Just finished

For the past year I have been rebinding (in gaps between paid work!) my own copy of the 2008 reprint of the Folio Society facsimile of the Kelmscott Chaucer, bought at auction for a lot less than its initial cost. The covers of this edition were, in my view, vulgar and cheap, but the text was identical to that of the 2002 edition which had a full leather binding reproducing one of the Cobden Sanderson bindings on the original 1896 edition.

I have a few tools identical to ones Cobden Sanderson used, made by the same toolmaker (Knights and Cottrell) so I devised a design that echoed his work, without copying a specific design. I also used a pair of elegant ‘S’ curves made for me by the multi-talented Tom McEwan and two sets of 36 point hand letters, all tooled in blind as a nod to Morris’s preference for Gothic style.

Here are some pictures:

The back cover has a simple lattice design. Behind is the Folio Society binding – bright brown cloth over thin boards. Not good enough!
Front cover
Back cover again. The blotches are in the tanning – regrettable but authentic.
And, of course, the text. Hollow back, with green sewn endbands.

2 thoughts on “Just finished

  1. Very nice work Chris. My question relates to blind tooling on sheepskin. Whenever I blind tool, the sheepskin just literally bounces back within a few hours and the impression is almost lost. I’ve tried hot tools, tools on the sizzle, then below the sizzle and all the same result. I know it’s not Veg tanned leather because it’s a deep yellow colour so that’s chromium tanning- but is there something special about sheepskin from a tooling perspective? Thanks for any help paul

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  2. The simple answer, Paul, is not to use sheepskin at all, certainly if it is to be tooled. It has a spongy fibrous texture, as you have found, whereas calf or goat have a firm texture. If you must use it, give the surface at least two coats of paste-wash after covering the book and allow to dry . And during the covering make sure the skin is thoroughly impregnated with paste before putting it on the book. But most authorities simply advise against using it. My binding on the Anthony Dowd Collection Catalogue (see my earlier post) did use sheepskin: the title was blocked with gold foil and has remained sharp, I think because I took the precautions set out above.

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