FABS tour and symposium in Cleveland

Jim Tomes


he Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS) held its annual 2001 tour and symposium in Cleveland, OH, from May 31 to June 3, in cooperation with the Rowfant Club. Over 60 people from FABS clubs around the country attended, with six from The Caxton Club: Hayward Blake, Fred and Ann Kittle, Dan Hayman, and Jim and Josie Tomes. It was a wonderful, event-filled weekend, with opportunities to view great book treasures and to meet with very friendly book people.

On Thursday afternoon, the tour began with a visit to the home and bookstore of Bruce Ferrini in Akron to view his extraordinary collection of “for sale” illuminated manuscripts. On Thursday evening we were all welcomed at a reception by George Weimer IV, president of the Rowfant Club, and Kermit Pike, Library Director of the Western Reserve Historical Society. Larry Siegler, Chair Emeritus of FABS, was our official host and engaging tour guide, ably assisted by George Weimer and many other Rowfant Club members. Guests stayed at the Glidden House Hotel, a restored mansion conveniently located in University Circle on the Case-Western Reserve campus.

Friday morning, we were transported by buses to view Jon Lindseth’s remarkable collection of Lewis Carroll, Aesop’s and others’ fables, and rare first editions of Brontè, Dickens, and others. We also viewed Hugo Alpert’s unmatched collection of papermaking, typography, and bookbindings and his large dictionary collection, including rare editions byNoah Webster and Samuel Johnson. Both visits were held at the beautiful homes of Lindseth and Alpert, which were graciously opened to us. Friday afternoon concluded with a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art, where we were treated to a private viewing of the museum’s collection of manuscripts and books by Rowfant member, Steven Fliegel, Curator of Medieval Art. This collection includes many items from the 9th to the 16th Centuries, e.g., the Hausback Gospel of 1480 and Thomas á Becket’s own book. A reception and dinner was held that evening at the majestic Gwinn Estate, which overlooks Lake Erie.

Lunch on Friday was at Mountain Glen in Mentor, Ohio, the family estate of S. Sterling McMillan, Rowfant member and former president. Among his collection were a rare first edition of Blake’s Job, a Martin Luther Bible, many first editions of Joseph Conrad and others. Following an excellent lunch, we traveled to Rowfant member Robert Jackson’s home in Cleveland and viewed his extraordinary collection of Victorian literature, as well as that of the Beat Generation, Eliot, Wilde, Thackeray, and others.

Friday afternoon concluded with a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art, where we were treated to a private viewing of the museum’s collection of manuscripts and books by Rowfant member, Steven Fliegel, Curator of Medieval Art. This collection includes many items from the 9th to the 16th Centuries, e.g., the Hausback Gospel of 1480 and Thomas á Becket’s own book. A reception and dinner was held that evening at the majestic Gwinn Estate, which overlooks Lake Erie.

On Saturday, we attended an excellent seminar moderated by Robert Jackson on the future of the collector and dealers of fine books. Speakers were Lee Biondi of Venice, California, Caxtonian Paul Ruxin of Chicago, Tom Congalton of Merchantville, New Jersey, and Mark Samuels Lasner of Washington, DC. Lunch was arranged for us in the private Oasis Room of the Cleveland Art Museum. On Saturday afternoon we were guests of Stephen Zeitz, a Rowfant member and curator of the White Collection at the Cleveland Public Library. This 200,000 item collection contains very rare books on chess, over fifty 16th Century editions of Castig-lione’s work, the world’s largest collection of the Rubaiyat, as well as many other rare oriental texts. On Saturday evening we were hosted at a grand reception and dinner at the Rowfant Club’s 134-year-old restored mansion. We were able to see the Rowfant library and enjoy the warmhearted, generous ambience of the club and its members. We Caxton Club members present at the dinner were so inspired by the weekend experience that Fred Kittle, speaking on our behalf, promised to return to Chicago and propose to The Caxton Club Council at our June 20 meeting that the club host for the FABS 2002 tour and symposium.

On Sunday morning, 16 of us took the optional tour to the Holden Arboretum at Kirtland, Ohio in the beautiful, hilly countryside east of Cleveland. Rowfant member and past president, Tom Offutt III, was our host, introducing us to Stanley Johnston Jr., the library’s curator, who described its collection of rare botanical literature. Midway through our visit Tom Offutt offered to have us all come to his nearby home for a lunch of waffles and bacon. Tom drove on ahead and Larry Siegler led the rest of us later in a caravan to Tom’s beautiful home in the woods, where we enjoyed a marvelous farewell lunch and happy camaraderie. Tom told us stories of his successful efforts to save Yellowstone Park, and George Weimer regaled us with high humor. We reluctantly said our farewells and drove back to Cleveland, further inspired to host FABS next year in Chicago.

Bruce McKittrick, a member of Philobibion and rare book dealer of Narbeth, Pennsylvania (and non-resident Caxtonian) has subsequently volunteered to help organize the possible events for a Chicago FABS meeting in 2002. Bruce is an active member of FABS and has had experience in organizing prior FABS meetings. The FABS officers and staff organize and publicize the annual FABS meetings, so the local club’s responsibility is primarily to host a dinner meeting and provide docents for some of the programs. Bruce also has the benefit of knowing Chicago and has the expert help of his parents, Caxtonian and past president Bill McKittrick and his wife Caroline. Hayward Blake, Fred Kittle, and Jim Tomes are gathering suggestions for possible programs for such a FABS meeting and will be proposing them for discussion at the June 20 Council meeting. v

 

Return to Caxtonian table of contents

Return to the Caxton Club home page