Volume 28 - Autumn 2009


Product & Company News

Two new DVDs from the Society of Bookbinders

Seventy Years in Bookbinding - A Portrait of Bernard Middleton

Multi Regional, PAL-NTSC, 4:3 format

Bernard C. Middleton, M.B.E., F.S.A is one of the most skilled craftsman of our time. His extraordinary career has now spanned some seventy years, as bookbinder, teacher and writer.

In this film, Bernard looks back on his long and varied life in bookbinding, which began at the Central School of Arts & Crafts in 1938. He remembers his apprenticeship years at the British Museum and reflects on his time spent as the manager of Zaehnsdorf's.

He talks about his early years of self-employment in a garret room in Soho, his American adventures and his experiences in the flood-damaged libraries of Florence.

Bernard shares some of his extraordinary techniques for restoring antiquarian books, including the best places to find dirt for ageing new bindings. He takes us on a tour of his bindery, with its huge collection of finishing tools and old paper and demonstrates his method of reproducing facsimile pages.

With his characteristically understated humour, his sharp mind and thoughtful observations on the he craft that he loves, Bernard gives us a truly fascinating, often moving and always enjoyable insight into his remarkable world.


Maureen Duke - The Life and Work of a Bookbinder

Multi Regional, PAL-NTSC, 16:9 format

Maureen Duke is one of the most respected bookbinders and teachers of our time. Over a career spanning more than sixty years she has introduced many students to this special craft. She has travelled widely, taking bookbinding to new audiences around the world, has written extensively on the subject and has been a pioneer in book restoration.

In this remarkable film, Maureen looks back over her career, which began under William Matthews at Guildford College of Art in 1946. She reflects on her early years of self-employment, her first forays into the world of teaching and talks with passion about her time leading the full-time course at Guildford.

In retirement Maureen has been busier than ever and we see her in action at Urchfont Manor and West Dean and meet some of her students, past and present, who have been inspired by her skills as a craftsman and communicator.

She takes us on a tour of her extraordinary bindery, which she has occupied for the last forty years and in a special feature demonstrates some of her favourite techniques which have evolved over many years at the bench.

With a combination of modesty, humour and sure command of her subject, Maureen gives us a rare glimpse into her fascinating world.


Cost £16.00 each

Both of these DVDs may be purchased from our online shop.

(subject to shipping charges and VAT where applicable)

Embossed Fair Goat

This natural goat, manufactured using Scandinavian skins, is ideal for conservation, repair and restoration. It is often used for the re-backing of old sheep and goatskin bindings and is supplied with a choice of 5 grains. This leather is supplied undyed, but is well suited for dyeing by the binder.

The leather can also be supplied un-embossed (see Fair Goat)

Average Skin Size: 0.60 - 0.70 sq.m. (6.50 - 7.50 sq.ft.) Approx. Cut Size: 65 x 75 cm
Standard Substance: 1.0 mm
Grains: 5 embossings
Colours available: Natural
Grades: Run Selection
Approximate price for single skins: £62.00 per skin

The Embossed Fair Goat may be purchased from our online shop.

(subject to shipping charges and VAT where applicable)

The Leather Conservation Centre

The Leather Conservation Centre undertakes practical conservation, training, research and analysis and consultancy work, and produces a number of publications on all aspects of leather conservation

The Leather Conservation Centre, in partnership with the University of Northampton, has recently appointed Anne Lama as a KTP Research Associate to research, design and implement a new generation of conservation material(s) to consolidate leather and combat red rot (acidic degradation of leather).

A KTP is a Knowledge Transfer Partnership and is partially funded by the Government.

Anne Lama has an MSc in Leather Technology and will be submitting her PhD thesis in November (entitled 'The Impact of the Leather Manufacturing Process on Bacterial Growth in Tannery Effluent').

As part of her research Anne wants to talk to and visit conservators, archivists, librarians, bookbinders and anyone else who deals with leather, and therefore may come across red rot. If you would be interested in helping with this project please contact Anne Lama by email at lcc@northampton.ac.uk We are also looking for samples of leather, old or new, with or without red rot on which to carry out various tests.

If you are able to supply any discarded leather, even small pieces, we would be very pleased to have them to assist with this research.

