Friday, October 24, 2014

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Acquires the Morse Collection

I have wonderful news to report. Thanks to the vision and support of Chief Librarian, Ken Soehner, my collection of books, archival materials and artifacts pertaining to my work on Alice C. Morse has recently been acquired by the Thomas J. Watson Library of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. As many of you know, the collection is a collection of record, created over a fifteen year period, illustrating the life and work of one of the first and most notable artist-designers of American decorated bindings, stained glass and other decorative arts objects, throughout the last decade of the 19th century. The collection was created for the purpose of bringing Morse’s work to the public through my book The Proper Decoration of Book Covers: The Life and Work of Alice C. Morse (New York: Grolier Club, 2008) and to exhibit at the Grolier Club. It has grown substantially since then. 

My Morse collection was made to compliment a group of 58 of Morse's own dummy book covers in the Museum's Department of Drawings and Prints. To see these, see the Museum's Timeline of Art History essay on Morse and search the Museum's online collections catalog. 

Here is a link to the essay:
Here is a link to the Museum collections search page for Morse:
Through this blog and in blog posts on In Circulation, the Watson Library blog, I will continue to bring you updates on Morse's work and life. I will also continue searching for new designs by Morse and  add them to the Museum's collection. The Morse collection has several components, all of which will now accessible to researchers in the Thomas J. Watson Library. The collection is not yet processed. For future reference, it includes the following groups of materials:


185 contemporary book with covers and illustrations designed by Morse
These are books with covers and decorations known to have been designed by Morse. There are examples of books featuring the first use of the designs and later binding variants and adaptations.  

5 volumes that contain writings and designs by Morse in their contents, some with covers designed by Morse
There are 4 titles that have a Morse connection. They include Corticelli Home Needlework (1898), which includes needlework designs by Morse; a two-volume copy of House and Home (1894), that includes a chapter on “Occupations for Women” that is illustrated by binding designs by Morse and Margaret Armstrong; and the Official Handbook of the Woman’s Building from the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893), with a chapter on “Women Illustrators” written by Morse. 

18 books that may have been designed by Morse or closely relate to her designs
These are unsigned, unattributed bindings that have some connection to other books that Morse designed. Some are in the style of Morse, and others are part of series for which Morse is known to have designed covers.


The Proper Decoration of Book-Covers: The Life and Work of Alice C. Morse, New York: Grolier Club, 2008. (Blog readers can obtain their own copy of this book through this website.)

1 unique book advertising poster for “A Paying Guest”, Dodd Mead, 1895


Biographical materials on Alice C. Morse
This is a group of ephemera and photocopies of primary resource materials relating to Morse’s life and career. It includes legal documents, Scranton Public School Records, newspaper clippings, personal correspondence, post cards and notes.

Archive of materials relating to Morse exhibitions at the Grolier Club and the University of Scranton
Two exhibitions were held in conjunction with the publication of my book at the Grolier Club and after that, at the Hope Horn Gallery at the University of Scranton. This group includes documentation of the planning, funding, installation, social functions and programming for both exhibitions.   

Archive of materials relating to the book: The Proper Decoration of Book-Covers: The Life and Work of Alice C. Morse. New York: Grolier Club, 2008
This group contains a pre-publication book galley and records regarding the funding and development of this landmark publication on Alice C. Morse, which won the ALA Leab Award, Honorable Mention for books published in 2008.

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