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In This Issue:

2010 Seminar on Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding, Tucson, AZ - Jennifer Rosner A conversation with Julia Miller - Nancy H. Nitzberg The Page Illuminates: Book Highlights from the Internet - Valeria Kremser Upcoming: Fast, Friendly, Free Materials Exchange Annual Meeting Date - March 10, 2011 5-7p.m.

Pressing Matter
January, 2011

The Publication of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers

From our Chair: JenniFer rosner


2010 Seminar on Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding, Tucson, AZ
I have to admit that I was wishing I didnt have to travel so far for the Standards Seminar this year. But once I got to Tucson, I couldnt help but enjoy myself. The hotel was very comfortable and pleasant, the weather was great, and the meetings were productive and most important of all, the presentations were all excellent. I attended two board meetings, one with other chapter heads, and the other with the general board. Chapter heads share ideas and concerns about what is happening at the local level. Some chapters cover very large regions and the biggest challenge for them is communication and the difficulties meeting the needs of members who are so widely dispersed. I think that our biggest challenge as a chapter is keeping our membership up. There are so many opportunities out there these days for people interested in the book arts. I learned that our chapter is no longer the smallest. Great news! had never really noticed that these bindings were so ubiquitous. They look very much alike and the binders were following certain rules and formulas that were depicted in the books. Michael Burke taught us about Byzantine bindings. Like Jeff Peachy, he showed some aspects of the binding as a Powerpoint presentation, and some parts he actually demonstrated. It all added up to a clear description of the binding and it (almost) made you feel like you could go home and make one. Martha Littles presentation Book Forensics: Interpreting Evidence of Structure was unusual for the Standards Seminar. Her talk was about book forensics and it was packed with interesting information. If you want to read about it in detail, there is a blog post on the GBW website that covers her talk in depth. Finally there was Nancy Leavitts talk on Joys and Challenges of Creating the Book Form. Nancy is calligrapher and artist and she described in detail how she approaches her work. She is a naturally curious person who looks at the world around her for inspiration. Her talk was about how she gets from the initial stages to the end product and what happens along the way. This description of the presentations hardly does them credit. They were all really good. If you want to see for yourself, dont forget that the seminar talks were all video-recorded and will be available for members to borrow. Next year the Standards Seminar will be in Boston. I am already looking forward to it!

The GBW is experiencing the same financial issues that so many non-profits face today. A number of cuts were made and at the same time dues were increased. . Please know that there has been a lot of discussion and on the part of the entire board to reduce costs and many of the decisions have been difficult. Many of these cuts were discussed and debated over the past few months during the board phone meetings. There was large turnout at the members annual meeting and some lively debate, but I think most everyone left realizing that some cuts had to Jennifer Rosner be made. On a happy note, the new and improved Journal was Chair, Delaware Valley Chapter unveiled at the Seminar and it is impressive! One would think that no expense was spared, but actually, the goal is to have the advertisements in the Journal pay for most of it. Fast, Friendly, Free members only event The presentations were excellent. The first one I attended was Jeff Peachys Late Eighteenth Century French Binding Structures. He used contemporary descriptions and images from three Eighteenth Century French bookbinding manuals and copied the techniques and tools as closely as possible. I

Downsize your stash.bring stuff. saturday January 29, 2 pm the library Company oF philadelphia

The Page IllumInaTes:

book highlights From the internet

This trip down the wires of the internet takes us to http://jeffpeachey.wordpress.com the personal blog of Jeff Peachey. Based in New York City, Peachey is known widely throughout the conservation community for his amazing tools, workshops, and stunning conservation treatment. I started to read Peacheys blog after having met him the in the July 2008 to pick out pairing knives. I was immediately sucked in by the amount of detail he shares in his posts. Whether trying a new treatment, inventing a new structure, or discussing the history of tools, his posts contain clear detailed images and meticulous descriptions. He posts fairly often and diligently addresses comments. Peacheys site is also a great source of conservation and bookbinding dialog with posts by himself and guest contributors. Guests have included John Townsend on book conservation education and recently Challenges to the online access of conservation literature by Peter D. Verheyen. Although a crucial resource for bookbinders and book conservators Peacheys blog is not with out humor as can bee seen in his July 19, 2010 post, measure twice, cut once and the proper method of using a scissor from October 21, 2009. http://jeffpeachey.wordpress.com is not designed with the ability to access archives based on the date of a post, but has a search option which can take you to older posts by subject. The site also contains Peacheys tool catalog, treatment portfolio, and workshop schedule. Valeria Kremser Box Turtle Press http://www.boxturtlepress.com

delaWare valley Chapter neWs annual meeting 2011


March 10, 2011 5-7 p.m. The Library Company of Philadelphia 1314 Locust Street, Philadelphia PA, 19107 5:00 - 5:30 Wine and Cheese 5:30 6:00 Meeting 6:00 - 7 Fun Project: a memory based drawing book We hope you can make it! You can RSVP by email or phone: dvcgbw@verizon.net 215-546-3181 (Jennifer Rosner)

WelCome neW members!


