Library puts on demonic display

In a modest corner of S.E Wimberly library is a unique collection of books. Follow the “Jaffe Collection” signs on the third floor, press the buzzer, and be warmly admitted into a room with book-lined walls.

On display are books as works of art. There is a vast assortment of published materials, from the M.C. Escher pop-up book to hand-made cloth-bound volumes with marbled paper and etchings. Some of the books are on display in the lobby outside the Jaffe room, and inside are displays of books on counters while others are on pedestals behind glass cases.

This is the collection of Arthur H. Jaffe.

In the Jaffe Atrium Gallery, located in the lobby outside the entrance, is the Demon Exhibit, called A Fellowship of Demons: Bookworks by Leonard Baskin and the Gehenna Press. The Gehenna Press, founded in 1942, is considered the greatest private press in America. The drawings and etchings of demons, imps, and fiends are by Leonard Baskin who died June 3, 2000 at the age of 77. A Book of Demons, which is Baskin’s final book, was created after his death at Gehenna Press. It is bound in leather and contains one suite of prints.

Another of the Demon books, Cave Birds: An Alchemical Cave Drama, is opened displaying one of Baskin’s exquisite tiny drawings in the middle of the large, white right-hand page with a poem by Ted Hughes in the center of the large white left-hand page that reads:

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp FINALE

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp At the end of the ritual

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp&nbsp Up comes a goblin.

The Demon Exhibit will be on display until November 3, 2002.

Jaffe and his wife, Mata, decided to dedicate their world-class collection of books to the FAU community and the S.E. Wimberly library in 1998. The section of the library that was meant to house rare collectible books was completed and officially dedicated in January 2000.

“We gave 2,500 books,” says Jaffe, “now it’s up to 4,000 books.”

Some of the books are bought and some are donations or gifts. He received two new additions recently from an Australian Press and was delighted upon opening the cover box of one and carefully removing the book and flipping through the accordion style pages, then unfolding each page wider and wider until he had a 6 or 7 foot long page.

“The presentation is gorgeous,” said Nancine Thompson, special collections and editor of library publications. And upon further opening, “Oh Arthur, that’s glorious!” she said.

Jaffe, Thompson, and John Cutrone, catalogue designer for the collection, bent over examining a burnt page, wondering if it was a “real” burn or a “fake” burn. “One never knows with a Jaffe book,” said Jaffe. The other book looks like a regular sized book but opens to 33 feet.

The collection is open to anyone who wants to visit provided an appointment is made to be sure someone is there, or there is not another group present. Students come to do research individually, or classes come to study. The collection also welcomes students and groups from outside the University including Art and Literature classes from Lynn University and Palm Beach Community College.

While visiting, make sure and sign the guestbook. Last year they had 1,000 visitors who sign names, all of whom spent a minimum of 3 hours looking at and studying the books. “That’s 3,000 hours of looking,” says Jaffe.

Besides having visitors, the books are sought after to be included in exhibitions all over the country and overseas. There will be an exhibit in New York City that opens December 10, a selection from the Grolier Club, the leading bibliophile society in the U.S., if not the world. There is also to be an exhibit of the Jaffe books at the Wolfson Galleries at the Miami Dade Community College in conjunction with the Miami Book Fair. The exhibit will run from October 24, 2002 through November 24, 2002.

For more information or appointments, contact The Arthur and Mata Jaffe Collection at 561/297-0226 or email [email protected]