Kevin Driedger’s Portraits in Preservation

Kevin Driedger, on his Library Preservation 2 blog, is conducting a series of “Portraits in Preservation”.  Kevin’s rationale is, “Rather than focus on the preservation related stuff people have written, I want to focus on the preservation related people themselves. I’ve said before that I think conservators, and other preservation professionals, are the least studied and least written about part of the preservation world. So, I want to focus on the people who are actively involved in preservation activities, especially library related preservation activities. I want to interview these people about their life in preservation.”

So, perchance, if you interested in influential events in my professional development, how working in conservation has shaped my worldview or what I think is the most important thing for a conservation student to learn, look no further than Kevin’s blog entry here.

Cobbler’s Bones



    Hirth & Krause, Dealers in…Leather and Findings. Shoe Store Supplies, etc. Grand Rapids, MI: 1890.( p. 46) 

Kevin Driedger , who writes the interesting Library Preservation blog, posted a useful comment a couple of months ago, wondering if I was making an erroneous assumption about how a Turkish bone was used.  I guessed it was used for marking.  Lately while reading a old supply catalogue for the shoemakers I realized it that shoemakers have two distinct types of bones, termed scratch bones and slick bones.  Now I’m convinced that the Turkish cobbler’s bone I wrote about is a scratch bone.  Turkish shoemakers now make European style shoes, not Ottoman.

Judging from the catalog descriptions, it seems the scratch bones (similar to a scratch awl?) were used for marking, and slick bone was used for burnishing or smoothing.  I wonder if the right angles on the left end were also used to scratch a line?  This shape, seems to have served as the template for the most common shape that bookbinders use, with one flat and one rounded or pointed end.

Below is a slick bone that I purchased with some other shoemakers tools.  It is thicker than most of the cow bone folders that are commercially available to now, and has a pleasing natural shape.  The facets of the somewhat crude shape are highly burnished, suggesting it was used with a far amount of force or speed, the accumulation of glue residue and deep scratches give it a gorgeous patina from use.