Monique de Grace, Reston, VA Fran Durako, Baltimore, MD Daniel Corrigan, Newark, DE Andrea Roehrs, Wilmington, DE Audrey Fatula, Philadelphia, PA John Fatula, Philadelphia, PA Karen Lightner, Philadelphia, PA

a Conversation With Julia miller submitted by nanCy h. nitzberg


This past October, Julia Miller, an independent book conservator and bookbinding historian was in Philadelphia for the month as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow conducting research on American scaleboard bindings. The opportunities to learn from Julia included a lecture sponsored by The Library Company of Philadelphia on the Nag Hammadi codices (fourth century books excavated in Egypt), and two workshops sponsored by the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers. The first workshop was on making prototypes of selected Nag Hammadi bindings; the second workshop was on American scaleboard bindings and included a study session utilizing The Library Company of Philadelphias collection. Those who were unable to attend the lecture and workshops, and even those who did and want to explore those topics more depth and other historical periods of bookbinding will enjoy reading her newly published work, Books Will Speak Plain, (The Legacy Press, 2010). In addition to Julias enlightening text, there are wonderful images including photographs by J. Wayne Jones and superb drawings by Pamela Spitzmueller. NN: What experiences and influences in led you to pursue an M.A. in Historical Archives, and a career in book conservation and bookbinding history? JM: I finished my B.A. in history at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio in 1974 with a concentration in classical history, and I already knew I would have to go on for the M.A. to have any hopes of a job. My university had just approved the first master degree program in archival administration in the U.S., but you had to concentrate on American history. I thought I knew everything there was to know about that but I soon found out that I didnt know anything! The team of Americanists at WSU were great teachers, and the university archivist (and our master professor in the archive program) was an Edward Gorey enthusiast with an unusual sense of humor who dragged his grad students to all sorts of interesting historical places, and I have always been glad I stuck around WSU for the M.A. When I graduated I had two job offers: a grant-funded job xeroxing a huge business archive at Bowling Green State University, or going to Berea College in Kentucky as an archivist on a two-year grant project to inventory and arrange two collections in the college archive: the papers of The Council of the Southern Mountains and those of The Appalachian Volunteers. I learned so much about Appalachia while I was in Berea, heard so much fine music, and met and worked with such wonderful people...I always think of that time as a really happy and rich time in my life. It was at Berea that I met a retired chemist who was a book collector and volunteer in the Berea College Library. He became a good friend, showed me a lot of bindings he had donated to the collection, and suggested I learn how to care for historical bindings. I tried to find a bookbinding teacher in Kentucky but that didnt work out. When I left Berea to follow my now husband to Pittsburgh, I looked for archive jobs, didnt find any, became a secretary/receptionist for a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and heard about two people who were teaching bookbinding night classes at CMU, signed up, and through a process of class instruction, volunteering, and apprenticeship worked my way toward being a conservator. My first conservation job was at the Ohio Historical Society, and my last was at the University of Michigan. Along the way I learned bits and pieces about bookbinding history, but I would have to say the biggest push in that direction resulted from the networking and caliber of instructors and fellow participants I have always encountered whenever I have attended the Paper and Book Intensive (PBI). I have had the good luck to meet a lot of generous teachers over the years, who teach this stuff (history of the book, history of bookbinding) for the love of it, and I try to be that kind of teacher in turn; I have also had the good luck to work with and know a lot of great conservators who have forgotten more than I will ever know about historical bindings. When I left U of M to stay home with my young son, I drifted away from bench conservation, and concentrated on historical binding research. It has been a good fit; my early academic training and interests have come full circle now. My only regret about the arc of my career is that I have never taken an M.L.S. degree. Librarians rock.

