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Release: Nov. 14, 2000

EDITOR'S NOTE: Prior to Wednesday, a photo-op can be arranged for media interested in shooting pictures of the UICB-made guest books.

Gov. Vilsack and wife to present Japanese dignitaries with UICB guest books

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and his wife Christie will commemorate Iowa's 40-year sister state relationship with Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, when they travel there this week. The Vilsacks will present that state's governor, Ken Amano, with six handmade guest books, uniquely made by the University of Iowa Center for the Book (UICB) using traditional and innovative book production techniques.

The Iowa City-based Iowa Yamanashi Prefecture Friendship Committee commissioned the books, the largest of which will be given to Amano to record the names of Yamanashi Prefecture's important visitors. The remaining five will be given to the state's dignitaries, says Tim Barrett, director of the UICB. Barrett says everything about the special Yamanashi-Iowa presentation books is "Iowan."

"The calligraphy, cover printing and all of the papers used were produced in Iowa City. University Conservator Gary Frost has made sure the bindings, too, are uniquely Iowan," Barrett said.

"According to Frost, the structure of the books was derived from the earliest type of codex binding used in the West. We used a sewn board method that originated and was common in north and eastern Africa during the first centuries of the first millennium. The method spread throughout various cultures before dying out before the advent of printing," Barrett said.

Iowa's relationship with Yamanashi Prefecture, located west of Tokyo, began in 1959 when it was devastated by two typhoons that destroyed its agricultural production. Dick Thomas, an Iowa native who at the time had recently returned to the United Sates from the region, implored Iowa's governor to help with relief efforts, says Jean Lloyd-Jones, chair of the Iowa-Yamanashi Friendship Committee.

Iowa sent 36 hogs and several tons of corn to the region. The 35 hogs that survived the air transport provided the basis of the current swine industry in Yamanashi Prefecture, Lloyd-Jones said. In 1960, the Yamanashi Prefecture legislative assembly asked Iowa to be a sister state and in 1961, Iowa accepted. Since then, there have been a number of environmental exchange programs. During the flood of 1993, the state sent $300,000 in flood aid relief, Lloyd-Jones said.

The UICB was chosen to create the guest books after Christie Vilsack toured the UICB and was impressed with the work done there. Further discussions led to the commission of the guest books.

The books were with a number of Iowa City book specialists, among them Lynn Amlie, manager of the UICB Paper Facility. Amlie's student co-workers made the specially prepared gelatin-sized paper used in the books and Shari DeGraw, UICB printing specialist, hand printed the book covers.

The English language salutation at the head of the large book was written in a foundational Roman hand by Glen Epstein, UICB and School of Art and Art History adjunct professor and calligrapher. Yuka Ohba-Kreiter translated the English into Japanese and Kumi Sato did the calligraphy. Jean Lloyd-Jones, Jane Van Voorhis, former president of the Iowa Sister State, Cyndi Pederson, Christi Vilsack, and Tim Barrett organized the book project.

To arrange a photo shoot of the guest books, contact Timothy Barrett at (319) 331-5103.