Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 105
April 1996



LX Commute: My Sentence by Ann Whipple, 1996, 56 pp., edition of 250 designed and produced by Joseph D'Ambrosio. $45.00 + $2.50 s&h. Available from Studio D'Ambrosio, 8925 N. Central, Suite E, Phoenix AZ 85020-2853.

Headbands, How to Work Them by Jane Greenfield and Jenny Hille is back in print and available in paperback. Oak Knoll Press, 1990, illus., 96 pp. Hardcover, $25, Order # 14477; Paperback, $14.95, Order # 43018. Plus $4 first copy, $.75 each addl. copy.

Bookbinding and Conservation by Hand: A Working Guide by Laura S. Young has been reprinted by Oak Knoll with a revised bibliography and a new list of sources. Now in paperback and hardcover. Hardcover, 288 pp., 1995. Price $35, Order # 42512; Paperback $24.95, Order # 42513. Both from Oak Knoll Books, 414 Delaware St., New Castle, DE 19720; ph: 302/328-7232 or 1 800/996 2556. fax: 302/328-7274.


Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast. Jackets Required. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 275 Fifth Street, 94103. 1995. 143, [1] pp. $19.95. ISBN 0-8118-0396-1.

Reviewed by George M. Barringer, Georgetown University.

Subtitled on its upper wrapper "an illustrated history of American book jacket design, 1920-1950," Jackets Required seems at first blush to live up to its self-proclaimed purpose. The reader discovers all too quickly, however, that the authors' emphasis falls far more strongly on "illustrated" than it does on "history." This is by no means a fatal flaw: who would trade the superb illustrations in Ruari McLean's two books on Victorian publishers' bindings for a few added chapters of information without interest to all but the specialist? Jackets Required may indeed become the vehicle for inspiring informed - not necessarily, and perhaps not even desirably "scholarly" - attention to be paid to a remarkable aspect of 20th century book design. It will not do so because of its excellence.

In the first place, it is hard to credit the idea that Messrs. Heller and Chwast actually handled the volumes they illustrate. A cursory examination of the illustrations turned up no fewer than 12 which were signed by their designers on the upper panel but which were listed in the accompanying captions as "designer unknown." Irving Politzer took the laurels for signing in invisible ink: 3 of the 12 were his designs. While not all the signatures were legible, examples by Hans Flato, Paul Wenck, Samuel Bernard Schaeffer, and Charles K. Stevens - all, like Politzer, listed in the index of designers - were overlooked. On the other hand, the text accompanying the double-page spread of the binding of Snow Trenches (1931) makes the claim that "this cover is a rare instance when the embossing was printed in color as it appears on the jacket." No matter that the cover was not, in any technically accurate sense, "embossed" at all. The more telling fact is that Snow Trenches was issued in a clear dust wrapper (allowing the printed binding to show through) with printed paper turn-ins. On the other hand, by illustrating a 1934 reprint of 1001 Afternoons in Chicago Heller and Chwast miss an example where, at least in the editions of 1922 and 1927, the paper boards binding did indeed mirror the design of the jacket: or was it the other way around?

Well, perhaps that is nit-picking, and, as an eminent firm of modern first edition dealers claim in a recent list, this is a book "already in a later printing" that all collectors of same will have to have. If so, they will have to use it with some wariness. First, the examples chosen for illustration seem generally to be in less than what is usually acknowledged as "collector's condition," sometimes so much so that they do little more than suggest the visual appeal of the originals. Caveat emptor. A more damning fault, however, is the failure in the production of Jackets Required consistently to render with accuracy the colors of the originals. One glaring example will suffice: Millie, as all avid readers of Donald Henderson Clarke must surely know, is described on the front jacket turn-in as "the smouldering red head," and the jacket, as originally printed, shows her as one. In Jackets Required, she's a blonde.

The brief discussion of the early history of the dust jacket adds nothing to what is already widely known. Curiously, it avoids all mention of the decorated paper slipcases that graced literary annuals beginning in the mid-1820s. By the same token, while it correctly dates the proliferation of the independently designed and illustrated jacket to about 1910, it ignores the printed paper onlays that first began to replace the stamping of elaborate publishers' bindings a few years earlier. The information about the Book Jacket Designers Guild offers a potential for fruitful further research, however. One wonders where the records of the Guild, if such there were and they survive, may be. One wonders too where there might be institutional holdings of papers of dust jacket designers, or files of original designs; Lynd Ward's papers, together with a fair number of jacket proofs and original designs, as well as examples of the jackets as published, are at Georgetown.

