Bookbinding has a long history, told through objects such as old bindings, tools, and machinery, as well as books and monographs, bindery archives, and periodicals. As a small museum, we rely on you, bookbinders and book lovers, to help us tell this story through donations!
One recent donation is a collection of brass dies originally used at The Riverside Press in Cambridge, MA, generously donated by Darrell Hyder, proprietor of Sun Hill Press. Rescued by Charles A. Rheault, an employee of the Riverside Press, when it shut down in 1971, these dies were used to decorate cloth cases with inks and metal leafs before gluing them to the text block. Many were designed by engravers themselves, drawing on illustrations from within the book or decorative patterns like the Eastlake style popular in the 1880s. Later, with the rise of bindings designed by professional artists, the engravers were responsible for simply transferring the designs of artists. The dies in The Riverside Press Dies Collection include designs by Walter Crane, Sarah Wyman Whitman, and Theodore B. Hapgood—all incredibly well known artists and binding designers.
In-kind donations are a huge part of what allows the ABM to tell the story of the book, and they help us tell richer, more in-depth stories about binders, their lives, and their craft throughout history. A recent donation of books to our Research Collection was instrumental in fleshing out our section on American binding in the newly developed audio tour. Our collection is key to fulfilling our mission by sharing how books are made and why they are important to all of us today.