The Art of the Book: Rabbi Bernard Baskin, Book Collector

Submitted by libplessla on
Filed under Library News:  Archives & Research Collections Events Mills
Rabbi Bernard Baskin

Photo credit: The Hamilton Spectator

Rabbi Bernard Baskin is a household name in Hamilton. He is known both for his many years of service to the congregation of Temple Anshe Sholom, the oldest Reform Congregation in Canada, which he joined in 1949, and in the broader Hamilton community as an avid reader, speaker, and columnist.

Perhaps less well known is his longstanding support for the McMaster community. For nearly 30 years, the Rabbi and his late wife, Marjorie, have been generous donors to the University, giving some 1,000 books and manuscripts and 200 pieces of art to the University Library and the McMaster Museum of Art.

The University Library and the Museum of Art are, therefore, especially pleased to announce a new joint exhibit that honours the Rabbi’s patronage of literature and the arts at McMaster. The Art of the Book: Rabbi Bernard Baskin, Book Collector, curated by archivist Renu Barrett, displays some of the finest and most interesting books and art donated by the Rabbi. Highlights include Egerton Ryerson Young’s By Canoe and Dog-Train Among the Cree and Salteaux Indians; first editions by Dylan Thomas, Ernest Hemingway, and Mark Twain; volumes on typography and printing; and manuscripts and early printed books, including a 1640 edition of The Workes of Benjamin Jonson. Augmenting the book collection are many works by the artist Leonard Baskin, brother of the Rabbi, who was also the founder of Gehenna Press, for over fifty years one of the most successful private presses in North America.

Curator of the exhibit Renu Barrett writes, “Rabbi Baskin is an inspiration to us all. His donation reflects the breadth of his reading and scholarship. I am most fortunate to have selected the manuscripts and books for this exhibit. They reflect the span of his reading and collecting interests, as well as his pursuit of the aesthetic forms of the book.” 

The exhibit, located in the Museum of Art’s Levy Gallery, runs until December 20. On Thursday, Sept. 18 from 6-8 pm, the Rabbi will present a Collector’s Talk at the Museum. All are welcome to attend. We hope to see you there!


Extraordinary talk, tour and reception, thank you so much for creating this exhibition. It was lovely that Rabbi Baskin's son David could speak on his behalf but I wonder if there might be another time we might hear Rabbi Baskin speak in his own words....maybe near the end of the exhibition or at another location in Hamilton?