Collection Statement

Humans have been creating, consuming, and celebrating books for centuries. They are portals to other worlds, diverse learning tools, as well as records of stories, histories, thoughts, and feelings. There is no end to the possibilities that books provide. Books have long been examined for their meaning and content, but there is much to be appreciated and studied about their physical form, as well. The materiality of the book plays a role in how the content is delivered; elements such as the cover, the acknowledgments, a foreword, images, or photographs, an index, and others that help the reader become immersed in the author’s message.

These additional pieces that accompany the author’s content have a name: paratext. Paratext refers to the additional features within and surrounding the author’s content in a book (Genette), and functions through adding to the topic and enriching the reader’s experience. To better understand paratext, hold a book in your hands and take in the cover. If this book was a house, full of stories, information, and meaning, the cover would be the door. It gives you the impression of what is inside, and tempts you to enter. Once you open the cover, you come to a single long page that is attached to the cover on one side, with the other side free, on each end of the book. These simple, yet complex sheets of paper are the endpapers; a paratextual element, and the focus of my book collection.

If the cover of a book is like a door to a house, the endpapers are much like a screen door, giving you a glimpse of what is to come, yet not allowing the reader to jump right in. Endpapers, also referred to as endpages or endleaves, began by having a structural purpose; they held the inner pages of the book to its cover and acted as the glue that kept the book intact. Yet, from the very first books that were created, endpapers have been used beyond their structural purpose, and over time many wondrous, inconspicuous pieces of art have been created within the spaces of those pages.

Today, endpapers are not structurally necessary in many books, as some of our current methods of bookbinding involve gluing the cover to the inner leaves. Nearly no paperback books will require endpapers, and often they are absent for that reason. However, a large percent of hardcover books, both old and new, will have endpapers. Many endpapers are simply plain white. Endpapers can serve a practical function. Some are also decorated with colours or patterns, some have maps, drawings, or photographs, and some even have different first and last endpapers. While there are different varieties of endpapers, many are designed specifically to speak to the reader, both right before and right after reading the book, often without words. They communicate messages that are important both to the book itself and to the reader.

Since discovering endpapers, I have aimed to acquire books with beautiful, interesting varieties, old and new, in a myriad of subjects. How and what they communicate to the reader varies widely, and each one is unique and fascinating, even if the pages are merely covered in a simple repeating pattern. You may notice that a few books in my collection have plain white endpapers: yet, while they themselves are not particularly special, they allow for users to make their mark within them. Notes, stamps, and even bookseller’s price tags are all intriguing pieces of book history, and they often take place on the spaces of endpapers. For this reason, my collection includes plain endpapers when they have additions because they act as glimpses into the history of the book itself.

Since there are a seemingly never-ending number of unique endpapers, my collection certainly has room to grow. I currently have around 65 hardcover books with unique endpapers, but there are gaps that I am still aiming to fill. Around the 19th century, many books had advertisements as endpapers; departments stores, and other shops would advertise nearly anything from clothing to medicine, and even ads for events in those spaces. There are also many older books with endpapers made from printer’s waste. When there was little money to spend on the details of the book, mixes of old paper would be used in place of new paper. Printer’s waste is often a jumble of different texts from different books, making the printer’s waste endpapers unique. I would love to add a book with either advertisement or printer’s waste endpapers to my collection because they are examples of endpaper history.

Works Cited

Genette, Gérard. Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Cambridge University Press, 1997.

List of Titles in Exhibition

Allen, Phillip. The Atlas of Atlases: The Map Maker's Vision of the World. Harry N. Abrams, 1992.

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. J. M. Dent & Sons, 1906.

Barter, Guy. Flora: The Graphic Book of the Garden. Aurum Press, 2017.

Berens, E. M. Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome. New York: Effingham Maynard & Co., 1890.

Berton, Pierre. Just Add Water and Stir. McClelland & Stewart, 1959.

Bradbury, Malcolm. The Atlas of Literature. De Agostini, 1996.

Edwards, Ambra. The Story of the English Garden. National Trust Books, 2018.

Flanders, Judith. The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed. HarperCollins, 2003.

Garden, J. F. Nicholas Morant's Canadian Pacific. Footprint Publishing, 1993.

Henderson, Peter. Garden and Farm Topics. New York: Peter Henderson & Co., 1884.

Library of Congress. The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures. Chronicle Books, 2017.

Lister, Martin. A Journey to Paris in the Year 1698. University of Illinois Press], 1967.

McCulloch, Janelle. The Gardener's Travel Guide to England. Images Publishing Group, 2019.

Meynell, Francis. The Week-End Book. Duckworth Overlook, 2006.

Midda, Sara. Sara Midda's South of France: A Sketchbook. Workman Publishing, 1990.

Miller, Laura. Literary Wonderlands. Elwin Street Productions Ltd., 2016.

Ryan, Cornelius. The Last Battle. Simon and Schuster, 1966.

Thoreau, Henry D. Walden. Macmillan Collector's Library, 2016.

White, Jerry. London: The Story of a Great City. Carlton Books Ltd., 2010.

Wine, Thatcher, and Elizabeth Lane. For the Love of Books: Designing and Curating a Home Library. Gibbs Smith, 2019.