The Life and Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi, The Rowfant Club, 1953

Readers of Books and Vines, help!   I have seen a few nicely done books from The Rowfant Club of Cleveland, which seems to be some sort of super secret society where one gets put on double secret probation if discovered discussing it (I say this jokingly, as I have had a hard time finding more information on the excellent work they seem to do). The by invitation, men only bibliophile club was founded in 1892. From what I understand, The Rowfant Club published two or three books per year, frequently by a private press such as Marchbanks, Grabhorn, Lakeside, Caxton, or Bruce Rogers.  This article from 2005 provides a a good look, reasonably current, on The Rowfant Club (from the perspective of a woman).  The help I am asking for…tell me more about The Rowfant Club, specifically what are the more desirable titles published by them. I would love to see more of their publications and understand a bit more about their history.

The Life and Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi is a Rowfant Club published book, from 1953, designed by Bruce Rogers, with illustrations from the paintings of Sassetta (1392-1450). Sassetta (full name Stefano di Giovanni di Consolo) was an Italian artist who painted in the Sienese School style. Rogers was struck by Sassetta’s drawings of Renaissance Gothic architecture, and considered him a master of perspective, so conceived this book around Sassetta’s designs.

Bruce Rogers (1870-1957) is considered by many as America’s greatest book designer of the twentieth century. Rogers was a classicist and largely avoided modernistic influences, which is one reason I like his work so much. The pictures below from The Life and Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi are a good representation of his work.

Pictures

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Life and Writings of Saint Francis Assisi, Rowfant Club, Book in Slipcase
Life and Writings of Saint Francis Assisi, Rowfant Club, Cover
Life and Writings of Saint Francis Assisi, Rowfant Club, Title Page
Life and Writings of Saint Francis Assisi, Rowfant Club, Contents
Life and Writings of Saint Francis Assisi, Rowfant Club, Illustrations and Text #1
Life and Writings of Saint Francis Assisi, Rowfant Club, Illustration #2
Life and Writings of Saint Francis Assisi, Rowfant Club, Sample Text (detail)
Life and Writings of Saint Francis Assisi, Rowfant Club, Illustration with Text #3
Life and Writings of Saint Francis Assisi, Rowfant Club, Illustration with Text #4
Life and Writings of Saint Francis Assisi, Rowfant Club, Note from Bruce Rogers on the Illustrations
Life and Writings of Saint Francis Assisi, Rowfant Club, Colophon

3 thoughts on “The Life and Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi, The Rowfant Club, 1953

  1. Thanks for the review and pictures, I had never seen this before nor had I heard about the Rowfant Club. What material are the boards made from? I cannot tell from the picture if it is paper, cloth, or some other material. They are quite beautiful whatever the fabric. Also, if the Rowfant Club is so top secret, how on earth did you snag one of their publications? Do you own this or was this at the bookstore in Phoenix?

    1. Yep, at Book Gallery in Phx. I think the cover was quarter bound in buckram with paper sides. Have to look next time I am there. Paper was nice as was type, but was no colophon, so not sure details…

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