Peachey Tools in May 2018 National Geographic

National Geographic, May 2018. “Explore” section.

The May 2018 National Geographic Magazine “Explore” section has a gorgeous two page spread of Yasmeen Kahn’s book conservation tools. Kahn is a rare book conservator at the Library of Congress. Both my  A2 leather handle paring knife  (#10) and  two inch brass triangle (#5) are included!

Many of her tools are quite interesting. She mentions the unusually shaped bamboo tool (#7) is useful for cleaning spines. Was it originally intended to be some kind of pen? I can easily imagine how the chunk of Lapis Lazuli (#2) would fit into my hand for burnishing. This also explains why the majority of Islamic manuscripts at LC have blue streaks on the repair paper (just kidding!!!). She made a very nice looking paring knife out of a hacksaw blade (#10). I’m really into this hybrid blade shape.

Depicting tools out of their working context by carefully arranging them emphasizes their aesthetic qualities. This begins ca. 1690 in bookbinding with the engravings that ended up in Dudin’s Art du Relieur. Some of my own tool collection hangs on a wall in my studio, again, for the aesthetics. But they are easily removable in case duty calls, mounted with magnets or between finishing nails.

Can you identify these tools? Hint: most are not bookbinding tools, and I won’t argue if someone opines #1 is not technically a tool.

8 Replies to “Peachey Tools in May 2018 National Geographic”

  1. I let out a small shriek of delight when I opened up my copy and saw this lovely spread. I’m no longer in the conservation world but these tools bring a rush of good (and also frustrating) memories. I’m glad I got to hear several lectures given by Yasmeen at past AIC conferences.

  2. Yea, I bet it might be the first time bookbinding tools have appeared in Nat Geo?

  3. Hi Jeff:

    I used to have a knife made from a hack saw blade. It was one of my favorite tools especially in rebacking. I was given it by a teacher from the Library of Congress at one of my Smithsonian BB workshops in the 1970s when I lived in DC. Sorry to say that it disappeared at one of the workshops at Focus on Books. Do you make them or know of someone who does?. Unlike the one in the article mine had a leather handle covering the unsharpened end. Will you be giving a knife sharpening workshop soon in the Portland area? I missed yours at Focus on Books.

    Joseph Ziemba

    360 718-2749


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