Good Wishes from Robert Frost:
Twenty-five Years of Christmas Cards: a collaboration between poet and printer
Extended through Wednesday, January 23, 2013!
Reception: Sunday, December 2 4-6 pm
Watch the video of the chapbook cards in this exhibit.
Exhibit Guest Curator Pamela Hovland, Senior Critic in Graphic Design, Yale University says:
"This event is yet another example of why libraries are so important; by offering up some morsel –
a book, a lecture, a program, an exhibition – we soon find ourselves at a feast. When we allow ourselves to get involved with a subject – whatever it may be – we often find overlaps with our other interests and life experiences. Knowing one thing makes knowing something else possible and old knowledge leads to the discovery of new knowledge. “Knowledge begets knowledge” is the familiar quotation and that has once again happened for me with these materials. I hope it happens for you as well.
Let me first discuss what these objects are and why they are worthy of our attention. This is a collection of poetry chapbooks used as Christmas greetings – a set of 19 loaned to the Library by Elinor Wilber, granddaughter of the celebrated American poet Robert Frost. Several have a personal inscription from Frost to Elinor and her husband. 25 of these chapbooks were produced between 1929 and 1962. Elinor told me she is on the lookout for the ones she is missing. Elinor, you are not alone in this quest; I spoke to more than one person over the past few weeks who passionately collects these celebrated first editions."
"What is a chapbook? It is essentially a pocket-sized booklet. The term “chap-book” was formalized by bibliophiles of the 19th century. English “chapmen” were a variety of peddler who circulated printed literature as part of their wares; they set up the equivalent of a modern day pop-up store and their chapbooks were an important medium for the dissemination of popular culture to the common people, especially in rural areas. This format was frequently used for political and religious tracts, folk tales, children’s literature, almanacs and... poetry!"
"Chapbooks are generally four to six inches tall and wide to accommodate easy transport. When opened, they are similar in size to our modern e-readers. They are paper-covered and usually printed on a single sheet folded into books of 8, 12, 16 or 24 pages, and often illustrated. Some were produced crudely and cheaply (intended to be quickly discarded) while others were beautifully crafted in expensive, finely produced editions. The Spiral Press chapbooks fit the latter definition."
For twenty-five years, poet Robert Frost collaborated with the Spiral Press and several artists/illustrators to create unique Christmas cards (chapbooks) to be sent by the Frost family and by Frost's publishers. The artists involved include Thomas W. Nason, J.J. Lankes, Fritz Eichenberg, Philip Grushkin, Howard Norton Cook, Leo Manso, Linn Lloyd Benton, Stefan Martin, Antonio Frasconi and Joseph Low. The Spiral Press was founded by Joseph Blumenthal in 1926. He and Frost became friends during their collaboration on the cards.
These very special cards have been graciously loaned to the Library by Elinor Wilber, Robert Frost's granddaughter.
Comments on design by guest curator, Pamela Hovland, Senior Critic in Graphic Design, Yale University followed by remarks on Robert Frost by his granddaughter, Dr. Lesley Lee Francis, author and educator.
Thanks to Pamela Hovland and Rachel Needle who created a video of the cards and curated the exhibit, and also to Cynthia Crawford who organized the exhibit.