Bibliographical Society continues support through “poetical works”

Through January, we’re publishing year-in-review highlights from FY2021. Download a full PDF of this year’s Annual Report to read more. This week we’re focusing on the fact that the Library works because of your support!

The Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia (BSUVA), founded in 1947, has a long history of championing the study of books, printing, and related subjects at the University. BSUVA interests have resulted in exhibitions, contests for student book collectors and Virginia printers, the establishment of a small press, an international speakers’ series, and an active publications program. The Society also has a longstanding tradition of supporting the Library.

That support continues to the present day — over the past half dozen years, BSUVA has made $40,000 in acquisitions grants to the Library’s Special Collections, in keeping with the Society’s mission to promote historical scholarship that examines all aspects of the production, dissemination, and reception of physical books, including manuscripts, maps, printing, graphic arts, and textual criticism.

In August of 2020, the Society made its most recent grant to Special Collections, enabling the Library to acquire a very rare copy of the earliest known American imprint in a dust jacket. “The Poetical Works of the Late Richard S. Gedney” (1857) is still sealed in its original all-enclosing “sealed wrapping,” the rarest type of dust jacket. As Special Collections Curator David Whitesell noted, the imprint is unique in that it is the only known example of a color-coordinated jacket — the jackets are printed in different colors to match the three known binding cloth colors. The jacketed copy came complete with three other unjacketed copies of the book, each with a different binding color, which will enable scholars to examine the binding, title page, and text of the same imprint. Gedney’s “Poetical Works” is an invaluable addition to the Library’s collection of 19th century works in original dust jackets — the largest of its kind in the world.

Three versions of a book cover for R S Gedney’s Poetical Works, each with ornate gold detailing around the edge and framing the title. One is deep blue, one is forest green, and one is warm red.

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