NN: In retrospect, while pursuing your interests in social history and material culture, you created a path to the book world, meeting people along the way who had an impact on your pursuits. Speaking of paths, in recent years, youve traveled to locations related to the production of the historic bindings youve studied. What was the experience like being in the desert at Hawara in the great Fayum region south of Cairo where so many early papyri and codices were found? JM: My first reaction to your question is that the experience in the Fayum wasnt long enough; I wish it had been possible to spend a good amount of time there, not just a day, as we did. My work schedule at the Coptic Museum prevented a long visit but more important, it might have been difficult to stay in the area for very long as a tourist. Because of religious unrest in the area between Copts and Muslims we had to have an armed guard (six soldiers) with us the entire day; they fanned out over the desert around the step pyramids we were visiting at el-Lahun and Hawara to guard us from sharpshooters. It was unsettling but is a fact of life in some parts of Egypt. The pyramid at Hawara dates from around 1800 B.C.E. W.M. Flinders Petrie, famous for his scholarship on ancient Egypt, was able to solve the mystery of the location of the entrance to the pyramid; he opened the pyramid, visited the tomb areas, and left, resealing the doorway and stating that the treasures of papyri and objects in the tomb were left there for the Egyptian people. The story may be apocryphal in whole or in part but I like this attitude, as a foreigner, the respect for things that belong both to Egypt and its people and to the larger concept of the world heritage. Flinders Petrie contributed a lot to our understanding of ancient Egypt through his research and writing. The museum guards at the site knew all about him and his work and it was a fascinating visit. The mud bricks that form the underpinnings of the pyramid were fascinating too! There are many places in the Fayum I would still like to visit, especially archaeological digs around Karanis and Oxyrhynchus. . .so many places around Egypt. . .Dakhleh Oasis further south (ancient Kellis). . .so many places. Along with the Delta, the Fayum is the breadbasket of Egypt and it is also a paradox: incredibly rich land combined with people living in extreme poverty. I went to Egypt the first time for a week, only interested in getting in to study the leather covers of the Nag Hammadi codices and getting out again. I was able to go to Cairo a second time, for two months, and ended by falling in love with the country, Cairo, and the people. It is true that Cairo gets into your blood. So does the Egyptian Museum, which I discovered you can never visit enough. And so does the desert. Visiting the Red Sea monasteries of St. Anthony and St. Paul and some of the Wadi Natrun monasteries is as close as I got to seeing how early Christian monks lived and worked. What fascinated me during all my visits to Coptic monasteries was seeing the reading supports in the old refectory rooms, supports of carved stone or wood at one end of those long tables that once seated dozens of monks. The supports once held some of the great service books produced in and for the monasteries, with a monk reading aloud, the books carrying bindings like those on the great Hamuli or Edfu codices. Its a picture. I said in answer to your first question that I wish I had taken an M.L.S. degree in the course of my career. It will be no surprise to learn that I also wish I had become an archaeologist! NN: Having seen many bindings and other book forms dating from ancient times to more recent centuries, what artifacts in particular stand out in your mind as having been made with especially ingenious features or inspired uses of local materials? JM: I have to say that looking at a lot of different books I have tended to be intrigued by those that have something peculiar going on structurally more than in terms of the materials used in making them, local or otherwise. Working out how something operates in an early book form usually leaves me wishing for bench instructions

