The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 13, Number 8
Dec 1989


Contents of Cockerell Bindery to be Sold

The contents of the world-renowned Cockerell Bindery are to be sold by auction on Tuesday March 27th, 1990, at Phillips Auctioneers in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, not far from its former home in Grantchester. It is the most important book bindery to be sold this century, and comprises working tools, equipment and materials that were used by the Cockerells, father and son, in the conservation and binding of many of the nation's finest books and manuscripts.

For almost a century the name of Cockerell has represented a tradition that started under the influence of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement and continued until the death of Sydney Cockerell (known as Sandy) two years ago.

Sandy Cockerell has been described as a latter-day Leonardo, for he had not only the dexterity of a fine craftsman, but also the curiosity of a scientist and the engineering skill to find innovative solutions to technical problems. The contents of his bindery reflect these skills, for side by side with the great antique presses of polished wood and metal and the hand tools inherited from his father stand the tools he designed and made himself. Most famous of these is his pneumatic ram. Made using the system that works the flaps on the wings of aircraft, it provided him the extra strength necessary to impress designs into vellum hard covers.

Also in the sale are some of the materials from the bindery, most notably many sheets of the marbled paper for which Cockerell developed a worldwide reputation. Many were experimental sheets that were not included in the Cockerell pattern book, though there are enough of each design to allow then to be used as end papers. They range from the striking simplicity of monochrome to brilliant kaleidoscopic designs in countless colors, some on handmade paper, others on cartridge.

This sale offers unprecedented opportunities not only to those who have a practical interest in owning and using some of the wide range of tools of this great master craftsman, but also to those who appreciate the historical value of these vestiges of a unique tradition in bookbinding.

[From the press release provided by The Art & Antiques Service.]

Catalogs are available from Phillips Auctioneers, The Market, Station Road, St. Ives, Huntingdon, Cambridge PE17 4JA (0480-68144). Viewing times are: Saturday 24th March 9am-12 noon; Monday 26th March 10-6:30; Day of Sale from 9-11am.

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