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!

Alternative Uses for a Book Press

Buster Keaton & Fatty Arbuckle, The Bell Boy, 1918

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The Three Stooges, Disorder in the Court, 1936

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For information on the use, history and dating of copy presses, see Rhodes, Barbara and William Streeter, Before Photocopying: The Art & History of Mechanical Copying 1780-1938. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press and Northhampton, Mass: Heraldry Bindery, 1999.