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.


  1. Glad to see that you are back,I check your site regularly and enjoy seeing your work .Hope that you are able to keep writing and binding.
    One thing I do not understand is what is a Taco?
    With warmest wishes from another antisocial introvert bookbinder.

    1. We should form an underground secret organization called "Anti-Socialis Bibliopegus"!? hahahaha.

      Taco is one of traditional Mexican foods that normally consists of some greens, salsa, cheese and different kinds of proteins, i.e beef, pork, chicken or fish, wrapped in hard or soft tortilla. Very honest and humble food. A kind of food that reflects its people. :-)

      Thank you for checking in on my site!


    2. I'd join the ASB organization, except... aren't we all disqualified by definition? Anyway, hope your health continues to improve, MHR, and that you keep posting regularly. I have a feeling there are many like myself who find inspiration here.

  2. Haha,M,sometimes i found it more interesting to reading your words than admiring the pictures of books.You should write more:)
    I sometimes have the same feeling as you describled ,I think maybe it is because of getting old ,loseing healthy and energy.I plan to cycling around Europe several years later,to remind myself the old days when travelling with a tent and a bycicle...

    So happy to see your update.

  3. Hiya! I wanted to know if you have any good resources for researching historical bindings (for your facsimiles) or if your master has taught you what's appropriate for each time period. Thanks!

    1. Well, I've handled hundreds of hundreds of books of different era over the years. I've been doing this long enough to know a thing or two about periodic bindings and their differences. ;-) So I'd say my knowledge is mostly based on my experiences.

      There must be indeed good reference sits that feature historical bindings out there, but a site that comes to my mind right now is this one; Check it out.

  4. Dear MHR
    I have subscribed to your blog years ago because i found it, and your work - interesting and very beautiful. However i was a bit laking in material helpful to me as a book lover-occassional book repairer. Just recently i stumbled on your vids. Those, i must say, are poetry incarnated. I had learned how to reattach the cover somewhere else, but the fact that i can see those amazing ways of creating a book in a historical fashion is mesmerizing. It is so valuable to see such level of skill filmed with so much refinement. Thank you again.

    1. Thank you, Hanna. It makes me blush as I read such compliments. I wish I could have time to get hands on further videos right now, but it doesn't look it'l happen any time soon.. sigh..