Assembling: Alchimie du Verbe

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The Codex Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of:  ALCHIMIE DU VERBE - An Assembly-Exchange.

In celebration of the 5th CODEX Symposium, the 10th anniversary of the CODEX Foundation, and the 500th anniversary of the death of Aldus Manutius - we are pleased to announce Alchimie du Verbe, the first ever CODEX Assembly-Exchange, a carefully curated collection of printed works from some of the finest book artists and printers in the world.

From the earliest written record there have been instances of allegorical figures, shaped language, secret codes, and philosophical alphabets. We have seen the brilliant De laudibus sanctae crucis of Hrabanus Maurus in the 9th century and the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili in the 15th century. In the last 150 years, Arthur Rimbaud's Alchimie du Verbe, Guillaume Apollinaire's Calligrammes, Brazilian concrete poetry, and the mesostics of John Cage are noted examples. In the present context, the artwork of Karen Bleitz, Martha Hellion, Russell Maret, and Harry and Sandra Reese, as illustrated in this brochure, are exemplary.

The book as a spiritual instrument has long been associated with the ancient alchemical tradition of the transformation of self and matter. From the Utriusque Cosmi... of Robert Fludd in the 17th Century to the Neo Emblemata Nova of Daniel Kelm in the 21st, the alchemist has remained a vital metaphor in understanding the works of the creative imagination.

The pieces within this modern Alchimie du Verbe range from traditional private press and playful typographic experimentation to contemporary avant-garde. In other words - a collection truly representative of the CODEX bibliosphere - presenting an international and inclusive view of the book arts as practiced by some of the finest artists and printers working in the field. The symbolic imagination is a constant force in the art and thought of all ages and cultures. In the spirit of the internal bibliosphere and the studium codex, we raise a glass to the typographic imagination and the poetical alphabet.


Walter Bachinski and Janis Butler, Victoria Bean, Karen Bleitz, Carolee Campbell, Aaron Cohick, Crispin & Jan Elsted, Nacho Gallardo, Martha Hellion, Sarah Horowitz, Mikhail Karasik, Peter Rutledge Koch, Patricia Lagarde, Clemens-Tobias Lange, Alan Loney, Peter Malutzki & Ines von Ketelhodt, Russell Maret, Rick Myers, Didier Mutel, Robin Price, Harry Reese & Sandra Liddell Reese, Dmitry Sayenko, Veronika Schäpers, Gaylord Schanilec, Johannes Strugalla & Francoise Despalles, Richard Wagener, and Sam Winston.


Thirty are designated hors de commerce for distribution to the participants. Forty numbered copies are offered for sale.


printed pieces: roughly A4 (8.25" x 11.75")
box: 8.75" x 12.5" x 2.25"


The printed works on Paper were made using a variety of methods, including: letterpress, screen print, hand-set type, photopolymer, wood type, silver-gelatin, intaglio, inkjet, and wood engraving. The papers are equally diverse, including: Barcham Green, Zerkall, and Magnani. From handmade to industrial; gossamer-thin to heavyweight; kozo, cotton, and more. The designs range from broadsides to chapbooks to folded folios. Each work is wrapped in Kawashi paper donated by Hiromi Paper. The complete set is housed in a handmade box from John DeMerritt Bookbinder.



University of California, Berkeley - The Bancroft Library

Stanford University

University of Melbourne

Columbia University

University of Arizona, Tucscon

University of California, Los Angeles - Clark Library

State Library of Victoria

Letterform Archive

National Library of the Netherlands

Auckland City Library, New Zealand

Alexander Turnbull, New Zealand

San Francisco Public Library

University of Auckland

University of Georgia

Brigham Young University

Lafayette College

Herzog August Bibliothek

Scripps College

University of California, Santa Cruz

University of Florida

University of San Francisco - The Gleeson Library