Bookish Blog Post

From Photographer to Printmaker: Prokudin-Gorskii’s “artistic-photomechanical” illustrations for Gogol’s folk stories

By Barbara Dash

A descendant of Russian nobility, Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) established himself in the early 20th century as a pioneer in the development of color photography. It was his achievements and ingenuity in this field that attracted the support of the tsar, Nicholas II, for Prokudin-Gorskii’s proposed photographic survey of the vast Russian Empire. To aid the photographer’s journeys, the tsar provided a train, with a compartment outfitted for processing the photographs, a steamboat with a full crew, a motor boat, and a Ford Model-T equipped for rough mountain roads. During what would turn out to be the last years of the old Russian Empire, Prokudin-Gorskii produced what he described as natural and artistic photographs of the varied landscapes, architecture, and people of a world soon to be transformed by revolution and war.

Please visit the Library of Congress’ blog, 4 Corners of the World: International Collections to read this article by Rare Materials Cataloger, Barbara Dash.

WRBG Member Mark Samuels Lasner on the Biblio File podcast

$10 million gift to UD | UDaily

Mark Samuels Lasner is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Delaware Library, and one of the world’s great book collectors.

The Mark Samuels Lasner Collection focuses on British literature and art from 1850 to 1900, with an emphasis on the Pre-Raphaelites and writers and illustrators of the 1890s. It comprises more than 9,500 books, letters, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera, and artworks, including many items signed by such figures as Oscar Wilde, George Eliot, Max Beerbohm, William Morris, Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Aubrey Beardsley.

In this interview, Mark and Nigel connected via Zoom to talk about Mark’s childhood and his incipient interest in England and the late Victorian period, his early book collecting – the how and why of it – the extraordinarily talented and well dressed essayist, caricaturist, and critic Max Beerbohm; fun, friendships, favourite booksellers, fashion and much more.   

Listen to the interview here:

THE BIBLIO FILE is one of the world’s leading podcasts about “the book” and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by NIGEL BEALE it features wide ranging conversations with authors, poets, book publishers, booksellers, book editors, book collectors, book makers, book scholars, book critics, book designers, book publicists, literary agents and other best practitioners on Robert Darnton’s “communications circuit.”

FABS: Save the Date for Collectors’ Showcase

SUNDAY, JUNE 20 | 4:00 – 5:30 P.M. EDT

This summer, join the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS)
for a virtual Collectors’ Showcase that will bring you into distinguished
collections across the United States.

The free event, open to members of FABS affiliate societies, will be hosted via Zoom. A formal invitation with a roster of presenters will be distributed soon.

Attendance at the event will be limited to 300. If you would like to register for the event immediately, please send your name, the bibliophilic society/societies of which you are a member, and your email address to FABS Vice Chair Dr. Alexander L. Ames at We look forward to seeing you in June!

Of Possible Interest to WRBG Members & Friends

Li'l' Gal | By: Paul Laurence Dunbar. New York: Dodd, Mean a… | Flickr

Washington Rare Book Group member Leslie Long will be speaking during Preservation Week at the Library of Congress, Friday, April 30, at 11 am.  Her online, illustrated presentation is part of the “Peek inside the Lab” program.  Please see the announcement below for more information and the link for registration.  We hope you can make it, and look forward to seeing many WRBG members there. 

Peek inside the Lab: Two Mini Presentations
Friday April 30, 11am EST

The Conservation and Digitization of the Yongle Dadian
Speakers: Alan Haley, Senior Preservation Specialist and Dan Paterson, Senior Conservator

Presenters will discuss the condition review, conservation treatment, and digitization of the Yongle Dadian, a manuscript encyclopedia from around 1565. The encyclopedia was first commissioned in 1403 by the Yongle emperor. When completed in 1408 the Yongle Dadian comprised 11,095 manuscript volumes, recording an enormous scope of Chinese life and culture. It is believed that none of the original 1408 volumes survived, but there are approximately 400 known volumes from the 16th century edition. This presentation will discuss how success of this project is dependent on conservation team working together with the other library entities, and how the size of the Yongle Dadian, its complicated history, and cultural significance impacted each phase of decision making process.

American Book Design Buffet
Speaker: Leslie Long, Senior Preservation Specialist, Conservation Division,

This presentation will focus on three important people in the world of 19th and early 20th century book design:   John Feely, Sarah Wyman Whitman and Margaret Armstrong.  All three were working in the years that are referred to as the golden age of book design – the feast of books published with beautiful covers between 1870 and 1920.  The remarkable thing about this age of beautiful books is they were every day books for every day buyers, modestly priced and widely available.

