Book Arts and Fine Press Printing Collections

Reacting against the industrialization of printing, certain printers, including Horace Walpole and William Morris, inaugurated the fine press and book arts movements. USF’s Book Arts Collection includes examples from Morris’ Kelmscott Press, such as The Story of the Glittering Plain which has been also called the Land of Living Men or the Acre of the Undying and The Tale Of King Florus and the Fair Jehane. Closely related is the aesthetic movement, which seeks to non-commercialize the works of literary artists. The lavish five-volume Bible produced by the Doves Press is a example of the aesthetic movement in printing in USF’s collection.

The Book Arts Collection also includes an extensive selection of titles printed by the Mosher Press. Estsablished in 1891 by Thomas Mosher, the Mosher Press is often hailed as the first significant private press in America. Like William Morris and the Kelmscott Press, Thomas Mosher sought to create beautiful, well-designed book objects. In contrast to the Kelmscott Press, the Mosher Press produced simple, elegant, and easily readable designs.

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Ediciones Vigía

Another high point in the Book Arts Collection is the repository of 100+ Ediciones Vigía titles. Ediciones Vigía, a Cuba-based books arts group, was founded in 1985 by the poet Alfredo Zaldivar and artist Rolando Estevez as a gathering place to promote writing and publishing. Featuring the work of designers, calligraphers, authors, and illustrators, Ediciones Vigía emphasizes the role of artistry in the creation of books while aiming to produce book objects that have a “more human feel.” Located in Plaza de Vigia, Matanzas, Cuba, which is known as the Athens of Cuba, the books art group makes its home at the geographic center of the Cuban arts scene. Officially, Ediciones Vigía is under the Ministry of Culture, which was established to “direct, supervise, and put into practice” Cuba’s cultural policy, and it also receives donations from international constituents and support through exchange programs for book artists. At the same time, however, Ediciones Vigia seeks independence through self-management and low costs by marketing to international audiences that are interested in Cuban art and literature.

Ediciones Vigía currently publishes approximately 16 titles a year in editions of 200 copies or less. The books are created by an assembly line of workers who utilize a variety of discarded, reclaimed, and recycled objects, including newsprint, burlap, feathers, cloth, and ribbon. A common motif running through the creation of Ediciones Vigia publications is the use of standard, government-issued paper, crude brown paper, or bagasse, a tree-free alternative for making paper.

USF is particularly interested in creating an internationally renowned collection of Ediciones Vigía given Tampa’s long history with Cuba. The continued acquisition and development of the collection supports the Latin American, Caribbean, Spanish-language and book arts collections. The collection currently includes over 50 titles and continues to grow.

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