Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Hours

This year, Bromer Booksellers will be open until 2:00pm on Christmas Eve and closed on December 25th and 26th. Additionally, we will be open until 2:00pm on New Year's Eve and closed New Year's Day.

Besides the days stated above, we will be open during our normal business hours of 9:30am to 5:30pm, Monday through Friday, into the New Year.

We would like to wish everyone all the best during this holiday season and a joyous New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

E-catalogue 31: The World in the Woodgrain

The woodcut has been with the western world since the early 15th century, and its rise as a popular form of the visual arts can be at least partially attributed to the ease with which woodcuts could be printed side-by-side with text composed from movable type. As a result, the woodcut, and its kissing cousin, the wood engraving, were the only media for illustrating printed books until the late-sixteenth century, after which point techniques developed for engraving on other surfaces--stone, copper, then steel--offering alternatives that displaced the humble woodcut.

Yet, the process of transferring images to paper via a carved block of wood managed to bounce back, enjoying revivals as recently as the mid-twentieth century. Its resilience is perhaps the result of a level of expression that can be teased out of a woodblock's positive and negative spaces. It is an attempt to illustrate this wide range that lies behind our latest e-catalogue.

It was Albrecht Durer who raised the woodcut to the level of art form in the late 15th century. We offer here a choice example of his single leaf cut depicting the circumcision of Christ. Several decades later, Geoffrey Tory explored the dramatic potential latent in the block in the black figures in his Parisian Book of Hours from 1527--figures that included death riding a black horse.

Toward the close of the 18th century, and into the early 19th century, woodcuts and wood engravings made something of a comeback as they proved to be an economical way to illustrate children's books. Popular cuts produced by commercial artists were widely reused in a variety of chapbooks, of which we have many examples on offer. Well-known artists such as Thomas Bewick and his younger brother John also illustrated works for juvenile audiences.

With the renewal of interest in craftsmanship that characterized the Arts and Crafts movement at the end of the 19th century came a renaissance in book illustration, and once again the woodcut and wood engraving were the media of choice. Modern illustrators such as Eric Gill, John Buckland Wright and Lynd Ward pushed the expressive boundaries of the wood block further, rendering dramatic, sensual images.

We hope you enjoy this selection, and we wish our customers, colleagues, and friends a very Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Swiss People and Places in Miniature

Petits Souvenirs de la Suisse

At Bromer Booksellers, we have two miniature souvenir books related to Switzerland: Petits Souvenirs de la Suisse, which contains tiny prints depicting picturesque places in Switzerland, and Costumes Suisses, which features lithographs of men and women from the different Swiss cantons in their native dress. 
Costumes Suisses

Both are presented as leporellos and were produced in the mid-1800s, right at the peak of the popularity of these types of souvenirs. Leporellos, or accordion-fold books, have a long strip of paper folded to create individual pages. The strip can then be stretched out to show a continuous view of the pages (see below). 

Souvenir books like these often contained a series of pictures of the people or landmarks of popular destinations and some were housed in novelty cases, such as a nutshell or a bean pot (for Boston views). Many of these fall into the category of miniature books as they were sized to fit in a traveler's pocket or stow away easily in luggage.

Our two examples are particularly fine because they are hand-colored; often, these souvenir albums were printed in black or sepia. They bring the people and locations to life and were a way to bring one's memories home to share with family and friends in a time before color photography.

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