Ultimately, the primary value of Jackets Required is in placing before the reader a reasonably broad selection of dust jackets from a period of design that is now well behind us. Designers may (and probably will) find in some of these works the inspiration for new work of their own; already in recent years the "retro look" has not been absent from the shelves of new book stores. Collectors - and what book people do not collect? - will certainly stumble across examples that will have to be sought out.

Jackets Required is a pretty bad book about a pretty interesting subject. It is to be regretted that it will probably prevent the early publication of a better one. Oh, yes: the author of American Book Illustration is Henry F. Pitz. With a "z," not an "s."

Marie Elena Korey. Elegant Editions: Aspects of Victorian Book Design. Toronto: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto; Massey College, 4 Devonshire Place, M5S 2E1. 57, [4]pp. $Can20.00. ISBN 0-7727-6014-4.

Reviewed by George M. Barringer, Georgetown University.

Ruari McLean first drew widespread attention to what is fast becoming one of the staples of academic library exhibitions and rare book dealer catalogs, the extraordinary richness of book design and production in the 19th century, and particularly in Great Britain in the 1850s and '60s. Massey College began acquiring McLean's own rich collection in this field in 1970; Elegant Editions is the fitting accompaniment to an exhibition mounted in the first quarter of this year, the 25th anniversary of the college's collecting initiative.

Elegant Editions is attractively got up in a style reminiscent of Joseph Cundall and his fellows. It offers, as a worthy alternative to a simple listing of books already familiar to those who have sampled McLean's writings, reasonably useful surveys of some aspects of the development of color printing, together with sketchier accounts of the careers of Owen Jones and Henry Noel Humphreys, and the Great Exhibition of 1851. Most of the facts will be familiar to those who have digested McLean's publications, but this synopsis provides a fitting accompaniment to what must have been a remarkably attractive exhibition. The selective bibliography at the end will point those in search of more information in many of the most profitable directions.

And, too, Elegant Editions suggests a particularly worthy arena for further scholarship: the American and Continental counterparts to the books McLean collected and wrote about. Some studies (notably that on bindings by Sophie Malavieille) exist on French books of the 19th century, and Sue Allen has written briefly about American bindings, but on the whole this is fresh territory available to the researcher who's willing to search out the raw materials and do the necessary work. Perhaps what's needed first is a Ruari McLean.

Rita Hammack. Anyone Can Make a Book, An Illustrated Guide for Making and Repairing Books. Portland, Oregon: self-published. 130pp. Glossary and index. $11.95 + $3 s&h from Bookbinder's Warehouse.

Reviewed by Roberta Pilette, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, University of Texas at Austin.

Writing a good basic binding manual is a difficult task. Our field is in a constant stflate of flux, and "standards" for terminology, structures, and repair techniques almost depend on to whom you have last spoken. I applaud Rita Hammack for her attempt to introduce beginners to bookbinding despite these stumbling blocks, but this publication falls short of success in many areas.

The book is adhesive bound and does not stay open easily on the table top, an important characteristic in an instruction manual. The review copy was also less durable than expected, splitting between the half-title and title pages. A key to the bindings illustrated on the front cover, placed loosely inside the front cover as if it were an errata sheet, will soon be lost unless tipped in.

The book has four parts: "General Information" followed by "Beginning Sewing", "Advanced Sewing", and "Book-Like Gifts", each describing various projects. The overall layout is logical and finding a particular project fairly straightforward.

Some basic problems with the text could have been solved with better copy editing. Inconsistent terminology, for example, is likely to confuse beginners, the author's intended audience. In most of the text, the "head" of the book is referred to as the "top", the "tail" as the "bottom;" and the "foreedge" as the "side" in spite of the fact that in the "General Information" chapter a clearly labeled diagram (p.13) identifies the parts of a book using bookbinder's terms. Another confusing use of a term is "turn in" (so identified in the diagram), with "overlap", more frequently used in the text.

