Monday, May 23, 2011

Art book collector Arthur Jaffe - Sun Sentinel

Career of art book collector Arthur Jaffe a real page-turner - Sun Sentinel

Jaffe is synonymous with rare book collecting in Palm Beach. He established the Book Center at Florida Atlantic University in 1998 when he and his late wife Lois donated 2,800 titles to the university. There are now 12,000. And after 13 years curating Boca Raton's Jaffe Center for Book Arts and its treasures, he marked his birthday on May 7 with an announcement: "I'm retiring."
[Page 3] He traces his memory for what sparked his passion for books and settles on two recollections. During Arthur's childhood, his father Max hand-built bookcases back home to shelve the family's immense library. The second was meeting his first wife Lois, a University of Pittsburgh professor, at a wedding. Their first date? A restaurant nook inside the Peabody Book Shop at Charles Street in Baltimore. Without missing a beat, he proposed marriage after the meal. Lois thought he was crazy at first, but accepted. She shared his passion for harvesting books before she passed away.

Within the "Time Flies" exhibit, some of Jaffe's fondest collectibles rest in glass cases at the wing's entrance, along a second-floor landing and near the first-floor circulation desk. There's a 300-year-old "Ga'ez Bible" that Jaffe found in Masai territory in Kenya and a $5,000 edition of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" that took 17 years to hand-illustrate and bind.
There are stranger literary oddities still, such as a book crafted into slices of a cake and a red-stained book shaped like hands. A diary of Jaffe's wartime service sits in the first-floor lobby while a TV flashes a photo slideshow of Arthur in his formative years.
"For my birthday, people sent me letters telling me, in one fell swoop, I changed the character of the library," Jaffe said. "I didn't know I had an effect on it. The impact I leave here may be the joy I inspire in others."
"Time Flies When You're Having Fun" runs through Aug. 10 at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton.

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