Fables, Pictures, Pulp & Pen: An Exhibition Honoring the Legacy of Richard H. Schimmelpfeng

Image of a book plate with grapes and fox reads Ex Libris, credit to Leonard Everett Fisher. Text beside image: Fables, Pictures, Pulp & Pen, An exhibition Honoring the Legacy of Richard H. Schimmelpfeng. On view August 30 - October 15, 2021. UConn Archives & Special Collections.

Richard H. Schimmelpfeng Gallery, UConn Archives & Special Collections
August 30 through October 15, 2021 

Fables, Pictures, Pulp and Pen honors the legacy of Richard H. Schimmelpfeng, featuring objects from the significant and varied collections donated to Archives & Special Collection over a 50-year period including fine press books, photobooks, handmade paper specimens, calligraphy and type samples and illustrated bookplates. 

A graduate of the University of Illinois and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Library Science, Richard H. Schimmelpfeng began his library career as a cataloger and head of the technical services department at Washington University in Saint Louis. In 1965, he was recruited by John P. McDonald, Director of the University of Connecticut Libraries, to develop a new special collections program. After 27 years of service to Archives & Special Collections, Mr. Schimmelpfeng retired in 1992. The day after retiring he began working as a volunteer, serving as the principal cataloger for the department until early 2017.   

Richard Schimmelpfeng’s 50 years of faithful service to the fundamental mission of the special collections program, to preserve our cultural heritage for future use, has left an indelible mark on the scope of the collection. He shaped the collection not only in his professional capacity, but also through charitable donations. An avid collector of rare books and manuscripts, Mr. Schimmelpfeng generously donated significant and varied collections to the University of Connecticut. These include the Paper and Papermaking Collection, the Photography Books Collection, the Fables Collection and the Calligraphy, Lettering & Penmanship Collection. A friend and supporter of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, Mr. Schimmelpfeng donated hundreds of limited edition and historically significant books, prints and bookplates to fill gaps in the collection.

Fables, Pictures, Pulp and Pen honors the legacy of Richard H. Schimmelpfeng. Aesop’s fable The Fox and the Grapes conveys a lesson about patience and foresight. Having the patience to wait for unripe fruit to ripen, and the foresight to collect and to preserve for the future, the fable illustrates the wisdom of hope, and that having hope can be its own reward. Upon his death in 2017, Mr. Schimmelpfeng left a generous bequest to Archives & Special Collections which will have a significant impact on Archives & Special Collections’ future success, providing ongoing support for its growth and the expansion of its public programming for the benefit of students, faculty, and the public.  

Featured Collections

Fables Collection: The Fables Collection in Archives & Special Collections was donated by Richard H. Schimmelpfeng in 2006 and forms part of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection in Archives & Special Collections. Comprised of 375 volumes of fables by Aesop and Jean de La Fontaine published from 1734 through 2006, the Fables Collection is notable for its variety of formats and artists represented, including Marc Chagall, Edward Gorey, Daniel Maja, Barbara McClintock, Arthur Rackham, Janet Stevens, Bernadette Watts, Tony Wolf, and Lisbeth Zwerger. Fable books that reflect storytelling traditions from around the world can also be found in the collection. 

Paper and Papermaking Collection: The Schimmelpfeng Collection on Paper and Papermaking, donated in 2015, consists of handbooks, paper specimens and samples, limited edition texts, hand papermaking portfolios, exhibition catalogs, ephemera, professional periodicals and newsletters, and scholarly monographs. The collection documents the history of papermaking, book arts and printmaking, and the work of contemporary artists working in the field of handmade paper art.

Photography Books Collection: A broad collection of photography books, exhibition catalogs, and annual or special issues of periodicals, the Photography Books Collection features the work of both commercial and lesser-known photographers of the male nude. Published chiefly between 1989 and 2000, the collection includes several examples of first or early works. Donated by Richard H. Schimmelpfeng in 2013, the collection extends Archives & Special Collections’ holdings of twentieth-century photobooks -- a valuable resource for students and faculty in Fine Arts, Art History, and Photography. 

Calligraphy, Lettering, and Penmanship Collection: A collection of books, manuscripts, and specimens of calligraphic lettering from the personal library of Richard  H. Schimmelpfeng was donated to Archives & Special Collections in 2004.  Comprised of over 400 volumes and individual works including small press editions and broadsides, the Calligraphy, Lettering, and Penmanship Collection documents the history of script, handwriting, and lettering from antiquity to its modern revival in the 1960s and 1970s.  A valuable resource among art and design faculty for instruction in the history of print and typography, the collection includes instructional manuals for pen and brush alphabets, periodicals on contemporary font design, as well as facsimiles of illuminated manuscripts, with scholarly commentary, from the thirteenth through the sixteenth centuries. 

Download the exhibition checklist