On p. 54, another diagram identifies a portion of the cover as the "spine" but seems to mean "spine piece" or "spine stiffener" as it seems to indicate the piece of card used to stiffen the spine of the cover in a case binding. According to the glossary the "spine" is "The edge of the text block where folds of the sections are sewn together," a definition which fails to differentiate the spine of the case from the spine of the block.

The glossary, indeed, while an excellent idea, could have used more effort. Referring to the cover of the book as a "binding" may be acceptable, but in case construction it is also referred to as the "case", and no where is this term noted. Mull is also known as "crash" or "super." While each term may once have described a specific fabric, they are now generally used interchangeably and all should therefore at least be mentioned in the glossary. Finally, the use of "signature" to identify a "section" should be discouraged. "Signature" refers to the printer's mark found at the bottom of the page, usually on the recto of the first and/or second leaf of a section, which in the days of the hand press helped binders assemble sections in the proper order. The glossary needs work also in the area of cross-references.

The author states clearly that this book is for beginners, and she suggests that the reader start with the first project and proceed sequentially through the book. Each subsequent project is slightly more complicated than the preceding one. However, recognizing human nature for what it is, the author also says that after reading the introductory thirty pages or so, the reader should feel free to start with whatever project is of interest. According to the author, each project contains complete instructions. This is only partly true. In descriptions of the more complex projects, key points are skipped over or reference is made in passing to an earlier instruction. It would be much more useful if techniques were cited consistently and a page number indicated. For example, grain direction is discussed in the introductory notes, mentioned with the first project, but never mentioned again. Reference to an earlier instruction is frequently off-hand. On p. 109, the instructions read: "Turn in overlaps as illustrated in the section on Detailed Procedures." No page number indicates where the reader would find this information, and in fact there are no specific instructions on "overlaps" or "turn ins" (although they are indirectly covered in "Mitered Corners for Hardback Books," p. 26).

While minor errors and lapses frequently creep into the most carefully reviewed manuscript, Hammack's text has many errors of a kind likely to frustrate the intended audience. In the "General Information" chapter, for example, the discussion on sewing gives the reader the impression that to sew a multi-section textblock one stacks all the sections together and sews through each section with a stitch similar to the one used for single section pamphlets described immediately preceding it (p. 23). The actual sewing is later explained more thoroughly in the unit on Multi-Section Books, but the earlier abridged explanation is misleading.

It is not until the third project in the Multi-Section Books unit that gluing up (consolidation) of the spine is identified as a separate step (p. 58, No. 12) and the reason for consolidation is nowhere explained. The instructions to round a book "while the spine glue is still wet" (p. 65) is contradicted in the next project (p. 77) leaving a beginner to wonder which instruction is correct (though an attempt to round a book while the glue is wet will quickly answer that question). Also, there is never an explanation as to why one rounds a book or how to tell if rounding is necessary.

The useful suggestion to allow the textblock to dry between consolidation and the attachment of the spine lining is totally lacking (p. 66). The directions for the Photo Album-Post Style are perhaps the most frustrating. If a reader followed the directions for joint sizes, there is a chance that the cover would not work properly. The diagram on the bottom of p. 114 makes it obvious that one joint must accommodate two layers of the board while the other accommodates only one layer. The 3/8" suggested for the joint width (p. 113) makes for a very loose one-layer or a very tight two-layer joint, and the finished project may be less than satisfactory.

Finally, the description of the Library Style Binding is extremely misleading, if not wrong. The key to this structure, which is not described, is its split board construction. The only difference in Hammack's Library Style Binding and the previously described Case Bound Book-Round Back is that in the Library Style Binding the boards are attached to the textblock (crashed on) and the book is covered in boards.

The author discusses materials briefly at various points. Pastes and glues are discussed in the "General Information" chapter (pp. 21, 22, 30). All white glues are not the same, however, and the author's suggestion that Sobo, Elmer's All Purpose and the pva's available at bookbinding stores are identical is misleading. To maintain flexibility over the life of the book a binder should use a co-polymer that is internally plasticized. Jade and Elvace, the two types of pva available from binder suppliers, have these properties. Sobo and Elmers may not. There is no discussion of binder's boards, cardstock weights, and the types of papers available. It is also useful for people to be aware that binder's board thicknesses are designated by "point size" and to know to what that term refers. Since the intended audience is that of beginners, it is important to stress that cardboard and binder's board are not the same. Tapes appears in one project but are never explained. In the Case Bound Book - Round Back project, "tape, 2-1/2"x 1/2", 3 pieces" is listed under Materials. An explanation of what sort of tape to use is totally absent; nor are tapes listed in the "Materials at a Glance" section at the back of the book. A beginner would be left to wonder exactly what sort of "tape" is required.

