Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 115
December 1997


Karli Frigge. Leather Books, An Illustrated Handbook. 96 pages, 10" x 5 H", wrappers. Ra Joppe, 1997. $38.00

What we have here is not a how-to book that leads one to an immutable final product. The methods described in this book show us how to produce your basic prototype, from which myriad variations can come. The advertising piece says that this book is "the first one to display this binding method"; I am not so sure. But I am sure it has never before been done with such charm and accuracy, which is helped along by 74 illustrations by the author.

There are two versions of the text, a "commercial" one and one in a deluxe binding. I have at hand the commercial version, which, to all appearances, is hand sewn, beautifully printed, and on exquisite, heavy paper. It is glued into a heavy maroon/brown cover paper, printed in black on the front and in what looks like a dark brown on the back. It has the feel of a totally hand-made object, but at only $38, it probably is not (though there is no way to tell). The book is quite lovely, and displays, as the advertising piece for it suggests, a nice harmony between text and form. The deluxe version will be bound in one of the styles described in this manual. Anyone who has seen her Alchemy and Marbling will know what that looks like. Though Karli emphasizes the simplicity of the techniques for these bindings, the final product is elegant and genuinely "deluxe". Either version will be a great bargain, not only for people who collect fine press books, but for anyone interested in the techniques of binding.

The paperback version of "Leather Books" is available from Dawson's Book Shop, 535 North Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90004, ph: 213-469-2186. $38.00. The deluxe edition, bound in the method described in the book, is limited to 45 signed copies, $475.00. Available from Karli Frigge, Lochemseweg 75, 7215 RA JOPPE, The Netherlands.

Sidney E. Berger, Head of Special Collections, University Library, University of California, Riverside.

Richard W. Horton. Making Albums for Photos and Paper Collectibles. With illustrations by Gary Frost, 62 pp., self-published in 1997. To order this book, send a check for $18 , payable to Richard W. Horton, 46 Holland Avenue, WestWeld, MA 01085. Multiple orders: $15 per book and $5 s&h.

In Making Albums for Photos and Paper Collectibles, the reader receives the benefit of Richard Horton's extensive research and experimentation in making albums for photographs and ephemera which will both function well and protect their contents. Much of the information in the book was presented at last year's GBW Annual Seminar on Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding, in Pasadena, and gradually refined and illustrated for this edition.

Horton's efforts have unraveled many of the complicated issues relating to the creation of albums and helps us to avoid the disastrous results that so many of us have experienced in making photograph albums and scrapbooks. He presents ten well-described and clearly-illustrated new designs for album leaves which offer the following advantages for any collector, binder or conservator concerned with the longevity of his/her collection: a sound alternative to using adhesive as a means of attachment; the avoidance of extreme flexing of the mounted object during installation; and the creation of a hollow mat, with a polyester film object protector that holds the object, so that pages will close completely and the objects will not suffer undue wear or damage from handling or atmospheric conditions.

As many of us know, it is not a simple task to describe the creation of complicated bookbinding structures in a clear manner, however Horton has gone to great lengths to provide the reader with every detail required to reproduce his designs. Making Albums for Photos and Paper Collectibles includes a thorough list of materials; descriptions of useful sewing, gluing and trimming techniques; and directions for the construction of jigs and dyes. Horton will even go so far as to offer a set of eight handmade album leaves for which instructions are given at the reasonable cost of $40.

For many reasons, I highly recommend this book to anyone involved in the making or repairing of albums of any kind. I don't know of another book on the subject, so the information this book provides is most welcome and long overdue; Horton's designs are extremely elegant as well as practical; the book is reasonably priced; and all of us should support our peers who provide us with such a generous and useful body of information.

Mindell Dubansky, Assoc. Museum Librarian for Preservation, Thomas J. Watson Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.