A Beautiful Binding

The Ultimate Historic Structure

A class present from “Historic Book Structures for Conservators” students.

At the end of an exhausting and exhilarating five weeks of teaching “Historic Book Structures for Conservators” in Boston, the students demonstrated what they had learned by making this binding for me.

The folding is uneven. Some of the pages have the imprint of the bottom of a shoe. The book is sewn on three recessed tapes, sometimes bypass, sometimes all-along, sometimes two-on, and sometimes three-on. There are very large weird knots in the sewing thread and untrimmed sewing thread where the joins are. At points the thread misses the gutter by an inch. The spine is lined with blue painters tape. One edge is partially trimmed. Several sections are out of alignment by half an inch. The back half of the book is case bound, though the turn-ins are on top of the end sheet. The spine piece is missing. The front of the book is laced on with tapes that begin on the inside of the board. Some corners of the board are exposed, some turned in without trimming.  All of the squares vary wildly, with the front board smaller than the text block. The entire book is skewed. The pastepaper covering material is not properly adhered, with large areas popping away, and there are some extremely odd cuts in it. There is a small piece of triangular leather on the spine that seems inspired by a “Tomorrow’s Past” binding we discussed in class. The lower board, not visible in the image above, contains numerous handwritten inscriptions: “Peachey” within a circular object that appears to be a peach. The title on the spine, not visible in the image above, is made with glitter and reads “NBSS 2014″ as it the “JP” initials on the front cover, off center.

It was great to have a class who were sophisticated enough to realize that doing everything wrong can be a measure of how much they learned. Bravo!

Summer Hiatus, 2014

The voice-over at the beginning of The Seven Year Itch informs us that the Manhattan Indians had a custom where “Every July, when the heat became unbearable, they [the husbands] would send their wives and children away.”  This continues into the 1950’s, and is the reason that Richard Sherman (played by Tom Ewell) happens to be living alone for the summer and meets “The Girl” (played by Marilyn Monroe).

But times have changed.  Now, it seems husbands, wives, children—everyone?—vacates Manhattan for the summer, myself included.  So my book conservation and tool business will be on hiatus until September 1, 2014.  I will be teaching in Boston, working on some new tool ideas, then on a brief vacation.

Please email if you want to schedule something for the fall. Stay cool!

 

Everhard Ball Bearing Beveled Stitcher

Fillet or creaser?

At the massive Brimfield Flea Market last month, I picked up this unusually well made tool. Note the ball bearings barely visible around the axle. Not only does is spin freely, but there is zero play side to side. And the wheel is very heavy.

At first I thought it was an unusual fillet, used for marking lines in leather. But it turns out it was made for the tire/ rubber industry. It is marked “The Everhard Mfg. Co.”, and is known as a beveled stitcher,  used to smooth wavy edges of uncured rubber. It also bears a striking morphological resemblance to a leatherworkers wheel. Even if it can’t be usefully adapted for bookbinding work, it is still a wonderfully well made object to have.

Yikes! Have I started down the slippery slope from tool user to collector? Is this a problem?

Naturally Packed Sewing


spine2

I first noticed what I call “naturally packed sewing” on an early 16th century quarto. Usually, a pack sewn book has extra windings around the cords to fill them in even with the thickness of the signatures. I believe it was Peter Frack who first described pack sewing, which he called “arch sewing”.[1] For naturally packed sewing, if the sewing thread is fairly soft, and the signatures relatively thin, the paper pretty thin, the book can be sewn packed without additional windings. Here, there are 39 signatures and 39 windings around the double cords. This image is larger than life size.

The paper is 60lb. Mohawk Vellum Soft White from New York Central Art Supply. Folded down to quarto, 2 folios, 4 leaves,  8 pages.

The cord and thread are from Colophon Book Arts Supply. The cord is Garniture Linen Cord, the thread Londonderry Linen, Ash Grey, 18/3.

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Peter Franck. A Lost Link in the Technique of Bookbinding and how I Found It. Gaylordsville, Conn: n.p., 1941.