Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Civil Wars of Spain, 1652

I realized I haven't posted anything since the new year began, and as it so happened I've kept before pictures of this particular client's books, I just took after pictures of the latest work and decided to put it up. And though it's a month and half late, a happy new year to ya' all! 

The book is The Civil Wars of Spain by Prudencio de Sandoval, (1652). The client asked for a brand new leather binding as one of the original boards was missing. The leather is dyed to make it look appropriate for the era and I chose a red skiver as it was common around the time. I used the raw flyleaf as endpapers for this binding though I normally don't do that. In case some of you aren't familiar with flyleaf, it's the blank sheets at the beginning and the end of a book. Yeah, THAT blank pages got a name just like anything else in the world. haha.. Anyway, traditionally, a book is cased-in with flyleaf as endpapers, and then, if it's preferred, endpapers are laminated onto it afterwards. 

There was a sheet of unrelated, incomplete manuscripts sewn as a part of original flyleaf on each front and back of the book, and the client asked me to take them out as he was curious as to what they were. When you take out things like this from a book, you gotta make sure to indicate where they came from, in case they are separated from the book. Or you never know what the hell they are!

By the way, to update my health status, I'm doing a lot better! Thank you! I hope it keeps getting better!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Barque, a sail journal by Robert Simonson.

We have a rather strict "unwritten policy" (or should I say a common sense?) not to read clients' hand written personal notes and records. But when it comes to very old documents and manuscripts, we certainly get fascinated of checking them out! (duh,,, that's one of the most beautiful aspects of having a job that handles "history", eh?) This torn notebook came in several months ago, and I finally get to work on it. A straightforward job: a brand-new facsimile binding. A suitable job for a binder with not so much energy. The name of the author is Robert Simonson, whose hand-writing is magnificent. ( Boy, people used to write beautifully, you know?) Some pages are written in Hebrew and Greek, and a language that's unknown to me, along with some hand drawn illustrations of landscapes. A very mysterious book for sure. Though the writings are beautiful (or maybe because of it), I had hard time reading his cursive letters! So, I couldn't precisely figure out who he actually was. But looks like he was on board, not as a captain or crew, but as an investor of some kind?  - There are pages containing the records of money movements of hundreds and thousands!? You know of how much a thousand dollars is equivalent to that of today's!? Well, whoever Mr. Simonson was, he sure was a helluva rich dude with an impeccable writing.

Anyway, the client asked for a brand new facsimile half binding with a similar marble paper. The thing about this book is that there are two different notebooks combined together, meaning that they were bound together after these notebooks were filled. ( Bound by a stationary firm out of New York, Jansen & Bell, so I guess this notebook is from mid to late 19th century.) So the first half and last part are different in sizes. In a case like this, you have to "jog" to the top when sewing, yeah? It's OK to have a book that's not "flush" on the bottom, but not OK if the top edge is ragged.

The restoration of this book involved a complete resewing, custom leather dying, antiquing of endpaper to match the preserved half endpaper, sewn headbands and paper restoration.

Oh, by the way, regarding our "unwritten policy", if you put "My Hate List" on the last page of your childhood diary, we can't help but read it. So be aware. hahaha. (I don't know what he did, but she hated you, Mike.. )

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sketches of a tour to the western country, 1810

Whoa! Long time no see! But, I'm still hanging in there, binding books and all. ;-) I'm able to work more now than a few months back, and hopefully my health continues to improve as time goes on.

Since I had considerable time, off and on, being away from work for the last couple of years, I've found myself pondering about things that able people would quip sarcastically as "things that people with too much free time would think", like about my goddamn life and existence and such. haha.. My life, humm, it's so strange that I no longer do or find interest in what I used to love. I'm more and more introverted and antisocial than ever. Everything seems so tedious to me. Last time I got a snippet of excitement outside of the bindery was when my $5-off punch card at nearby Taco joint became full. - As soon as I notice an instant smirk on my darn face, I wanted to smack my head with the corny picture of a smiling bikini chick on a Mexican beach hanging on the wall behind me. What the heck has become of me!

Like, I used to love traveling. It didn't matter whether to a foreign country or a planned two-week vacation. But whenever I got a chance, I tried to explore the world outside of my daily mundane-ness. - it was as simple as hopping on a random bus and see where it takes me, or as stupid as spontaneously buying a ticket to Edinburgh with knowing that my apartment lease would be up and I wouldn't have a place to sleep when I get back. haha.. Reckless, I know, but that was when I was young and fearless. The thing is, the world seems to be a lot brighter then than now, which seemed to have been continuing to get dimmer and dimmer. Sigh... But, you know what? When your health isn't 100%, you could become the biggest pessimist on the planet.

