Mysteries from the Bindery
This is a rewrite of the original lost in the upgrade of the software.
I was working away on a couple of projects. I have made some extra time with the covid lockdown, and instilled some discipline by making a decided effort to have a work routine. I like to have several things on the go at the same time. It means I can give the projects time between steps, sometimes to allow my brain to incubator on the techniques, other times just to let the glue dry, or the press to press.
Between jobs I decided maybe it was time to recover that is re-cover a paid of weights. I have a privilege in that I purchased an almost complete bindery what now seems like a long time ago, and so many of the items show the touch of Bettine Gresford. I never had the benefit of meeting as she had passed away and the bindert was sold from her estate. In the mix was many items she had made, acquired, or written about. Included was all the notebooks she had used to record her work, and after many years I met one of her daughters, also a binder, and we did a mutual swap, one of Bettines special bindings in return for the notebooks. So the history is extended. Many items have a history, with tags and labels, identifying cryptically items added to Bettines collection, " tools from famous binder in New York circa 1870" but without being attached to the particular tools, and marbled scraps used to decorate a face powder bowl now used to hold spacers for the blocking type, or the wooden box from the pacific islands presented to Guy, now fitted with 2 sets of type.
So back to the weights, covered in green felt very worse for the passing of time and wear. But the removal revealed something intriguing all on its own. These two are printing plates form a type of press I haven't encountered before and haven't yet found out what process and what machine. Google was no help with origin, but I would hazard a guess at 1950 ish. Maybe someone else can answer this question. Flipped using Adobe, and quite readable.
So new covers for the weights, and yet it doesn't stop there. I better check all the other "weights" covered in marbled paper to see whats there. These are also looking a bit worse for wear, and the removal of the outer layers revealed several earlier layers. As the covers were looking a bit worn and dirty, just put a new lot of marbled offcuts on top. Two blocks of lead covered in multiple layers of marbled paper. Three long weights are intriguing, 25mm square steel tube with wooden plugs in the ends, covered with paper and then cloth. A trip to the scales and a density calculation says full of lead shot. I didn't remove the bungs to have a look, but halfway between the density of the block of lead, and a block of steel from the garage workshop. The longest of the square tubes is a lovely knocker for embedding the stitching when sewing sheets.
So new covers on all, and to keep the spirit, in the box of offcuts is the remains of a lovely roll of buckram that came with the collection.
And here is a few pictures of them in use. holding the stepped edges of a book slipcase.
Some aluminium blocks and the weights before recovering, and the regular fall back the old Smoothing Iron with a cork base to prevent marking the work.
While we talk of weights I have several others. The humble house brick, covered in paper and then a stitched cover of calico. And also a few from my favourite roadside emporium for a very economical price these 1.5kg weights which mould over items.
Recycle upcycle whatever you want to call it, grandpa used to call it "waste not, want not" .
Enjoy your bindery, big or small. From Jim