The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 7, Number 2
May 1983


Ten & Twenty Years Ago

Ten years ago, binders and other interested people were gathering in Philadelphia for the "First Seminar on History of Bookbinding." The fee was $12 for both days. The program read as follows:

A group interested in the history of bookbinding has planned a seminar to be held at the Free Library of Philadelphia on April 24 and 25, 1973, in conjunction with the opening at Princeton University of the exhibition of American bindings from the collection of Michael Papantonio

Tuesday, April 24

1 p.m. Three talks on various aspects of the describing and recording of bindings: structure, tooling, cloth bindings.

Christopher Clarkson, Library of Congress
Willman Spawn, American Philosophical Society
G. Thomas Tanselle, University of Wisconsin

3 p.m. "A Survey of the Sources for Bindings in the United States and Canada"
Dorothy Miner, Walters Art Gallery
4 p.m. Sherry party and exhibition of bindings from the collections of the Free Library's Rare Book Department
7 p.m. Dinner and a talk by Hannah D.French, Rye, New Hampshire, on "Thirty Years After..."

Wednesday, April 25

9:30 a.m. "The Binding of Boston's First Large Folio, Samuel

Willard's Complete Body of Divinity, Boston, 1726" Br. Laurence Everson, Weston, Vermont

Sue Allen, New Haven, Connecticut" Victorian Publishers' Bindings"

"American Book Covers and Their Designers, 1890-1910"

Sybille Pantazzi, Toronto Art Gallery

11:30 a.m. Adjourn for lunch and trip to Princeton
4 p.m. Reception and opening of exhibition at Princeton, New Jersey with two talks on American Binding Practices 1860-1820.

"Neat Bound and Filletted"
Willman Spawn

"Full Gilt and Extra Gilt Bindings"
Hannah D. French

Twenty years ago, in the Spring 1962-63 [i.e. 1963] issue of the Journal of the Guild of Book Workers--its first volume--one could read a report from the Vice-President at Large, Thomas W. Patterson:

The only communication I have to report from Guild members is a letter from Mr. Robert Moms of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Mr. Muma has a fine binding establishment where he has done many distinguished pieces that have been presented to prominent personages such as Queen Elizabeth, President Eisenhower and many others....

He writes, "For the past two months, and until June 1st, I have an assistant, a young Englishman of 23, Mike Wilcox from Bristol, who has had eight years training and experience in fine binding and restoration at Bristol College of Technology and at Baynton's of Bath. They bought out Riviere and Sons and are now the largest hand bindery in England, if not in the world. They do have the largest collection of hand tools in the world, at least.

"I have enjoyed having Mike with me very much and I have learned a lot of very valuable tricks and simplified methods which seem to be peculiar to Baynton's, methods they have developed through the generations for mass production, restoration and fine binding. He is leaving in June to take a job in the field as an ornithological technician for the Royal Ontario Museum and in the Winter in mammalogy in the museum. It seems a shame he is laying aside such fine skill in bookbinding when there are so few with his training. I have talked him into joining the GBW shortly and after a couple of years he plans to return home and set up his own bindery. I hope he can do some part-time work for me in the Fall."

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