Well, anyway, as I flipped through this binding to see if any foreign objects were stuck in the signatures, and as I was doing so, I angle-read the contents a little bit. Fascinating. This is Sketches of a tour to the western country: through the states of Ohio and Kentucky, a voyage down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and a trip through the Mississippi territory, and part of West Florida, commenced at Philadelphia in the winter of 1807, and concluded in 1809, by Fortescue Cuming, published in 1810. The way of writing and its description of the places and his experiences seem very straightforward without any hard cynicism or sarcasm, yet with consistent honest subtle humor. You see lots of travel essays out there, old or new, that seem to try hard to get your vote by being a cynic, often too critical of the places and its culture as much. But this one's very easy for the reader to get the "picture" because it doesn't seem to be too opinionated. Very positive writing. I can easily fall in love with the featured places and its people of good-ol' America. There's not much info on the author, but I can imagine Mr. Cuming to be a well-to-do Englishman of free spirit! This book reminded me of what I used to be and made me a bit nostalgic..

This restoration involved a new full facsimile binding with a custom-mottled leather, sewn headbands, antiqued endpapers and some paper mending.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Ladies of the Altar Society of Honolulu, 1888

Traditional photo albums are simply destined to get broken in a messy way because of its construction and often unconventional covers and materials. So, restoring them can be a bit troublesome, and I have to admit that they often end up getting onto our work benches last. Sorry! If you are a client who left a photo album with us and reading this, forgive us! But you gotta have to have a certain mind set to work on (messy) photo albums because it just can be tedious! It normally involves reconstructing / guarding the hinge of each page/panel and it's mentally exhausting, really.. Job itself is not complicated, but is a rather mundane task that sort of eats at you gradually. Ugh..

Here's one of those poor photo albums which neither of us, me or master, wanted to touch for a long, long time.... But like I said, we have to be in a certain mind state to tackle messy photo albums. Thank GOD it didn't have a radically raised "dome" cover boards with embroidery or naughty stuffing, or wooden skeletons underneath that stuck to the cover material like Siamese twins! This just involved reconstruction of the hinges and simple re-hinging, Whew! One problem, which resulted in our avoidance from it, other than a boring task of hinge reconstruction, was the warped boards. The pictures aren't really capturing it, but it was bad. I couldn't heat-press them because of the photographs, so all I could do was to straighten them by cold-pressing as much as I could. It looks a lot better, (mind you), and has indeed eased the degree of warping. But still, it's a bit wobbly. Well, it's gonna have to live with that and it's the fate of this photo album. Can't fight the fate sometimes!

This is a collection of photographs of Hawaii, presented to members of The Ladies of the Altar Society of Honolulu in 1888.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Annual Register, 1782

Ugh,, where do I start.. First, my apology for my sudden disappearance and making you guys worry! Second, my yet - again apology for not responding to any of your e-mails, comments and inquiries. Ugh.. I'm soooooo sorry..

But hey, I'm still alive, yo!! (Remember when Dr. Frankenstein's creature came alive? haha, it kinda feels like it.)

Well, the thing is, as some of you might have guessed, I've fallen ill, which became sever enough overtime to pardon myself almost completely from work and any social activities. So, for the last year or so, I really had neither time nor energy to do anything other than to focus on my health and recovery.

As the amount of e-mails I've received during the time was staggering, and I'm not completely out of the woods yet, please allow me to use this opportunity to thank all of you who sent me emails regarding my standing. Thank you, from my heart.

I won't be able to work full time for a while, so my blog won't be updated as often as before, and won't be able to respond to your inquires promptly, for that I, in advance apologize, sincerely. Be patient with me. ;-)

So, anyhow, a few days ago, maybe because the weather was so nice and warm, I felt a lot better and decided to get to work. This is the finished book: The Annual Register, or a view of the History, Politics and Literature for the year 1782. (London, printed for J. Dodsley, 1783) The original was a typical half binding with nonpareil marble, but the client asked for a new full leather with custom mottling. I dyed the leather a couple of years ago, for future use, and at last it's been bound! As you see, I did a quick Cambridge on this one though the client didn't specifically ask for it. I just felt better that day, and wanted to do something little more than a plain, rather boring full leather binding. I hope he likes it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Encyclopædia Britannica, 1768

I've never missed posting a thing or two on my blog every month since I started it, but I did last month. It's really not a big deal, but I sort of feel "defeated".. What I mean is I hadn't felt good and had been unable to work full time since I came back from the trip mainly because of a severe jet lag and chronic shoulder/back pains triggered by my flight back home. But, I've been back to work almost full time since last week, and this time, (for the May-post sake!) I made sure to take a few "before pictures" of what I was to work on. And this happened to be the job.

