Exhibitions Update: Commitment to Craftsmanship

 

CommitmentfullsizeA new Burns Library exhibit, Commitment to Craftsmanship:  Conservation Bookbindings by Mark Esser, is now on display through January 16, 2015.   This exhibit is designed to introduce Boston College students to bookbinding and book conservation, explores the training Mark received, his background as a teacher at the North Bennet Street School (NBSS), and showcases some of the conservation bindings that he produced as Book Conservator for the John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections.  Mark Esser was Rare Book Conservator in the John J. Burns Library at Boston College from 1994 until 2008. He began his training in bookbinding in 1979 at the Harcourt Bindery in Boston. He then worked in the Conservation Bindery at the Newberry Library in Chicago while studying privately with David Brock. Esser apprenticed with William Anthony from 1982 to 1986, first at Anthony & Associates in Chicago and then at the Conservation Department of the University of Iowa Libraries. He now works privately.

Mark Esser drills a binder board while preparing the boards for lacing-in, from <a href = "https://archive.org/stream/bostoncollegemagsp2000bos#page/n21/mode/2up"> Construction Worker</a> by Anna Marie Murphy, <i>Boston College Magazine</i>, Spring 2000, p. 20-21.

Mark Esser drills a binder board while preparing the boards for lacing-in, from Construction Worker by Anna Marie Murphy, Boston College Magazine, Spring 2000, p. 20-21.

In 1986, he developed the curriculum and was the first instructor for the hand bookbinding program at the NBSS in Boston, teaching the course until 1994. NBSS offers intensive, hands-on training in traditional trades and fine craftsmanship, helping students to achieve meaningful livelihoods. The exceptional programs, master faculty and inspiring community have encouraged individual growth, technical mastery, and commitment to excellence, attracting students from all over the world. NBSS was founded in 1885 by Pauline Agassiz Shaw. Mark was an outstanding teacher; his students work in renowned institutions, including: Harvard University Libraries, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston College, University of Delaware, Maryland State Archives, the Boston Athenaeum, the Library of Congress, the Huntington Library, and the American Antiquarian Society.

Mark was greatly admired at Boston College for the finely crafted bindings he created. The Guild of Book Workers also recognized his exceptional skills, featuring his work in key exhibitions such as their 80th Anniversary show. The Guild was founded in 1906 to “establish and maintain a feeling of kinship and mutual interest among workers in the several hand book crafts”. The Guild provides members with workshops, training, and exhibit opportunities.

<a href="http://bc-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo_library/libweb/action/dlSearch.do?institution=BCL&amp;vid=bclib&amp;onCampus=true&amp;group=GUEST&amp;loc=local,scope:(BCL)&amp;query=any,contains,ALMA-BC21328035200001021"><i>An Historical and Political Discourse of the Laws &amp; Government of England.</i> </a> Mark Esser's binding of this book closely resembles 17th and 18th century bindings in the Burns Library's collections. The brown-colored calfskin leather was sprinkled with black pigment to give an overall subtle pattern on the surface. The burgundy-colored lettering piece with gilt titling is also an authentic element.

An Historical and Political Discourse of the Laws & Government of England. Mark Esser’s binding of this book closely resembles 17th and 18th century bindings in the Burns Library’s collections. The brown-colored calfskin leather was sprinkled with black pigment to give an overall subtle pattern on the surface. The burgundy-colored lettering piece with gilt titling is also an authentic element.

In 2013 Designer Bookbinders of the United Kingdom declared Mark a Distinguished Winner in its International Bookbinding Competition. Designer Bookbinders, as described on its website, was “founded over fifty years ago, and has by means of exhibitions and publications, helped to establish the reputation of British bookbinding worldwide. Its membership includes some of the most highly regarded makers in the fields of fine bookbinding, book arts and artists’ books.”

 

Mark continued the work of his Boston College predecessor and former student, Marilyn Heskett, by training interns in the Bookbuilders of Boston internship program.  Bookbuilders of Boston, founded in 1937, has a membership representing all facets of the book industry: editing, design, production, manufacturing, and marketing. This organization has created a scholarship fund to support, encourage, and promote publishing related education. Participating schools, such as Boston College, award the scholarships to students who plan to pursue careers in the industry.

Committed to Craftsmanship:  Conservation Bookbindings by Mark Esser is on display at the Burns Library through January 16, 2015.  The exhibit is open whenever the Burns Library is open.  Check the BC Libraries hours page for the Burns Library’s open hours.

Barbara Adams Hebard, Conservator, John J. Burns LibraryBarbara Adams Hebard, Conservator, John J. Burns Library, Boston College

About John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives.
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