Saturday, May 11, 2019

Gold Tooling

Just to maintain the momentum of keeping up with my blog before my attention completely goes back to what's on my workbench, I took some pictures of my recent works to share with you guys.

A few years ago, I had developed a strange physical condition that made my hands shake out of the blue, which prevented me from doing intricate works like gold gilt/tooling. But it has gotten better and I haven't had the symptom little over a year.

So now I've been able to tool without a fear of unpredictable sudden shakes that would ruin hours worth of the entire job; the tooling is done at the end of binding process. Here are a couple of books I finished recently. Both are facsimile bindings based on the original.

This is a two volume set of Breton's China, four volumes bound into two. I forgot to note the publishing date, but it's probably 1813.

This is Travels in the Air by James Glaisher, published in 1871. I neglected to take more "before pictures" of this binding, but the original was exactly the same as my facsimile; A quarter binding with Antique Straight marble.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Family Bible Restoration

It's been over a year since my last post, but I haven't forgotten about my blog; I've just been too busy to pay attention to anything other than what's on my work bench. (I'm horrible at multi-tasking ..)

The reason I decided to write this time is to remind folks, who are planing to get their Family Bible restored, of the importance of choosing the competent/experienced real restorer. There seem to be too many people who call themselves "bookbinders", with only a brief knowledge of binding books that they obtained from watching Youtube videos, attempting to "restore" books for profit, or binders whose binderies have been in business for decades, actually don't know what they are doing. Quite a few of such previously "restored" (or should I say professionally damaged..) books have come to us for re-restoration. 

Every book comes to us is priceless and irreplaceable, but when it comes to restoring Family Bibles, I always find myself feeling especially honored to be a part of their families' history of the past and future; I know Family Bibles are one thing that will be actually loved and cherished by many, for years to come. That is why restoration of  Family Bibles has to be done right, the first time.

A few months ago, this Bible came to me. According to the client, it was restored not too long ago, but as it was exposed to humidity, it became a bit moldy. She wanted us to do something about it.

Well, as you see on the before pictures, the problem is NOT really the mold. It certainly needs more than replacing the moldy endpapers and gluing back the spine. EVERYTHING the previous "binder" did was wrong, or should I say criminal. I was absolutely horrified when I saw the Bible. As an unspoken rule of being in a field of age-old craft like bookbinding, we don't really want to criticize fellow craftsmans' jobs; we just look away, keep our mouths shut, and  mind our own business. Though I have warned people of incompetent binders' existence before, I normally don't actually show an example of bad restoration and say "This is bad". But I couldn't help it this time.

I don't think I need to point out what's wrong with the Bible because pictures show it. Again, all I can say is EVERYTHING this "binder" did was outrageously wrong. There's no indication of his/her having any knowledge what so ever of how to bind a book, let alone restore one. One thing you might not be able to see on the pictures is that the leather this binder used is not pared. Leather paring is the most basic skill any binders must have, by the way.

Anyway, when you are thinking of restoring your Family Bible (or whatever books), do check the binder's works on the website first. And if you like what you see,  preferably visit him/her to actually see/touch the works in person, because digital pictures can be deceiving nowadays.

This is Holy Bible, Dr. William Smith's Standard Bible Dictionary, published by Henry L. Warren & Co., 1881-1884