Monday, January 6, 2014

Paper Repair

We've repaired a lot of repair work, ranging from removing layers of duct tape to pulling nails pounded through inner margins. Most intriguing, though, are really old repairs on really old books. Here are just a few.

The Wretched State of Man by the Fall, &c., 1732. This little pocket-sized volume has thin wooden boards under the cracked leather and was held together by sewing on leather straps top and bottom. Especially interesting, though, are the sewing repairs to the first page!

Currently on our bench is a 1650 edition of Thomas Fuller's "A Pisgah-sight of Palestine and the confines thereof" which is filled with beautiful maps. Earlier repairs looked to be patchwork with whatever scraps of paper were lying about, and the map pictured has been patched with four different pieces!
Backside of the repair, including a portion of a letter from 1850.

The "good" side.
How, you might wonder, will we repair these? "The Wretched State of Man" is now more interesting as an early American imprint and historical object than as a working text, and was left as is but housed in a protective box. Although we'll often remove old repairs, resize the paper, and do more "sympathetic" joinery, repairs to "A Pisgah Sight" were also left intact. Though sloppy, they're holding, and might be considered to add "charm". These decisions are made after consultation with the client; historical interest, budget, and mechanical concerns are all factors in choosing treatment.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Vintage Reenactor Journals: Civil War, Lewis & Clark

We're working on a series of historically accurate journals, capturing historical periods we hope will be of great interest to reenactors. The above journal is a faithful reproduction of Lewis & Clark's Codex A and B, roughly 6" by 3" oblong sketchbooks they used for recording maps, wildlife, and descriptions of their journeys. We're working on a dedicated website (www.vintagebookbinding.com)  but feel free to contact us if you find them here!


This small pocket diary's title page reads, "Ladies' Diary. Being a repository for daily musings and reflections on the domestic life." Its leather spine and embossed cloth sides covers the period from roughly 1850 to 1890.


We're especially proud of these Civil War pocket diaries. With interest tables, postage rates, travel times, advice to soldiers (such as "Grow your beard at least 3" to avoid disease") and an expanding pocket for pay stubs and receipts, these are exact replicas of the diaries many soldiers carried. The period-correct flap closure, vegetable tanned leather, hand-marbled paper, choice of fonts and the feel of the paper (an ivory vellum finish as close as we could get to the original), these are the genuine article 150 years later. We hope they become an essential part of the reenactor's kit and spend time on the same ground won and lost during that horrible conflict.





1776 Journals of Congress


 An interesting project that just crossed our bench; an original printing of the Journals of Congress for 1776. Cased in library buckram, it was well preserved but not very attractive. A little strengthening, new endpapers of a similar handmade paper, a little airbrushing for tone, and a binding chosen by the client, a dealer in rare books.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Reproduction Endpapers For Sale


Though hand marbled papers are readily available for restoration work, printed endpapers appropriate for late 19th to early 20th century work have been impossible to find. A small angling collection here for restoration finally brought the matter to a head. An 1884 Denver printing of "With Rod and Line in Colorado Waters" had decorative endsheets too brittle and cracked to be reused, and so we've launched a line of appropriate papers.

They feature small repetitive patterns in a single color, currently available in brown, green and a golden wheat. They're easily aged by immersion or airbrush, have a vellum finish that is a very good match for machine-made papers, and are printed on a Mohawk Ivory 70# text.

We hope to make them more readily available through some of the large suppliers, but meanwhile you can get them from us at $6.90 a sheet, 19" by 25" short grain. Inquire for quantity pricing and shipping costs (zipcode dependent).

bob@gildedleafbindery.com
865-621-7923





Saturday, January 26, 2013

Looking for Help with Unusual Brass Type

I have several drawers of an unusual brass type; odd in its not being "type high" for use in a standard KwikPrint. It's short, with base to top height of about 1/4": 17/64, or 6.65 mm. Since it won't work in my usual machines, I made a typeholder by mounting a multi-line pallet from the Kensol sideways on a metal block. Can anyone tell me more about this type or supply a picture of the original typeholder?



