|The Book Fellows Bookplate|
I haven’t done this much clubbing since college. But that is a far different story involving an energetic redhead, the thumping bass of dance music, and my free-form dancing skills that generated much laughter. Thankfully, no videos exist. But I digress. My recent excursion into the history of the Quarto Club of the 1920s-30s involved no such risk of injury or embarrassment. It was a pleasurable way to resurrect a nearly forgotten group of dedicated bibliophiles. But just as in those memorable college days, one clubbing experience was rarely enough and I was left wanting more. I pushed back further in time in my research, still New York City, but now the early 1880s. I recalled a book first spotted online years earlier, its importance not realized at the time. And thank the book gods it was still available!
I have on my desk now Frederick Locker’s London Lyrics (NY: 1883) the first publication of The Book Fellows’ Club (est. 1881), a tiny but influential wellspring that served as the genesis of the Grolier Club of New York, founded in 1884. Their club consisted of but three official members: the founder, Valentin[e] Blacque, and two biblio-friends William Loring Andrews and Alphonse Duprat. Their history is fragmentary and scattered, but not lost. They left us two imprints and a story.