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[BKARTS] Bookbinding Article (Last Chance)



Several weeks ago, I temporarily posted an article on my website from a 1955
Popular Mechanics Home Handyman Encyclopedia which illustrated construction
details of several pieces of bookbinding equipment with descriptions of the
bookbinding process.  When someone offered to post the article permanently
on their website, I checked my local library for the original appearance of
the article in the August 1940 Popular Mechanics Magazine, hoping for better
engravings of the photographs.  To my surprise, the byline on the article
was by a then 26 year old Manly Banister (the byline was not shown in the
encyclopedia article).  Although Banister died in 1986 and the copyright on
the article was probably not renewed, I am uncomfortable with posting the
article while some of Banister's books are still in print.  So at the end of
the week I will remove the article from my site.

I did a search in the BOOK_ARTS-L archive on Manly Banister and found mixed
views on his work.  The most condescending was the one that said "Manly
Banister is to Book Arts and Printmaking what Richard M. Nixon was to
acting".  While I admit that Banister may not have gotten everything right,
his equipment designs are sound.  In addition to his popularization of the
bookbinding craft, he was a man of diverse interests and was widely
accomplished in a variety of fields.  The first work of his that I can find
was as a writer on Oregon folklore for the WPA Writers Project during the
Great Depression of the 1930's.  After that, I found short fiction in
various science fiction magazines, culminating in the publication of the
science fiction novel "Conquest of Earth" in the 1950's.  He published a
science fiction fanzine in the 40's and 50's called NEKROMANTIKON.  The
first issue's cover was a linoleum cut carved and printed by Banister.
NEKROMANTIKON set a new standard for fanzines of the day.  He worked for
some time as a continuity writer and director in radio and as a planner and
copy writer in the advertising department of a major auto supply company.
The dedication to his book "Pictorial Manual of Bookbinding" was "To My
Daughters Nikki Loa and Zoe Michele".  Nikki Loa and Zoe Michele!  I defy
you to find any mainstream individual in the 1940's who named their
daughters Nikki Loa and Zoe Michele!  "Pictorial Manual of Bookbinding" is a
small volume (40 pages) which coincidentally shows some of Banister's other
interests.  In the section on hard binding your magazine collection, the
photographs show copies of Galaxy, Amazing Stories, Science and Mechanics,
Popular Mechanics, and Lapidary Journal, most likely from Banister's own
collection.

In our current consumer society, most of us simply go out and buy what we
need to pursue our interests.  Manly Banister belongs to a mostly vanished
breed who had to MAKE the tools to pursue their interests.  While he may
have used Elmer's Glue when he should have used a more archival product, and
used alum in his paste when we know now that's not a good idea, his works
are a product of his time.  As a bookbinder, he deserves thanks and respect
for his clear and informative equipment designs and instructions.  His
estate deserves that his still in-print works be supported.  "The Craft of
Bookbinding" and "Practical Guide to Etching and Other Intaglio Printmaking
Techniques" are still in print and available through most bookstores.
Banister's out-of-print works are available from used bookstores or your
local library.

Steve Jackman
Raingarden Press

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