enthusiasm was high; it was a great evening despite the below-zero temperatures out of doors!

March 2010– “An Ongoing Saga:  Finding Kay Amert’s Books a Home” with Jane Murphy, a principal at Murphy-Brookfield Books

Murphy lead a discussion about the twisting directions her efforts to place a collection of 500 volumes have taken and continue to take.  The books are those of the late professor, printer, and historian of typography, Kay Amert, and are mainly on subject of typography or are prime examples of private press and books arts production. 

April 2010– “History of Hand-Held Reading Devices” with Gary Frost, UI Libraries Conservator

Frost unloaded his clay Coptic jar to pass around a number of historical bookbinding models to illustrate the long past and future “History of Hand-Held Reading Devices,” beginning in the era of the papyrus book, looking at the codex innovations of the Medieval era, and ending in 20th century book inventions and adventure in the current technologies of print-on-demand and self-published books plus a sample of electronic book readers from the UI Libraries’ collection.  Attendance was a respectable 22 with a number of not before seen faces to welcome.

May 2010  Iowa Bibliophiles field trip

Our year-ending meeting once again offered a field trip, exercise, plus food and drink in a bucolic location: Stan and Delores Thompson, Ginniff Books and farm. Apart from browsing the bookshop, there was a brainstorming of possible programs for the coming year.




September 2008 – Handling the 2008 flood with David Muhlena, Library Director at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and Terry Pitts, Director of the Cedar Rapids Art Museum

Our season opener followed a summer made memorable by the floods in June and July.  Special Collections moved over 13,000 feet of manuscripts and rare books from a basement storage area to the third and fifth floors of Main Library, but, regrettably, many of our Cedar Rapids colleagues had less time to prepare, and their collections sustained far more damage.  Muhlena, Library Director at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, joined us to describe the devastating flood that severely affected his institution and the many questions that still must be solved before rebuilding can begin. Bibliophile Terry Pitts, Director of the Cedar Rapids Art Museum, also described damage to the Museum, resulting from a failed drain rather than flood waters directly, and the effort to re-open the museum by the end of the summer.

October 2008 – Field trip to Defunct Books with Greg Delzer, owner of Defunct Books

An intrepid nine fieldtripped to the newest bookshop in Iowa City: Greg Delzer hosted a visit to his Defunct Books, opened about a year ago and offering used and rare books in a variety of subjects. Defunct Books, 521 East Washington, is located above the Red Avocado, across Ralston Creek from the New Pioneer Food Cooperative.  More information at www.defunctbooks.com.

November 2008 – Rare Book Room at UI Law Library with Noelle Sinclair

A hearty little band gathered at the Boyd Law Building on the UI campus where Biobliophile Noelle Sinclair hosted our visit to the rare book room of the University of Iowa Law Library.  Noelle’s talk revolved around books in the collection that expose the content of the collection, how they came to the Library, and some of the issues she is working on, such as how the collection contributes to the Library’s mission, what these books might give to a legal education, and just interesting stories regarding them. Contributions by Arthur Bonfield added historical depth to Noelle’s remarks!

February 2009– The Alembic Press with David Schoonover and Jacque Roethler, UI Special Collections

Roethler and Schoonover presented on THE ALEMBIC PRESS and its archive at the University of Iowa. Roethler processed the archive and prepared its extensive finding aid discussed and demonstrated highlights of this British fine press. Schoonover discussed a variety of the Press’ publications, including books on papermaking in the Himalayas and India, and “Birds from the Wood”, a wood type-specimen calendar for 2000. Alembic has been active since 1972 and published over 130 books. Most of the Press’s titles are on the subjects of paper, type, printing and other aspects of book arts, but it also produced the occasional more ‘artistic’ book and a range of miniature books.

March 2009 – “The First Major Published Collections In English Of Voyages Of Discovery: Richard Hakluyt and Samuel Purchas, 1589-1626” with Arthur Bonfield, Allan Vestal Chair and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Iowa Law School

Drawing from "Desdemona in Her Own Words" by Emily Martin, Special Collections.

