Many of you will know I started binding because I have been collecting poultry literature for many years, a lot of which was badly damaged. Here is a project just completed.

A Set of Feathered World Newspapers.

A set of Feathered World Newspapers commencing from the first Volume July to December 1889.  These had been in my collection for 10 years awaiting repairs, with only the occasional read of odd volumes. However a buyer wanted the set, and I did not think it fair to sell when Volumes 1, 3,4, 5, and 8 were half leather with marbled sides, all with boards detached. So some repairs were warranted, and some rebacks and repairs to the cloth volumes. This report has two parts, the repairs report and the collation /bibliographical report.


The Repairs to the Half Leather Bound volumes. 



5 repair volumes with the publisher case Vol 2 shown  for comparison


Showing the separated boards and the old  marbled sides.


As you can see the spines were missing from several, and severely damaged on the others, and I deemed it not essential to try to restore the original half leather. Instead I reused the old boards , and used a heavy linen as the board reattachment. Kraft paper hollows were used on top of the linen cloth, and Chieftain Goatskin from Hewitts  for the half leather cover. Marbled paper selected as close to the original as I could match but modern was used for the sides. Unfortunately some photos of the stages  between spine removal and finished disappeared so a description will have to suffice.


Use of paste wrapped in cling wrap to remove the old animal glue


Construction, Please excuse the quality of my hand artwork.


New simple end papers were selected from a 120gsm Gray Grandee Text, though the colour is an off white, and tipped into place. However the  end papers were sewn onto the cloth hinge and reinforced with a thin book-cloth as per the diagram. This allows the covers to be opened without stress on the first newspaper sections.

The heavy linen was attached to the spine with a 20mm hinge then attached to the inside of the boards. Boards were back cornered.

Hollow was made from heavy Kraft, and machine made head bands attached.

The leather was cut and pared for both the spine and corners, with head caps formed over a short piece of cord. No grove was used in the design as per the original. Marbled sides were added' and the end papers put down with the books open.






The binders tag was still on 2 of the 5 volumes, and its fair to assume all five  were bound by the same binder, however the cloth was bound by at least 3 different binders, as the sewing techniques were very different, though the cases were publishers pre blocked cases, and no binders labels.






 Showing the finished spines and the different sizes of the first and later volumes.  Labels were blocked on skivered black leather, with gold foil.


Half leather with marbled sides and gold line along edge of the  leather.





5 Half leather Volumes completed


The Repairs to the  Cloth Cases


The cloth cases though of the same vintage had fared much better than the leather, and only 2 volumes required re-backing, though several had very poor endpapers so new endpapers were inserted, using  120gsm Gray Grandee Text paper. I used a cloth lined endpaper with a double fold to minimise the opening pressure on the first newspaper sections, sometimes with new endpaper and others with the original endpapers.  Some of the volumes were heavily trimmed, and the  endpaper types  vary, as does the previously mentioned sewing style.  Some of the volumes feel somewhat different in action, though I am not sufficiently experiences to positively conclude this is different binder's styles, though I do think these volumes came for at least 2 different sets which were collected over the publishing duration. The publishers cases of course vary somewhat over the 30 years from which these newspapers were issued and collected. An interesting feature was the addition of the “Almanacs” or calendars, and the coloured collectors cards issues irregularly. Many are missing and during collation I was able to detect the places where the cards had been removed, so I conclude the collectible prints, cards, and almanacs were tipped onto the original newspapers rather than just issued loose. A difficulty arises with the stiffness of the larger Almanacs is they act differently to the newsprint and so there is occasional damaged pages near the stiff additions.   Below some of the cloth spines.


The cloth covers vary slightly with periodic changes in style.


In all, (for me) large piece of work, and an enjoyable covid project.  And best of all, the set going into the hands of a researcher rather than just a plate collector. The engraving work is very good in the early issues which have a better grade of paper.



Rebound Leather on left many others re-backed or re-hinged ready for the end user. Note the size change between vol 1,2,  then 5-12, then constant after that  to vol 72 as far as this set went.


Review and collation of Feathered World Newspaper, England.  Feb 2021

Feathered World Newspaper was commenced by Alexander  Comyns in July 1889. Alexander had been the editor of “Poultry” up until June 1889 at which time commenced the “Featherered World “ weekly newspaper. This was intended to service all the “feathered friends” wild and in captivity.  Hen Fever was few decades earlier, and the popularity of keeping poultry had spread from just the dunghill mongrel, and the cockfighting bird to include the rarity of the exotic breeds being discovered around the world, and it became a desirable thing to have these breeds, and the new breeds developed from them. The first weekly issue Vol 1 Number 1 was July 5, 1889. the frontis below.

