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The Bibliophile as Bookbinder

The Angling Binding of S.A. Neff, Jr.
  • Symposium
The Bibliophile as Bookbinder: The Angling Binding of S.A. Neff, Jr.
S. A. Neff, Jr. drop-back box with a panel of Japanese dyed and gold papers created in 1991 for Austin M. Francis, Catskill Rivers: Birthplace of American Fly Fishing (New York, 1983). Courtesy of S. A. Neff, Jr.

On exhibit August 26 -December 20, 2019

This exhibition explores one man’s passion for the natural world and the world of books. Over five decades ago Mr. Neff began a serious pursuit both of trout and books on the art of angling. His travels have taken him to some of the most picturesque and challenging trout rivers in this country and abroad. His collection of angling books has grown into a proper library of three thousand volumes dating from 1554, with a focus on fly-fishing for trout and salmon.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Neff transitioned from a career in graphic design … to fine bookbinding. For over two decades he has focused his binding efforts exclusively on work for his angling  library. Neff creates sets of bindings with multiple volumes contained in drop-back boxes. The work ranges from bindings with intricate pictorial panels of Japanese dyed paper… to decorative leather bindings (goat skin) with multiple on-lays, and elaborate gold tooling. The design on the box serves as an introduction to its contents and even single volumes are housed in decorative boxes.
In bridging the span of centuries of binding design, Neff has often focused on modern interpretations of seventeenth-  and eighteenth-century panel designs. His collection of angling books, unique in its genre, will remain intact in perpetuity in the Penn Libraries.

A fully-illustrated catalogue accompanies this exhibition. The catalogue includes essays by Neff, Lynne Farrington, and Cara Schlesinger, and features 230 full-color images, a glossary of terms, and a bibliography. 11"x8.5", 184 pages, full color, stiff paper cover with french flaps, embossed, Smythe sewn. You may purchase the catalogue at the link at the right of this page. It may also be purchased through the symposium registration page for pick-up at the time of the symposium.

Saturday, September 14, 1-7 PM

Bound to Conserve: The Art of Angling and the Future of Rivers

This symposium, in conjunction with the exhibition, The Bibliophile as Bookbinder: The Angling Bindings of S. A. Neff, Jr., will explore conservation on rivers, bookselling, collecting, and binding, all with a focus on their impact on and relationship with angling.
A one-day pop-up exhibit of historic rods, reels, flies, and books from the S.A. Neff, Jr. collection will be on display in the Henry Charles Lea Library.
Advance registration is appreciated. Register to attend the symposium here.
  • Saturday, September 14, 2019

    1-2 pm: Tour of main exhibition and viewing of pop-up exhibit in the Lea Library
    2-3 pm:  Session 1: Mike Danko (Trout Unlimited) and Ken Callahan (Callahan & Company Booksellers)
    3-3:30 pm: Coffee break
    3:30-4:30 pm: Session 2: S.A. Neff, Jr. (collector of angling books) and Don Rash (fine bookbinder)
    4:30-5:30 pm: Film screening: The Bibliophile as Bookbinder: The Angling Binding of S.A. Neff, Jr.
    5:30-7 pm: Reception