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Bookbinder of the Month: Karen Hanmer

December 15, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


Nevermore Again: Poe Exhumed is an artist book from Karen Hanmer presented in multiple bound formats. The content of the work mirrors the tales of Edgar Allen Poe to contemporary economic and political stories. Pictured above on the left is the Deluxe edition which is presented as an early 19th century style publisher’s binding covered in marbled paper by Pamela Smith. The endpapers incorporate the design of the wrapper from the Standard edition, which is pictured above on the right.

Nevermore Again: Poe Exhumed is offered for purchase in several different formats. Why have you chosen to produce this piece in various editions? Have you found one edition to be more successful over another?
Nevermore, Again is an artists’ book exploring how current events mirror stories written by Edgar Allan Poe. I could not decide between two structures for the binding, so for the first time, I produced a book in several editions.

The deluxe edition uses the publishers’ boarded binding I learned from Jeff Peachey. It is historically appropriate for Poe’s era, and I was eager to use this interesting cusp-of-the-industrial-revolution structure in an edition. But as I researched Poe’s bibliography, I became fascinated by Tamerlane and Other Poems, the rare first edition of Poe’s first published work. To make my book more conceptually sound, I decided that in typography, size, and structure the standard edition should be a facsimile of Tamerlane, which was presented in a simple paper wrapper. Olivia Primanis at the Harry Ransom Center sent me detailed measurements of their copy of Tamerlane, and I went to the University of Chicago to examine another in person. The only change I made was sewing through the fold instead of stabbing adjacent to the spine. I wanted my book to open well.

nevermoredeluxe-karenhanmer nevermorestandard-karenhanmer

I’m very pleased with the text I wrote for Nevermore, and I wanted it to have readership extending beyond those with a collector’s budget, so I made a laser-printed chapbook version also.

I’ve sold many chapbook versions, all but one to individuals. The deluxe edition at $450 has sold significantly more copies than the standard at $275. This surprises me, especially because of pressures on institutional budgets, but I realize that Pam Smith’s marbled paper on the deluxe is hard to resist.

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  • My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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