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Color Our Collections 2017

It’s that time again! It’s Color Our Collections week, a project hosted by the New York Academy of Medicine, in which museums, libraries, and archives around the world create coloring pages inspired by items in their collections. Officially it runs February 6-10, 2017, but really, you can print our pages and share them whenever you want. We’ll be happy to see your creative work!

This year we’re sharing most of the pages we made last year, and adding in some new ones. Feel free to print them, share them with your kids and your friends, and color them in however you want – all we ask is that you share a picture with us on social media. Tag us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and share your pictures with the hashtag #ColorOurCollections!

Find our coloring pages here: bookbindersmuseum_coloringpages2017

February is Book Fair Month

Two major events in the Bay Area this month for book lovers and book artists.

Codex 2017 is part of the 6th Bienniel International Book Fair and Symposium at the Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbor Way South, in Richmond. The Book Fair is open to the public, and runs Sunday, February 5 through Wednesday, February 8. Multi-day tickets are $30; Single-day tickets are $10; Student tickets (with ID) are $5. The Codex Book Fair brings the “Best of the Best book artists and fine press printers from around the world to share their work, explore new and old concepts, and to start an on-going conversation about the fate and future of the book as an essential art form.”

The 50th California International Antiquarian Book Fair will be at the Oakland Marriott City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland, from Friday, February 10 through Sunday, February 12. The Fair allows attendees an incredible opportunity to browse and buy books from nearly 200 booksellers from around the world.

In addition to booksellers, the Antiquarian Book Fair features special exhibits, seminars, and presentations, all of which are free to the public with a paid admission. Look for a special group of “book arts” related exhibitors–including The American Bookbinders Museum, displaying binding, letterpress printing, calligraphy, and ephemera. Tickets are $23 for a three-day pass and $13 for a Saturday-Sunday pass; with Student ID a three-day pass is $20, and Saturday-Sunday is $10.

 

 

 

 

 

A Factory Girl at The Dickens Fair

In over a year of giving tours at the American Bookbinders Museum, I have spoken about the women in mid-19th-century binderies who sewed books, day in and day out. Speed was of the essence: By the mid-1800s many of the time-consuming processes of binding had been mechanized, increasing production capacity hugely. The bottleneck? Sewing. So compromises were made in the way books were sewn in order to move that process along faster. A skilled worker on the sewing floor was expected to sew 200 books a day.

Think about that. In a ten hour day, that’s twenty books an hour.

In order to do that, the sturdy practice of sewing around cords was replaced with sewing past them: notches were cut in the spines of books and the book-sewer ran the thread into a signature, out the notch, in back of the cord, back into the notch, and so on. When pulled tight, the thread pulled the cords into the notches. The rub, in terms of quality, was that there was nothing to hold the cord there; if a thread broke, the cord could pop out and the book fall apart. Still, it was fast. Twenty-books-an-hour fast.

Which is where I come in. For five days this fall (spread out over five weekends), as a way of piquing interest in the history of binding and in the ABM, I appeared at San Francisco’s Dickens Christmas Fair in the role of one of those workers. My first conclusion: If paid by the piece–which one often was–I might have starved to death before I reached any decent speed. Even with five days of working at my new skill, I was unable to do more than eight books an hour. As with many hand skills, the process is much more complex than it looks, and attempting to do it properly takes focus.

Focus comes hard when you’re sitting on a busy by-way, talking about binding to everyone who comes by. Parents with children–especially very small children–would stop to watch. A startling number of people who took bookbinding in middle-school (who knew?) came by to reminisce. Older kids sometimes seemed jaded about the process until I pointed out that, because of the “new-fangled machinery,” books were becoming inexpensive enough that even a poor Factory Girl like me could own one. Some people just wanted to sit on a nearby bench and watch for a while. Many people took photos or video, some asked me about the paper and thread I was using, or thought I might be tatting. In character as Annie, an Irish bindery worker, I answered all the questions I could, and steered people to the ABM brochures you can see in the basket on the left.

Staying in character and yet trying to give some of the background on where sunken-cord sewing fit into the history of 19th century binding, I sometimes had to resort to my character’s Celtic second-sight: Dickens Fair is set sometime around the 1850s, and the first successful book sewing machine would not be patented until 1871. “This is the only way it’s done now, but in a decade or two, you wait. They’ll find a way to build a machine to do the sewing too.”

In order to conserve materials, I would wait until I had used up all my signatures, then pull them off the cords, cut the threads, and start all over again. Even for that I had a story: “We’ve a new girl at the bindery, just learning the work, and sometimes I have to take her books apart and sew ’em again.”

It’s not often you get to be the problem and the solution.

 

 

 

Information Professionals Open House

Are you a librarian, archivist, museum specialist, or other kind of information professional? On Tuesday, November 29, from 6-8pm, The American Bookbinders Museum is having a reception just for you in order to share our exhibit on the Florence Flood of 1966, entitled BOOKS AND MUD: THE DROWNED LIBRARIES OF FLORENCE.

Come join us – check out the new exhibit and schmooze with your colleagues!

 

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Books and Mud: the Opening Reception

photo courtesy Daniel Juenemann

photos courtesy Daniel Juenemann

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photos courtesy Daniel Juenemann

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On Friday, October 28, conservators, librarians, historians, and friends of the American Bookbinders Museum joined us for a reception to mark the opening of Books and Mud: the drowned libraries of Florence

The exhibit runs through January 20, 2017 and is open to the public. We hope you’ll join us too.

Bootcamp Open Studio

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Character drawings on display.

For August’s Third Thursday, the ABM played host to the Cartoon Art Museum’s Cartoon Bootcamp Open Studio last night. Visitors got to see some of the amazing artwork by students in the Character Design and Storytelling sections; to play two of the board games designed by Game Creation students, and to make their own comic book to take away. 

If you missed last night, the Open Studio will be in full swing tomorrow, August 20, at 3pm. Come by, play a game, create a story!

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Happy Hour at the Bookbinders Museum

HappyHour It’s the Thursday evening before Memorial Day weekend. Maybe you’ve got plans, maybe you’re looking to start the weekend a little early. Or maybe you’d like to unwind after a busy day and do something a little off the beaten path. We have you covered.

The first ABM Happy Hour is on Thursday, May 26, from 5:30 – 7pm. Come take a convivial tour of our amazing exhibit of working 19th century bindery equipment, enjoy an adult beverage, and wind down from the work day.The price is $15 and covers refreshments and admission. Fun and good company included.

We hope to see you on Thursday!

Eventbrite - ABM Happy Hour Tour

Join Us for Third Thursday at the Bookbinders Museum

3rdThursdayMarchOn March 17 between 5:30 – 8pm, the Bookbinders Museum will be open late for Third Thursday, honoring St. Patrick’s Day, Women’s History Month, and our new exhibit on Women Bookbinders. Come take a tour, cruise the bookstore, or check out a selection of material from the Museum’s collection about women in binderies.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out what the Bookbinders Museum has to offer, here’s your chance. We look forward to seeing you!

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