Bookbinders Are Crazy (And I Apparently Have a Lot to Live Up To)

First off, let’s just pretend the last month didn’t happen, okay?  Turns out getting back into graduate school involves a lot of life restructuring and a lot of relearning how to be disciplined (and also a lot of relearning about what a “criticism” about a reading is).  The good news is the semester’s half way over.  The bad news is the semester’s half way over.  Expect continued sporadic updates until early December, but then you have such topics to look forward to as “learning with new technology 2,” “should librarians really have special master’s degrees?” and “marginalia from the 14th century to my notebooks.”

For today, here’s some interesting tidbits on bookbinders from some of my Studies in the Book Arts readings:

Binders as individuals are not without interest—for example, Jean de Planche, binder and bigamist; Roger Payne, whose ‘reputation has been enhanced by his partiality for strong drink and his elaborate, not always truthful, bills’; Christopher Plantin, whose binding career ended in a brawl with a drunken nobleman; and Thomas Elliott, who revenged himself on a complaining client by incorporating the letters of his own name into the design of two bindings!1

The same reading goes on to explain that some bookbinders were archbishops like Saint Osmund and that Roger Payne, my new hero,  did not trust his patrons to sufficiently appreciate his genius.

Seems like bookbinders are pretty volatile and awesome people, and I’m proud to be among their number even if my poor coptic binding lacks any finishing (… still, I mean it’s only been a year) and I’m not a bigamist. ;)

1 – From P. J. M. Marks’ The British Library Guide to Bookbinding History and Techniques


2 thoughts on “Bookbinders Are Crazy (And I Apparently Have a Lot to Live Up To)

  1. Yeah, bookbinders are crazy, but lovable in their own special way. Each of us imparts a little bit of ourselves into each binding, knowing that our work will be appreciated in years to come. Elegant and well-made bindings are a joy to hold. They reach out across time to touch the children of the future. That makes me right proud.

    • Thanks for your comment! :) I totally agree, there are only a few things I find more interesting and inspiring than a beautiful, unique bookbinding. Each one tells a story, and I’d love to continue my amateur hobby and learn how to work with leather some day.

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