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Wise Men Fished Here:
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Libraries, 2019 280x215 mm. viii, 171 pp. Ill. Embossed paper covers with French flaps.
Wise Men Fished Here:

Wise Men Fished Here:

A Centennial Exhibition in Honor of the Gotham Book Mart, 1920-2020

David McKnight

Catalog for the exhibition of books, magazines, and ephemera from the Gotham Book Mart collection at the University of Pennsylvania from February 18 - May 20, 2019. Full-color catalog, fully illustrated, Includes essays on the history of the Gotham Book Mart, small-press publishing, literary movements, GBM imprints, and Edward Gorey.

In 2008, the University of Pennsylvania was gifted the contents of the Gotham Book Mart, the legendary New York City bookstore founded by Frances Steloff in 1920. To mark the 100th anniversary of the store's founding, the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts mounted an exhibition in honor of Frances Steloff and her famous bookshop. For decades the Gotham Book Mart was, as Steloff prosaically put it, "the headquarters of the avant-garde." The exhibition explores the shop's role in assembling, publishing, and promoting groundbreaking experimental writers, as well as its later years under the ownership of Steloff's hand-chosen successor, Andreas Brown, focusing on Brown's passion for postcards and collaborations with graphic artist Edward Gorey.

For eight years, Penn Libraries curators and staff unpacked and processed over 200,000 items and unveiled one hundred and fifty linear feet of archival materials. From this mass of “stuff,” Curator David McKnight, with the assistance of Katherine Aid and Camille Davis, selected 300 pieces ranging in date from 1900 to 2000. Drawing upon the collection's vast array of material evidence -- books, periodicals, manuscripts, and ephemera -- this catalogue narrates the history of the shop from its earliest beginnings to its demise in 2005.