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CODEX Foundation

(Peter R. Koch accepting)

Introductory remarks by Paul Gehl

The 2012 APHA Awards Committee nominates the CODEX Foundation of Berkeley, California for its institutional award. Recognizing that institutions as well as individuals make important contributions to history and that the preservation of such history-minded institutions is a high priority today, APHA stipulates that the criteria for this award should be the same as those for the individual award, namely that the institution is making “a distinguished contribution to the study, recording, preservation, or dissemination of printing history, in any specific area or in general terms.”

The mission of the foundation we recognize today is stated with admirable succinctness thus: “The Codex Foundation exists to preserve and promote the hand-made book in the broadest possible context as a work of art and to bring to public recognition the artists, the craftsmanship, and the rich history of the civilization of the book.” Although a relatively young institution (it was founded in 2006), the foundation has fulfilled this mission admirably, largely through its sponsorship of an eponymous biannual gathering of professional and amateur book artists, publishers, educators, scholars, and collectors. This CODEX festival has been variously described by APHA members as a collection of “superb practitioners, scholars and artists,” “vibrant in inspiring new people towards an interest in the book arts,” and “pulsing with excitement.” This combination symposium and book fair draws participants from Asia, Europe, Central and South America, and the Middle East. The foundation has embodied the excitement and intellectual content of its international festival in a major published collection, book art object (2007), and in a series of monographs on topics relating to the handmade book. The series includes important writers and artists like Robert Bringhurst (Canada), Alan Loney (Australia), and Ulrike Stoltz and Uta Schneider (Germany). In 2011 the foundation, in collaboration with Mexican partners and Stanford University Libraries, has inaugurated CODEXMEXICO with events and exhibitions in Guadalajara and (later this year) in Mexico City.

Most importantly to APHA, the Codex Foundation promotes the idea that there is great value, both historical and contemporary, in the handmade book. For its founders and directors, the collecting and studying of printed books in traditional historical terms is complemented by the work of printers who seek to breathe new life into old technologies. This is not merely preserving old technology; it is making it alive and relevant to today’s art world. The resulting emphasis on both innovation and respect for tradition represents historic preservation at its dynamic best. We commend the Codex Foundation for so high-minded a philosophy and above all for putting it into practice.

It is a pleasure to present this year’s American Printing History Association Institutional Award to the CODEX Foundation.

The awards were presented during the Annual Meeting of the American Printing History Association, on Saturday, January 28, 2012, New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York City.