An article from the Winterthur Library News
Oak Knoll was featured in the Fall 2011 issue of Winterthur Library News. As part of Winterthur’s book connoisseurship course for the first-year fellows in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, the class visited Oak Knoll to present reports they had written about books as objects. With brief talks from Bob, Rob, Laura, and Danielle, we hoped they had a great experience at our bookshop.
From the article in Winterthur Library News Fall 2011
WPAMC Book Connoisseurship and Oak Knoll Books
Last semester library staff members Emily Guthrie and Richard McKinstry, together with library conservator Chela Metzger, taught a book connoisseurship course to the first-year fellows in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. The course was designed to encourage an appreciation and understanding of books and bound structures as cultural artifacts.
Over a period of three days, the students became familiar with the history and structure of bound books, whether printed or manuscript, and viewed dozens of different bindings from the library’s rare book and manuscript holdings. Honorary Winterthur trustee, bibliophile, and generous library donor Edmond L. Lincoln joined the students and staff to add his comments, especially about the earliest of the library’s holdings.
On day three, Bob Fleck, owner of Oak Knoll Books and proprietor of Oak Knoll Press in New Castle, Delaware, kindly welcomed the group to his bookstore, located in New Castle’s former Masonic building, Odd Fellows Hall, and opera house. Oak Knoll Books was established in 1976 and today has the world’s largest inventory of books about books and bibliography. Oak Knoll Press publishes approximately 25 books per year on bibliographic themes. After giving a tour of his business, Bob and co-workers Rob Fleck (his youngest son), in charge of antiquarian and library sales; Laura R. Williams, publishing director; and Danielle Burcham, publishing assistant, spoke about the current state of the antiquarian book trade and Oak Knoll’s publishing program.
Each student had been given an assignment to study a book as an object, selecting a volume from the library’s unprocessed shelves. They presented their reports at Oak Knoll on the old opera house stage that once hosted the likes of Enrico Caruso, Annie Oakley, and other well-known public figures of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
We very much appreciate Bob Fleck’s willingness to host the students and look forward to a return visit.