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.

Click here to learn more about "Book Valuations."

 2016 Spring Schedule of Meetings of

a Convivial Confab for Book Collectors

February 3, 2016, 3:00 p.m. in RBML
Exhibition Opening: "O, Put me in thy books! 400 Years of Shakespeare in Fiction" A Talk and Tour by Valerie Hotchkiss

William Shakespeare created some of the greatest characters in literature, and in the 400 years since his death, he has very often appeared as a fictional character himself. Join Valerie Hotchkiss for an opening-day walk through our spring exhibition on 400 Years of Shakespeare in Fiction. You will learn about fictional portrayals of Shakespeare in the early seventeenth century—often as a “ghost,” as the hero of Victorian bardolatry, and in more modern, less adulatory portrayals that we call “Breaking Bard.” Truly, this one man, in his time (and other times), has played many parts.

February 24, 2016, 4:00 p.m. at the Spurlock Museum
“Frederick Schwatka: Illinois’s First Arctic Explorer” A Talk by RBML Curator Adam Doskey

Doskey's talk is part of the lecture series for the Spurlock Museum's 2015-2016 exhibition “North of the Northern Lights: Exploring the Crocker Land Expedition 1913-1917.” He will discuss the career of Galena Illinois born Arctic Explorer Frederick Schwatka and the interesting story of how his library came to the University of Illinois.

March 2, 2016, 3:00 p.m. in RBML
"The Printing History of the Cherokee Nation" A Talk by Frank Brannon

Frank Brannon is an instructor at the University of Alabama and also proprietor of the SpeakEasy Press.

April 6, 2016, 3:00 p.m. in RBML
Poetry Reading by Laurence Lieberman

Lieberman is Emeritus Professor in English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Former Editor in Poetry at the University of Illinois Press, he has published fifteen books of poetry and three books of criticism. His latest book of poems, “Divemaster: Swimming with the Immortals,” is published by Sheep Meadow Press (Dec. 2015).

April 20, 2016, 3:00 p.m. in RBML
Shakespeare's Birthday Celebration!

Join us for readings, live music, a puppet show and other activities celebrating the Bard of Avon.

May 4, 2016, 3:00 p.m. in RBML
"Setting the Jewel in the Crown"

A presentation of Rare Book Library designs by UIUC architecture students supervised by Professor Vidar Lerum.