For Book Collectors

The No. 44 Society

In 2006, The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois established a book collectors’ club for acquisitive book lovers who have a book collection or would like to begin one.

MEINE_813C59my1916a_Mysterious_001Inspired by the fine collection of American wit and humor, including broad Twain holdings, at the University of Illinois, The No. 44 Society takes its name from the hero of Mark Twain's last novel, No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger, a fantastical, but little-known Twain story set in a fifteenth-century print shop. The only requirements for membership are to have read Twain’s novel and to love books.

The club attracts a lively mixture of undergraduates, graduates, faculty members, and local and regional collectors. Members offer advice to beginning collectors, share tips and tidbits about dealers and collectors, and regale one another with tales of the chase. Members also make formal presentations on their collections.

In short, it is a convivial club for mysterious strangers united by a shared affliction called bibliophilia.

The No. 44 Society meets at 3:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Room 346 of the Main Library.

Click here to learn more about "Book Valuations."

 2014-2015 Schedule of Meetings of

a Convivial Confab for Book Collectors

September 10, 2014, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

Exhibition Opening Tour! Please join curators Tony Hynes, Dennis Sears, and Caroline Szylowicz for a first-hand tour of the RBML Fall '14 Exhibition, "First Global Conflict: Contemporary Views of the Great War, 1914-1919."

September 26, 2014, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

Bonus Event! Michael Blanding, author of The Map Thief, will talk about his book, which details the story of the once esteemed rare-map dealer E. Forbes Smiley, who made millions stealing priceless maps.

October 8, 2014, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

Kevin Graffagnino, Director of the University of Michigan's Clements Library, will give a talk entitled; "All the Good Books: Further Confessions of an Unrepentant Bibliophile." The talk is based on Graffagnino's two volumes of book-quotes about books; Only in Books: Writers, Readers & Bibliophiles on Their Passion (1996) and All the Good Books: Quotations for Bibliophiles (2006).

October 22, 2014, 4:00 p.m. in RBML CANCELLED

Another Bonus Event! Jeffrey Sammons, professor of history at New York University, will give a talk entitled; "Chicago's 'Fighting 8th' and 'Harlem's Rattlers': Two Black Regiments, One Black Metropolis in the WWI Era."

The speaker has decided to cancel the lecture at UI due to the recent issue with Steven Salaita's appointment.

November 12, 2014, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

James Cornelius, Curator of the Abraham Lincoln Library, will give a talk entitled; "The Lincoln 'OKCC' (Only Known Copy Club) and Other By-Ways of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library."  This will be an illustrated talk about the collections in the world's largest gathering of "Lincolniana." He will explore the mysteries of how so many publications about Lincoln are exceedingly scarce and also provide a general round-up account of the ALPLM's collections.

December 10, 2014, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

Holiday Note Writing! You know you have to do it, so why not do it with style? Come meet with fountain pen aficionados from our local Pen Central Club.

February 11, 2015, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

John Hoffmann, Head of the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, will give a preview of the exhibition, A Nation in Tears: 150 Years After Lincoln’s Death, the Spring exhibition in RBML.

March 11, 2015, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

James Caudle, the Associate Editor of The Yale Boswell Editions, will give a talk entitled, "James Boswell's Libraries and the Culture of Reading and Book Collecting in Britain, 1695-1825."

April 8, 2015, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

Caroline Szylowicz, the Kolb-Proust Librarian and Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, will give a talk entitled, "Marcel Proust's Vanishing Library."

May 13, 2015, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

Paul T. Ruxin, for 25 years the chairman of the international legal firm Jones Day's specialized energy industry practice, will give a talk about Samuel Johnson and the Revd. William Dodd, supporter of Magdalen Hospital for the Reception of Penitent Prostitutes; "Samuel Johnson and the Hookers' Best Friend."