Saturday, April 25, 2015

New Grolier Club exhibition page

Dear Readers, 
Please support the blook exhibition catalog and programs. I need your donations to bring them to fruition! Thank you for your readership, over 29,000 since last June.

$30,000 needed. $17,850 raised so far.

To Contribute

The Art of Books That Aren't
January 28 - March 12, 2016
Grolier Club, 2nd floor member's exhibition gallery, 47 E. 60th St. NYC

2016 is the Year of the Blook! In January you are invited to the first blook exhibition ever to be held in the U. S. and only the second in the world. You will see over 100 objects of great diversity and ephemera which puts the objects into historical perspective. The exhibition is the result of  two decades of collecting and research. I'm so looking forward to sharing this with you. In order to produce (self-publish) the catalog and programs for your enjoyment, I need to raise $30,000. I would appreciate any donation you can make and there will be perks (see below).

Click on the payment payment button in this post and choose your option
Log into Paypal and make a Paypal payment to
Send a personal check or money order to: Mindell Dubansky
210 East 88th Street
New York, NY 10128

$10 Your name and website link on the Blook Club page of this blog and in the exhibition catalog.

$25 Your name and website link on the Blook Club page of this blog; your name in the exhibition catalog and two handmade greeting cards, made after vintage blook cards from my collection.  

$50 Your name and website link on the Blook Club page of this blog and the 2016 Year of the Blook wall calendar. 

$100 Your name and website link on the Blook Club page of this blog  and a personalized copy of The Art of Books That Aren't catalog.

$500 All of the above plus a choice of a copy of one of my books Guess Who Died? Memories of Baltimore with Recipes or The Proper Decoration of Book Covers: The Life and Work of Alice C. Morse; or an original felt flower pin by myself made to your specifications; or another perk that we can work out together. 

$1,000 A copy of The Art of Books That Aren't catalog and a unique book-lovers tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art with me as your tour guide; or a private tour of the Grolier exhibition. Includes mentions on the Blook Club page and in the catalog. 

DONORS: to know more about the over 130 contributors to this project, see the Blook Club page of this blog.

To subscribe to the Art of Books That Aren't catalog, please send your name and contact information. I will post the final price and specs to the exhibition page and email you as soon as I have them. The Art of Books That Aren't will be a paperback book,  9 x 11 inches, about 100 pages with about 150 color illustrations. I am on schedule now to have the book ready by mid-January 2016.

There will be at least one symposium with speakers who are collectors, historians and makers of book objects. I am also planning a magic show with book effects and weekly public gallery talks. Please let me know if you would like to plan a private tour or lecture.

Daytime: 212-650-2890
Evening: 212-348-1674

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Blook Game Boards

I was surprised to come across this English book (1903) that depicts a book-shaped game board on its cover (see the lower left corner). While I haven't seen other titles from the Club Series and I don't know how many titles were included, I'm assuming that this was a popular game book series and that this binding design appears on all of its titles. It's the first time I've seen a blook as an illustration. Its prominent presence on the cover is obviously an indication of how familiar people must have been with book-like game boards at the turn of the twentieth century. 

Perhaps you have seen book boards in antique shops and flea markets. There are still quite a few about today, although many are worn and damaged from years of use and the degradation of materials. They often have catchy titles, I have one named Evening Pastimes, Vols. 1 and 2. Once again the book form is a perfect vehicle for a container, adding interest and style to whatever it is applied. 

Book game boards from this period (late 19th-early 20th centuries) are usually for the games of chess, checkers and backgammon. On the board above you can see what an example of a two-volume game boards for chess, checkers and backgammon look like. This is one of many different variations. With its gold-tooled leather binding, it could easily be mistaken for real books if it was placed on a bookshelf. I have also seen the boards covered in paper, printed in chromolithography and in rustic handmade versions carved from wood. 

This is a similar board, but a less expensive version, covered in printed paper (chromolithography), rather than leather. The title is  Life of Hoyle, in two volumes. It is most probably a play on the popular book Hoyle's Rules for Playing Fashionable Games, published in many editions since the late eighteenth century. 


The Games of Go Bang, Tivoli and Fox and Geese is another example of a book game board, less common than the chess/checkers/backgammon version. I have a copy in black but you can see here that it was also made in a dark red paper version. You can see it in person if you attend my exhibition next winter at the Grolier Club. 

I hope you will all send pictures and descriptions of similar boards or other titles from the Club Series that you may see or have. Many games and puzzle containers are still made in book form today, it's an abiding tradition that has lasted more than two centuries. For an example of an even older book game box, see this post about the Heckman collection.