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.

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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

Michael Wilcox Eye Candy

wilcox in retrospect poster

Michael Wilcox is a Canadian binder. He was born in Bristol, England in 1939. Michael began his training in 1955 as a forwarder at Edward Everard in Bristol. Then he moved to Toronto in 1962 with a five-year contract in the restoration department at the University of Toronto. During that time, he began to refine his skills and explore the freedom of designing his own bindings. He has never looked back. These days, he lives very simply in Ontario, making design bindings by commission.

Continue reading “Michael Wilcox Eye Candy”