Sunday, December 18, 2011

Of the Bookbinder, 1761

 (From The Parent’s and Guardian’s Directory, and The Youth’s Guide in the Choice of a Profession or Trade by Joseph Collyer, Esq.,  London, 1761)

Discovered and submitted to The Bonefolder by John Nove.

The Bookbinder’s Workshop from Diderot & D’Alembert’s Encyclopédie, France, 1751 and 1766

Of this business there are several sorts, as the calves leather binder, the vellum, and the sheep’s leather binder.

The boy intended to be a calves leather binder, ought to be both strong and pretty ingenious in order to become perfect master of the several branches of the art of binding books in calf. But no extraordinary education is necessary; reading, writing, and a littlearithmetic being sufficient. This trade requires strength to beat the sheets smooth with a heavy hammer, and ingenuity in gilding and neatly lettering the back, as well as in beautifully marbling the edges of the leaves; but this last is part of the art known to few of the trade, and those make an extraordinary advantage of it.

Was willst du Werden?: Bilder aus dem Handwerkerleben. Berlin: Winckelmann + Söhne,1880.
Complete book, 16 images online here.

The vellum binder is chiefly employed in binding shop books in vellum or parchment; he also rules paper for the account-books. Hi sis the most profitable branch of binding both for the master and journeyman.

The binder in sheep is chiefly employed in binding of school books, and little books in gilt paper for children and requires no genius. 

The calves leather binder may set up a master with about 50 l. and his journeymen have seldom more than 12 s. a week, except theyare very curious and uncommon hands, and are employed by a master distinguished by the neatness of his work. The vellum binder may become master with even less money; or get 15 or 18 s.a week working as a journeyman. The sheep binder may begin trade for himself with about 30 l. but the journeyman can can seldom earn more than 10 s. a week. All these branches take about 10 l. with an apprentice.

John Nove is a bookbinder working for private and institutional clients in western Massachusetts. He graduated from the North Bennet Street School and opened the Grey Seal Bindery, named to honor the selkies he hears singing from his summer cottage on the Scottish island of Papa Westray in Orkney. He can be reached at <>.

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