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Manhole Covers Paperback – August 1, 1996
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"The Melnicks' work occupies a rather indeterminate genre category: part history of material culture, part exercise in obsessive photographic cataloguing of related objects, part crypto-Pop artist's book. There is a crisp and even elegant matter-of-factness to their writing and their pictures, a spare functionalist precision."
About the Author
Mimi Melnick is an urban archaeologist who lives in Encino, California. Her late husband, Robert Melnick, was a photographer who devoted the last ten years of his life to documenting manhole covers all over the world.
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Further information, including locale and manufacturing dates and other details, accompany each of the hundreds of sharp and clear black and white photos depicting a dizzying array of covers spanning more than a century of United States history. Sadly, as the author points out, the current trend in manhole covers discards any artistic or aesthetic concerns leaving us with generic contemporary manhole covers. But that wasn't always the case as this book points out.
Besides the art of utility covers, this book provides insight into some of what is going on under the streets and sidewalks of America and what engineers had to confront in their task of making such things accessible. There's more here than you might imagine.