Position Announcement: Early Materials Cataloger, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University

Position: Early Materials Cataloger
Department: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
STARS Requisition: 64643BR
Minimum salary: $60,500

Yale University, conveniently located between Boston and New York, offers exciting opportunities for achievement and growth in New Haven, Connecticut. Located in the heart of historic downtown New Haven with more than 100 local boutiques, national retailers, cafés, casual eateries, award-winning restaurants, and world-renowned theaters, galleries, and museums.

General Purpose: 

Reporting to the Head of the Rare Book Cataloging Unit, the Early Materials Cataloger creates, enhances, and maintains original and complex bibliographic and authority records for manuscript items and printed works, chiefly from the medieval through the early modern periods, in the fields of British and European literature, history, and the humanities. Plans, directs, and reviews work of cataloging assistants and student assistants. Assists in the ongoing development of the unit’s cataloging procedures for related collections. Completes special projects as assigned. Contributes to Yale University Library and University-wide initiatives and is expected to be active professionally.

This position represents an exciting opportunity for a scholar-librarian to work at the intersection of early materials cataloging and scholarship. We seek applicants interested in the politics of metadata, the materiality of the textual object, trends in forensic analysis, and the broader questions relating the creation, survival, transmission, ownership, description and use of special collections to their understanding within scholarship, the classroom, and the public spheres of the humanities. Applicants that meet the minimum education/experience qualifications are encouraged to apply. The successful applicant will receive intensive on-the-job training in manuscript and print cataloging and paleography if needed, according to the protocols of the department and library.

The Rare Book Cataloging Unit, part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s Technical Services Department, is responsible for cataloging material principally ranging from incunabula to twenty-first century publications.

The Beinecke Library is Yale’s principal repository for literary archives, early manuscripts, and rare books. One of the great collections in North America, the Beinecke collections are internationally known and heavily used by scholars from around the world. For further information about the Beinecke Library, consult the library’s web site at:

This position will be assigned a rank of Librarian 1 to Librarian 3. Librarian ranking information can be found at The minimum salary is $60,500.

Required Education and Experience: 

1. Master’s degree from an American Library Association accredited library school. In selective cases a graduate degree in a related subject field may be substituted. 2. Demonstrated knowledge of current national cataloging/metadata content and structural standards. Knowledge of subject analysis and classification systems. 3. If supervision of professional and/or support staff is a principal responsibility, supervisory experience is required. 4. Experience designing projects and bringing them to conclusion in a timely fashion. 5. Demonstrated excellent oral, written, and interpersonal communications; analytical ability; accuracy and attention to detail. 6. Ability to initiate and adapt to change. 7. Experience working collegially and cooperatively within and across organizations. 8. Experience working collaboratively and independently with varied groups within a complex organization and rapidly changing, team environment.


  • Strong knowledge of medieval and early modern European literature or history, and broad knowledge in the humanities, as demonstrated through academic degrees or an equivalent combination of training or experience.
  • Advanced reading knowledge of Latin, including neo-Latin and Latin abbreviations.
  • Good knowledge of Latin and English paleography, and broad knowledge of medieval European paleography 1100-1600, including both book and document scripts.
  • Good reading ability in Middle English and/or Middle French, in addition to Italian, French, German or another European vernacular.
  • Preferred Education and Experience: MA or PhD in European history or literature specializing in a field relating to pre-1800 British and European collections. Demonstrated knowledge of the material culture of medieval and early modern books. Good reading knowledge of paleography for a European language beyond Latin and English. Experience creating MARC records. Cataloging experience using DCRM, AMREMM, DACS, AACR2, and/or RDA.

Application: For more information and immediate consideration, please apply online at Please be sure to reference this website when applying for this position.

We invite you to discover the excitement, diversity, rewards and excellence of a career at Yale University. One of the country’s great workplaces, Yale University offers exciting opportunities for meaningful accomplishment and true growth. Our benefits package is among the best anywhere, with a wide variety of insurance choices, liberal paid time off, fantastic family and educational benefits, a variety of retirement benefits, extensive recreational facilities, and much more.

Yale University considers applicants for employment without regard to and does not discriminate on the basis of an individual’s sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a veteran, or national or ethnic origin; nor does Yale discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.


