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Seraphemera Books: “That Which is Most Important”

Written by in Features, Inspire

 

The Beauty of the Printed Book: 
Art Young, Early 20th Century American Illustrator

Established in 2006 Seraphemera Books (http://www.seraphemera.org) of Bethel, CT is the cottage industry of the wife and husband team Ava Dawn Heydt and Marc Moorash and their three children, Ivy, Leif, and Lucian who lend a helping hand as young apprentices.  They produce rare and beautiful handmade books of astonishing technical skill.

“We have no formal training in bookmaking. Seraphemera started as a way to publish a comic book we were working on.  It slowly grew into publishing the works. We tell folks we’re about two hundred years too late to make a living as a bookmaker. But with that concern out of the way, we open ourselves to a lot of fun book projects,” said Marc Moorash.

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“We’ve both had plenty of traditional schooling, but we’ve crafted our own higher educations out of love, crayons, the backs of diner placemats, synchronous road trips, street prophet mysticism,” said Ava Dawn Heydt.  “Through shared experiences we discover adventure, connection, sharing and passion. We view art as the irrepressible mother tongue and force of everyone. It should be protected and shared.”

Bethel, Connecticut book publisher Seraphemera’s name is the unification of “seraph” and “ephemera.” “Seraphs” are angels of the highest order of nine fold celestial hierarchy who guard “that which is most important” with flaming swords “Ephemera” are things that exist to be enjoyed for a short time, like paper. “Paper is not necessarily intended to be saved, but when it is,” said Marc, “it becomes history, story, and memory.”

 we-have-got-art-young-covered

Art Young, Early 20th Century American Illustrator

Seraphemera’s first book project was The Romanti-Goth A to Z Coloring Book and since then has published comic books, graphic novels, chapbooks, custom journals, photo albums, and the ongoing Garbanzo Literary Journal.

The house’s latest book is Art Young’s Types of the Old Home Town.  Seraphemera’s edition of Types of the Old Home Town is a run of 333 hardbound and hand-stitched books. The book was written and illustrated around 1935 by American political and cartoonist Art Young, among the best-known cartoonists of his day.

Art Young lived here in Bethel, CT from 1904 until his death in 1943. While nearly forgotten, he was one of the most celebrated artists of his day, publishing cartoons and illustrations for magazines including Puck, Judge, The Saturday Evening Post, Life, The Nation, The New Yorker, and The Metropolitan. Said Moorash, “Young’s artwork and commentary is as poignant and relevant today as it was 100 years ago.”

While researching Young’s letters, Moorash visited Terry Halladay at William Reese Company (http://www.reeseco.com), a high-end bookseller in New Haven, CT. Halladay had recently sold a batch of Young’s correspondence. Moorash asked Halladay to forward a letter to the collector, Glenn Bray, a devoted Art Young fan. Bray and Moorash soon bonded over their mutual appreciation of Young’s work.  When Bray learned that Moorash was a book publisher, he revealed that he owned the unpublished Art Young manuscript, Types of the Old Home Town. Recalled Moorash, “In a life full of wonderful convergences, how could we do anything but fly with it when Art’s manuscript appeared to us?”

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Types of the Old Home Town

Types of the Old Home Town is a collection of illustrations and text about different character types Young encountered in small town America 100 years ago. Even today’s audiences will recognize in his characters similar “types” in their neighborhoods, villages and towns today.  Some of Types appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in 1925/1926, but the manuscript was finished around 1935 – but Young continued to modify the manuscript until the end of his life.

During his life, Young published numerous books, but Types of the Old Home Town was not among them. Moorash believes Young likely had twice as many complete illustrations before he’d choosing thirty-seven for his book.   The manuscript and thousands of other illustrations and writings were tied up in probate for decades before being placed, then lost, in New York bookseller warehouse for 40 years. But Glenn Bray’s love of the artist led him to a trove of Young’s lost work including the manuscript. He long hoped he’d one day be able to bring the book and hundreds of other Young creations back into the public eye.

Through the serendipitous meeting of Ava, Marc, Terry Halladay and Glen Bray, Art Young is published again, 80 years after his death.

“After printing several dummies on different papers, and admiring all of our options, we chose CLASSIC CREST® because its beautiful finish and subtle grain did overpower the integrity of the Young’s fine lines,” said Heydt. “As hand binders, we also needed paper that would hold up to the stresses of our process because we manipulate the pages a lot before a book is born. Resiliency is an essential consideration.”

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“We used a text weight Canaletto for the dust jacket, but there’s so much fiber in it, that it just behaves so wonderfully and feels so fine,” added Moorash. “We fall into the more texture the better category. We order lots of samples from Neenah, and the papers that get the most oohs and aahs are those with heft, those that evoke the feel of an old book such as linens and stipples. When we see a sample we like, such as Neenah Design Collection WILD Papers and we think, ‘Ok, what can we create next just to use this paper?’”

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Color and Texture Choices

Types of the Old Home Town was released January 14th 2015 — Young’s 149th birthday. When considering paper for Types of the Old Home Town, Ava and Marc needed paper that allowed Young’s illustrations to feel simultaneously crisp to the eye yet imbued with the presence and weight of the past.

•      Printer: R.E. Lawlor Graphics & Printing (www.relawor.net)

•      Book Text: Printed on CLASSIC CREST® Stipple 100T

•      Dust Jacket: Printed on CANALETTO Bianco 85T (from The Design Collection)

•      Hard Cover: On bookbinder board wrapped in CLASSIC CREST® Natural White 8oC

Where to Find the Book

•        Online: artyounggallery.org & seraphemera.org

•        Byrd’s Bookstore in Bethel, CT

“Byrd’s Books (http://www.byrdsbooks.com) is an amazing champion of our work.  Alice Hutchinson (proprietor) carries everything we make, let’s us do book release events (we’re big fans of book celebrations, presentations, and food) and supportive of Connecticut authors and publishers.  Call Alice at 203 730 2973 and order a copy and they will ship it.”

Art Young Solo Exhibition

Bethel Historical Society host a solo exhibition of Art Young’s illustrations, books, letter, and magazine tear sheets and other Young ephemera. From March 27 through April 26, The Bethel (CT) Historical Society (http://www.bethelhistoricalsociety.com) will host an exhibition of Young’s life work.  “It is a perfect was for us and our museum to reintroduce Art Young to new, appreciative audiences,” Moorash says.

seraphemera_logocooking-the-bookslucian and papa

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