The show’s premise is well summed up in the show’s Introductory Panel, which is worth quoting in full:
Since its foundation in 1884, the Grolier Club has provided a unique forum for exhibitions of books, manuscripts, and works on paper, drawn from public and private collections around the world. These exhibitions, together with their accompanying catalogues, have done much to codify existing fields of collecting, and to encourage the exploration of new ones. They testify to the fact that book collecting is never static, and that for it to flourish, collectors must continually reexamine the nature of what they collect.Indeed, any spectator looking at this exhibition would be convinced without a doubt of book collecting’s vitality and its importance throughout history as well as today. The exhibition consists of 10 glass cases, plus some framed pieces on the walls and one long vertical glass case. The cases are organized into subjects: Case 1 contains “Classic Bibliophily”, consisting of incunabula, illuminated manuscripts, fine bindings, and Greek and Latin classics.
The Grolier Club Collects features over one hundred and thirty items drawn from the collections of Club members. The collections of the founding members of the Club were generally focused on classic bibliophily: incunabula, illuminated manuscripts, classical texts and fine bindings. This exhibition demonstrates that, while these subjects continue to be collected, their importance has diminished as supplies have dwindled, and other areas of collecting have arisen to take their place.
Some of the items in this exhibition are truly spectacular and doubtless of considerable commercial value; but more to the point of this show, many are modest and of small financial worth. This should serve to demonstrate that book collecting does not depend on the size of one’s pocket book, but rather on the richness of one’s imagination. The organizers of this exhibition hope to show that despite vast changes in availability and price, book collecting is not only alive and well, but also flourishing.