The Carder Steuben Club is an enthusiastic group that “encourages and promotes the collecting and enjoyment of the glass of Frederick Carder.” On Sept. 15, the Rakow Research Library staff welcomed members attending the club’s eleventh annual symposium who volunteered to help us organize a group of drawings by Frederick Carder.
Thirteen club members and CMoG docents sorted a group of Carder design drawings by type of paper and size.
Many of these drawings are fragile: some drawings are on delicate tissue paper; others are drawn with white pencil or chalk on crumbling black construction paper; others are blueprints.
Volunteers placed acid-free tissue paper between drawings and put no more than 10 in sturdy folders for protection. Some folders will be placed in boxes on the shelves. The largest pieces were unfolded, when possible, to be placed in huge drawers in the library’s secured stacks.
As the volunteers sorted pieces, they also learned about the preservation of paper. For example, water-based blueprints shouldn’t intermingle with a dry medium like the chalk drawings.
Club members were excited to see designs they had never seen before. They wondered whether the pieces in the drawings had ever been made, or perhaps there are Carder glass treasures yet to be discovered!
Volunteers also toured the library’s new compact shelving where the Carder archives are housed. During the tour, Marshall Ketchum envisioned future collaborative projects. For example, Carder identified his glass designs by shape number, but many of the drawings in our collection are not labeled. Ketchum hopes several Carder experts can help us identify and match vase shape with the originally assigned design number.
According to Rakow archivist, Nive Chatterjee, “the club members are very knowledgeable about Carder’s shape numbers.”
Carder Steuben Club volunteer projects began in recent years with a photo preservation project that was so successful, it won the Outstanding Collaboration Citation from The Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) of the American Library Association.
Carder Steuben Club members Scott Hansen and Marshall Ketchum collaborated with The Rakow Library to examine 575 photographs of Carder Steuben glassware contained within the archives of Frederick Carder at the Rakow Library that had never been cataloged or published. Together, they examined and cataloged the photographs, then scanned and digitized these images. The photographs are now preserved and housed in archival-quality folders after bar-coding them for inventory control purposes. The resulting thumbnail images were embedded into the library’s catalog where anyone may view them.
The Rakow Research Library benefits from collaborative partnerships like these. As librarian Lori Fuller explains, “It is great to collaborate with this group, they are eager to see and work with the unique materials in our collection – truly a win, win collaboration for all involved! The initiative is beneficial for all involved: the library has experts assisting with cataloging/identification and re-housing while the Club members are seeing original primary source materials that may relate to pieces in their private collections.”
We send a warm “thank you” to the Carder Steuben Club members and to docents who helped us process and preserve our unique archival collection.