Desdemona in Her Own Words by Emily Martin, Special Collections.

 Richard Hakluyt’s “The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation,” 1589, and “The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation”, 1599-1600, and Samuel Purchas’ “Hakluytus Postumus or Purchas His Pilgrimes,” 1625-1626: three titles, that at the end of Elizabeth I’s reign, arguably launched England’s Age of Empire.

April 2009- “The Critical Relationship Between Form and Content in Movable Sculptural Books” with Emily Martin, Iowa City book artist

Martin discussed her books and talked about the way both content and form developed to lead their realization. Sometimes her book starts from the content, sometimes from a format she wants to explore.  Martin is proprietor of the Naughty Dog Press and regularly teaches books arts for the University of Iowa Center for the Book as well as frequently giving workshops across the country.

May 2009 Spring Field Trip: A visit to the Printery of Timothy Fay, Anamosa.

Fay does a wide range of job printing for diverse clients and is the publisher of “The Wapsipinicon Almanac.” Nearly all his work is based on type set with a working Linotype setter.



2007-2008 Schedule

September 2007 – “Defrocked and Remastered: Behind the Scenes of an Exhibition” with Greg Prickman and David Schoonover from University of Iowa’s Special Collections

Prickman and Schoonover described the process of curating the exhibition “From Monks to Masters: The Medieval Manuscript and the Early Printed Book,” installed at the University of Iowa Museum of Art. Some of the splendid books that didn’t make the cut to be included in the exhibit were examined. Attendance was modest (about ten) but combative: the discussion went on to 8:30!

October 2007 – “Practical Haunting: Breathing the Spirit of Wonder Back into Retail Bookselling” with Nialle [pronounced “Neal”] Sylvan, owner of the the Haunted Bookshop

Focusing on the bookstore as a community and service center for book lovers and collectors, and on the duty of booksellers to inspire future generations of bibliophiles, Ms. Sylvan related compelling stories about the help she has received from her resident ghost Claire.

November 2007 – Walt Whitman as printer and editor with Ed Folsom, Whitman scholar from University of Iowa

1854 image of Walt Whitman

1854 image of Whitman by Samuel Hollyer from the Whitman Archives

A group of 15 rapt Bibliophiles listened to Walt Whitman scholar Ed Folsom talk about the influence of Whitman’s years as printer and editor on the 1855 first edition, and many later editions, of “Leaves of Grass.”  A census of the almost 200 surviving copies (of 790 printed), is showing that no two copies are entirely alike — as Folsom amply demonstrated by comparing the copy that has long been in the Libraries’ collection with the second copy newly acquired in the collection gifted by Glen Schaeffer (who earlier made the naming gift for the Writers’ Workshop building that now adjoins Dey House). The Schaeffer collection includes a long run of editions of “Leaves of Grass” and many copies complement holdings with variant printings, bindings, and other features. Whitman was as close to his books physically as their contents were close to him intellectually, a bond Folsom is currently exploring.

February 2008 – “Changing the hours: Praying in manuscript and print” with historian Kathleen Kamerick

Kamerick repeated a talk she gave in last fall’s series associated with the “From Monks to Masters” exhibition at the Museum of Art. It was the only talk not videotaped on delivery and made available through UITV, and we were able to tape it this time. “Changing the hours: Praying in manuscript and print” discussed the roles of Books of Hours in medieval life, their production as highly individualized manuscripts prior to the 1400s, and their transition to a more standardized print text after 1450. The small crowd assembled on a chilly night and took warmth from close examination of the Libraries’ several examples.

March 2008 – Comic books and graphic novels with collectors Lisa Martincik and Daniel Crawford and Adam Mix, proprietor of Daydreams in Iowa City

A group of 15 explored the collecting and vending the many varieties of comic books and graphic novels. We were joined as well by Corey Creekmur (English, Comp Lit, and Film Studies) who brought along newspaper comic pages, comic books, pulp fiction, and other early examples of the “comics” genres that he uses in his courses and which appear in a forthcoming book on comics.  For a genre characterized by images rather than words, there sure was a lot of talk, and the program lasted late into the evening!

