New and Used Tools for Sale at the Guild of Book Workers Standards Conference, Philadelphia, October 24 – 26

New Merch! Peachey embroidered logo apron.

It has been quite a while since I vended at the Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence, so I decided to pull out all the stops this year and start to sell off some of the used tools and books I’ve collected over the years. Of course, all the new tools I make will also be available to inspect, test drive, and purchase.

I have a big bag of free horse butt scraps, no purchase necessary. Perfect to make small strops and blade covers.

You don’t have to be registered for the conference to attend. The Lowes Philadelphia Hotel is the venue in downtown Philadelphia, and vendor hours are Thursday October 24, 10 – 6, Friday 8 – 8, and Saturday 8 – 3:30.

I’m bringing around 75 books about books to sell, including these.

I’m also bringing a huge bargain box, filled with used bookbinding related tools: Starrett dividers, weights, knives, some prototypes of tools I currently make, a few older versions of tools — kind of a garage sale, really! All super discounted.

Even if you don’t want to buy anything, please stop by to say hi! It is always fun for me to meet those who read this blog.

A peek at the Bargain Box. First come, first serve!

Proportional Dividers. A Very Useful Tool.

A mid 20th century Alvin 450, a triangle and engineers square, and some one sixth scale miniatures.

Proportional dividers are ancient tools, dating back to Roman era, though as late as 1955 some thought they were a Renaissance invention.  The Alvin 450 is really handy when making miniatures, like the triangle and engineer’s square above, that I made for Fritz Otto Buchbinder.  They allow you to quickly see and measure what a reduction in the actual reduction size would be.  Using one is a much more intuitive than having to divide 100ths of an inch into something. But don’t get me started on numeric measuring!


Instructions for how to use a proportional dividers.

Other uses are to convert a given length of line into equal parts, divide a circle into equal parts, and even generate angles. All of which are useful for bookbinders. The 450 can generate proportions down to 10:1 for lines, and 20 :1 for circles. A regular dividers can do these things, but it takes some set up time.

They make a great addition to my  dividers collection.  I found them at a flea market, still in a fake leather covered wooden box, with a nifty sliding pin latch, all for $10. They originally sold for $9.75, so they have held their value. New ones are still available, though considerably more costly, having a list price of $216, though commonly found for $132.

Obviously, though, one can never have too many tools. I’m still looking for a used 458 (10 inches long) and a 950 (stainless steel)….

An Unusual Sewing Frame from the Roycroft Bindery

A very unusual sewing frame. Roycroft Campus, East Arora, New York.

I was excited to find a small display of bindery tools at the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora, New York.  Elbert Hubbard started Roycroft, was inspired by William Morris, and promoted the Arts and Crafts ethos in America during the first part of the 20th century. His press produced many books that today look aggressively “hand-made”.

The sewing frame from his bindery, however, is strikingly innovative and elegant.  The support attachments are similar to the Hickock blank book sewing frame, which I think was designed and produced at least by the 1920’s. I’m uncertain which came first. I use a similar idea for clamping supports in my Nokey Sewing Frame. The curved and cantilevered uprights allow for arm clearance and stability. The late 20th century Clarkson sewing frame uses a similar design.

The rod in the front might be to wrap tapes on, so they can be continually fed upwards.  It also looks like the rod itself can slide a bit in a recess, to the weight helps apply tension?  There are two hinged areas, the front one may also trap the supports, and the one towards the back may contain a storage area? There is some residue on the rod, suggesting something was adhered at some point. But what and why?

The uprights can be removed, and the frame stored in the wooden box it rests on, like the Clarkson design. Given the aesthetics and the use of oak which is common in arts and crafts furniture, but uncommon for bookbinding tools, I would guess  it was made at Roycroft.  But the bindery display contained many other pieces of equipment from other sources, including a very nice Leo Finishing Press, so it may come from another source. It is a clever and compact design.