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[BKARTS] Solander case

>(snip) I might also add, that, according to the story of the first,
>fire-proof box back in the late 1800's(?), the theory was proved to
>work when the box was thrown into a pot-bellied stove, and the leather
>burned away --- I do not know if a book was inside?
>Bill Minter

What Bill mentions was recorded by T. Harrison, in a small
booklet entitled, _Fragments of Bookbinding Technique_:
"Making a Moulded Fire-Resisting Pull-Off Case for Very
Valuable Books."

Publ. 1950, at the London School of Printing, from articles in
the journal _Paper & Print_.

The technique is also described by Edith Diehl, in: _Bookbinding:
Its Background and Technique_ (beginning on p. 287 in the original
hardcover [1946], and on the same page of the Dover reprint.)

I'm not going to type in the entire Harrison article, but here
are the bare bones of the story:

"This case is misnamed by Americans as a Solander case.  The Solander
case was designed by Dr. Solander of the British Museum for conveniently
holding prints and has no relationship whatever to the moulded case.

"When the famous bindery of Robert Riviere and Son was burnt out about
the year 1897 there were in hand many extremely valuable books to be put
into moulded cases.  The cases that were completed and contained the books
were scarred but the treasures inside them were entirely unharmed.  The books
not yet in their cases were not so fortunate.

"It must be approaching a century since the eminent Mr. Joseph Zaehnsdorf,
having made and delivered a moulded case to Mr. Quartich, was called before
a gathering of antique book lovers to be put to a very severe test of his
confidence in his workmen and the quality of his boxes to withstand the test
of fire.

"Mr. Quartich asked him if he claimed that the case he had just delivered was
fire-resisting.  With his customary assurance, he unhesitatingly claimed that
it was.  Mr. Quartich then picked up a book which he said was worth 400 pounds,
put it in the case and threw it on a roaring fire which had been prepared for
the test. The company fell into general conversation and waited.

"In the meantime, the fire was constantly poked to keep up the fiercest
possible heat until assured a satisfactory test had been made.  There was,
however, a further and final test made when water was thrown on the fire to
cause something like an explosion.  The poor charred case, which had previously
been given devoted care, honest, careful and superb craftsmanship, was lifted
off with the tongs, the lid removed and the 400 pound book was no worse for
its ordeal.

"A triumph for Victorian craftsmanship and a triumph for Mr. Zaehnsdorf's
confidence in his workmen.  In a recent American book on bookbinding, a
description of such a case, wrongly called a Solander case, is given and
the method of making it. [Diehl?]

"The method described is not fire-resisting to the extent of the Victorian
one and I am afraid Mr. Zaehnsdorf would not have complacently stood by and
witnessed such an ordeal with a case to the American specification.

"It is now nearly 60 years since I first saw moulded cases made, but I have
never been able to find out how and when they originated."


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7549 N. Fenwick
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503/735-3942  (ph/fax)


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