A recently re-discovered and cataloged gem from the California Historical Society’s Kemble collection is the John Howell exhibit guest book, dated 1915. One of San Francisco’s leading booksellers and publishers, John Howell commissioned architect Bernard Maybeck to design an “old English book shop” to house his exhibit of books, illuminated manuscripts, and specimens of early printing at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition. Howell used a two-volume dummy of Arias the Libyan: a romance of the primitive church as an exhibit guest book. The volumes include autographs and inscriptions by authors, booksellers, printers, and members of the general public who visited Howell’s exhibit throughout the course of the Fair.
|John Howell exhibit guest book, 1915, Kemble MS 47a, California Historical Society|
This page includes a rhyme by Clarence Edwords, author of the wonderful Bohemian San Francisco, its restaurants and their most famous recipes: the elegant art of dining (1914). After viewing the fine books on display, Edwords wrote, perhaps with a touch of sarcasm:
Some love books for their binding:
Some give value to age.
I love books when finding
New thoughts on printed page.
Archivist & Manuscripts Librarian