19th Century Bookbinders’ Mistakes

We are pleased to announce the next installment in a series of lectures co-sponsored by the New England Chapter of GBW and North Bennet Street School.  Free and open to the public, as usual, but please reserve a space in advance by contacting workshop @ nbss.org or calling the NBSS workshop coordinator at 617-227-0155 ext. 102 so we can choose an appropriate size room for the lecture.

19th Century Bookbinders’ Mistakes –
Why they are so fun to look at!
An illustrated lecture by Todd Pattison

April 12, 2009
North Bennet Street School

Cloth bound books from the 19th century are often thought of as being machine-bound, or at least there is the assumption that these books were produced for the most part mechanically with very little human labor required. In fact, the reverse is true. Throughout the 19th century there were few steps in the bookbinding process that did not require human intervention and in most cases required the bookbinder to perform the specific task. For example, almost every sewn book produced before 1885 was sewn by hand.

With so much human activity involved, errors were sometimes made in the binding process. These mistakes are fun to look at, but they also tell us a lot about the manufacture of bookbindings in the 19th century. This talk will look at some of these mistakes to gain a better insight into the binding process and the attitudes towards materials, labor costs, quality control and what was considered “good enough” to sell to the public.

About the presenter:

Todd Pattison studied bookbinding with Fred Jordan in western New York state in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and went on to study with Hugo Peller and Edwin Heim in Ascona, Switzerland. He has an undergraduate degree in Art History from Nazareth College and an MLS from the University of Alabama, but contrary to Kiyoshi Imai’s opinion he is NOT a librarian. Todd is currently senior book conservator at the Northeast Document Conservation Center where he has worked for the past nineteen years.

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