Images from “In Retrospect: Designer Bookbindings by Michael Wilcox”


wilcox st john
Saint John the Divine. The Apocalypse. Woodcuts by Jim Dine. San Francisco: Arion Press, 1982.
Lent by Jeremy M. Norman.
Full black goatskin, with coloured leather onlays and gold and blind tooling.
382 x 282mm. Bound in 1988.
In Retrospect: Designer Bookbindings by Michael Wilcox
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, 1998.

Fun fact: The two black goatskins on this binding were tanned using aluminum triformate. At the time, this chemical was used to improve the durability of leather. Unfortunately, when Wilcox purchased it he did not realize (nor did many others) that gold does not adhere to it well. Hence, his gold tooling is restricted to the onlays, while the black is tooled in blind.

Continue reading “Images from “In Retrospect: Designer Bookbindings by Michael Wilcox””


New Acquisitions and Some Clarifications


First, I thought this was obvious, but it seems that it is not: I am not a bookbinder, restorer, or conservator. I never was. I never will be. I just love bindings.

Second, I resigned from Bauman Rare Books last week after working there for over 14 years. They are the best, but it was time. I have added a page to the blog about me, so you can find out where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing, and what I do (or am going to do) now.

Recent Acquisitions:

Many, many thanks to John Shoesmith of the Fisher Library for sending me a copy of the catalog from the exhibit he recently curated on Canada’s small and fine presses AND the Michael Wilcox catalog. I plan to post some scans of bindings from the catalog along with some quotations of Wilcox’s commentary.


Canadian Fine Press



Wilcox In Retrospect


I am also extremely grateful to Marc Lamb of Harmatan and Oakridge Leathers and Rob Shepherd of Shepherds Bookbinders for causing a copy of the Exposition Internationale de relieur de création catalog to land in my mailbox. There are so many mind-blowing bindings in there, including quite a few from binders based in the Americas. There will be a post soon with more details about the exhibit and those binders.


ARA xi 1


This blog is not dead.

Sorry for the silence. I’ve had a few things going on. I’m sure you will all be pleased to know that my husband is recovering extremely well from his cycling accident and my daughter has successfully completed the fourth grade.

You know what else is not dead?

The Guild of Book Workers New York Chapter. After a hiatus, it is up and running again thanks to Celine LombardiSaira Haqqi, Jane Mahoney, and Carol Margreither Mainardi. The first event organized by the new board was the Spring Swap Meet, graciously hosted by Judy Ivry at her bindery on East 4th Street, a couple of weeks ago.

I recently joined the Guild and the NY chapter. I was pretty excited to talk to binders I’ve heard of, met only briefly, or have only communicated with via email. Plus, I heard that some binders would be selling books, catalogues, and journals from their personal collections. Pathetically, I couldn’t get my butt there until 2pm, so I missed many binders and books. I heard that the fine press books in sheets sold in minutes. I don’t want to know which books they were. I’m sure it would just make me sad. Still, I managed to pick up some nice items for my collection of catalogues (thank you, Jenny Hille!), some back issues of The New Bookbinder, and a back issue of The Guild of Book Workers Journal.

The whole event was kind of a blur for me. It was a constant stream of book folk coming and going. I finally met Celine in person. We had been corresponding sporadically ever since I coincidentally met her brother in January. I was delighted to meet Judy Ivry and Ursula Mitra (with whom I have also corresponded, but never met). Then I went into a world of bliss with Christine Giard and her laptop. Her website has a very small sample from the hundreds of bindings she has created. She showed me over two hundred photos of her design bindings (and at least as many of her amazing marbled papers). Ursula asked Christine how many design bindings she has made. Christine shrugged and said, “I don’t know. Maybe 500 or 600.” Jaws dropped.

Christine’s bindings vary widely in design and materials. I was blown away by her range. She is such a tease. After a while, she started making me guess the materials just by looking at the picture. I got just a few: wood, polycarbonate and automotive paint, brass with copper wire, box calf. Here are some others: neoprene, rubber intended for shoe soles, acupuncture needles, plexiglass, rubber cut from motorcycle tires (she’s a biker), and japanese paper covered relief structures that make the binding look like pleated fabric. I’m not going to give it all away here because I am going to write at least one post about her, with lots of pictures and details. Christine takes excellent photographs, not just of her bindings.

I hear all of you saying, but she is FRENCH! Yes, but Christine has lived and practiced in NYC for over two years.

I claim her for The Americas!

Recent acquisitions:

demi-siecle 1984

Jean de Gonet