sent from antiquity. An example is the hinging design of a category of Roman diptych wood tablets found at military encampment sites in Great Britain as well as Egypt and other places. The style was studied and recorded by Berthe van Regemorter and more recent scholars. It boils down to a thread/thong linking the tablets at locations along the spine edge through pairs of holes drilled in the spine edge, combined with channels on the inner face of the wood for the thread to lie in when it exits the junction of the hole and channel. This really needs a picture! The result is that the two tablets, Drawing courtesy of Pam Spitzmueller when opened fully, lie perfectly flat, wood edge to wood edge, and can be written on easily. Seems like a good stable design for a tablet that tended to be used for military field orders and messages, but making a few based on examples in the U of M Papyrology Collection, replicating the size of the tablet and size of the holes and channels convinced me the threading is murder and the thread/thong probably often broke through the tunnel drilled in from the edge of the board. One inspired use of local materials I have come to admire a great deal is the use of thin wood known as scaleboard (and colloquially as scabbard) for book covers in Europe for a while before and around 1600 and in America for the first half of our early history as a colony and young nation. Scaleboard was undoubtedly cheaper to use than pasteboard, at least early on. Pasteboard was not a local material for quite a bit of our early colonial history, and homemade scaleboard was definitely more available. Having noticed scaleboard bindings a number of years ago, and thinking them a perplexing oddity and certainly a lousy conservation choice (all that oak! all that acid!) I would have to say I have become smitten with these bindings now, and while the material combinations often leave a lot to be desired, the actual structure is not nearly as ludicrous, simple, damaging, or short-lived as I used to assume. I am in the process of becoming informed about these bindings, and enjoying the study. To roll this question back to antiquity, I would like to add another thought about ingenious features and the single-quire bindings known as the Nag Hammadi codices. Eleven covers with texts survived the original find of twelve books in 1945, and they are of course a very important group of early codices. What is truly fascinating about them to a binder, however, are the structural elements on what can only be described as semi-limp wallet or wrapper structures, structural elements that are to some extent intuitive (and reproduced on much later, similar bindings). Some things like the corner tackets on four of the covers are sensible/ intuitive, but another element, the three different styles of quire-to-cover attachment represented among the bindings, could each be argued as being perfectly sensible - but in the case of two of the styles, the conservator in me argues they are poor choices. My point is that we bring a lot of prejudice based on our own binding training to our examination of old bindings from every era, and it makes us a little bit blind at the least, and perhaps unnecessarily destructive when we strive to correct the work of a past binder. Sorry to wander off topic a bit; the fact is the weird decisions made by past binders makes looking at historical bindings all the more interesting. NN: Have there been any tangible cross-cultural influences in techniques youve observed, perhaps serving as tangible evidence of early trade routes where different ethnicities crossed paths? Well, there are some (now) obvious ones, like the broad influence of Coptic structural and decorative elements on bindings made far beyond the borders of Egypt (but not so far beyond the borders of the Graeco-Roman empire that once included Egypt) or the influence of a move of practice from west to east demonstrated in the supported sewing found on early Armenian bindings compared to the unsupported sewing style of the rest of the Near Eastern binding traditions. Scholars also worried the idea for years and looked for sure proof of early contact between Copts and Celts because of the similarities of interlace designs found in both cultures, although now such contact is assumed pretty much without question. Lay religious were travelling back and forth

from Ireland to the holy lands of the Near East at a fair clip from the sixth century on and it is impossible to believe they failed to take decorated artifacts along on their travels, or failed to bring souvenirs home on their return. One item that would have been indispensable on travels? A cross, and probably a decorated one. Another? A gospel, and probably a decorated one. I met a woman a couple years ago named Zsuzsanna Gulcsi who is doing fascinating research into the movement of book culture around the Far and Near East to the West; her specialty is Manichaean book illustration but she is very knowledgeable about what little remains of Manichaean book structures as well. She told me the clock has just about run out on the standard interpretations applied to writing the history of the early book. We all know perfectly well that some book forms came from the Far East by way of Assyria and certainly the idea for some of the materials used for them, but Zsuzsannas point was that the history of the earliest book forms definitely occurred east and south of Egypt and it is time for scholars to pull that together; I still cling to the idea that the codex, however, is an Egyptian invention. But maybe only sewing through the fold is. She also thinks time, distance, and language barriers have made it easy for Western scholars to forget that book culture in Eastern and Central Europe and Scandinavia and other remote places had not only had its own history, but has its own scholars tracking that history, who are as yet little known in the West. I dont know very much about the pathways and intersections of ancient book forms beyond what I have read in the standard sources like David Diringer and van Regemorter and so on. I do believe that young scholars like Zsuzsanna, who is Hungarian, and the energy of other scholars presenting new work on the history and structure of early books, who are increasingly visible as a result of conferences such as the one on the Care and Conservation of Manuscripts held every eighteen months in Copenhagen, will be bringing much more to light on the global history of book forms and this will enrich us all and add to our cultural understanding of our own book forms. Add the Internet to that, and all those gorgeous, high resolution pictures and it is a new frontier indeed. NN: In your recently published work, Books Will Speak Plain, you advocate that libraries which hold historic book collections establish or expand binding description projects so that resulting online databases facilitate research to help further knowledge of bookbinding history and related fields of study. As you say, although budgets are limited, utilizing the perspectives of rare book librarians, catalogers, conservators, and those in the community with expertise, could facilitate this type of effort. Was this something you pursued while recently in residence as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow at The Library Company of Philadelphia? How might such efforts be furthered? How can those of us interested in books as artifacts encourage those responsible for digitization projects to include images of bindings and visible structural evidence? JM: My recent fellowship at The Library Company was for the purpose of identifying and studying examples of American scaleboard bindings in the collection with the long-term purpose of developing a physical typology of these bindings to aide those studying or conserving them. I offered to furnish the library curator and catalogers with physical descriptions of collection items I looked at, along with subject heading listings conforming to the thesaurus of binding terms developed by the American Library Association/Rare Books and Manuscript Section (ALA/RBMS). I was allowed to enter my descriptive notes and the subject headings into the online catalog record of each book I examined, subject to oversight by the cataloging staff. It was a great honor to be allowed to do so, and to learn that non-cataloging staff of The Library Company, such as the conservators, are urged to contribute to the physical description of collection items if they have a specialty interest. Its a good policy. The reason I hope libraries across the country will try to find the means to incorporate more physical description of books, particularly from the handmade era, into online catalogs is that it is becoming something of a now or never proposition. Physical description of books was often divorced from textual description in the history of the stewardship of many book collections whether public or private;