AA/EEO – M/F/Disability/Veteran

Audrey Pearson

Acting Head, Rare Book Cataloging Unit
Yale University Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
P.O. Box 208330
New Haven, CT 06520-8330

Of Possible Interest to WRBG Members & Friends

On March 7, 2021, WRBG member Rick Black discussed the making and contents of his artist book, The Amichai Windows, with Professor Rendsburg of Rutgers University.
(The recording of this event is linked at the end of this post)

Black 05TheAmichaiWindows YomKippur

The Amichai Windows pays homage to Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai (1924–2000). Rick Black will unwrap the artist book, revealing its exquisite sculptural design, as well as discuss his personal encounters with Amichai and share the beautifully illuminated poems.

Yehuda Amichai, one of the great modern Hebrew poets, wrote about love, war, Jewish life in the twentieth century, and the modern Israeli landscape. Award-winning book artist and poet Rick Black has created an exquisite limited edition artist book featuring eighteen of Amichai’s poems. Presented both in Hebrew and English translation, each poem is wrapped and folded in an individual, handmade paper triptych and collected in an enclosure resembling a Jerusalem window. Opening each triptych is a discovery of the unique world of the poem. The work incorporates replicas of some of Amichai’s original, handwritten poems as well as collaged images of Jewish history and life that were culled from archives around the world.

Black worked with Rutgers Jewish studies professors Gary A. Rendsburg and Azzan Yadin-Israel, to translate Amichai’s poems from the original Hebrew into English. Black began the ten-year project in 2007, seven years after Amichai’s death, with the support of Hana Amichai, the poet’s widow. The artist book was issued in a limited edition of eighteen copies. Both the Library of Congress and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum purchased the book for their permanent collections.

Read more about the roles of professors Rendsburg and Yadin-Israel in the project here. For more about the Amichai Windows project, visit

Link to recorded zoom event.

Intimate Hand Work: WRBG Member Beth Curren at The Studio Gallery

From The Studio Gallery’s website:

On March 17, 2020, most of us were anticipating a day in which there would be a nod to the Irish St. Patrick, an excuse to wear something green, and looking forward to the start of Spring. For some of us, the cancellation of that night’s dinner reservation was a metaphor of what was to come in the next 48 hours:  the abrupt shut-down and closing of all but essential services; a sheltering in place against an invisible enemy; a confusing confluence of restrictions and mis-directions; and the growing realization that day-to-day life, as we knew it, had changed, utterly. The coronavirus shifted everyone’s priorities.  As the numbers of cases and deaths spiraled upwards, artists everywhere faced the mounting pressures of isolation, loss of access to tools and materials, the interruption of our work and our expectations. All of this, often, was in direct conflict with the changing responsibilities for our relatives and neighbors.  

This exhibit of work, most of which was completed within the last fourteen months, reflects our individual responses to our personal situations, to the stresses in our lives, to the catastrophe that is this pandemic, to the social unrest and political strife.  The artworks are intricate, incorporating the intimate hand work and careful detail that has helped each of us to find serenity and harness our strengths.  The work has brought us together as artists, as women, as friends and as members of our community.

Please check out the website, or call to schedule a visit to the gallery.

Of Possible Interest to WRBG Members and Friends!

“Resistance in the Materials”: a Gathering of Printers Pressing for Change
Thursday Feb. 25 and Friday Feb. 26, 2021

Co-sponsored by Santa Clara University’s Center for Arts and Humanities and the University of Maryland’s BookLab and Center for Literary and Comparative Studies, “Resistance in the Materials” is a bicoastal event that will center BIPOC artists, scholars, and interventionists (and allies) and celebrate “printing” (broadly construed across many media) as an accessible form of activism capable of leaving its own unique impressions in diverse communities.

This two-day program begins with a plenary panel featuring Lillian-Yvonne Bertram and Jonathan Senchyne on Thursday February 25th at 12pm PT/3pm ET. On Friday, February 26th at 12pm PT/3pm ET, there will be a roundtable of four print artists including Victoria Law, Sarah Matthews, Amy Suo Wu, and Rio Yanez. Harkening to the immediacy and impact of mail art, our participants have exchanged a “print” with each other as an anchor point for collaborative reflection and discussion of the possibilities of printing as political action.

In addition to our main programming, all registrants will receive an invitation to a pop-up print mixer following our roundtable. This casual virtual event is a great opportunity to share your current print project with participants and reflect on the symposium.

