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.