Hunting the elusive bookbinder

That’s All She Wrote In 1941 Hannah Dustin French of the Wellesley College Library published an essay entitled “Early American Bookbinding by Hand.” In the essay, she makes mention of American’s first bookbinder: Bookbinding was one of the very early crafts to be practiced in this country, but where the

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Care and Repairs for Standard Hardcovers

Many of us have personal libraries, and within those libraries the chance that we own a standard hardcover book is high. Modern case bindings (also known as hardcovers) are everywhere. These bindings are constructed from paper boards covered by a sturdy cloth or decorated paper, and the cover is generally

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The 18th Century, Thomas Jefferson and Book Binding

“I am not so regular in my sleep as the Doctor (Rush) says he was, devoting to it from five to eight hours, according as my company or the book I am reading interests me; and I never go to bed without an hour or half an hour’s previous reading

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Women in Book Cover Design

We recently wrote about the tedious and arduous process of hand-sewn book binding and the hard work of the young women involved. But what about the book covers themselves? We thought it might be interesting to take a look at women’s role in crafting book covers. Early book covers were

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Learning Sewn Endbands

This past autumn I had the opportunity to take Bookbinding Level II through the Canadian Bookbinding and Book Arts Guild (CCBAG). During level two one of the things we learned was how to do sewn endbands. Previously in level one we had done endbands made from cord and cloth wrapped

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A Brief Introduction to Leather

A brief introduction to leather I recently took part in a course through the Canadian Bookbinding and Book Arts Guild (CBBAG). This course is one of the many they offer, and is a prelude to their level three bookbinding course, in which students learn to bind in leather. Our instructor

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Apprentices Out of Order

At the turn of 1636, Sir John Lambe was presented with a series of complaints by a group of journeyman printers. Lambe was serving as a member of the Court of High Commission, an ecclesiastical court set up by Queen Elizabeth in 1559, whose duties included some degree of oversight

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YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED: Book Curses (And Cursed Books)

Christ’s curse upon the crook Who takes away this book.* Until relatively recently in human history, books and documents were valued both for their contents and for the prodigious effort involved in their creation. Book production in a pre-computer age required a high level of literacy, as well as many

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The Macabre of Bookbinding: Anthropodermic Bibliopegy

Not too much about book history can be considered ghastly or morbid. But as you gear up for Halloween this year, don’t disregard the rumors lurking in the stacks: Some books throughout history were bound in human flesh. Anthropodermic bibliopegy, the academic term for books bound in human skin, fascinates

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Spellbinding: Works of Magic in Fantasy Literature

They bought Harry’s school books in a shop called Flourish and Blotts where the shelves were stacked to the ceiling with books as large as paving stones bound in leather; books the size of postage stamps in covers of silk; books full of peculiar symbols and a few books with

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