The Alcuin Society is a non-profit organization supported by people who care about the past, present and future of fine books. Founded in 1965, the society is the only organization in Canada dedicated to the entire range of interests relating to books: publishing, book design and production, bookselling, book buying and collecting, printing, binding, papermaking, calligraphy and illustration.

Alcuin Society’s 38 best-designed Canadian books of 2017

The Alcuin Society has announced the winners of its 36th annual competition, The Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, held Saturday March 17th, 2018. Awards will be presented this fall in both Toronto and Vancouver. The winning books will be entered in the international book design competition in Leipzig, Germany in February 2019. They will be exhibited in Germany at the Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs; in Japan, at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, in conjunction with the Tokyo International Book Fair; and in almost every province of Canada. The venues are listed on the Alcuin web site.

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Sue Colberg: Judging – From Leipzig to Vancouver

Sue Colberg, Associate Professor of Design Studies at University of Alberta, was one of seven judges, the only juror from North America, at the prestigious annual international competition in Leipzig, Germany, 2018 Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt –  2018 Best Book Design from All Over the World. She will also be one of the judges at the 36th Alcuin book design competition, The 2017 Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada.

Leipzig book design competition 2018 jurors

Colberg, second right, is the winner of multiple national and international book design awards herself, including several from previous Alcuin book design competitions.  In this video, Colberg discusses the books from last year’s competition at the University of Alberta FABS Gallery exhibit of the winning books. The 2107 Alcuin competition will take place in Vancouver on March 17th.

This year, books from 33 countries were represented at the Leipzig competition. The 14 winners were from China, Germany, Israel,  Japan, The Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, and Venezuela.




Movie magazines from the 1930s

The great days of Hollywood are mirrored in the American movie magazines of the 1930’s, when movie stars were not mere celebrities, they were Gods of stage and screen, famous for their individuality and character. And the photography of the period, again by masters at their trade, produced iconic photographs that were indelibly etched in the minds and hearts of the movie-going public. Remember also that these were the deepest days of the Great Depression, when “going to the movies” transported the populace out of those dark days for a few hours. And the movies in those days were all “up” movies with happy endings, whether it was Fred and Ginger dancing their hearts our while falling in love, or the lone hero triumphing over the bad guys in the many westerns. Continue Reading…

An evening with Frank Viva

** Please note change of room.

The Alcuin Society is pleased to present an evening with Frank Viva Thursday, March 15th, UBC Robson Square, UBC Robson Square Theatre, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

Frank Viva – graphic artist, illustrator, book designer, author – is known internationally for his brilliant cover designs for The New Yorker.  He is also known for his internationally acclaimed children’s books. Young Frank, Architect was the first children’s storybook to be published by MOMA (the Museum of Modern Art). Of his Canadian publications, his Outstanding in the Rain and Sea Change have both won awards from the Alcuin Society.

Viva, who is based in Toronto, will be in Vancouver mid-March as one of the judges in this year’s annual book design competition, The Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada.

This free event is open to the public. Please register beforehand.

For further information, contact


The Great Book(s) of Nature: The Origins and Treasures of Bunny Mellon’s Oak Spring Garden Library

The Great Book(s) of Nature: The Origins and Treasures of Bunny Mellon’s Oak Spring Garden Library. Presentation by Spencer W. Stuart at Van Dusen Gardens. Saturday, March 24th at 2:00PM.




Rachel Lambert Mellon (1910-2014), often known as Bunny Mellon, was an American horticulturalistgardenerphilanthropist, and art collector. She designed and planted several significant gardens, including the White House Rose Garden and assembled, over 80 years, one of the most comprehensive botanical and horticultural book collections in private hands. In 1981, the Oak Spring Garden Library was founded on her estate in Virginia.

Join Art and Collections Historian, Spencer W. Stuart, for a presentation and discussion of the earliest treasures from her collection. The lecture will focus on French and English publications from the late 17th century that offer early examples of horticulture during a period of dynamic learning, debate and public interest in the development and maintenance of gardens.

Spencer W Stuart holds a Masters in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute, UK, and received the Director’s Award upon his completion of the degree. He has worked with Bonhams Auctioneers, focusing on Rare Books and Manuscripts in both Toronto and New York. He now resides in Vancouver, where he operates a collection management practice.

This event will be followed by a tour of the library’s collections, its current Roberta Mickelson Gallery art exhibition, and information about current and upcoming programs.


James (Jim) Arthur Rainer, May 19, 1932 – February 2, 2018

Everyone in The Alcuin Society feels a great sense of loss over the passing of an exceptional leader and an even more exceptional friend in the person of Jim Rainer who served as the Society’s chairperson for ten years. We plan to publish a series of memories in a future issue of Amphora but wanted to share the obituary prepared by members of his family with members of the Society.

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Reminder: Illustration of books in the ancient Graeco-Roman world: Cillian O’Hogan

The Alcuin Society is pleased to announce its first lecture of 2018.  Join us for an evening with lecturer Cillian O’Hogan of the UBC Classics Department about the illustration of books in the ancient Graeco-Roman world.  This lecture will give an overview of the surviving fragments of ancient illustration and will explain how and for whom these lavish books were produced.  Dr. O’Hogan’s talk will be given Wednesday March 7 at The Post, 110-750 Hamilton Street in Vancouver in the StartUp East Room from 7:30 to 8:30 pm.

Space is limited, so reserve with EventBrite: Register.  For further information, please contact: