Not For What They Contained: The Myth-Building of the New York Grolier Club
Citation of Original Publication
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Not For What They Contained: The Myth-Building of the New York Grolier Club was written in the spring of 2022 as a final paper for Arnie Saunder’s Archeology of The Text. In the class, we were encouraged to make use of Goucher’s archives and special collections, conducting close readings of these rare books as art objects as well as texts. I chose to make a study of the recently acquired Carol Zeman Rothkopf Grolier Club Collection. The collection, donated by Ms. Rothkopf, contains a number of publications by an antiquarian book collecting society in Manhattan. Reading into the choices made in a few selected publications, I hoped to understand how the members of this club were imagining and defining the act of book collection, as well as the social implications of that shared understanding. By engaging with a broader community of bibliophiles, and perpetuating that community’s collectively cultivated understanding of the function and merit of collection, the Grolier club creates a division between an in-group of true appreciators and an often unmentioned out-group who simply do not need or have use for access to the knowledge rare books contain.