Manutius in Manhattan

From Cambridge to New York. The next stage in the pursuit of Aldus in the USA saw a trip to Manhattan to attend the seminar ‘Aldus in the House of Grolier’ hosted by G. Scott Clemons and H. George Fletcher at the Grolier Club on 47 East 60th Street. The event accompanied the exhibition ‘Aldus Manutius: A Legacy More Lasting than Bronze’ which is running until 25 April.IMG_3875 A rich array of Aldines, counterfeits and forgeries, and volumes concerning the history of Aldine collecting were spread across nine packed cases with detailed explanatory labels and specific themes from Aldus’ beginnings as a printer of grammars, dictionaries and instructional books, to his role in establishing the classical Greek printed corpus and his championing of the libelli portatiles between 1501-1514. The vast majority of the volumes on display were drawn from the private holdings of the Grolier Club members, and specifically from Scott Clemons and T. Kimball Brookers’ extensive Aldine collections, both of whom spoke on the central role of Aldus in establishing the Greek canon and the enduring fascination of Aldine texts to collectors across the ages. From a Mancunian perspective it was bittersweet, but reassuring, to see Aldines which at one time had formed part of the Spencer and Rylands collection gracing the outstanding collections of North America, including these 1496 editions of De Aetna and 1514 edition of Suda.IMG_3835IMG_3834Of the volumes lent by the Morgan Library, it was good to see the 1501 Petrarch we tested last year with the additional bibliographical data ‘printed on goatskin vellum’ now added.IMG_3828 The post seminar reception afforded the opportunity to look around the club, including a whole bookcase of Dibdin’s works, featuring the multi-volume Spencer catalogue, and the contents of the Manchester-born Sir Thomas Phillipps Room which houses the sole example of the unique box system this self-confessed ‘vello-maniac’ used for storing his collection as purchased at the final Phillipps sale at Sotheby’s in London in 2003.IMG_3853IMG_3855Thanks to the curators and to Jennifer Sheehan for such a great seminar and show.

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