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An article from the Winterthur Library News

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment

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.

Click here to learn more about Winterthur and its library, and click here to sign up to receive Winterthur Library News, a quarterly e-mail on the activities of the library staff and acquisitions.

The Art of Suspense: Tim’s Wedding Proposal

August 19, 2010 3 comments

Kimberly and Tim

Out of the Hitchcock section of the film class I took in high school came the pivotal idea I used in my marriage proposal.

Hitchcock and weddings? What kind of person could find anything worth learning about marriages from Hitchcock? Let me explain.

We had gone through several of the old classic films, such as Casablanca (fantastic!) and Citizen Kane (overrated in my opinion), when we finally began our section on Alfred Hitchcock, with Psycho and Rear Window. My teacher told us his common techniques, such as the cameos in his movies, and how he attempted to shoot each scene so artistically that each frame could have been a photograph. What stuck with me the most from that class, however, was the illustration she shared with us that Hitchcock discovered when he unlocked the art of suspense. Also known as Hitchcock’s Bomb Theory, which Hitchcock explained in an interview with Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock started with the scenario of two men having an ordinary conversation. If a bomb goes off while the men are having a conversation, the audience is surprised for a moment because of the bomb. However, if the audience sees the man place the bomb in the room before the conversation starts, then every moment of that otherwise ordinary conversation is charged with excitement.

Yet what does this have to do with proposals? Well, it has a lot to do with it if you intend to marry a woman who claims she can’t be surprised! My Kimberly is quite the nosey little girl, and she is also extremely aware of people’s attitudes and can usually tell if they are hiding something. Of course, when you want to propose to someone, you want the method to be a surprise, but if the surprise is discovered, then most of the effect is lost.

Not wanting to risk it, I followed Hitchcock’s principle. The day I proposed to her, I told her in the morning that I was going to propose to her sometime that day, and then the activities began! I first took her to High Tea at an English tea house, followed by a walk amidst the lovely autumn trees at Winterthur, and ending at my house, where I finally proposed to her and made her an exquisite dinner with filet mignon, a special green bean recipe, and rice.

She loved it! We just had our one-year engagement anniversary on August 8th, and we agreed awhile ago that we would always try to celebrate it by replicating a part of it (I cooked the dinner again). I was so glad that the principle of suspense vs. surprise held true, and she said that it did make a big difference throughout the day.

-Tim, Bookkeeping and Customer Service

Feel free to share your proposal story or any life lessons you’ve learned from books or film!