The Alcuin Society is a non-profit organization supported by people who care about the past, present and future of fine books. Founded in 1965, the society is the only organization in Canada dedicated to the entire range of interests relating to books: publishing, book design and production, bookselling, book buying and collecting, printing, binding, papermaking, calligraphy and illustration.

Vibrant story of the dynamic art scene in British Columbia: Gary Sim’s collection at National Gallery of Canada

The current exhibition at the foyer of the National Gallery of Canada’s Library and Archives, B.C. Artists: The Gary Sim Donation, ‘allowed curator Katherine Stauble to shine a spotlight on a significant, recent donation by collector Gary Sim of almost 1000 publications. “Over the past twenty years, Sim has assembled an outstanding collection of books, periodicals and other publications related to the artists of Western Canada, particularly British Columbia,” Stauble writes in her essay about the exhibition. “With documents dating back to 1907, his library recounts the history of art and craft in that province, from frontier times to today, documenting both little- and well-known artists.” Stauble says she chose the material based on value or rarity; importance to the NGC collection; significance to BC art history; as well as significance to the Gary Sim collection itself.’

Read the full article 

Conversations about Koch

The Port Moody Heritage Society Presents

Conversations about Koch April 21. Port Moody Station Museum.

5pm “The works of Rudolf Koch” by Andrew Hoyem, Arion Press, San Francisco. Free.

6pm German Dinner on the train by Pasta Polo. $25. Ticket required. Buy ticket at

7pm “Life from Sketches to Sacraments” by David Spence.

Further information is available at

SFU Library Eric Swanick Special Collections Travel and Research Grant

Simon Fraser University Library invites applications for the Eric Swanick Special Collections Travel and Research Grant, which will help defray costs for researchers travelling to work with material from SFU’s Special Collections and Rare Books division. The grant is supported by the Eric Swanick Special Collections Travel and Research Grant Endowment, established in 2017 with gifts from colleagues and friends of the longtime SFU Special Collections Librarian in honour of his 2015 retirement, and from donors in support of Special Collections and Rare Books at the W.A.C. Bennett Library.

This endowment was established to recognize Eric Swanick’s significant contribution to the development of Special Collections at the SFU Library.

Eric’s tremendous legacy of collections at the SFU Libraries includes the history of the book; BC literary, social and political materials; and the Vancouver punk collection, among others. Under his leadership, Special Collections became renowned for its events featuring prominent collectors, authors, printers and researchers.

Further details are available at 

Bruce Kennett on W. A. Dwiggins at The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto

On March 20th about 100 people turned out to hear Bruce Kennett talk about W. A. Dwiggins, book designer, type designer, calligrapher, and master of marionettes, and Kennett’s recently published biography entitled W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design. The Alcuin Society was a co-sponsor of the event along with The Typographic Hub at Sheridan College, the Association of Registered Graphic Designers, Canada Type, and Letterform Archive, the book’s publisher. Continue Reading…

Alcuin Society’s 38 best-designed Canadian books of 2017

The Alcuin Society has announced the winners of its 36th annual competition, The Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, held Saturday March 17th, 2018. Awards will be presented this fall in both Toronto and Vancouver. The winning books will be entered in the international book design competition in Leipzig, Germany in February 2019. They will be exhibited in Germany at the Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs; in Japan, at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, in conjunction with the Tokyo International Book Fair; and in almost every province of Canada. The venues are listed on the Alcuin web site.

Continue Reading…

Sue Colberg: Judging – From Leipzig to Vancouver

Sue Colberg, Associate Professor of Design Studies at University of Alberta, was one of seven judges, the only juror from North America, at the prestigious annual international competition in Leipzig, Germany, 2018 Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt –  2018 Best Book Design from All Over the World. She will also be one of the judges at the 36th Alcuin book design competition, The 2017 Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada. Continue Reading…

Movie magazines from the 1930s

The great days of Hollywood are mirrored in the American movie magazines of the 1930’s, when movie stars were not mere celebrities, they were Gods of stage and screen, famous for their individuality and character. And the photography of the period, again by masters at their trade, produced iconic photographs that were indelibly etched in the minds and hearts of the movie-going public. Remember also that these were the deepest days of the Great Depression, when “going to the movies” transported the populace out of those dark days for a few hours. And the movies in those days were all “up” movies with happy endings, whether it was Fred and Ginger dancing their hearts our while falling in love, or the lone hero triumphing over the bad guys in the many westerns. Continue Reading…

An evening with Frank Viva

** Please note change of room.

The Alcuin Society is pleased to present an evening with Frank Viva Thursday, March 15th, UBC Robson Square, UBC Robson Square Theatre, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

Frank Viva – graphic artist, illustrator, book designer, author – is known internationally for his brilliant cover designs for The New Yorker.  He is also known for his internationally acclaimed children’s books. Young Frank, Architect was the first children’s storybook to be published by MOMA (the Museum of Modern Art). Of his Canadian publications, his Outstanding in the Rain and Sea Change have both won awards from the Alcuin Society.

Viva, who is based in Toronto, will be in Vancouver mid-March as one of the judges in this year’s annual book design competition, The Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada.

This free event is open to the public. Please register beforehand.

For further information, contact


The Great Book(s) of Nature: The Origins and Treasures of Bunny Mellon’s Oak Spring Garden Library

The Great Book(s) of Nature: The Origins and Treasures of Bunny Mellon’s Oak Spring Garden Library. Presentation by Spencer W. Stuart at Van Dusen Gardens. Saturday, March 24th at 2:00PM.




Rachel Lambert Mellon (1910-2014), often known as Bunny Mellon, was an American horticulturalistgardenerphilanthropist, and art collector. She designed and planted several significant gardens, including the White House Rose Garden and assembled, over 80 years, one of the most comprehensive botanical and horticultural book collections in private hands. In 1981, the Oak Spring Garden Library was founded on her estate in Virginia.

Join Art and Collections Historian, Spencer W. Stuart, for a presentation and discussion of the earliest treasures from her collection. The lecture will focus on French and English publications from the late 17th century that offer early examples of horticulture during a period of dynamic learning, debate and public interest in the development and maintenance of gardens.

Spencer W Stuart holds a Masters in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute, UK, and received the Director’s Award upon his completion of the degree. He has worked with Bonhams Auctioneers, focusing on Rare Books and Manuscripts in both Toronto and New York. He now resides in Vancouver, where he operates a collection management practice.

This event will be followed by a tour of the library’s collections, its current Roberta Mickelson Gallery art exhibition, and information about current and upcoming programs.