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Don’t Cross a Bookbinder – A Bookbinder’s Curse

bookbinder 2In honor of National Poetry Month, a bookbinder’s curse in 10 stanzas. One wonders what “Particular Occasion” caused Mr. “Burnisher” to vent such spleen.

Solemn Curse Pronounced by Ben Burnisher upon a Master Bookbinder upon a Particular Occasion

May rats and mice devour your paste,
Your paper, and your leather.
May your hand letters be defaced,
Your types all mixed together.

May all your pallets, stamps, and rolls
Be on their faces battered;
Your beating stone pecked full of holes,
Your hammer in pieces shattered.

And may your standing press fall down,
Your pressing boards be cracked,
May your law leather all turn brown,
Each law book edge turned blackened.

May you be bothered all your life
With workmen brandy lovers;
With sandy boards and dull plough knife,
Thin paste and horny covers.

And may your gilding all rub off,
Your roll burn through the leather,
And you henceforward be obliged
To finish in dry weather.

And may your polisher upon
The face be full of scratches,
May every cover you put on
Have at least twenty patches.

May all your colors be too strong,
So as to rot your leather;
May all your books be lettered wrong,
Your fly leaves stick together.

May all your laying presses all get broke,
Your books be wrong collated,
And may you with foul charcoal smoke
Be almost suffocated.

May your apprentice run away,
Your business be diminished,
And may booksellers never pay
You when your work is finished.

God grant that you distressed may be,
From constable to beadle,
And live ’til you can’t feel or see
Your press pin from your needle.
The Finisher’s Friendly Circular, No. 1, 1845-51, page 15