Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 111
April 1997


Linen Bookbinding Thread

Don Guyot, (Colo-phon Book Arts Supply, Inc., 3046 Hogum Bay Rd. NE, Lacey wa 98516; ph: 360 459-2940, fax: 360 459-2945) has received the first making of thread from the mill in Lisburn, Northern Ireland made from specifications set by Don. He worked out the specifications using the samples and information received from customers who responded to his questionnaire, and using options the mill could accept.

Samples of these products, called Colophon Best Blake or Colophon Best Machine, depending on how they were made, may be requested from Colophon. Don feels they are an improvement over what has been available.

Italia Calf

Siegel of California (3527 Madera St., P.O. Box 595, Santa Ynez ca 93460-0595; tel: 805 686-2700, fax: 805 686-2704; usa: 800 862-8956) sells mainly saddle leather and tools. However, they are now stocking a leather suitable for bookbinding:

"Italia Calf: This is a very fine calfskin suggested for bookbinding and small leather goods. The leather is full aniline dyed and tanned in sumac. Sumac is a vegetable tanning extract and the leather has the hand and typical working properties of any other vegetable tanned leathers. We have chosen to have this leather tanned in sumac particularly for bookbinders. Sumac is the traditional tanning agent for bookbinding since it was found to give superior resistance to ageing than other vegetable tans. After many years, bookbinding leathers lose their strength and abrasion resistance due to the presence of iron salts and atmospheric sulfur dioxide (from open fires, gas lighting, industrial pollution, etc.) Our understanding is that sumac tanned bookbinding leathers are nearly impossible to obtain. They are now available from Siegel's.* Choosefrom Black, Mocha. British Tan is also on hand but is not sumac tanned and has a slight pigment coat. Skins average 6 - 9 ft/each. $7.75/ft."

Siegel also sells tools for leather working produced by Blanchard, Dixon Tool and other good hand tool makers. Knives of various sorts, including skiving knives, awls, and lots of tools, the use for which one can only guess at. Send for their catalog.

Ed. note: With a phone call or two we find that all Hewit skins are sumac tanned. Available, of course, through The Bookbinder's Warehouse.