Sunday, February 06, 2005

Bookbinding - An Art Form by Paul Tronson

How does one categorise this level of craftsmanship?
Is it Book Art?.... Designer Binding?...... What?
The Victorians took Arts and Crafts to an Art Nouvou
level beyond anything ever seen before...or so though they thought.
click on pictures to enlarge
2 Royal Bindings by Paul Tronson

But these styles are a several centuries earlier and were nothing new then!
One only has to visit the Palace of Alhambra in Granada to see that the Moors were influencing the world with their art a millenia ago, it was only with the invention of the printed word that a few men became eminent in the true Art of Bookbinding and by using a most difficult medium of gold leaf, applied their genius to the craft to inspire us all.... just as they were inspired themselves.

Book Restoration - An Art Form by Paul Tronson

But what about centuries of natural wear and tear or neglect and abuse?

This is where conservation itself becomes an art form, it doesn't matter what the condition be it fire or water damage, torn or missing leaves, pages taped together, insect or rodent damage,
even pages damaged by ink as this one;
click on pictures to enlarge

This level of conservation demands a total understanding of all types of damage incurred and most to deal with it!

Invisible mending of torn pages involves knitting the fibres back together.

Insect damage will mean matching and blending in paper fibres

Water stains (tidemarks) will need to be removed first before any other stain. Any provenance such as ink or pencil writing will need to be "fixed" to the paper or they may be lost.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Book Restoration - THE BOOK DOCTOR

The fact is that books are meant to be used, and in doing so accidents occassionally happen. Books that have been labeled "terminally damaged" by their owners have often earned me the name of "Consultant Book Surgeon" or "The Book Doctor" especially when the "patient" comes out of "intensive care".Mildew can also be a deciding factor whether the "patient" lives or dies.
There are many types of mildew and all are commonly known as "Foxing", the mildew gets its name from the (F)errous (Ox)ide or the iron it is attracted to in the paper, usually chemical wood pulp, and all are activated by the same cause...relative humidity.

This is a mild case affecting mainly around the edges.

Whereas the severety of this case is pretty much beyond belief!!!... but this "Book Doctor" has spent the past 30 years developing and implementing unique formulae for every kind of book restoration......................successfully.

Bookbinding - The Traditional Art

Considering the very many different styles of bookbinding practiced since the Egyptian scroll, the Industrial Revolution whittled them down to all but a few still practiced today, even computers have "done away" with the need for ......receipt books, guard books, account books, half extra, extra and super extra , vellum laced ledgers, 1/2 bound in Basil, Levant Morocco, Vellum, Rough Calf, Forel, and Roan, with brass corners and locks........And that was only 30 years ago!

In simple terms, before the Industrial Revolution a bindery of a 100 people may have produced around 500 good quality leather bindings per week by hand, a run of 2000 books would have taken a month to complete.
By developing a case making machine, sewing machine, casing in line, blocking press etc, and reducing the quality of materials, ie; book cloth and paper etc, a run of 2000 books is going to take less than a week, putting 3/4 of the workforce out of a job.

Traditional bookbinding by Paul Tronson

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Friday, February 04, 2005

Bookbinding and the Future

Today conservation is not always about preserving originality, this Family Bible bound around 1840 for the "promotion of Christian Science" is quite restorable, and being the large 4to edition isn't that common, but the customer requested a traditional binding that can be functional and will increase in value but more important a binding that can be treasured and safely passed down through hundreds of years of generations.

The finishing of the bindings not only requires careful attention but a considerable share of taste and talent; taste to form a true estimate of what will accord well with the nature of the work and add to the beauty of the binding; and talent to execute the colours and designs in the best manner.

At this level no fixed rule can be laid down for the binder's guidance; but if he possess good taste, that in itself cannot fail to be the best instructor, and of course the possibilities are endless.

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