Please go here to Register with EventBrite (links in right hand column):


Thurs Feb. 25 @ 3pm/12pm (EST/PST)  
Plenary Session featuring talks by Lillian-Yvonne Bertram and Jonathan Senchyne (90 min. with q&a)

Lillian Yvonne Bertram: “Rich Light is in the Riot: Programming Gwendolyn Brooks for Page & Screen”

Jonathan Senchyne: “Wisconsin Ideas”

Fri Feb. 26 @ 3pm/12pm (EST/PST)
Print Exchange Roundtable with Victoria Law, Sarah Matthews, Amy Suo Wu, Rio Yañez (90 min. with q&a)

Fri Feb. 26 @ 4:30pm/1:30pm (EST/PST)
Pop-Up Print Mixer with audience participation and print sharing, BYOB. (Approx. 1 hr.); link will be distributed to attendees at other two events.

Participant Bios

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is Associate Professor and Director of the MFA in Creative Writing at UMass Boston, and Director of the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival. They consider themself primarily a poet, publishing traditionally and digitally, with a focus on computational and digital poetics. Some of their work can be seen at Their most recent book is Travesty Generator (Noemi Press, 2019).

Victoria Law

Victoria Law is a freelance journalist and author who covers issues of incarceration, particularly women’s incarceration and resistance. She is also the editor/publisher of a zine called Tenacious: Art & Writings By Women in Prison, which started in 2002, and the co-founder of Books Through Bars–NYC, an all-volunteer group that sends free books to people in prison nationwide.

Sarah Matthews

Sarah Matthews is a printmaker and book artist. Her work has been exhibited in the US and is a part of the permanent collections of Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, George Washington University’s Gelman Library, University of Puget Sound, and Samford University. She is also a YouTuber and a foam stamp designer for

Jonathan Senchyne

Dr Senchyne is the Director of the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is an Associate Professor of Book History and Print Culture in the Information School. Dr. Senchyne has been a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society and was the Pine Tree Foundation Distinguished Visiting Fellow in the Future of the Book in a Digital Age at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His most recent book is The Intimacy of Paper in Early and Nineteenth-Century American Literature (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020).  
Amy Suo Wu

Amy Suo Wu was born in China, grew up in Australia, and lives in The Netherlands as an artist, designer and teacher. Since 2015, she has engaged in steganographic practices such as hiding techniques, evasion tactics, and covert communication as acts of protection, survival and resistance in the face of oppression and violence. This research is now published under the title ‘A Cookbook of Invisible Writing’ through Onomatopee (2019). Her most recent interest and practice circles around literal and metaphorical approaches of mending, design as remittance and self-fulfilling prophecy and how text and textile might be woven together to form embodied publishing.

Rio Yañez

Rio Yañez is a Chicano artist and curator born and currently based in San Francisco, California. As a printmaker he is a member of The Great Tortilla Conspiracy, a tortilla art collective, which prints artwork and political graphics on tortillas at art events, political actions, and protests. By using a formula of edible silkscreen inks, The Great Tortilla Conspiracy are able to put their art on tortillas, make them into food (like quesadillas), and distribute them as art that feeds people. Their philosophy is that art is at its most subversive when it is impermanent and feeds people. They typically present themselves as chefs and scientists when they create their work.

Matthew Kirschenbaum
Professor of English and Digital Studies
Director, Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies
Printer’s Devil, BookLab
University of Maryland

Opportunities Available at Thornwillow


Thornwillow is a printer and publisher of handmade limited edition books. We do all of the editorial, design, printing and binding at the press in Newburgh, New York. We’ve been at it for 35 years.

We are committed to teaching and perpetuating the related arts and crafts of the written word. We are looking to hire two full time people to join our team at the press. Enthusiastic entry level applicants are welcome to apply.

Letterpress Printer – We are looking for a full time person to join our press room team. Most of our books are printed on a Heidelberg flatbed cylinder press, but we also have Vandercooks, C+Ps and engraving presses that we run every day. Experience would be nice, but is not necessary. We are prepared and happy to teach. First and foremost we are looking for enthusiasm and commitment to learning a craft we love. Being mechanically minded and enjoying working with machines is important.

Book Binder – We are looking for a full time and part time person to join our bindery. In the bindery we do every aspect of fine bookbinding in house from folding and sewing to making paper, cloth, and gold tooled leather bindings. We also make the clamshell boxes, marble and decorative paste paper in house. Experience is not necessary, as we like to train enthusiastic people and pass on the craft.  We are looking for someone with enthusiasm, the ability to work with their hands, patience and determination, and a love of books. In the bindery we are also able to entertain applicants for part time positions.

Please contact: