Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Literary Reconstruction

I've begun working on an important collection of several 17th and 18th century poets, or at least their literary remains. Currently on the bench are two 1674 editions of George Herbert's "The Temple" and a 1720 2-volume quarto edition of the poetical works of John Milton. A partially disbound copy of "The Temple" was pulled, mended, resewn, bound, and tooled in the photos above. A second copy needing no text repair was rebound in dark calf, the last picture above. (Pictured lying on "Walton's Lives", in for a reattachment of its boards. The Milton volumes below need new spines, having been rebacked in weak sheepskin sometime last century, those weak joints finally splitting apart. The original headbands were gone, having been replaced with a thick cord tucked into the headcap, so they're being resewn in the photos posted here. The new headbands will be age-toned to match their respective edges (top edges are usually dirtier than bottom) and will go unnoticed (as they should) when the new leather has been worked on. A cloth inner joint was visible and machine-made pastedowns had just been applied over the originals, so those layers were removed all the way back to the original leather turnins. The original leather has been treated with a consolidant, all later materials eliminated, and labels saved in case they're worth reusing. (That'll be decided when new leather is in place and the final results can better be anticipated.) More pics as we progress!

Speaking of bookbinding....

I enjoyed a visit to Nashville last weekend, giving a lecture on bookbinding at their public library's Special Collections Center. With 3 librarians and a number of book artists in attendance, it was a lively crowd, and the hour-and-a-half went by quickly. We talked about a variety of techniques, the future of the book, the demise of trade binderies and apprenticeships and the sad effect on quality, and even covered (briefly) the advertised topics!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Unusual Ledger Construction

Some years ago I happened on several rolls of a canvas-backed slitted paper in a bankrupt bindery in North Dakota. They had at one time made large ledgers for county records, and while hauling away a treasure trove of tools, I saved a few of their ledgers and the rolls of material.

This past month, a ledger arrived for repair that used this now unusual method; the cloth being folded into a continuous Z and each section being sewn to the peaks. It's an interesting way to solve a real problem: how to make a strong flexible binding that will open ALL the way to the fold. I have "Portland Guard" stuck in my head as the name of the hinge material, but would love to hear from anyone that can tell me more! The pictures show a view from the spine, an intact ledger opened, the "Portland Guard" unrolled, and a view of what remains of the spine after the sections have been removed for mending.