April 2008- Decline of reading with John Mullen, historian, bookseller, and appraiser of books and manuscripts

Mullen hit some hot-buttons among a crowd by projecting the decline of reading and hence civilization. There was skepticism in the crowd — but the discussion was lively and the arguments occasionally intense!

May 2008– Field trip to Stan and Delores Thompson’s farm

Our year-end offered a field trip, exercise, plus food and drink in a bucolic location: Stan and Delores Thompson, Ginniff Books, invited us to their farm just south of Cosgrove for potluck and program.  Nearly everyone strolled around the pond at least once (with Dan Daly capturing polywogs and bugs for his own small pond). Feasting under the trees and a very brief discussion of potential programs for next year preceded coffee in the book shop and a browse around the Thompsons’ stock of 12,000 books. It was a splendid evening weather-wise, and we are grateful to the Thompon’s for their hospitality!



2006-2007 Schedule

September 2006  “Some Scenic Views on the Road to Iowa” with Greg Prickman, Special Collections Librarian

Greg Prickman, new Special Collections Librarian, came to Iowa after sojourns in Minnesota (through Macalester College), Indiana (rare books MLS program and work at the Lilly Library), Illinois (Chicago Public Library and the Harold Washington papers), Missouri (SSM Health Care archivist in St. Louis), and Wisconsin (Ebling History of Medicine Collection at Madison). Greg offered  stories about the collections with which he has worked, exploring byways into his personal bookish interests (illustrated with a selection of new friends he has made in the Iowa collection).

October 2006 – “How I Stopped Frowning and Learned to Love Artist’s Books” with Kathryn Hodson

 Kathy’s encounter with a box of sand purporting to be a book left her, umm, skeptical; but living for several years with other strange denizens of the world of artist’s books (24 of which she shared — including the box of sand) has (partially) thawed her heart to them.

November 2006 – Judge James Wills Bollinger Collection of Lincolniana with Rachel Sailor, Ph.D. candidate in Art History and the Robert A. Olson Fellow in Special Collections

Portrait of a beardless Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln portrait found in Bollinger-Lincoln Collection

Bollinger was an assiduous collector of Lincoln material in the 1920s through the 1940s and bequeathed his collection the University of Iowa Libraries in 1951. Working with books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and a great assortment of ephemera (prints and illustrations) and realia (from coins and medallions to plaster life mask and hands), Sailor found that Bollinger’s collection is not only important in its own right but that it illuminates the assumptions and priorities of serious book collectors in the first half of the 20th century.

February 2007 – Collecting authors with Holly Carver, Director of the University of Iowa Press

Carver presented notes on the authors she has collected over 22 years as Director of the University of Iowa Press, talking about a number of series she has developed in that time and how they came about and describing how any press, but particularly an academic press, develops its “collection.”

March 2007 – “A President & His Books” with Tim Walch, Director of Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum

Field trip of over 20 Bibliophiles to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum. Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover bought books, read books, even translated books, throughout their lives, and during his presidency, Hoover used the Library of Congress as a personal lending library. Director (and Bibliophile) Tim Walch outlined the role of presidential libraries, and Craig Wright and Lynn Smith were on hand to show rare books owned by Hoover and a part of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Papers.

April 2007 – “Story behind the Artifact” with Blaine Houmes, Lincoln collector

Despite dire forecasts of wintery mix, Bibliophile Blaine Houmes, long-time Lincoln collector, discussed his interest in the “story behind the artifact” and shared with our group an amazing — stunning! — array of books, manuscripts, and “realia” (like a set of skeleton keys to a Lincoln bookcase!).  Blaine is also stimulating interest in state-wide recognition and celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of Lincoln’s birth in 2009. Lincoln had surprisingly numerous and deep Iowa connections, owning land in several areas of Iowa and having among his important law cases several rooted in Iowa-related events.

May 2007 –  John Martin Rare Book Room with Edwin Holtum

Holtum lead us through an examination of books from the John Martin Collection in the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences. The collection constitutes of one of the finest collections of historical medical works in the Midwest. The collection includes approximately 5000 volumes ranging in date from the 15th through the 20th centuries; and we saw the treasures.