This is a second edition, 4 volume set of Encyclopædia Britannica published in 1778~9. This is a broken set, - it has volume 1(all plates), 3, 4 and 5, but is missing volumes 1 and 2. The client is a dear regular, so when other volumes are found, he'd bring them next time. He has asked us to rebind them in full leather with a facsimile spine lay out. Generally, Encyclopædia Britannica has red and black skivers, but for these editions, I used an olive color for both, as the client wanted them in identical colors. Two of the volumes were missing headbands, so they needed to be re-sewn. And there were some papers that needed to be mended, but other than that, this was a straightforward rebinding work. It just took me a lot longer than usual to complete because I'm still not in a perfect health and am not like myself yet.. sigh, I gotta go pop some aspirin now.. bummer..

P.S. My trip to Asia went well. Japan trip was reasonably productive without much dramas, - I got some Japanese paring knives for my folks and a blog buddy on the East coast, and excellent mending papers, as well. ;-) and the Singapore trip was fun, except for the day-one being hit by an unbelievable rainstorm till about mid-afternoon. WoW, I've never experienced rain like that!?! Anyway, one major regret was not bringing more $$$$$ to Singapore. Boy, how the heck do people live there?? I mean, I was warned about everything being super expensive, but when I saw a can of the cheapest beer at $8, I almost fainted. (hahaha) But I will go back there, certainly with friends next time. In all in all, I had a great time!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Narrative of a Tour Through Hawaii, 1826

My trip to Asia is coming up in a week, but I don't think I've told you I'll be in Hawaii for a couple of weeks in June. (I, too, need a vacation once in awhile..) While I'm not so enthused about this upcoming multiple-week-long Asia trip to be honest with you, I'm very much looking forward to spending time under the bright sun shines on the white beaches with a dozen cans of macadamia nuts and a *complimentary* six-pack, staying at a backpacker's lodge while hiking up to the Kīlauea (which I hope would shoot up some lavas just for my amusement. Pray for me for that to happen!), and scuba diving for the first time! (I'm gonna have to get new swimsuits cuz I don't think anyone wanna see 30-some-year-old in bikinis,, Aging sucks. haha..) And I can't wait to see my friend whom I haven't seen for years! (Her lovely hubbie's in the military, so they relocate too often,,) Ah, Two more months, M.! Two more months until the Aloha State! I'm gonna be getting rid of my super pale skin there a bit. hohoho.

Well, back to the world of antiquity,, Some two centuries before my (supposed) arrival on the islands, there were British and American missionaries keeping themselves busy with "saving souls" of the Hawaiian natives, ,,, , and one of them was William Ellis. He's published multiple journals chronicling his experiences and records of the lives and customs of the natives. This is one of his first journals; Narrative of a Tour Through Hawaii: Or Owhyhee; with Observations on the Nature of the Sandwich Islands, and Remarks on the Manners, Customs, Traditions, History, and Language of the Inhabitants, published by H. Fisher, Son, and P. Jackson. (London, 1826.) If you look close, the gold ornaments on the spine are pineapples. Haha, that's cute and,, made me hungry just now. (humm pineapples!) Anyway, the restoration was relatively uncomplicated and straightforward; re-hinging and internal hinge mending as well as minor corner repairs. But I thought I might as well share some of the plates in this book that show how thing were back then, back when there were no mega hotel resorts and what not...
(These are digital camera photo shots, and aren't scanned by a scanner. So, pardon me for the strange yellowness of the images..)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Along with Bibles, cookbooks are one of the most restored books in our bindery. That's actually understandable really, as they are, like Bibles, the most personal, sweetest, aesthetically sound, virtually perfect heritage that moms can leave with their families for the generations to come. Whenever I hear someone say "this is my grandma's recipe!" or "this recipe's been in my family for generations!",  I see their genuine smiles with a humble pride and a hint of nostalgia, which melts my heart! Yet, then I would get hit with a bit of envy and a sudden sadness of the fact that I'll never be able to taste my grandma's cuisines any more; my family doesn't have a tradition of keeping anything written...... (Duh! Grandma! You had a stack of pens n' pencils n' tiny notebooks in THAT impeccably crafted, spectacularly beautiful stationary holder you made and kept next to you all the time since I was a toddler!? Why the heck didn't you use it and write sh*t down for me before you went!? .. utterly puzzling and unequivocally frustrating ...)

