The Grolier Club

The Grolier Club is a private club and an exclusive society of bibliophiles, which is located in the ritzy Upper East Side. Featuring bookseller catalogues from the 17th through 20th centuries, the club is inspired by Jean Grolier de Servieres who served as a treasurer in the royal French courts during the 16th century. It's America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and enthusiasts in the art and history of the book and graphic arts. The Grolier Club is open to the public by an appointment only.

History

The Grolier Club
The Grolier Club was established in 1884 by several gentlemen who were passionate about collecting books and other printed materials.It was named for Jean Grolier, the Renaissance collector renowned for his patronage of scholars and printers, for the magnificent bindings he commissioned, and for a generous habit of sharing his library with friends. In its early years, this club temporarily used the Gilbert Kiamie House in Midtown Manhattan. Built in the Romanesque Revival style, this charming building was designated an official landmark in 1970. By the end of World War I, the society found a permanent home in the ritzy Upper East Side. Despite having a prime location in an affluent and exclusive neighbourhood, the Grolier Club has always welcomed the general public. The original mission of the club was to simply share a common appreciation for unique books. The name of the club is inspired by Jean Grolier de Servieres, who served in the royal French courts during the 16th century. Favoured by King Louis XII, Grolier acquired an enormous collection of books in grand libraries. His position as a treasurer provided convenient opportunities to get literature and other publications from France, Italy and other wealthy European nations. Many historians believe that Grolier had one of the most diverse and magnificent libraries of his time. Some scholars also consider Grolier an important figure in the Renaissance. The Grolier Club has always been more than a private bibliophile society. It is international in scope and is devoted not only to its members but also to engaging new audiences, inviting them to celebrate the Grolier and its remarkable mission to promote the art and history of the book.

Collections at the Grolier Club

As an exclusive society, the Grolier Club is naturally open only to members. However, anyone who is not a member has the chance to reserve an appointment for research purposes or leisure. The library at this historic institution doesn't allow such visitors to check out books and other materials. Under close supervision, visitors and members alike simply have the chance to read books and other items in designated areas. The Phillips Collection at the Grolier Club includes historic letters, archives and manuscripts from various eras in European and American history. Some of the earliest works can be traced back to the Middle Ages and Renaissance. This collection particularly highlights the talents of great philosophers and statesmen in England and the United States of America. The Grolier Club's core collection includes bookseller catalogues that were quite popular from the 17th through 20th centuries. Printed in 1637, John Leggatt's publication is perhaps the most precious item in this niche collection. It's important to note that most of the items in the possession of the Grolier Club have been published specifically for bibliophiles. These books don't necessarily include stories, historical accounts and other general information. The collection at this society appeals to individuals who want to meticulously collect and organize books for educational or leisure purposes. The galleries at the Ground Floor and Second Level host temporary exhibits that allow visitors to explore interesting topics relating to bibliophilia. Another central focus of the Grolier Club is its Library. The theme of this 100,000-volume repository is books about books—author and subject bibliographies (including many rare and early examples), histories of printing, publishing and collecting, exhibition catalogues, and bookseller and book auction catalogues. An appointment can be made to use the library’s resources for scholarly purposes. The two handsome rooms of the Exhibition Hall and the Library express the two poles of the Grolier Club’s collective experience: bringing together, preserving and studying books of significance; and sharing them both among members and with a wider public.

Visiting The Grolier Club

In December 2018, The Grolier Club will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its current home with the reopening of its renovated first floor and Exhibition Hall. To launch the dramatic new space is a spectacular presentation of ten centuries of French printing and book arts drawn from the Grolier’s own renowned collections. Visitors are invited to view the splendid exhibition of French Book Arts in the newly designed gallery and participate in the lectures and curatorial tours associated with it. The Grolier offers free admission to the public for its wide-ranging exhibitions of American and European print culture. Exhibitions are accompanied by scholarly publications, lectures and symposia in support of the Grolier’s mission to promote the appreciation of books, not just as texts, but as historical documents and works of art. Widely recognized as the premier New York venue for the display of rare books and prints, the scope of the renovation includes the latest innovations and conservation specifications for display cases, lighting, ventilation, and sound systems. The project will enhance the auditorium function of the exhibition hall for educational events and greatly expand visible storage for the rare book collection on the upper balcony. The entry and circulation areas will be more accessible for all. The Grolier Club is situated on the corner of Park Avenue and 60th Street in Manhattan's Upper East Side. Located only one block away from the club, the 59th Street-Lexington Avenue station is served by six New York City subway lines. The 4, 5 and 6 lines connect Manhattan with Brooklyn and Queens. The N, R and Q routes also run through most of Manhattan. Defining the southeastern tip of Central Park, Grand Army Plaza provides a good reference point when you're searching for the Grolier Club that's within the shadows of modern skyscrapers. There are at least a dozen bus stops that are located within a few blocks of this club. Part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) network, the buses run along 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue, Lexington Avenue and some of the side streets. Having a fair mix of commercial and residential properties, the Upper East Side offers several covered parking garages for temporary visitors.

Location: 47 E 60th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues), New York, NY, 10022

Click here to visit The Grolier Club official website.

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47 E 60th Street
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