2005-2006 Schedule

September 2005 – 25 Years a bookseller with Jane Murphy, so-owner of Murphy-Brookfield Books

We saw an eager crowd of 16 in the Main Library Conference Room where Jane Murphy, co-owner of Murphy-Brookfield Books, spoke about her 25 years as a bookseller who specializes in scholarly out of print material (the Mealy Bugs of Northern California sort of book, she explained). The internet has dramatically changed the way books are sold and bought, a fact that led to vigorous discussion.

October 2005 – “Photograph Books: How and Why to Collect Them” with David Herwaldt

Herwaldt communicated his considerable enthusiasm for photography books, particularly those in the documentary tradition. It was a lively discussion, illuminated with 50 or more volumes from his collection that included a first edition of Jacob Riis’ “How the Other Half Lives,” Walker Evans’ “American Photographs,” Evans’ and James Agee’s “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” Paul Strand’s “Time in New England,” Robert Frank’s “The Americans and Lines of My Hand,” Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “The Decisive Moment,” Roy DeCarava’s “The Sweet Flypaper of Life,” Eddy van der Elsken’s “Love on the Left Bank,” Wright Morris’ “The Inhabitants,” Josef Koudelka’s “Gypsies,” etc. Herwaldt has collected in this area since high school; has worked as a photographer and a mat cutter, among other things; and knows a vast range of photographers. He is currently completing an MFA in the School of Art & Art History with specialization in graphic design — as applied in and to books of photography.

Walt Whitman's copy of Tragedies of Euripides from Whitman Archives

Walt Whitman’s copy of Tragedies of Euripides from Whitman Archives

November 2005 – “Walt Whitman and U.S. Print Culture: The Medium and the Man” with Ezra Greenspan, Souther Methodist University

Deviating from our usual 2nd Wednesday, on November 10 we attended a talk by Ezra Greenspan. The Brownell Lecture for the Center for the Book and keynote address for the Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman exhibition and symposium at The University of Iowa Museum of Art. Following Greenspan’s remarks, we toured an accompaning exhibitions of Whtiman’s books with Ed Folsom and David Schoonover.

February 2006 – Whitman collecting with Dr. Kendall Reed, Dean of the College of Medicine at Des Moines University

Again deviating from their usual second Wednesday, the Bibliophiles were invited to a special event at the UI Museum of Art on Saturday, February 3. Dr. Kendall Reed is one of the world’s preeminent Walt Whitman collectors, and he talked about his life of collecting books. Materials from Dr. Reed’s Whitman collection form the heart of the exhibition “Whitman Making Books / Books Making Whitman” which remained on display (for a second look by those who attended the November program). Following Dr. Reed’s talk, Bill Koch, a professional Whitman performer from Cedar Falls, appeared as Whitman to talk about his life and poetry.

March 2006 –  “British Influences on One Bookish American” with Gaylord Schanilec.

The Bibliophiles were invited to an illustrated lecture by Schanilec, a 2005 presentation he gave in London to England’s Designer Bookbinders and the (London) Double Crown Club. Schanilec has been printing and publishing books since he established Midnight Paper Sales Press in 1981. He has been honored as “the foremost contemporary artist in colored wood engraving” by the Grolier Club of New York. He has a long list of credits as speaker, teacher, and artist in residence, including a six-month residency at the Gregynog Press in Wales in 1991, where he produced engravings for the Gregynog publication of “Wrenching Times” by Walt Whitman. Today he operates Midnight Paper Sales from his home and studio in the coulee country outside Stockholm, Wisconsin.

April 2006 – 19th-Century Collectors with Judith Pascoe, Bibliophile and Associate Professor of English

Pascoe shared some of her research on early 19th-century collectors for her just published book: “The Humming bird Cabinet: A Rare and Curious History of Romantic Collectors” (Cornell University Press, 2006).



