The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 12, Number 1
Jan 1988


Obituary: Sydney M. Cockerell

Sydney Cockerell, one of the giants of both 20th century fine binding and 20th century book conservation, died November 6, 1987 at the age of 81.\ Trained by his father Douglas Cockerell at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, he joined his father in business under the name Douglas Cockerell & Son while he was still in his teens, and in 1935 succeeded his father as instructor at the Central School. That same year, he assisted his father in the binding of the Codex Sinaiticus, a 4th century manuscript for which new conservation techniques were devised. He revived the art of paper marbling at an early age, and carried it on at the bindery thereafter, achieving a reputation for the quality of this work, as well as for conservation of early books, design bindings in vellum, and inventive devices for making bookbinding better and easier. Many of his students and assistants have distinguished themselves in binding and conservation.

The first issue of the New Bookbinder featured Sydney Cockerell on the cover, and the first article in that volume was 'The Cockerell Tradition," by Marianne Tidcombe. Bernard Middleton wrote an obituary for the November 10 Independent. Where does the Cockerell tradition go from here? His influence has been pervasive, but it would be good to hear from the students and assistants whom he has influenced most. conservators by continuing its in-house training program and by developing a program to train photography conservators. [Condensed from a report by Ken Foster in the May-June 1987 Archivist, p. 14-15.]

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