Main content

The Bibliophile as Bookbinder

The Angling Binding of S.A. Neff, Jr.
  • Symposium
The Bibliophile as Bookbinder: The Angling Binding of S.A. Neff, Jr.
S. A. Neff, Jr. drop-back box with a panel of Japanese dyed and gold papers created in 1991 for Austin M. Francis, Catskill Rivers: Birthplace of American Fly Fishing (New York, 1983). Courtesy of S. A. Neff, Jr.

On exhibit August 26 -December 20, 2019

This exhibition explores one man’s passion for the natural world and the world of books. Over five decades ago Mr. Neff began a serious pursuit both of trout and books on the art of angling. His travels have taken him to some of the most picturesque and challenging trout rivers in this country and abroad. His collection of angling books has grown into a proper library of three thousand volumes dating from 1554, with a focus on fly-fishing for trout and salmon.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Neff transitioned from a career in graphic design … to fine bookbinding. For over two decades he has focused his binding efforts exclusively on work for his angling  library. Neff creates sets of bindings with multiple volumes contained in drop-back boxes. The work ranges from bindings with intricate pictorial panels of Japanese dyed paper… to decorative leather bindings (goat skin) with multiple on-lays, and elaborate gold tooling. The design on the box serves as an introduction to its contents and even single volumes are housed in decorative boxes.

In bridging the span of centuries of binding design, Neff has often focused on modern interpretations of seventeenth-  and eighteenth-century panel designs. His collection of angling books, unique in its genre, will remain intact in perpetuity in the Penn Libraries.

A fully-illustrated catalogue accompanies this exhibition. The catalogue includes essays by Neff, Lynne Farrington, and Cara Schlesinger, and features 230 full-color images, a glossary of terms, and a bibliography. 11"x8.5", 184 pages, full color, stiff paper cover with french flaps, embossed, Smythe sewn. You may purchase the catalogue at the link at the right of this page.

Installation views of The Bibliophile as Bookbinder exhibition

Saturday, September 14, 1-7 PM

Bound to Conserve: The Art of Angling and the Future of Rivers

This symposium, in conjunction with the exhibition, The Bibliophile as Bookbinder: The Angling Bindings of S. A. Neff, Jr., will explore conservation on rivers, bookselling, collecting, and binding, all with a focus on their impact on and relationship with angling.
A one-day pop-up exhibit of historic rods, reels, flies, and books from the S.A. Neff, Jr. collection will be on display in the Henry Charles Lea Library.
  • Saturday, September 14, 2019

    1-2 pm: Tour of main exhibition and viewing of pop-up exhibit in the Lea Library
    2-3 pm:  Session 1
    • Michael Danko, Professional Wetland Scientist
      "Trout Habitat Impacts and Changes in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. from Colonial Times until the Present"
      This short presentation will provide an overview of historic and current impacts to trout habitat in the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the U.S. over the last 400 years. Trout habitat has undergone substantial changes from anthropogenic impacts and these major sources and their impacts will be discussed. This presentation will also discuss positive trends in restoring trout habitat, including new stream restoration approaches and techniques.  
      Mr. Danko received his B.S. in Fisheries Biology from Juniata College in 1986.  He has been employed as a Biologist in the Regulatory Program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 29 years. He served as a volunteer and board member for his local Trout Unlimited chapter for 12 years, and was the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Coldwater Conservationist - Trout Unlimited Member award from the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited. An avid fly fisherman and fly dresser for 40 years, Mr. Danko has also developed a deep appreciation of angling literature, history and art.  
    • Ken Callahan, Callahan & Company Booksellers
      “Bookselling, Book Collecting, Catalogs and Bibliography”
      This talk will  look at some of the changes in bookselling and book collecting over the past 44 years. It will also explore the importance of book and auction catalogs and angling bibliography to the book collector.
      Ken Callahan is a bookseller and bibliographer. He is the owner of Callahan and Company, Booksellers since 1980; from 1975-1980 he was co-owner with Jim Dawson of Unicorn Book Shop. Callahan is the author of a series of eight angling monographs and three angling bibliographies, as with as A Dictionary of Sporting Pen Names (1995).
    3-3:30 pm: Coffee break
    3:30-4:30 pm: Session 2
    • S.A. Neff, Jr., collector of angling books
      "Interesting, Scarce, and Rare Items from the Neff Angling Library"
      Sid Neff's Angling Library contains fascinating titles and editions from six centuries, collected over the last 56 years. He will share photographs and stories relating to some of his treasures.
      Sid Neff is an artist, an angler, and a bibliophile, who binds his own books, finish his own rods, and ties his own flies.
    • Don Rash, hand bookbinder
      "The Work of Sid Neff: An Appreciation"
      This talk will first look at Sid Neff's body of work as it relates to his technical and esthetic progress as a bookbinder and then attempt to place it into the context of contemporary book art.

      Don Rash began his career in 1978 working at the Haverford College library. During his eight years there he also studied bookbinding and calligraphy with Fritz and Trudi Eberhardt. Since leaving Haverford in 1986 he has been a self employed bookbinder and letterpress printer in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
    4:30-5:30 pm: Film screening: The Bibliophile as Bookbinder: The Angling Binding of S.A. Neff, Jr.
    5:30-7 pm: Reception