scholars might be passionate about the accuracy of textual integrity and not care overmuch if the book was in its original cover or not. If they did care about original or notable bindings, it was usually because they were luxury bindings of artistic value. There are more scholars now who care about both text and the bindings, luxury or non-luxury, and who see the value to our understanding of our cultural heritage through understanding the whole book. I think we will lose a lot if we transfer our book collections to remote storage without some kind of physical description available to help us find particular books to complete the big picture of different parts of the bookbinding tradition. Closed stacks and rebinding projects have long been the curse of scholars of the history of bookbinding and the book; the expense of travel and the time it has always taken to track down particular binding exemplars could become even more onerous or even impossible if collections are no longer able to be visited and used. We are about to turn out the lights in our research libraries before one of the richest periods of artistic design in the history of the book has even begun to be understood by examining the incredible variety of nineteenth century cloth bindings. Many people feel the images accumulated from digitization projects will replace the need by scholars to study the artifact book. I think we may be forced to that reality for some collections by the cost of maintaining collections and having them accessible to the scholarly public. Even using the term artifact book, which I do use, is in a way a capitulation to the idea that the physical book is an oddity, a rarity, a luxury. Digitization projects are wonderful but sometimes the guiding hand omits important information, even leaving out cover images when the text is the focus. Other binding elements are routinely neglected in projects that do purport to film the whole book. Spines, for instance, are crucial carriers of information about a binding style, and I dont mean just the titling style. Other elements that are ignored in global digitization projects are structural details such as endbanding, cornering styles, edge trim, edge decoration, edge titling, and details of attachments, whether clasps or edge tabs. Damaged areas yield a lot of information about structure and should be filmed in detail. You cannot understand a binding without information about all of these aspects. We need the same people who want to study bindings to be advisors on the digitization projects. The central idea of my book is that we still need to pay attention to physical description of books, both the structure and the decoration, especially non-luxury books which have been largely overlooked in the past, not just for future scholars, but to add to our present understanding and appreciation of the books we interact with in our collections. One idea my book presents to accomplish this is for institutional collections to utilize the volunteer talents of a large number of people approaching retirement age who have a vast amount of knowledge accumulated from working with historical bindings; I call them collection custodians as an umbrella term. The term includes anyone who has had a custodial connection to a book collection: librarians, curators, collectors, catalogers, conservators, antiquarian book dealers, and others. They can add basic descriptive information to online catalogs and will need little or no supervision if the fit is right with the institution they are serving. Theres nothing to lose; collections will gain the attention of volunteer custodians, online catalogs will be full of physical descriptions, and scholars of the book will have a field day comparing binding examples for a long time to come. Public institutions cannot afford to add documentary digital images of every book in their collection to their online catalog but they can all afford adding a few descriptive words and terms about each book by a volunteer. NN: Julia, Id like to thank you for the work youve done and are doing in the book conservation and bookbinding history fields, and for being so generous in your willingness to share your experiences, observations and insights, and also your vision for documenting such information using contemporary databases and digitization. Those of us in the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers are very appreciative of the workshops and study sessions youve led, and hope there will be more! JM: Thank you, Nancy, for the opportunity to talk with you about books and bookbinding. I feel lucky to have spent time with members of the Delaware Chapter in various ways, and I have enjoyed the give-and-take of the workshop experiences. Great camaraderie, and stimulating discussions. Stay warm this winter! Update: Julias immediate plans involve preparing an exhibition of historical bindings for the University of Michigan Special Collections Library scheduled to open in March, compiling information gathered at The Library Company, and enjoying the winter at home without travel plans. In the spring, shell be teaching workshops in several places in the Midwest and on the East Coast as well as giving lectures connected to the publication of her book. We hope the Delaware Valley region will be on her travel route soon again! Thank you, Julia!