Thursday, July 12, 2012

Titus Lucretius Carus, 1683

This is Titus Lucretius Carus, His Six Books of Epicurean Philosophy, done into English verse, with notes, translated by T. Creech, printed for Thomas Sawbridge, Oxford. (3rd Ed., 1683) This book required a new spine which I re-hinged with leather that I dyed / mottled to match the original color & texture. The edges and the corners are restored as well as the original endsheets fully preserved. Also I sewed a new set of headbands with antiqued threads that I matched the original. I like working on a small book like this. The perfect size for my tiny hands. The client asked for a slipcase as well, so I made a simple one with a set of thumb notches. Based on what was left on the original spine, I could simulate the design on the new leather spine. But, as the top half of the original was missing, I couldn't know how the title was phrased, or whether it had a skiver. In a case like this, I google to see how other copies look like. Unfortunately, there wasn't a picture available anywhere. (I saw a second edition copy, but no picture of the spine, and obviously, it was rebound in half binding sometime ago anyway. Of no use.) So, I decided to simply put Titus's name without a skiver. The reason why I put his name instead of De Rerum Natura is the title page didn't mention it on this third edition copy, and universally, his name would represent the title of his work. And in 17th Century non-decorative bindings like this one often don't have a skiver, so I didn't. I just played it safe here. I hope the client approves my decision. Oh, since there aren't pictures of this title available on the internet, I added a picture of the title page here along with my usual before/after photos. Someone may find it useful.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Spring Flowers by Geertruida Vogel

I'm a big fan of Art Nouveau era paintings & illustrations, so when I saw the illustrations of this children's song book, I was excited! This is Spring Flowers by Geertruida Vogel with illustrations by Rie Cramer, published by A & C Black, London. I had never heard of Rie Cramer before, but wow! Her illustrations draw you right into the captured moment and melt your heart! I took some pictures of the illustrations so that you know what I'm talking about. (I didn't scan them, so the clarity and colors might not be so accurate, sorry.. The originals are much more beautiful.) In terms of restoration, the client wanted a set of new blue cloth corners and a spine with title stamped in white, and the book needed to be re-sewn with a couple of missing pages added. The cover had a water damage, but I had to leave it alone because fixing the discoloration would have damaged the printed graphics. Although this was a very simple job, one dilemma I had was to locate the laid-on illustration of Rie Cramer on the front cover that the client wished to replace as the original was severely torn and missing a majority of the piece. Somehow, I just couldn't find the particular illustration anywhere.. So I contacted a bookseller in Canada who was the only bookseller who had a copy of this book in fine condition. I asked him to scan the front cover and send it to me. I knew it was such a selfish favor to ask, but I did it for the sake of my client. To my surprise, this Canadian bookseller, Mr. Craig got back to me within 15 minutes with a jpg.!! What a generous person!!!! Thank you very much! My client will be very pleased! 

If any of you is interested in getting a copy of this wonderful book with absolutely beautiful illustrations in fine shape, please contact David J. Craig Bookseller

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Holy Bible by Gay Bros & Co. 1884

Often, we get people who ask us for appraisal of their books. It seems a bit strange to us as we are bookbinders, not booksellers - "A different kind of book experts". :-) Recently, someone left a comment on this blog, and asked me how much an antique Bible would cost in the current market. (His was 1733 Bible in Swedish.)Well, this, I sort of knew how to answer. (Bibles R Us!) The following is a part of my response:
Based on my experience, the "value" of Bibles, old or new, is normally relative to its own sentimental value, meaning, it doesn't have much importance to anyone but to the family who owns it, (unless you are a Bible collector(!??) or trying to convert someone else's "homeless Family Bible" to your family's.) And just like today, since Bibles were also "mass-produced" back then and most households had them, 1700's Bibles aren't as rare as most modern people might think. Many of the immigrants from various parts of Europe brought their Bibles with them when they migrated to the New World. By saying this, antique Bibles on the market, in English or otherwise, aren't usually sold at a high price that you might expect, UNLESS it's something that is associated with significant histories of the world, or the binding style is extraordinary and rare, or printed with woodcut or was bound /printed by famous craftsmen in limited numbers, etc. I have briefly talked to one of my bookseller acquaintances about your Bible today, and as I thought, based on the information you gave me, he said he wouldn't be interested in purchasing it at all because he won't be able to find a buyer, let alone the fact that "common Bibles" in foreign languages aren't so popular in the US to begin with. Basically, just because a book is 300 years old doesn't make it rare and valued in a materialistic sense. 
I believe there must be others who are wondering about the "price" of antique Bibles as there are so many existing, so I decided to write about it here. For example, this Bible featured here that I just finished restoring, is very typical style of a large Family Bible of mid-late 1800's. (Published in 1884 by Gay Brothers & Company, New York) You must have seen one like this in your grandma's basement. This looks so beautiful with deep molded boards, covered with rich gold gilding and a complete set of clasps. The client is paying more than a few hundred dollars for the restoration, which basically involved a straightforward re-hinge inside and outside. You might be thinking, "So, if I were to sell this Bible, selling price must be more than a few hundred dollars to make $ out of it!!" Well, that's IF you find someone who's willing to pay that much money directly to you while similar Bibles are sold much less on the market. Finding the "someone" isn't an easy thing to do. So the easiest and quickest way to sell your Bible is to go to booksellers. As they normally pay you about one-third of their selling price, which based on my bookseller acquaintance, is normally about $100~200 for a Bible like this, they only pay you $30~60. (Basically, nothing... Go get drunk at a bar with a couple of appetizers! Money Well Spent!?? humm, you tell me!) But this also means, IF they are willing to buy it, which is often not in an economy like today's (2012, by the way..). So that's it. The conclusion is, unfortunately, a beautiful Bible like this ain't worth much in Benjamins!(An information for people from abroad, The United States' $100 bill has a Benjamin Franklin portrait printed on it . :-) BUT Please Do talk to appraisers/booksellers about your Bible if you are thinking of selling one. It might turn out to be one of those rare "lost treasures" that might make your retirement earlier!!!