The thought of a beginner attempting book restoration after reading this book appalls me. Yet the author states in her introduction that "A little knowledge makes it possible to bind personal writings... or to bind, rebind or restore books that have a special meaning - a first reader, a photo album, a Bible, a guest book, or a gift for a friend" (p. 11-12). It might more appropriately be said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. It would be more responsible to encourage the reader to experiment with creating bindings but to not tackle repairs or restorations without further experience and knowledge. In the unit entitled "Repair & Rebinding," Hammack misses another opportunity to caution readers about attempting to repair or restore valuable volumes, suggesting only that readers "understand the construction of a case book" (p. 82) before starting the repair. This is totally inadequate advice as there are a wide variety of book structures. Yes, it is true that most modern (20th century) publisher bindings are case construction but Hammack can have no idea what type of binding the reader will attempt to repair using her book. Perhaps this explains the "Notice of Liability" which appears on the verso of the title page, a statement which basically says that neither the author nor the publisher are liable for any damage that occurs to any item by following, directly or indirectly, the directions in this book.

In spite of the problems mentioned, some good suggestions and hints are included. The unit on knots (p. 28-29) has a very good explanation of the square knot and the weaver knot, both of which have been known to confuse beginners. In the Multi-Section Book - Triple Cover, the suggestion for the built-in bookmark (p. 50) is very clever. The unit on Case Bound Book -Flat Back (p. 61 no. 2) has a useful hint to help beginners get the textblock into the case squarely: simply put a dab of glue near the hinge for the front and back of the book. Case the book in and allow to dry for 10-15 minutes. Check the book and if the squares are correct, simply finish gluing up and casing in.

Good tips like this are nice to run across, but they do not balance the other problems of this book. Hammack tries to do too much in a slim publication.


This list is compiled by Sid Huttner and includes catalogs received by him which include books of interest to GBW members. Catalog number, address, phone number and Internet address (when stated in the catalog) are recorded.

AB Bookman's Weekly 96:21 (November 20, 1995) is the eighth annual Books about Books & Publishing History issue, with more bookseller's ads than usual related to the book arts. The lead article is "Paths to Book Collecting" by Joel Silver. 97:9 (February 26, 1996) is a special issue on fine arts, prints & illustration. Article on "Women in the World of Art" by Cesi Kellinger and advance information on the 8th annual New York Works on Paper fair (March 8-10).

Librairie Auguste Blaizot 32 (150 items). 164, Fauborg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris, France. 1-43-59-36-58. Bibliography including a number of books about binding and fine bindings.

The Bookpress 91 (223 items). PO Box KP, Williamsburg, VA 23187. 804-229-1260. Varia, including bookbinding, calligraphy, bindings, illustrated books. Halfer's Progress of the Marbling Art (1893) offered at $2500; several bookbinding items. 92 (229 items) Varia, including art reference, books about books and fine printing. 93 (230 items) offers a 17th century engraving of a bookbinder from Jan Luyker's Book of Trades ($135) and Mathias Koops's (London:1800) Historical Account ... of Paper ($2500).

Thomas G. Boss 20 (104 items). 355 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116-3313. 617-421-1880. Many press and illustrated books, a large paper copy of Horne's The Binding of Books, 1894 ($200), a Guild of Women Binders binding ($2500), and others.

Scott Brinded Books 1 (941 items). The Coach House, 106 Dover Road, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1NN, England. 011-44-01303-220567. Bibliography: the history, study & art of the book. More bibliography than book arts, many continental titles.

Bromer Booksellers 95 (109 items). 607 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116. 617-247-2818. <>. Private press, illustrated, and juvenile books.

Califia Books November 1995 list (items not numbered; 50 pages). 20 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. 415-284-0314. A jolly good gathering of books by book artists and presses.

Claude Cox 111 (560 items). 3 & 5 Silent Street, Ipswich IP1 1TF England. 011-44-01473-254776. Press books, type specimens, typography, and books about books.

