Bible repair in progress
Here’s some customer work for a change. This massive family Bible from the 1800’s had a loose front cover, some pages coming loose and a classic duct-taped back. I began working on it last week, removing the first sections and reinforcing some of the torn ones. As a happy surprise, all that duct tape came off nicely; In fact I believe it has actually also protected the sections from further damage, and because only the spine of the book was taped there was no damage to the leather. The cover boards are worn but in many ways very neat. I’m first extending the old cords a bit so that I can sew the sections back, and then continue to assemble the cover.
For those interested, the approximate price for the standard repair of a large Bible is usually around 500€ and up. Books with many pages and sections (such as Bibles) tend to cause lots of work, but if the sewing is healthy and there are no damaged pages the binder has it a bit easier. The repairs for the covers still take a fine amount of leather as well as time and expertise. For this reason extensive repair is rarely recommended for relatively new and common Bibles. However, because Bibles are often the books that are much valued by their owners (holding emotional rather than monetary value), they are among the most common projects on the binder’s bench.
Spring has been busy so far. In between making customer work and discussing projects back and forth, I have had precious little time for books of my own. I’m hoping this will pass, because in the midst of everything I have managed to conceive several ideas I would like to start developing already; things for sale and things for shows. Stay tuned for that.
Here is one of my own books that I have been working on a bit. Don’t you just love that edge? This is an early 20th century book which was clothbound and getting loose from its covers. I decided to give it a new life by making a half leather binding out of it. I liked the character of the dirty, foxed edge so much that I decided to leave it be. I’m now sort of regretting making the new headbands out of silk thread - a stained linen thread would have appealed much more to my interests. This is one of the simpler projects I have decided to keep handy so that I can just continue making them whenever there is time and interest.
The 17th century, when the Sun King Louis XIV reigns in France. The Togukawa Shogunate marks the beginning of the Edo period in Japan. Queen Christina reigns over Sweden and never marries. The Gunpowder Plot. The Commonwealth ends 1660, making England a monarchy again. In 1665 the last of the Great Plague reaches London, and 1666 the city burns. Peter the Great becomes a czar and some twenty years later builds the beautiful, impossible city of St. Petersburg on the swamps where the river Neva meets the sea. Johannes Vermeer paints in Delft. Bunyan writes the “Pilgrim’s Progress”.
Twenty people are executed as witches during the Salem Witch Trials between 1692-1693. During the unusually cold years 1696-1697 the great famine in Finland leaves even the wealthiest houses without crops and grain, and eventually kills one-third of the population. Tea and coffee become popular in Europe. The Dutch East India Company is established and competes in the spice trade with the English East India Company.
How infinitely more lovely is the repair of old books when you begin to think of the era they come from, and all the eras they have survived. It’s a somewhat justifiable trick for keeping yourself interested in fondling and patching completely boring pieces of old rag paper.
The backlog of project photography and writing feels a bit terrifying. I will be going through the pictures when I have a moment for them. In the meantime, see these pictures of a small limp vellum binding I made last month. It is not quite finished in these pictures but you can see the process. If you’re wondering about the Kendal mint cakes, that is a box in which I keep my watercolours. It has also loyally acted as a weight and a book-stand.