The covers of today's hand-made books are no longer regarded simply as a protection to the text-block or as a decorative surface without further acknowledgement of the specifics of the work within. Skill is not applied to creating these bindings for their own sake but to generate a response in the person who handles, sees, feels, and thinks about the objects to which they are bringing their own attention.
The best in contemporary British bookbinding is showcased in this traveling exhibition, Designer Bookbinders in North America. Featured is the work of twenty-four Fellows and Licentiates of Designer Bookbinders, Great Britain's principal bookbinding society and one of the foremost in the world. Prior to traveling to the Folger Shakespeare Library, Designer Bookbinders in North America was on display in Rochester, Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Austin. It will travel to Toronto after it closes in Washington. The exhibition at the Folger was funded, in part, by Designer Bookbinders and the Winton and Carolyn Blount Exhibition Fund of the Folger Library.
The forty-seven bindings featured in the exhibition confirm the great diversity and high quality of contemporary British bookbinding. Literary inspirations range from The New Testament to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, and King Lear and The Poems and Sonnets of Shakespeare .