From the President



I hope you all enjoyed the  summer break, hot and cold, both being reasons to stray inside and catch up on some works that have been waiting.

We are hoping with an exciting year kicking off with the availability of the new bindery.

Marbling in February,  Clunes in March ,  Workshops scattered across the year, the National Bind 23 conference in Brisbane. We are now negotiating for some of the overseas presenters to come to Melbourne afterwards.  Most of the presentations will be smaller class sizes ideal for that special attention that greatly improves skills and give great value to the investment.

In addition, the open bindery will provide more opportunities to both learn to use equipment before plunging in and buying your own, using some you probably won’t buy, and getting some advice on your projects while you work on them using the facilities.

Our first is the marbling at Glen Iris a 6pm start so we can have a barbeque, and the open bindery in the afternoon before that time.  Already a few asking about classes and we are working on the schedules and presenters for them at this time. A good time to call if you are thinking on entry level classes, tools uses of them and the basic case bindings.


Repair of books with green covers

A little knowledge and some proactive advice and you might be tempted to tackle something like this. It was pretty smashed  when I received it, and it has sat for a few years awaiting the time to attempt it. Actually I have 2 a first ed the red one, and the green one a second edition both from the 1850's. and both in similar condition, backs badly damages, loose pages all over the place stitching. Unserviceable, but historically important so I wanted to wait for the time to be able to work slowly along with sufficient skill not to make too much of a mess..





When I started the clean-up process I came across an article on the green dyes used in this period. It seems that the vivid green popular about the 1850’s was often made using arsenic and so work with the arsenic is pretty problematic. I am not sure it  is a problem if the book is kept as is in an airtight case, except it will never suffer from insect attack!

Winterthur has tips for identifying books covered with arsenic based green material and is compiling a database of known book (

The database has no poultry books so I guess I am safe.

However, the simplest way to be reasonably sure is to do a colour match. The people at Winterthur, have started a way of doing preliminary analysis using photography. Basically it’s a test strip that allows a good digital phototo be taken with a reasonable resolution., and submitted  to see if its likely to be  arsenic. They have the ability to closely analyse the digital and conclude if the book is unsafe and needs to be on the database.



 But you need their printed reference swatch to compare. I looked at all the online pics and mine don’t look like that so I send for their swatches. When they arrived I used them to look at the book. If the strip is close it is best to send it off for the correct analysis. My greens were very different so I was pretty happy to continue the work..

The Winterthur project was happy to send me a few of their reference strips and they will be available at the bindery if you want to use them to take some pics. Good natural light not too bright is best for the pics. And follow up with the lodgement online at their website. 

If you find one that comes back as dangerous, take their advice on the right storage, and send them a donation to help continue their work.

Regards Jim.