Bibliographical Society

Annual Letter 2012

 February 24, 2012

Dear Fellow Members,

 Our annual meeting for 2012 will be held on Friday, March 23, at 4:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Harrison Institute / Small Special Collections Library.Following a brief business meeting, we will hold another in our series of programs featuring short papers by current Virginia graduate students who are working in the general area of bibliographical and textual studies. The program will consist of the following three papers:

Christine Schott, ”A Digital Presentation of Medieval Annotations”
Tess Goodman, “Judging Books by Their Covers in the Nineteenth Century”
Margaret Marshall, “An Investigation of the Printing of the First Edition
of Eliot’s The Waste Land”

These speakers will be introduced by Elizabeth Ott, another current graduate student. Following the papers, there will be a reception in the rooms of Rare Book School on the first floor of Alderman Library.

In the business part of the meeting, preceding the talks, the prizes in the Society’s biennial student book-collecting contest will be awarded. This year’s contest is the forty-ninth that the Society has sponsored. Winners will receive
cash prizes and gift certificates from local booksellers. The first-place winner will also receive the BSUVa Fellowship for Rare Book School, providing a tuition-free opportunity to take one of RBS’s renowned courses. And the first-place winner will be eligible to participate in a national competition, the Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. In addition, all contestants will be invited to attend an informal talk on book collecting by Nicole Bouché, Director of the Small
Special Collections Library. Selections from the winning collections will be on display in a case on the first floor of Special Collections during the Virginia Festival of the Book (of which our meeting is a part) and for several weeks
afterward. I wish to express the Society’s gratitude to Ruthe Battestin for chairing the contest committee and overseeing all the details that the contest involves; to Nicole Bouché and Fred Ribble, the other two contest judges; to Nicole again for her willingness to give a talk to the contestants; to the local booksellers who have contributed prizes; to Michael Suarez for the Rare Book School Fellowship; and to Terry Belanger for designing the contest poster.

Also in the business part of the meeting, we shall vote on the election of one Councilor. This year it is David Seaman’s term that is ending. David’s informed and thoughtful advice on electronic matters is vital to the Society’s active program of electronic publications, and the Nominating Committee has proposed that he stand for re-election for another term (ending in 2019).

Our meeting, as I mentioned, is part of the Virginia Festival of the Book. This year’s Festival, the eighteenth, runs from March 21 through 25, and its roster of programs can be seen on its website, at We hope that many of our out-of-town members will find more reasons to come to Charlottesville at that time, because there will be many events to attract them.

* * * * *

 Since our last annual meeting, the Society has published a book by me entitled Book-Jackets: Their History, Forms, and Use, made up of revised versions of my essays on this subject, along with a listing of nearly 1,900 examples of pre-1901 jackets and twenty-four pages of illustrations. I am delighted that the Society is the publisher of this book, one of the advantages for me being the opportunity to benefit from the remarkable services of David Vander Meulen, the Society’s editor, and Elizabeth Lynch, his assistant. The Society is extremely fortunate to have them overseeing its publishing activities. David is currently assembling the essays for another volume (the fifty-ninth) of Studies in Bibliography, the Society’s distinguished journal. And in the near future he will be working on a volume of Paul Needham’s studies of incunabula, a book that the Society is proud to have as a prospective publication. The Society’s notable group of electronic publications, available on the Society’s website at, will soon be joined by Gordon B. Neavill’s bibliography of the Modern Library, a major contribution to publishing history and an exemplary work
of bibliographical scholarship.

Each new volume of Studies is distributed by the University of Virginia Press, and the Society’s Secretary-Treasurer has a limited supply of most earlier volumes. All of the Society’s other available publications in printed form can be ordered from Oak Knoll Books. Let me remind you that members of the Society who identify themselves will be given a 10% discount. If you don’t receive Oak Knoll catalogues and would like to, just write to 310 Delaware Street, New Castle, Delaware 19720; or phone 302-328-7232 or 1-800-996-2556; or fax 302-3287274; or email Oak Knoll’s complete catalogue can also be browsed at

Although I’ve already mentioned most of the members of the Council, I now want to thank them all as a group for their loyal service to the Society: Ruthe Battestin, Terry Belanger, Nicole Bouché, David Seaman, David Vander Meulen, and
Karin Wittenborg. I also want to give special thanks to our Secretary-Treasurer, Anne Ribble, for her efficiency and good humor in dealing with the Society’s day- to-day business.

Finally, let me repeat my perennial request. The Society, like all scholarly organizations at present, needs more membership support. I hope all of you will publicize the Society and the importance of its work, especially its active
publication program in printed and electronic form. And when membership-renewal time comes, I hope you will consider increasing the level of your membership.

On behalf of the Council, I thank all of you for your support. I look forward to seeing many of you at the annual meeting, and I send best wishes to you all.

Yours sincerely,

G. Thomas Tanselle