Frontis of Vol 1 No 1


Alexander continued as the owner and editor until Volume 4 cover sheet Jan to June 1891 lists Mrs Alexander Comyns as Proprietor, and Alexander as editor. Then in Vol 5  Number 117 of Sept 25 1891 Mrs Alex Comyns becomes the editor. One presumes that Alex died however there is no mention in the paper of him doing so. If you have material to add to this please contact me. Later Mrs Ethel Comyns, married Mr Lewer  no date recorded I can find.

 Mrs Alex (Ethel) Comyns continued the  newspaper uninterrupted with a wide editorial team until about 1930 but I don’t yet have the details of the final issues or the amalgamation of the works with others. The weekly issues grew, from just a few pages to a substantial and broadly read newspapers. I have no circulation information, maybe those reading this will have material to add, and I welcome comments and information which can be added to this material.

An appropriate engraving as the Dorking was a bird I bred and the logo of Bellsouth, plus now on the binders mark of Dorking Press.


This particular set was both a pleasure and a disappointment.  Like many major works, it was an archive that wasn’t referred to very often because of its magnitude. I always intended to reprint many of the good articles in them, but alas time catches up. So this set is destined  for a researcher who will mine it for articles in his interest sphere. The set consists of 37 volumes  commencing with the first issue July5 1889. The first volume was 20mm shorter than the rest of the volumes as far as I can tell for the rest of life of the serial. The volumes were bound as follows. Volume 1, 3, 4, 5, and 8 were half bound  leather on cords, with marbled sides. These are curious as I think they were from a different set, see provenance below. and that all had the inscription of either Mr H W,  Mr H Weir, and Mr Hill Weir on the top corner of most issues. I suspect these annotations were from the newsagent who put them aside for the customer. I have not any way of verifying if this is in fact Mr Harrison William Weir whose illustrations appear particularly in the early  issues.  I anyone had information about H.W. and if he had a nickname of Hill I would appreciate knowing about it.  H.W was of course famous in poultry circles  for his Our Poultry and all about them (1903) and as Illustrator in Tegetmeier’s The Poultry Book (1867) and later in The Poultry Book with a number of other editors (1912).
The rest of the set is 32 volumes in Red printed FW covers, supplied by FW for complete sets. They were all labelled with a taped on paper label with a sequential number , 1-36 with the last volume numbered on the spine  as decimal 72.  As I usually only took a random volume off the shelf to browse, I did not check the Roman numerals underneath. It was only when I collated to copy for sale did I notice that the label 17 was in fact over Volume 18 in Roman numerals. The set was not 36 sequential volumes at all!  Indeed 2 volumes are identical but with different spine labels. In addition volume 72 has no spine label, and the tooled spine says Vol 72 in decimals with no Roman numerals, so likely this was a compilation of sets grown over time. Interestingly the bound newspapers were top edge Gilt except for the leather issues, and the binding style makes me think ( I could be wrong) that the volumes were all bound in the one bindery, though I am reasonably sure by several hands.
The volumes are like this  1, 3,4,5, 8 are the half leather copies, 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11,12,13,14,15, 16 are all sequential and complete. Then the numbers on the back don’t agree with the Roman on the spine. I finished individual volume collation checking that all weekly all weekly parts are there and there are no pages missing. Mostly the additional colour plates and almanacs are missing. But the volumes true sequence run 1-16 present, then 17 missing, then  18, 19, 20, 21,  present, then 25, 26, 33, 34, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44,45, 46, 47, all these are FW printed cloth covered, and finally Vol 72 in a plain un-embossed cloth cover.

As for construction, the set is very interesting and shows in part the changing of the times. The major part of the leather bound volumes is a very good quality paper. I read in a book once a famous rare book collector loved the music of the paper. Every paper makes a noise as the pages are turned, and changes in the noise indicate changes in the paper. In rare books this is important as a page may have been replaced if lost and when the book may be worth thousands or tens of thousands, or even more, then the temptation to carefully “repair” a volume  with parts from another damaged volume, or a forgery, to make it “complete”  is very strong.

This is a much lower priced set of volumes, so  it is unlikely that such a forgery would occur.  Newsprint was never meant to last, but in the early volumes the paper was very good, handled well, and made a distinctive noise as handled. But as the production time went on the paper became very inconsistent. Some paper has darkened significantly and become fragile, consistent with the introduction of the mass cheap newsprint. Then there are the issues where there is two different papers.  The qualities are obviously different, and I suspect the change of a supplier, the old paper used up to the end of the stock, and then the new supplier continued on. Then there was the change with the engravings. In the early issues, all the illustrations were engravings. Then a few photos, but with terrible reproduction, almost like they couldn’t get the press settings right. I did the same many times when learning to print Bellsouth catalogues  and trying to get photos in them  using the duplicator, and later offset. The introduction to colour printed pages as lift-outs and calendars on stiff paper added an extra level. The issues where there were a lot of photos from about volume 15 onwards there is often a different paper with the black and white photos compared to the rest of the paper in that issue.