2004-2005 Schedule

September 2004 – Artists’ Books and more with Terry Pitts, Director of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

A talk by new Bibliophile Terry Pitts. Terry collects artists’ books and first editions of several contemporary authors, including W.G. Sebald. Sebald presents interesting collecting issues since he was a German who emigrated to England and spent his adult life teaching in an English university and writing in German. Almost all of Sebald’s true first editions were issued in Germany, but there are also first English and first American editions to deal with, as well as  more obscure things, such as programs for the German literature prizes that Sebald won and a German-language CD of the author reading part of one of his novels. 

October 2004 – Medieval manuscript facsimiles with Jonathan Wilcox, Early English scholar, and Denise Filios, Spanish medievalist at University of Iowa

God separating light from dark in San Luis Bible (facsimile in Special Collections)

God separating light from dark in San Luis Bible (facsimile in Special Collections)

15 Bibliophiles and guests gathered in the Special Collections Reading Room where Jonathan Wilcox and Denise Filios talked about medieval manuscript facsimiles and how they use them in their work and with their students. Examples included a richly illuminated 13th century Beatus (Book of Revelations), “The St. Louis Bible,” and “Cantigas from the Royal Library of Monasterio de El Escorial,” a collection of songs to Mary.

November 2004– Field trip to the Center of the Book Papermaking Facility on the University’s Oakdale campus

About 15 Bibliophiles took a field trip to the Center for the Book Papermaking Facility on the University’s Oakdale campus. Tim Barrett, a leading expert on Japanese papermaking, showed us through the facility, made sheets in both the western and Japanese styles, and let us handle a variety of the papers handmade in the facility.

February 2005 – Working with Artists’ Books with Julia Leonard, bookbinder at UI Center for the Book

Leonard, bookbinder and maker of protective (and often decorative!) enclosures for books, talked about artists’ books created by her students in the Center for the Book and by others and about her own work as a bookbinder.

March 2005 – Field trip to the Mossman Business Services Building

About a dozen Bibliophiles found their way to the Mossman Business Services Building on South Riverside drive (despite inaccurate directions promulgated by coordinator Sid Huttner!) and linotyped and printed a number of keepsakes on the Historical Printing Studio’s working hand presses and fully functional Model 31 Linotype line setting and casting machine. Our hosts were Larry (“Mr. Linotype”) Raid and Gary Frost.

April 2005 – “People and Paper: Selective Excursions into the History of a relationship” (or “A Dozen Things I’ve Learned Since Paper Got Into My Blood!”) with  Al Dawson

An active genealogist for some time (he invites attention to his website at http://www.familytreemaker.com/users/d/a/w/Al–Dawson/), Dawson’s research took unexpected turns when he discovered last August that early 19th century English relatives had been papermakers.

May 2005 – Visit to UIMA exhibition

The Bibliophiles ended the academic year on May 12, 2005 with a walk under the guidance of Larry Yerkes through of the UIMA exhibtion of design and conservation bookbindings created by William Anthony.



2003-2004 Schedule

September 2003 – Books and Winston Churchill with Doug Russell, Iowa Bibliophile

Doug Russell talked about his extensive — and growing — collection of books by and about Winston Churchill, and the complex –and still growing! — bibliography of Churchill’s books, speeches, correspondence, and other writing.

October 2003 – “Pathways in Collecting Children’s Picture Books”  with Stan Thompson, Iowa Bibliophile Member

The Bibliophiles took their first field trip to visit the home, bookshop (Ginniff Books), and sheep farm of Bibliophiles Stan and Delores Thompson. Following a pot-luck picnic, Stan gave a talk (illustrated by books from his collection) on “Pathways in Collecting Children’s Picture Books”.

November 2003 – Visit to Conservation Laboratory of Main Library

Shelf of bookbinding models in Conservation Department.

Bookbinding models in Conservation Department.

The Bibliophiles explored the bookbinding models collection with Conservator Gary Frost, viewed the current work of assistant Melissa Bradshaw, and examined a polyester sealing machine being set up by bookbinder William Minter. Bibliophile, bookbinder and conservator Larry Yerkes (with Gary and Bill) then reacted to books members and guests had brought, including at 16th century book in a paper binding, a book printed in Philadelphia in 1749 by Benjamin Franklin, and a large, much deteriorated, 19th century family Bible.

