Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bookbinder's & Bookseller's marks

I think I mentioned before that we "collect" bookbinder's & bookseller's marks (a.k.a. book trade labels, bookseller's labels) when clients don't bother keeping them. I put the word "collect" in quote because we aren't serious collectors. It's just that some of these are too pretty to throw away, so we started putting them in an envelope and it just became a habit. Well, as there seem to be avid bookplate collectors out there, (like Mr. Jaffe of Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie) I thought some of you might be interested in knowing that there are such a thing as bookbinder's and bookseller's marks to collect! In case you are wondering how they look like, I just scanned our collection for you. Kinda cute, aren't they?
Humm, looks like there ARE indeed people who collect these little labels. There are websites dedicated to bookseller's marks. Check them out! The Exile Bibliophile , Bookseller Labels

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pseudodoxia Epidemica, 1672

As I've been sooooooo inundated with work lately, I haven't been updating my blog for a couple of weeks! The thing is, Master has been caught up with publishing jobs for a client, and all the restoration works have been on my shoulders.. Anyway, for the last couple of days, I had been working on the most famous book of Sir. Thomas Browne's, Pseudodoxia Epidemica or Enquries into very many received Tenents and commonly presumed Truths, together with the Religio Medici, published in 1672. (The sixth and the last edition) Well, first of all, this book has been "restored" previously, and the person obviously didn't know what he was doing... He used bookcloth/cloth to attempt re-hinging, (and patched a piece of unmatched leather over it superficially to cover it up.) and inevitably failed. (The picture on the right.) I think I've mentioned how frustrating it is to fix someone else's jobs sometime ago, and this wasn't an exception. One crucial issue I had regarding the restoration of this book was that it was impossible to remove the previous "re-hinge" material (which was glued underneath the leather on the boards), without damaging the original leather. Thus, I had to leave it alone, and had to do a rehinge with the initial material still attached to the leather.. You see, it's like a medical doctor couldn't take out a bullet from your brain because it would result in damaging you even more, and you'll have to live with the darn thing in the head for the rest of your life! So, people, if you wanna fix your book by yourself, you gotta consult with a bookbinder, yeah? Anyway, in terms of restoration of this book, it needed a re-hinge with leather that I custom dyed to match the original, the edges and corners of the boards reconstructed, and because it was missing headbands, I did a quick set of one core headbands sewn. The client asked me to design the spine to be suited for the era of the binding, so I did a red, antiqued leather skiver and raised bands with blind band ornaments, just like the original. Oh, by the way, this book had a book plate with an engraving by William Hogarth, so I took a picture of it. (By the way, the engraving and the quote on the bookplate "I have several of the best books, though some of them are a little torn." are from Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, Chapter 8. )

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Northfield High School Yearbook, 1927

School yearbooks are something that I really don't wanna open, unless someone asks me for a good laugh. You know, there's always someone whose picture makes you think, like, "WTF !?!" or " Damn,, it must suck to be you.." sorta thing, and my yearbook pictures definitely belong to the category. I have an unusually thick and tough hair for an Asian and when I was a kid, I really didn't take care of it so well. And because my mom kept it short throughout my childhood, my hair always looked like a mad scientist's after his lab got exploded. - The ultimate bad-hair-years was what it was. So, whenever we get yearbook restoration jobs here, I habitually look through the pages, looking for someone with whom I can commiserate! Anyway, aside from my bad habit of cynically checking out the photos, it's always interesting to see the styles and fashions of each era. This yearbook was published in 1927 for Northfield High School in Minnesota. People in there are all looking fabulous.. (I couldn't find a single "WTF!" picture.. Damn it! And for your information, people were all fit back then... Pre-fast food era....) Anyway, in terms of restoration, the client wanted a brand new leather case with the original front cover inlay-ed, and the book needed to be re-sewn. It was a simple job.