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For immediate release: May 22, 2001

Contact: Rebecca Davidson (609) 258-3197, 

Exhibit showcases history and arts of the book

Princeton, N.J. -- A new exhibition in the Milberg Gallery of Princeton University's Firestone Library celebrates the 1940 founding of a unique Princeton collection -- one that showcases the history and arts of the book through the finest examples of printing, typography, binding, papermaking, calligraphy and illustration.

"For the Love of Books and Prints: Elmer Adler and the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton University Library" is on display through Oct. 7. The exhibition provides fascinating glimpses of the history of the revival of fine printing in early 20th-century America and of campus life at Princeton in the 1940s.

In addition, many rarely-seen treasures brought by Adler to Princeton, or acquired while he was the collection's first curator from 1940 to 1952, are on view: prints by Toulouse-Lautrec and Mary Cassatt; photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron; and the fabulously-illustrated "Works" of Geoffrey Chaucer printed by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press.

Co-curated by Rebecca Davidson and Dale Roylance, the exhibition also looks at Adler's early career in the 1920s in New York City, where he founded the Pynson Printers, whose manifesto asserted that "we will do no work in which quality must be sacrificed to exigencies of time and cost." The cost turned out to be much of his personal fortune, made in his family's clothing business in Rochester, N.Y., where he was born in 1884, but Adler and his cohorts continued to print finely-designed books through the Depression of the 1930s and also published "The Colophon: A Book Collectors' Quarterly."

All the while, he was establishing friendships with such literary and publishing notables as Alfred Knopf, Willa Cather, H.L. Mencken and Bennett Cerf, with whom Adler founded Random House in the 1920s.

At Princeton, Adler not only created the Graphic Arts Collection, but also conducted seminars for undergraduates in book and print collecting, initiated a print loan program to adorn students' dormitory walls and brought some of the most famous printmakers, typographers, book designers and photographers of the day to speak and to demonstrate their work for Princeton audiences.

At his death in 1962, he left funds for purchasing additional materials for graphic arts, as well as a sum for the Adler Book Collecting Prize, for which Princeton students still compete each year.

Hours for the exhibition are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.