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An exhibition of books from the Finison collection curated by Emily Rothman, class of 2015, Mortimer Rare Book Room, Neilson Library, Level 3, January 26-February 28.
Longtime Northampton residents Myrtle and Harvey Finison were avid collectors of late-19th and early 20th-century decorated cloth bookbindings. They were able to purchase most of their books decades ago, for as little as 50¢ or just a few dollars each. Many of these novels now seem dated and full of purple prose–flowery, ornate, and extravagant–but the stunning, multi-colored designs on the covers still delight viewers. In 1999, after Myrtle’s death, the Finison family donated 2,000 of their parents’ books to the Mortimer Rare Book Room. Many books from the Finison Collection are on permanent display in the Friends Reading Room on the first floor of Neilson Library.
The books on display here all address love in some way, in their titles, prose, images, or decorations. Note that some of the covers are signed with the initials of their designers, many of whom were women. In an era preceding the modern dust jacket, decorated cloth bindings such as these were commissioned by book publishers to adorn cloth bindings as an eye-catching advertisement.
Mortimer Rare Book Room