Friday, April 20, 2012

Self-Help by Samuel Smiles, 1897

You know a guy named Bear Grylls, who eats bugs and dirt in the wilderness to survive? (yuck... am shivering.. brrrrr...) Looks like his great-great-grandfather was a bit of a public figure himself. He, Samuel Smiles authored a bunch of books but his most famous book was Self-Help. Well, growing up in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, and being in a family of Cameronian, I kinda see why he wrote a book like this. (Just to remind you that I have neither political nor religious affiliations what-so-ever. I just happened to take before-after pictures of this book and it's such a pretty binding, so I featured it here.) Anyway, this is one of the earlier editions of Self-Help with illustrations of conduct and perseverance, published by John Murray in 1897. (Popular Edition, Third print) In terms of restoration, it just required an external and internal re-hinging. As you might know, some books have first and last signatures sewn in a stab manner, and those stab sewn signatures have tendency to get broken as the thread creates too much stress on the pages, as you can imagine. I don't like stab sewn books mainly because of that. (The other reason is because stab sewn signatures don't open flat.) I took a picture of the fate of stab sewn signatures, so that you can see it yourself. I know stab sewing seems to be popular amongst bookbinding hobbyists, but be aware! They won't last long. You might say, "But the traditional Japanese books are stab sewn, and last hundreds of years!" Well, the paper they used is different. They used a paper that is extremely flexible and has no grain, thus it could withstand the stress created by the thread. (But of course, the thread gets broken because of the stress like any other stab bindings.) Anyhow, if you want your book to last long, just sew it by the European method. :-) Oh, by the way, I was just gonna use a bookcloth for the internal hinge, but somehow, I took a trouble to use leather.. Hummm, I think I had one too many beers that night. The thing is, leather's better, so the client got a better deal!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Yapp Bible

I'm finally finishing up the last two books from Chet Ross Rare Books, and they'll be complete tonight. The main reason why I've gotten behind on finishing these books is because of my masterrr! He gave me a couple of Bibles that needed to be done in a couple of days... Anyway, this is one of the Bibles. I forgot to check the publisher and the date of this Bible, but I took some pictures of the process of a partial re-sewing. I'd assume that the complete re-sewing is a no brainier to most people, but I thought some people might wonder how bookbinders re-sew a partially broken signatures without completely breaking down the book. This is one of the methods of re-sewing the parts of broken signatures. Basically, what's shown here is to connect the original thread to a new one, and sew the broken signatures together. Anyway, the owner of this Bible wanted a facsimile case, but didn't want to spend money on leather. So the cover material is a black imitation leather buckram with a flap on the edges. (Yapp binding) 

Friday, April 6, 2012

British and Irish Salmonidae, 1887

Hummm, I thought this book might be of interest to some readers of my blog, so I decided to post it. You see, this is an example of a "restoration" gone wrong. Someone, hopefully not a person who makes a living as a conservation bookbinder, tried to "patch up" damaged parts of this cloth binding. Indeed, we sometimes get clients asking us to do very minimum minor restoration on their books, and often what they ask us to do is basically to "patch-it-up". I, personally, don't like those sort of jobs because I know they aren't perfectly fixed and most of the time, it's a tricky job to perform. HOWEVER, those patched-up parts shouldn't be the first parts to be broken or get damaged again as the years go by. You know what I mean? OK, take a look at this book. Normally, the top and bottom spine of a book get damaged even if everything else is still fairly intact, like this book here. So someone tried to "fix" the spine, as you see. The method/approach of which he/she attempted was not totally far off in terms of "patching up the fragments",by any means, yet the integrity of the repairs were incredibly loose (literally) and the craftsmanship was absolutely sloppy, resulting in the parts to have fallen apart too prematurely and damaged the original even more. As a conservation bookbinder, I'm always very nervous and on edge when handling a work because the fate of the book is totally in my hands.- I'm not allowed to make mistakes, let alone damage the book because of me. Anyway, in case I sound like I'm being arrogant by pointing faults of someone else's work here, I just want to clarify that I'm not saying I'm better than other binders. (Absolutely no way! I'm FAR from perfect!!! I'm an amateur compared to the masters in the world!!) What I want to tell you here is to be careful which bookbinder you're gonna ask to restore your precious books. And if you aren't a bookbinder, but wanna fix a book by yourself, no matter how minute the task might look to be, you should consult a bookbinder whose reputation is solid.
Mr. Ross, in case you are reading my blog, I'd like to inform you that it'll be another couple of days till I finish all of your books. - I have two more books to go. I apologize for the delay. I'm a horrible multitask-er, so I can't work on more than one book at a time. We'll e-mail you when they are actually done. Thank you for your patience.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cherry Blossom

The owner and his wife of Newberry Books gave us a bunch of cherry blossom branches a couple of days ago, and now they are fully blossoming! Spring has come to the bindery! It reminds me of my parents house which is located by a stream with a long row of cherry blossom trees. I don't think they are in season yet as I heard that they had an extremely cold winter there.