In 1995, while trying to learn the secrets of sticker album publishing, I was presented with the unique opportunity to work side by side with the father of the modern sticker, Giuseppe Panini, while creating an album on the world of animals.
Being the assistant of a leader in children’s books publishing allowed me to discover the world, until then unknown, of vintage photography and collectibles.
Giuseppe Panini, who with his stickers changed whole generations into collectors, was himself, first, an omnivorous collector for the wide variety of his interests.
While we were working on our sticker collection, I was surrounded by a multitude of stories impressed on hundreds of thousands of plates, postcards, illustrated magazines, newspapers collected in its archive, a magical place called “Lair of the Paladin.”
After his death in 1996, his children entrusted me to create an archive-museum – the Fotomuseo Giuseppe Panini – that for a decade allowed us to develop and expand the concept of collecting as a way of sharing memories that had always animated Giuseppe.
In 2008, the clear perception that the cultural path of the Fotomuseo was coming to an end and the will to continue to tell stories through images made me bet on a new concept, at least for the Italian publishing market, inspired by the visual history learning model: illustrated books where words and images combine to “unveil the past to our eyes.”
An approach that allowed even a book on sports, as our debut “Giro Girotondo” on the 100 years of the Giro d’Italia, to become a portrait of the Italian society and its transformation over the course of a century.
Five years after the birth of Anniversary Books, our books led us to investigate the archives of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne and to enter the most inaccessible rooms of a mythical place like the Library of Congress, with which we published “Explorers Citizens Emigrants. A Visual History of the Italian American Experience from the Collections of the Library of Congress”, the most ambitious and international of our projects.
Equally, we spent months in the basements of photo agencies in Italy and abroad browsing old negatives over their lightboxes, or in the inner sanctum of collectors who opened their treasures, large or small, offering us priceless stories. The aim of Anniversary Books keeps on being very similar to that of the gold digger who can not settle for the first bright specks he finds in the river (how many images are produced and used by anyone surfing the web, in the era of the prosumer? ) but who must go deep up to the unexplored lode and bring it back to the surface. In this, too, we can consider our authors as travel companions, people who discovered like us a line of research, and with passion and determination followed it up “to the end of the rainbow”, where the gold hides as the story goes.
The outcome of this ridesharing are books – real memory albums – that try to convey, without nostalgia, our passion for the stories hidden in the photographs, on postcards, in illustrated magazines, in everything that the popular culture industry have been producing in the last 150 years.