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Tucson, Arizona, United States
I work as Panther Peak Bindery and am a bookbinder, conservator and instructor working outside Tucson, Arizona for individual and institutional clients across the country. I am a two term President of the Guild of Book Workers, was a Fulbright Scholar, taught at North Bennet Street School for over nine years and was the fastest in my middle school class at running up and down a flight of stairs (really!).



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fake or an homage?

I grew up with these kinds of library bindings.  Liked them back then and still do.  They are printed book cloth, using heavy library buckram.  Which means the cloth is very heavy and durable.

Basically what they did was this:  they'd print a design on a roll of book cloth leaving an unprinted strip between the designs.  That unprinted area could be the spine of the book.

These books were done in the 1960s for the King County Library and Seattle Public Libraries.  I bought them at a Friends book sale because I was so charmed by them.

Eventually they stopped using this type of cloth because it was easier to do them on non printed cloth.  Probably cheaper too.

But what I like about them is that the printing on them is to replicate quarter cloth bindings.  What???  How about a definition.  Quarter bindings have book cloth on the spine but not the corners.

Here is a quarter cloth binding I did of Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary.  If you haven't read it you should, but that's not the point here.  But really, you should read it.  The black in this picture is cloth and the reddish part is decorated paper.

Compare that with this and you can see what they were doing.  Clicking on the pictures enlarges them, which may help you see this better.

Half bindings have cloth or leather on the spine and corners with a decorated paper cover the rest of the cover boards.  You've all seen hundreds of them. Here is a half leather binding of a blank book, which I did at school as an example, thus no title on the spine. 

Obviously it would be impossible to do a half binding style on these library books because the size of the boards on books are always different so the corners would never line up correctly.  Why? Because the corners would have to be pre-printed on the roll of cloth and to do that would require all books be the same size.  Which they aren't.

That makes me wonder how wide the book cloth was for these because both usually comes about a yard wide.  Were there two sets of patterns side by side on the cloth or were they just one really wide design?  

Here is another style.  It is more like a design binding!  There is no decoration on the back.  But notice the decorative line across the top and bottom of the spine.  Reminds me of when if something cost a bit more in time, effort, or money it was ok if it make it better or more attractive.  Or more fun.

I should also admit that I like how they feel in my hands, how the paper feels, how they smell.  Everything.  I can't hold one without thinking about walking down the hill to the Green Lake Library, a beautiful Carnegie library that smelled like knowledge.

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