Skip navigation
Menu Icon Menu Icon Menu Icon Menu Icon

Dominic Winter Auctioneers

News > New Auction > THE BOOK : ART & OBJECT


To be sold by auction on Thursday 30 June 2016

Philip Smith in his studio, Yatton Keynell, Wiltshire, 1999 (image copyright Sandy Porter)

"Philip Smith reigns, as artist and theorist, technician and philosopher!! ... [he] is the Blake among binders" - Colin Franklin in The Book Club of California Quarterly Newsletter, Spring 2006

Dominic Winter Auctioneers is delighted and privileged to offer for sale by auction the personal collection and studio of the renowned artist-bookbinder Philip Smith on behalf of Philip and his family. The sale includes not only Smith's own designer bookbindings but also those of his contemporaries.

The auction offers a unique and unprecedented range of over 35 examples of his book art from across his long career, some of which have rarely, or never, been seen in public before. The technical skill in constructing these works of art is self-evident; the planning, the design and the execution are all equally meticulous. Underlying this virtuoso performance is a unique and personal spiritual philosophy which Philip Smith weaves into the fabric of each new binding to make the finished form transcend its material origins. Philip Smith has been a dedicated visionary in this field for over 50 years and his influence and ideas have permeated and shaped the visual and technical language of contemporary designer bookbinding.

Philip Smith MBE was born in 1928, and began his career in bookbinding and book art in 1949, graduating with First Class Honours at the Royal College of Art in London in 1954. From about 1959, when he developed the technique of feathered onlays with backparing, called 'maril', he has consistently explored the potential of the physical form of the book as an alternative art medium. He has added new terms to the vocabulary of bookbinding and has been awarded patents for several new inventions, both visual and functional, as well as making innovations in structural and visual design now applied by an ever growing number of bookbinders.

Having gained experience with binding and conservation work under the guidance of Sydney Cockerell, he became an advisor to the British Museum Team working in the Florence Flood aftermath of 1966-67. He has worked as a creative book-artist independently since 1961, initiating the development of the Designer Bookbinders society from the Guild of Contemporary Bookbinders, and has exhibited, travelled and lectured widely, especially in the United States. He was President of Designer Bookbinders from 1977 to 1979 and was inaugural editor of The New Bookbinder, serving on the editorial board for 15 years. He has won numerous international gold and silver medals for his innovative work. In 2000 he was awarded an MBE for services to Art.

Examples of Philip Smith's bookbindings can be seen at British Library, London, V & A Museum, London, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, Liverpool Central Library, Liverpool, UK; Lilly Library, University of Indiana Bloomington, Indiana, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Spencer Collection, New York Public Library, USA; University of Melbourne, Australia; Royal Library, The Hague, Netherlands.

Nathan Winter
June 2016

Commencing : Thursday 30 June 2016 12.00 noon

Viewing : Tuesday 28 June 2016 9am - 7pm

                Wednesday 29 June 2016 9am - 7pm

                Thursday 30 June 2016 9am - 12pm

Contact : Susanna Winters

               Colin Meays

               Tel: 01285 860006

               General Enquiries

Date: 14 June 2016

Share this news

Latest Tweets

  • Meet The Beatles, Star Special, Number Twelve, 1963, with set of all four autographs on upper wrapper #auctions
  • LOOK BACK IN ANGER : 8 May 1956 Super-rare survival of a stylish original poster for, inter alia, the premiere of J.

Follow us: @DWinterAuctions