Wednesday, January 16, 2013


We recently hosted a field trip for home schoolers studying the middle ages; a great group of kids and a chance to show off some unique book structures.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012





Another project for the MAAP program with Jennifer McQuistion, who painted the wooden boards. Bound in brown morocco, tooled in blind and gold, brass bosses.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Moby Dick: An alum-tawed whale with details burned in.




Moby Dick: Bob Roberts & Jennifer McQuistion. Bound in blue morocco.  Blind tooled, with silver palladium fish.

Romaunt of the Rose. This piece was Jennifer's introduction to restoration. The textblock needed some mending and resewing. Jennifer did pretty  much everything but the tooling!


A few of the books bound with Jennifer McQuistion of the Brown Dog Bindery through a partnership with the Tennessee Arts and Crafts Association and the Master Artist Apprenticeship Program. After months of training, design, sewing, paring, trimming, carving, pasting, fixing, re-fixing, re-designing, painting, covering, and tooling, we finished the program with a three-day blitz of bookbinding to get these ready for the gallery deadline. It was a great experience! Jennifer has been a pleasure to work with and I look forward to future collaborations!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The MAAP program through TACA

It's been great working with Jennifer McQuistion, teamed up with me through a grant from TACA's MAAP MasterArtistApprenticeProgam. (Their website is here: http://www.tennesseecrafts.org/program-overview.html and includes more pics of us at work.) Jennifer is a painter/woodburner/book artist from Nashville and we're working on some projects for a September show, including bindings of a Bernard Middleton book on restoration, Moby Dick, The Romaunt of the Rose, two Bibles, and the Sermons on Job pictured in the last blogpost. Here are pics of Jen in the shop and other projects we're working on. Her website is www.browndogbindery.com and her blog with with more photos of us at work is at www.browndogbindery.blogspot.com

Sewing a headband

Cutting the book's edges using a traditional lying press and plough.

Paring leather using a great new tool, the Scharfix. It uses a double-edged razor blade in a vise that can be raised, lowered, and tilted for bevelling.


Jennifer painting panels for the Job binding

Jen sketching out designs for our "Restoration of Leather Bookbindings" by Bernard Middleton.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sermons on Job




Outside cover tooled very simply in blind.
Jen painting the inner wood panels
Cutting flowers

Leather borders on and adding leather onlays. The flowers are first tooled in gold, very thin leather applied over the gold, and then tooled again in blind and then gold.

Leather onlays tooled

Front Panel finished and inset into front board. Turn-ins tooled in gold.



The finished rear panel
Rear panel inset into rear board, turn-ins tooled in gold.
Rear panel again
Closeup of rear panel.
We've just finished a copy of John Calvin's Sermons on Job, a facsimile of the 1574 folio edition published by Banner of Truth Trust. The Tennessee Association of Craft Artists has teamed me with Nashville book artist Jennifer Mcquistion for a Master/Apprentice program and this is one of our projects. We've bound the book in alum-tawed leather over raised bands and tooled the outside very simply in blind. Jen does wood burning and painting and she created the wood panels that were laid into a recessed panel on the inside of each cover. A black leather border was added to the paintings and then I've added floral leather onlays in white and red and many hours of gold tooling to fill in. It's currently in the Tennessee Arts Commission gallery in Nashville for a September-November show.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

1566 Table Talk or Tischreden by Martin Luther.

Full Panel tooled

Closeup of tooled cover.

Headbands sewn and blended in.
Paring Leather

Tying up to form spine

Untooled
Page repair in progress. The filled in text at bottom right is from an earlier repair (one of the good ones.)

Newly washed and sized sheets drying


Mending and headbands complete, and lining up spine before applying the new leather.
Currently on our bench is a 1566 copy of Martin Luther's Table Talk. It was in a later case with a number of interesting repairs: some good, some bad. The first and last leaves were pulled, washed, resized, and mended before reattaching to the textblock. Headbands were sewn in period style and new boards cut and beveled. Bound in calf, it was tooled in blind: designs pressed or rolled into the leather with no gold. This was a common style of decoration, gold not in common use for perhaps another 100 years.