To a Bookbinder. A Nineteenth Century Valentine

Everybody’s Valentine Writer. New Castle on Tyne: Printed and Published by R. Walker, ca. 1850 https://www.pbs.org/newshour/arts/before-the-valentine-card

To a Bookbinder:

Of all the great knaves, and of all the great fools

That ever yet handled a bookbinder’s tools;

Of all the big boobies that ere met my view–

Thou lank-haired and crooked-backed ninny, ’tis thou

Oh, well may the maidens all giggle and laugh.

To see such a carcase well bound up in calf,

Oh! Believe me, for ever and ever you’ll whine, 

Ere you press to pour chops a gay young Valentine.

Everybody’s Valentine Writer was a nineteenth century self-help book of sorts, to assist smitten romantics overcome stressful Valentine’s Day writer’s block. Some of the messages were quite targeted, even tailored to those in specific trades like bookbinding. There is another mid-nineteenth century valentine about a bookbinder with a wild image that I wrote about a few years ago. Both of these “vinegar valentines” share a common theme: bookbinders are undesirable foolish losers. Happy Valentine’s day, my dearest bookbinder colleagues!

Thanks to John Townsend for sending me to this Valentine!

FREE ONLINE EVENT: Cary Summer Research Fellowship Roundtable, December 15, 12-1 ET

Image courtesy The Cary Graphic Arts Collection, RIT, 2020.

If the idea of spending a month at the Cary Graphic Arts Collection of Rochester Institute of Technology — home to the incomparable Bernard C. Middleton Collection of Books on Bookbinding — quickens your pulse and makes your hands sweat, first you should wash your hands before even thinking about handling these rare materials.

Then, you should find out more about a fellowship opportunity during this upcoming roundtable discussion. I’ll briefly discuss Edward Walker’s The Art of Book-Binding…, 1850.

Each summer, the Cary Graphic Arts Collection hosts a scholar for a one-month summer research fellowship. Join us to learn more about this unique research opportunity as applications are due on January 15th. Curator Steven Galbraith will provide information and join former Cary Fellows Dori Griffin, Jeff Peachey, Shani Avni, and Robert Gordon-Fogelson for a casual discussion, who will share some of their experiences and exciting discoveries.

December 15, 2020, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm ET. Zoom

Register here at least 24 hours in advance. Open to all.

A Very Cool Patent Model Press

Patent Model Press. Source: https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_998708

One of the best ideas for a standing press I’ve seen. The adjustable bottom platen solves a lot of problems for modern binders and conservators, that often are working on only one book at a time. It would alleviate the need to add heavy wood packing materials, and the lower platen could be positioned at a comfortable work height.

According to the patent description, “This patent model demonstrates an invention for a bookbinders standing press which was granted patent number 30243. The press has a platen, or upper follower, lowered in the usual way by an iron screw, and a bed, or lower follower, that was raised by a rack and pinion.” Patent date 2 October 1860, Pelletreau, Maltby K.

The ratchet would allow for tremendous pressure with short swings of the press pin, and were not uncommon for heavy duty presses in the 19th century.

Were any ever made? If so, I want one!

There are around 400 printing and binding patent models in the Smithsonian’s Graphic Arts Collection.