February 2004 – “How to Read a Bookseller’s Catalog” with Arthur Bonfield, Sid Huttner and Robert Schoonover

We saw the gathering of a small number of Bibliophiles to discuss “How to Read a Bookseller’s Catalog,” a discussion led by Mssrs. Bonfield, Huttner, and Schoonover, who came prepared with a few enlightening entries they have gleaned from catalogs or lifted from the Web.

March 2004 – A talk with printer and publisher John G. Henry, Iowa Bibliophile and UI alumnus

 John G. Henry is a  printer and publisher from Mason City, Iowa. John acquired his first press at the age of 8, and his Cedar Creek Press, considerably enlarged with equipment, is lodged in the chapel of a former convent and does job printing as well as pamphlets and books. Two of his recent projects have been miniature books — books less than 3″ tall. “Prairie Vision: A View from the Heartland from the Journals of A.W.G. Morse” draws on diaries in his family and Evron S. Collins’ “Grand Dame” (Cincinnati: Miniature Book Society, 2003), an essay on the prominent miniatures collector Ruth Adomeit, was commissioned by the MBS. So far as we know, John is just the third Iowan to tackle miniature book production, the first being Charlotte M. Smith of Newton, Iowa, whose collection now resides in Special Collections.

April 2004 – Culinary mysteries with Robert Wachal, professor emeritus of Linguistics and mystery fiction collector extraordinaire 

Wachal discussed his passionate interest in the sub-genre of culinary mysteries.  Bob has been collecting and writing about them for some time and compiled a bibliography for the period 1930-1999 which was published in Issue #68 of Mystery Scene — a listing that runs six long columns of small type.

May 2004 – “Lucile” with Sid Huttner, Head of Special Collections at the University of Iowa

The Bibliophiles met at the home of Sid Huttner to view the 800 copies of “Lucile” currently assembled in his living room. First published in 1860, “Lucile” was one of the great best-sellers of the 19th century — now almost entirely forgotten.



2002-2003 Schedule

November 2002  “Confessions of a Bibliomaniac” with Arthur Bonfield, John Murray Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Iowa Law School

Arthur Bonfield with his collection

Arthur Bonfield with his collection

A talk about his life-long collecting of books of many kinds and his current infatuation with 17th century English folios. 

February 2003 – Chef Louis Szathmary with David Schoonover, Curator of Rare Books at the University of Iowa Libraries

Schoonover began with biographical appetizers about “Chef Louis” Szathmary, then served up other courses from the Szathmary Collection of Culinary Arts including cookery books from seven centuries, ephemeral pamphlets, carving guides, cannibalism, culinary fiction and mysteries, food and drink art, and concluded with Death by Chocolate (one slice of which contains 1,354 calories).

March 2003 – Fine Press Printing with Shari DeGraw, Director of the University of Iowa Center for the Book Fine Press

DeGraw talked about and displayed examples of fine press printing that she collects. “Fine press printing” refers these days to the old-fashioned work of setting lead type by hand and printing it on hand-operated presses one sheet at a time. These processes give the printer control at every step of the way — precisely how the finished work will look, from design through inking. But they are time-consuming and require both crafts that can be mastered only with long practice and an artist’s eye for design.

April 2003 – Collecting Gaylord Schanilec with Ann Ziegert

Ziegert shared her collection of the work of printer and wood engraver Gaylord Schanilec — started by a chance purchase of an early book and continued into a lasting friendship. From a base on the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, Schanilec works with printers and publishers internationally. He is widely recognized as one of the finest wood engravers working today. His work is showcased on his web site, http://www.midnightpapersales.com.

May 2003 – Information Design with Bo Brock, Cedar Rapids member of Iowa Bibliophiles

Brock talked about his interest in the modern study of information design (ID), a field pretty much created by Edward Tufte, whose work traces the development of design on the printed page over the last 500 years. Brock brought two solid armsfuls of books he has collected which illustrate both good and bad presentation of data in graphs, charts, maps, and other designs.



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