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.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Leather clamshell box w/ rounded spine

Though I've seen curious lights in the sky, they probably were either called stars, air planes, satellites or meteorites. Though I've heard unusual sounds after dark, they most likely were an old pipe squeaking or unwelcome creatures moving around, or a neighbor couple arguing over what to have for dinner. Though I've captured ominous images on photos, they probably were due to reflections, dust particles, BBQ smoke or my freaking hand covering the camera lens by an accident. Jesus, however hasn't magically appeared on my toast yet, despite the fact I've burnt helluva lots of things in the kitchen. No images of the Lord, yet. Even if He ever actually had shown up on one of my toasts, I guess I probably thought it was just another burnt toast without realizing it was actually Him. (oops, sorry.. So, I took a picture of my lunch today to see if He was there or not. No luck. Or do you see anything on my toasts!?! haha..)
I consider myself a rationally open minded person, so I neither dismiss nor accept those who clam their unexplainable, unidentifiable, paranormal experiences because I've never seen them, heard them, undergone such incidences myself. Don't get me wrong, I sure look forward to encountering such experiences, but I don't get obsessed about pursuing the proof of the existence of those phenomena. However, I think I'd probably wish ghost phenomenon would be truly real if I lost someone who's very special to me. I'd wish him/her to show up as a ghost so that I could see and talk to them once again, even for a minute. So, I could relate to Sir Oliver Lodge who got into the field of paranormal after the death of his beloved son, and wrote a book about his son and his experiments on the subject.

Well, the book involved in the work posted here was by Sir Lodge, so I just wrote that. But anyway, the client has a Houdidni's personal copy of Raymond or Life and Death by Sir Oliver Lodge, and asked for a clamshell box for it. Since the book is the copy owned by H. Houdini himself, the client asked for a clamshell in full leather to make it more special. For any leather boxes, you can easily make them look like normal books on the shelf by making the spine slightly round, and they would look more like real books with raised cords, etc.- A little trick binders do. Well, it can be a secret box disguising as Joy of Cooking in which you hide a stash of cash behind your spouse's back! haha. - In fact, an acquaintance of mine has asked me to make a "fake-book" box titled in some innocent phrases like "My Life" in order to hide his weed in it. (hahahaHA!) .... I declined, needless to say..

But... Ahhhh! Americans! (hahaha... You can't help but love their easy-going nature!)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Now We Are Six, 1927


The chosen, first book of the year 2014 to be featured on my blog is..... Winnie the Pooh! tataa~!

This is the last of the series of A. A. Milne's Pooh Bear poem book, first American edition of Now We Are Six, illustrated by E. H. Shepard, published by E. P. Dutton & Co. (New York, 1927) It's kinda sad that it's missing the dust jacket, but the client isn't concerned about its market value or what not. It's a sentimental, priceless piece of her childhood that needs to be in her family for generations. The restoration involved was new spine re-hinging without gold lettering, internal cloth hinges, complete resewing, minor corner repairs and some paper mending.

I've put up some pictures of the illustrations here for you guys, because who doesn't like Pooh Bear?! The cutest and the most delightful little thing on the planet next to Honey Boo Boo! (arrr, Am being sarcastic. My bad, my bad.) But, I tell you what.. When I was checking out those adorable illustrations with a face full of spontaneous smiles, master mumbled something with giggles. He whispered, "Now we are sixty.." *giggle giggle grin*... Yes, you ARE indeed sixty, alright. Duh. But now, I can't stop imagining Pooh Bear with a bending back, walking awkwardly with a swinging cane, cursing at random things like an old geezer, Yo! Thanks a lot, master for feeding me the awful images!!

But if you really think about it, Pooh, after all, is 88 years old as of 2014 actually... oh boy.. Truth hurts sometimes. (haha..) Anyway.. Happy New Year, guys! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Miniature Holy Bible w/ brass edging & a clasp, 1860

I love brass clasps and edging, especially when they are on miniature books. I posted some pictures of one of those books about a year ago, and I could see that others love them as much as I do. (based on the large number of visitors to the particular post.) So, I'm posting another one here. This is a miniature Holy Bible, published by Thomas Nelson & Sons in 1860. This humble black leather Bible turned into an eye candy of a treasure with a brass uni-clasp and ornate edging, - the design of which feels as though it were influenced a bit by William Morris or a precursor to Art Nouveau of England. It's very pretty.

As for the restoration, client asked for a simple re-backing with false-raised cords on the spine without any gold lettering. A trouble we normally encounter when dealing with a book with metal edging is the lifting or removing of the edging pieces in order to re-back or re-hinge the spine. For this Bible, because it wasn't wise (or possible) to remove the whole metal pieces, I lifted small sections up enough so that I could do my job, and they were gently hammered back to the original state. I'm so glad it's done in time.. I personally have only a couple of more Christmas orders to go, Yay! ;-)