Category Archives: Bookbinding and Book Collecting

William Loring Andrews, Book Collector and First Met Museum Librarian

HighlightAndrews1In 1878 William Loring Andrews became a trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and served as its first librarian beginning in 1882. Today his portrait hangs in the administrative office of the Thomas J. Watson Library, just outside our Chief Librarian’s office.

Andrews was a prominent collector of rare books of English and American literature and a founding member of the Grolier Club and the Society of Iconophiles. In 1865 Andrews began to self-publish books in which he was also the author or editor. These works were published in his own style, through his own direction, and are marked by exquisite taste in type, paper, illustration, and binding. In their production, he engaged the services of engravers Edwin Davis French and S. L. Smith, who designed and engraved bookplates for the Metropolitan Museum, and printers Walter Gillis and Theodore De Vinne. From 1865 to 1908 Andrews issued thirty-six volumes, twenty-six authored by himself.

The 2011 recipient of the Art Libraries Society of North America Internship Award, Bailey Diers (now at the Hennepin County Library in Minneapolis), elected to intern here in Watson Library. Part of her internship was to create a digital collection—including materials selection, retrieval, scanning, editing the metadata, and uploading the content to our Digital Collections site. She decided to work on a selection of books authored by Andrews, and due to her efforts the William Loring Andrews Books on Book Collecting and Bookbinding collection is online and comprises part of our Bookbinding and Book Collecting digital collection.


The frontispiece of one of these titles, volume 1 of Andrews’s 1900 work Gossip about book collecting, provides the reader with a glimpse of his personal library. Gossip about book collecting was produced by the Gillis Press in a very limited edition of 157 copies using two varieties of high quality paper, depending on the intended destination. Here is the cover to volume 2 of the same work.


The Watson Library is fortunate to own one of the thirty-two copies made on Imperial Japan paper, and this is the version that Bailey digitized in 2011. The William Loring Andrews collection helps present an interesting dimension of a figure important to the history of Watson Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and New York City.

Miniature Books and Balloon Mania

In 1783, brothers Joseph-Michel (1740-1810) and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier (1745-1799) made history with the debut of the hot air balloon.  After the device’s first manned flight and subsequent public exhibitions, and as the French nobility clamored for more information on balloons and ballooning, images of the Montgolfiers’ contraption became ubiquitous in popular culture including fashion, hairstyles, decorative arts and publishing.


L’Amour dans le globe, with gilt balloon ornaments on the spine and the corners of both covers, is an illustrated history of the Montgolfiers’s hot-air balloon development, including folded engravings that depict the progression from early tests to the more fantastic demonstrations staged for Louis XVI at Versailles.


The two individuals depicted inside the gilt balloon stamp on the front cover of the Almanach Royal and Le calendrier de la cour, are not the Montgolfier brothers but Jacques-Alexandre-César Charles (1746-1823) and Marie-Noël Robert (1760-1820), collaborators of the world’s first hydrogen balloon.  Known as the charlière balloon, Charles’s and Robert’s invention debuted on the Champs de Mars in Paris two months after the Montgolfier Brothers launched their first hot air balloon.  These three volumes are part of a gift from Mrs. Charles Wrightsman of sixty-five fine bindings.

Written by Holly Phillips and Diane De Fazio


The Digital Collections Pinterest Board

The Digital Collections has created a Pinterest board on The Met’s Pinterest page.  We have pinned over 100 of the most visually striking items from the Digital Collections, and more pins are going up each week.  The images range from fashion plates to artists’ sketches, Scottish clansmen to fine bindings.  Here are some of the highlights so far:FashionPlateBlog


This fashion plate is taken from an August 1922 issue The Dileneator, an American fashion and lifestyle magazine from the late 19th and early 20th century (for which Theodore Dreiser was briefly the managing editor).





From a facsimile edition of the book Herbs for the mediaeval household: for cooking, healing and divers uses,  the caption reads “Cleansing the scalp” and is dated 1491.






This Scotsman is from Clan MacDuff, and he is part of a series of illustrations called Clans of the Scottish Highlands, 1847.





This fine binding, from 1784, is one of over 40 similar items we have in the Digital Collections.






We have a collection of autographed letters and sketches sent to Samuel Putnam Avery from various artists, and to the right is one of the finer drawings in the collection.






There are a number of mardis gras fashion plates in the Digital Collections. If you look closely at this particular one, you’ll see penciled in beneath the dancing figure the caption “Wizard.”

These are just some of the highlights from our Pinterest board. You can follow all of the pins we are posting by going here.