Book Box Experiment
When my daughter was very young, she played with a toy that consisted of 4 cubes hinged together in a way that allowed them to be moved into different configurations. I really liked the way it could be manipulated and the form inspired me to design a similarly-constructed container for a group of miniature books.
Of course, the first requirement was to have a group of miniature books of the same height and width that could be housed in such a box. I immediately thought of the Hillside Press books. In addition to there being plenty of titles, these books were impeccably designed and printed from handset type by press proprietors Frank and Eleanor Irwin. When I contacted Eleanor and told her what I wanted to do, she very graciously made available unbound sheets for 21 of their titles.
While I could have purchased existing bound titles (of which I already owned many) in their uniform bindings, my “vision” was different. Driven somewhat by the many scraps of colorful leathers and samples of decorated papers (marbled and paste), I wanted each book bound in a different combination of leather and paper.
This what the eventual group of books looked like:
The box consists of 3 “faces” — each comprising 4 cubes. The folks at Green Dragon Bindery (Massachusetts) were stuck having to cut the leather onlays from my very rudimentary sketches (I have no drawing ability), so the concept was necessarily simple. I’m so grateful to them for their patience and for their ability to take my rough mock-up of the box construction to a finished, working product!
The idea was simple: three views of a sky and mountain in moonlight, in early morning, and at sunset. When manipulated correctly, the sun does set. Sort of…
Anyway, here is the resulting book box/toy.
For anyone wondering which Hillside Press titles are in the box:
- Diary of John Dee
- Early Woodcuts and Engravings
- Wedding of the Foxes
- For All We Know
- John Aubrey’s Miscellanies
- Prose and Prophecy
- Eastern Fables
- William Morris
- The Plantin Press
- The Fountains
- Japanese Bogies
- Dance of Death
- Heraldic Bookplates
- Bhagvat Geeta
- Sound Track
- Letters of Thomas Jefferson
- Diverting History of John Gilpin
- Chinese Poems
All photos by RSBingham.