James Cummins 53 (300 items). 699 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021. 212-688-6192.Fine printing and illustrated books of the 20th century. Indexed by authors and illustrators.

Thomas A. Goldwasser 8 (499 items). 126 Post Street, Suite 407, San Francisco, CA 94108-4704. 415-981-4100. <>. Primarily modern literature (including press books), but offering bindings by the Doves Bindery, Margaret Lecky and Jill Oriane Tarlau.

Jonathan A. Hill 97 (110 items) and catalogue 98 (559 items). 325 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023-8145. 212-496-7856. <>. 97 is mainly history of science but offers a copy of Greve, Hand- und Lehrbuch der Buchbinde- und Futteralmache-Kunst (1822-23), $4750; 3 plates of bindings in color, numberous b&w. 98 offers 14 binding items and other book arts related.

Antiquariaat Frits Knuf Bulletin 55 (250 items). PO Box. 720, 4116 ZJ Buren, The Netherlands. 011-599-0-3447-1691. Includes announcement that this firm has been taken over by Anita van Elferen-Boerakker and will continue to offer bibliography, bookbinding, typography, papermaking,and other book arts.

Barry McKay 39 (649 items). Kingstone House, Battlebarrrow, Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria CA16 6XT, England. 011-44-017683-52282. Arts of the book, with sections on letterforms, binding and paper, illustration, modern fine printing, and curious items.

Oak Knoll Books 176 (718 items), 177 (761 items) and 178 (779 items). 414 Delaware Street, New Castle, DE 19720. 302-328-7232. <>. 176: Arion Press (19 items), Stanley Morrison (103 items), books about books, and bibliography; 177: Printing: History & Technique from the Collection of Norman Blaustein; 178: Books about Books, Bibliography.

Phillip J. Pirages 35 (331 items). PO Box 504, McMinnville, OR 97128. 503-472-0476. Early manuscript leaves; books printed 15th through 18th century (including many historic and modern bindings). 12 pages b&w illustrations, color wrappers.

Quarto Books 19 (298 items). 6623 Elwood NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107. 505-344-2540. Bibliography (including book arts) and press books.

Rulon-Miller Books One Hundred Books from the Library of Elmer and Eleanor Anderson (100 items). 400 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102-2662. 612-290-0646. 6 bookbinding items; Dard Hunter's Papermaking by Hand in America (1960), $12,500; press books.

Thorn Books 56 (270 items). PO Box 1244, Moorpark, CA 93020. 805-520-3647. A Gift Selection (including four binding items and a smattering of other book arts as well as illustrated and press books).

Ursus Rare Books List 16 (331 items). 981 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021. 212-737-9306. Ars Typographia including the George Abrams Collection of Private Press Books. Item 270 (price on request) is an archive of more than 28,000 examples of printing, printing ephemera and advertisements dating from the 1470s to the mid-1970s collected by John Lewis and Berthold Wolpe.

The Veatchs 29 (183 items). 20 Veronica Court, Smithtown, NY 11787-1323. 516-265-3357.
<>. Arts of the book, including a books with the blindstamp of calligrapher Ethel Jean Alport.

Very Graphics List 5 (150 items). PO Box 95642, Seattle, WA 98145. 206-325-1105. Very Graphics imports European books in design, typography and printing history and is the exclusive North American distributor for several titles.

Wilsey Rare Books 32 (117 items). 23 Mill Road, Olivebridge, NY 12461. 914-657-7075. <>. Recent acquisitions in fine printing and books arts including a book bound by Sarah Prideaux ($5000), Halfer's Progress of the Marbling Art ($1000), several items on calligraphy, paper, and binding.

John Windle Lists 25 (142 items) and 26 (241 items). 49 Geary Street, Suite 233, San Francisco, CA 94108. 415-986-5826. <>. 25: finely printed, bound, and illustrated books, 15th through 20th centuries. Illustrated catalog with too much to describe; offers several Peter Koch titles, one in a Daniel Kelm binding. 26: The [William] Blake Collection of Joseph Holland & Vincent Newton. Illustrated.

Charles B. Wood III 89 (311 items). PO Box 2369, Cambridge, MA 02238. 617-868-1711. Trade Catalogs & Rare Books, including a number of early technical dictionaries and encylopedias, 23 books on perspective, and others.