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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

Past Exhibitions

Thomas W. Patterson, Bookbinder


17 April – 17 August 1972

Opening in conjunction with Homegrown: Pittsburgh Artists on Plant Subjects, this exhibition featured the bookbindings of Thomas Wightman Patterson (1905–1972), bookbinder at the Hunt Botanical Library from 1961 to 1972. Patterson, who had developed a special interest in bookbinding in the 1920s, was binding books for friends and exhibiting his work in Associated Artists of Pittsburgh exhibitions, when a friend introduced him to Rachel Hunt in the early 1930s. At this point in her life Mrs. Hunt had given up bookbinding to focus on her four sons and her numerous civic obligations. She often commissioned Patterson to bind and conserve the rare botanical books in her growing collection. When it was time for that collection to move to the new Hunt Botanical Library in 1961, she made sure that Patterson was there to handle the bookbinding, and for 12 years he and the assistants he trained did just that. Patterson passed away in October 1972. The books in the exhibition were arranged chronologically by the year of binding. The books were in the Hunt Botanical Library collection or were lent by Patterson, the Hunt Library, the University of Pittsburgh, the Western Pennsylvania Hospital, Seton Hill College and numerous private collectors. A short catalogue accompanied the exhibition.