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[BKARTS] Finishing tools: initials

At 10:02 PM 9/16/2002 +0000, Bob Roberts wrote:

"Does anyone have a good source to recommend for learning who a finishing
tool was made for? I have several finishing tools with ornate interwoven
initials... the sort of thing Lord So and So might have had tooled on his

Several people have mentioned Tom Conroy, who is indeed THE expert on
bookbinder's finishing tools, and who may indeed have something useful for
you.  His published work, however, focuses on the _tool makers_ -- the die
cutters and others who actually made the tool (and often stamped their
names on the shank, etc.).

If your question is about the design on the FACE of the tool -- i.e., the
image that would appear when the tool was pressed against leather, etc. --
then Conroy's recent book will not be particularly helpful.  Monograms --
intertwined initials -- were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries and may
certainly have been used both earlier and later.  If you can tease out the
initials, then it might be possible to link them with a specific person
using biographical sources such as Burke's Peerage (found at a nearby
research library).  If the initials can't be disentangled, then there'd not
be much hope of making links.  I don't know of any catalogs of identified
monograms, etc.  It might be useful to put up scans of tooled images and
ask a list like exlibris to help you decipher or recognize them.

I'm a little surprised to know monograms appeared on the end of tools.  I
had the impression that generally they were too large to tool well and were
consequently usually created as blocks for use in an "arming press"  -- so
named, I think, because it was used to apply "arms" (i.e., coats of arms,
monograms, and similar sorts of personal identifications) not only to book
covers but to other personal items (wallets and purses, gauntlets,
portfolios, etc.).

............................. Sid Huttner

Sidney F. Huttner * Head, Special Collections *
The University of Iowa Libraries *  Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420 *
319-335-5922 * FAX: 319-335-5900 *
e-mail: sid-huttner@uiowa.edu
Department homepage: http:/www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/new2.htm
The LUCILE Project: http://staffweb.lib.uiowa.edu/shuttner/huttner.htm

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