Anyhow, if you are an American, you probably have seen this cookbook in the kitchen, or a different edition of this one of the most popular and adored cookbooks of all time. (along with Joy of Cooking, Betty Crocker's, American Woman's, etc.) This is a 1938 edition of My New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. This is an earlier edition of this series, so the cover design is different; you might be more familiar with the latter edition design of a red and white checker cover. Like many American cookbooks, this is in a ring-holder binder, which is seemingly clever as a cookbook because you can add and subtract whatever you want. But on the other hand, once the cover is broken (inevitably on the hinges), it's sort of tricky to restore due to the ring fixture on the spine which is permanently fixated with a couple of screws through the cover material inside and out. So, the restoration needs to be done without breaking the fixtures apart. Also, the holes on each page get easily torn over time, so putting hole reinforcement (acid-free) stickers is recommended; but you need to be careful because pages would expand on the spine due to the thickness of the stickers. One thing moms in general love to do is to leave pieces of hand-written recipe notes and recipe clippings of magazines inside cookbooks. Making a secondary miscellaneous pocket or folder for them is always a good idea, in order to prevent those loose papers from going missing over time. For this particular cookbook, I used an ordinary clear plastic folder cut to size and added the custom made folder in the ring binder; the client's secret family recipes will be kept forever!

Friday, February 28, 2014

The dullest month of the year is over!

Yes, I survived the least favorite, dullest month of the year again. Thank you God, it's over! It turned out today was the nicest, warmest day in 4, 5 months, but I've been working away at the backlogs from the basement, missing the rare bright friendly rays of the sunshine..
Some of you, my dear visitors of my blog, had been concerned something might have happened to me and e-mailed me because I hadn't posted anything on my blog, and virtually disappeared over a month. (Thank you for your concern! It means alot to me. ;-) Well, the thing is, I'll have to be out of town for a few weeks beginning at the end of March through April, (I'll be in Japan and Singapore.) so I really needed to get those backlogs moved ahead before I leave. So, I've been forgetting to take time to snap shots of my works and what not. But now, I realized it was already the last day of February, (One of the reasons why I don't like February is the fact it's short! It just doesn't feel "right", you know? Like, "Ohh sh*t,, I gotta have to pay rent already?" ,,) and I forgot to take before pictures of what I've been working on. So, there isn't anything to show you this time, other than the one shown here; the lifeless body of an exhausted binder..

But I just wanted to let you guys know that I'm still here! ;-)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Works Of Edgar Allan Poe, 1905

I was working on this three-volume-set of a first edition, The Works Of Edgar Allan Poe, published by Thomas Nelson & Sons (1905), yesterday when I realized it was Poe's 205th birthday the day before, after reading a news article about his unidentified mysterious follower, nicknamed the "Poe Toaster". Apparently, he, the "Poe Toaster" who bears a cane and wears a cloak, had been showing up at Poe's grave on his birthday at midnight since the centennial anniversary of Poe’s death of 1949. He leaves a half drunk bottle of Martell cognac and three roses arranged the exact same way each time, then would disappear into the night. To this day, no one knows who he is. But it seems that he hasn't been seen since the Poe's 200th birthday in 2009. Hummm, maybe, the original "Poe Toaster" who's said to have died in the 90's intended to continue this tradition until Poe's 200th birthday, so the person who was passes this ritual after his death stopped it as instructed? Well, it's a mystery for sure.

Anyway, the client of these volumes asked for brand new facsimile bindings as the original soft leather cases were in horrible, deteriorating shape. My work was to make simple French joint new leather bindings for these tiny books. And the floral ornament on the spine wasn't too complicated to imitate. So, I've been having rather stress free few days, while Master's been working on an extra large folio book with tons of paper mending for the last four days. hohoho. It must really suck to be him. ha! <--evil

The client also brought another three-volume-set of different titles and publisher to restore in the same way, so for the sake of it, I'm posting a picture of that as well, though they are Emerson and Kipling by T. Y. Crowell & co.