Strong-backed and Neat-bound

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Andrews, William Loring. Bibliopegy in the United States and Kindred Subjects. New York: Dodd Mead and Co., 1902, x.

It is well worth spending some time with the illustrations in Loring’s Bibliopegy. The online version gives a sense of them, but can’t capture the detail found in the book. Some are printed with two or more plates, one for the leather and one to reproduce the gold tooling. Others are photogravure. All are spectacular.

The text is sometimes of interest, especially Loring’s “explication” of the bookbinding section in Hazen’s 1837 Panaroma. He considered it the first treatise on American Bookbinding, although we now know most of it is recycled from earlier English Books of Trades. Even Nicholson’s 1856 Manual of the Art of Bookbinding, now generally considered the first American Bookbinding manual, is largely based on earlier English sources.  As Sid Huttner notes in the Garland reprint introduction, “Little (one is tempted to say, if any) of Nicholson’s text came first from his own pen”.

Bibliopegy is a nineteenth century term for bookbinding. I like the way it sounds. A Guild of Bibliopegists? Or too pretentious?

Loring’s book is beautiful and neatly bound. But the paper case structure doesn’t have a joint groove and most copies I’ve seen, including mine, are tearing at the head and tail. The cover boards hit the thick spine piece, creating a levering action that tears the covering paper. Are the stakes for the binding higher when the book is about bookbinding? Can this bibliopegist admit a weakly backed book is still desirable?

My copy. Each time the book is opened the cover paper splits a little more. The gold tooled line to the right on the printed red one hides the join of the three separate pieces of paper between the spine and the boards Andrews, William Loring. Bibliopegy in the United States and Kindred Subjects. New York: Dodd Mead and Co., 1902,

4 thoughts on “Strong-backed and Neat-bound

  1. Byopia Press

    I once returned to (un-named) publisher a book on book design because the text block fell out of the case when I opened it. They sent me a new copy. The same thing happened again, so I fixed it myself. I doubt that the author was thrilled with the presentation of his work. It seems particularly rude of publishers to use cheap and nasty binding techniques on texts about the wonderfulness of some aspect of the book arts.

  2. Jeff Peachey Post author

    Yes, unfortunately it is such a small market doing something nice can add considerably to the cost! Tjere are only 147 copies of this one.

  3. Byopia Press

    I would imagine that the small market would also pay the extra fraction that decent adhesives would cost. ; ] Certainly cheaper than the time I spent repairing a brand new book.

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