I am collating a list of the coloured plates elsewhere, as there are only one or two are still in this set. The contents pages do give which issues had the “free” plates and what breed than species they were. These plates became collectible in their own right, though I am unable to find if they were tipped into the issue at release. The few remaining present in the volumes are tipped in, which may have been done at binding time.  I think they were all tipped in at release, as there is always a couple of slightly damaged pages in the issues where the colour plates are listed, I suspect from the careful (and at times not so careful) removal of the coloured plates. It would make sense to tip them in to prevent loss or theft at the time of distribution.
Many of the stiff card “almanacs” which were produced are also added into these volumes and unfortunately the stiffness of the cards puts a lot of pressure on the bindings, so care is needed when handling.

The age of the newsprint and the fragility of it mean there is a page or two in every volume loose, and there are a number of cases where the stitcher has missed a few pages at the centre of an issue as he is sewing up for binding the volumes.  I have chosen to not attempt to resew, and in many cases, I have not tipped back in the loose pages unless they are of particular importance. Missing an odd page of adds isn’t significant, missing a part of a serial on judging a breed would be significant. Tipping back in pages onto fragile newsprint often causes more damage than was there in the first place.

The changing times are reflected in the ads. In the early volumes the frontis was always a bird engraving. However, as time went on, the big money of the time and the spread of the papers warranted attempts to advertise non poultry items. So the most popular ad was soap, full page frontispieces and often full internal pages. The next was chocolate, some on the frontis and sometimes internal. Also I suspect they ran short of good engravings as some of the engravings have different dates and different prize winners but I am sure is the same engraving rebadged, and reused.

In all even a poultry newspaper cannot avoid reflecting the issues of the time.

The newspaper was divided up into several regular features.

The engraved frontispiece, usually a bird. Though at later times sometimes advertisements were used.

Large advertising, and classified advertising of course paid the major costs of production and distribution.

Exhibition reports and results were a major feature with issues set aside to feature such things as the Crystal Palace exhibitions. The many local show societies and country fairs all get a mention with results, numbers, breeds, and winners.


Articles on management, breeding, showing, and pure breed. These mainly feature prominent breeders and writes of the day, often in serials, and by the wide editorial staff of the paper.

Correspondence is interesting reading, and in distinction to today’s firey instant internet, tend to have well argued cases for different understandings of the issues of the day. 

News reports are interesting reading. “ Police raid a cockfight in the public house at this village” and they all sound so familiar, including the defences, “ I was only having an ale and the police pushed me into the room where the cockfight was happening”.  I regularly see that sort of report on the news today.

The  letters to the editor, as part of Correspondence, were again like the internet of today, with “topic threads” running over many issues.  For the historian, this is a gold mine, though like most goldmines, it can be a bit of digging to find the articles of real interest.

Classified Advertisements, for the sale of livestock, equipment, books, club memberships.


This set came in a large collection of Poultry Books, from John Palmer in NZ. I had asked him quite a while ago about his personal collection, and he sent me a retail catalogue. I explained I meant his “personal” collection, and I got an interesting list including this set.  I told him that when he was ready I would buy en bloc. (the lot!)  A few years ago he asked if I was still interested, and I said yes. They arrived before we had negotiated a price, let alone paid and money. A true gentleman’s transaction.

The leather volumes all had the inscription of either Mr H W,  Mr H Weir, and Mr Hill Weir on the top corner of the weekly issues. I suspect these annotations were from the newsagent who put them aside for the customer. I have not any way of verifying if this is in fact Mr Harrison William Weir whose illustrations appear particularly in the early  issues.  If anyone had information about H.W. and if he had a nickname of Hill I would appreciate knowing about it.  H.W was of course famous in poultry circles for his Our Poultry and all about them (1903) and as Illustrator in Tegetmeier’s The Poultry Book (1867) and later in The Poultry Book with a number of other editors (1912).

I have commented earlier that it appears the set were assembled from a number of collections and I surmise that on the ground of the different stitching and cutting of the blocks. This may mean individual binders, or the progression of the skills of the binders in the same firm, or given the period of some years maybe they were bound for the same owner by a number of different binderies. An interesting speculation, but no conclusive evidence. Just the fact that my skills have matured so I can see the differences in the work. It may also be that the collector had no relation to the binder, but was a collector and the volumes were collected from a large number of different sources over the 20 year period of publication, and that the collector mostly selected the publishers bindings. It is possible that John Palmer was the collector but I am unable to verify that.

Feathered World Yearbooks.

In later years, Feathered World commenced a series of yearbooks the first in 1910 with  many of the extra articles.  The do not cover the correspondence, show results, advertising, but are an essential reference in their own right, with many new articles.  This started in  Jan 1910 carrying the reports and so on from the previous year with  larger articles on breeds etc than generally appeared in FW newspaper. The yearbooks continued up to at least 1938 (to be verified), but as yet I have not sighted them all. I am always looking for more information, and verification that my facts are correct.

Regards Jim Finger