I think it is fair to say that I am not really thought of as a book restorer. Hand on heart I can think of a lot of people that would choke on their tea if my name and book restoration were used in the same sentence let a lone the same century.
It is a little known fact that for a number of years I stood at the bench, leather re-back after leather re-back. The smell of red rot still lingers, I wake from the nightmare that is calf turning black for no reason, once pliable goatskin changing to iron and bits of centuries old biscuit being brushed form the gutters. Happy days, happy memories.
I have a deep respect for the binders of the past. Their job was tough, often in dank cellars, working all the hours to make the boss happy (nothing changes) where skill often gave way to speed, profit and margins, I know it is business but I feel that the public's appreciation of the book has suffered because of this.
What is often forgotten is the fact that the mechanisation of printing, a wonderful and marvellous thing, came about years before the mechanisation of binding. To keep up with demand corners were cut or not as the case may be, materials became less in quality and the book started the downwards spiral towards the paper back.
A long time ago I purchased a book. A dirty little thing, spine gone...
Both boards detached ......
But what a title; BRITISH GALLERIES of ART, printed in 1824. For a number of years this tiny tome languished in the pile of books that is my 'One day I will get round to doing this'
And that day arrived.