Yvette A Fletcher BA Hons, MA, ACR
Head of Conservation (Acting)
The Leather Conservation Centre
University Campus
Boughton Green Road
Northampton NN2 6QE
Tel: +44 (0) 1604 719766 e-mail:lcc@northampton.ac.uk

The Society of Bookbinders Competition, 2009

J Hewit and Sons Award for Innovation

Winner - Max Penn, Barnack, Cambridgeshire, UK, Non-Professional, Complete Book

Book - Untitled

Binding - Orange / Gold fibre paper and Russian Green paper covered binding. Materials used were 2000 micron card, orange/gold fibre paper and Russian Green paper; the brads are both structural and decorative, as are the straps. All binding has been done with double-sided tape rather than glue. The idea was to explore methods of spine and cover attachment that broke from the traditional format and gave both a tactile and visual character to the binding. It has an odd medieval look to it - studs and battlements.

J Hewit and Sons Awards for Craftsmanship

Binder - Ann Tout, Fareham, Hampshire, UK, Non-Professional, Fine Binding

Book - Don't Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier

Binding - Brown goatskin with painted panels, graphite edges. Blind tooling of wood grain on plank shapes. Oil painted silk panels worked from each story, silk endbands, graphite edges with stencil work on fore-edge. Book boards designed to represent doors/shutters as barriers seemed most appropriate through which to glimpse each horrifying story.

J Hewit and Sons Award for Impact

Binder - Tom McEwan, Glengarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland, Non-Professional, Fine Binding

Book - 'A Song to David' by Christopher Smart

Binding - Full goatskin leather with several scarf jointed structures, colour inlays and back-pared onlays with blind tooled line work. Sewn on recessed hemp cords. Double core silk endbands. The basic design is of two superimposed 'cross' forms spanning both boards against a background of radiating lines in coloured leather and blind. The design concept is based on Smart's intense religious mania which gradually became a form of madness.

Our warmest congratulations go to all the winners

Tom McEwan is presented with the J. Hewit and Sons Prize for 'Impact' by David Lanning,
the newly appointed President of the Society of Bookbinders.

Filmoplast 'P'

We are pleased to advise that the popular Filmoplast 'P' is now also available in a 4cm width roll.

Here are the new prices:
2cm x 50 metre rolls £10.68 per roll - with cardboard dispenser
4cm x 50 metre rolls £17.80 per roll - without dispenser

The Filmoplast may be purchased from our online shop.

(subject to shipping charges and VAT where applicable)

Linen Thread

The manufacturer of our Linen Thread has discontinued the 50g spools of 40/3, but we are pleased to advise that we are replacing it with the slightly heavier 35/3 thread.

Our full range of thread may be purchased from our online shop.

Type Tray and Organiser

Are you fed-up with trying to keep your type tidy? If the answer is yes, then this wooden Type Tray would be a cost effective and practical way to organise and store your brass type.


  • 50 compartments - 30mm x 30mm x 25mm
  • Overall dimensions - 342mm x 182mm x 35mm
  • Sides - Pine
  • Base - Plywood
  • Dividers - Plywood
  • Lid - Plexiglas (Perspex)

for 1-2 units - £16.65 each
for 3-5 units - £15.73 each
for 6+ units - £14.80 each

The Type Tray may be purchased from our online shop..

(subject to shipping charges and VAT where applicable)

Gold Rubbers

We have had to discontinue this product. We inherited the recipe for gold rubbers around 10 years ago and made them until about 18 months ago when we ran out of raw latex. The process was messy, smelly and time-consuming and we have decided not to continue with their manufacture.

If you can find raw latex, it is "just" a case of soaking a small lump of the material in about the same volume of paraffin for around two weeks, turning it every couple of days and then drying it out when it has swollen, again for a couple of weeks.

B36 Pure Starch Paste Powder

We are pleased to be in a position to reintroduce the very popular B36, pre-gelatinised pure starch based on regular maize. It is a general purpose bookbinding paste and contains no fungicide. To prepare, whilst stirring, add powder to cold water until required consistency is reached.

Available in:
300g packs - makes approximately 1 gallon @ £3.51 each
1.5kg packs - makes approximately 5 gallons @ £14.65 each
25kg sacks @ £112.00 each

B36 may be purchased from our online shop.

(subject to shipping charges and VAT where applicable)

Last remaining Pigskin for Leathergoods, Saddles, Bridles and Harnesses

Jewel Pigskin - We are no longer producing this beautiful and traditional leather goods leather, but still have a selection of finished skins in stock. Aniline dyed and hand polished giving a very attractive two-tone finish. They are available in 5 shades in a mixture of substances and are being sold as run-selection. This leather is ideal for small leather goods, watch scraps and small luggage items. The thinner skins are also suitable for bookbinding!

Price: £35.00 per skin
Average Skin Size: 1.11 sq.m. (12 sq.ft.)
Colours available: Black, Dark Nut, Golden, Hazel and Whisky.
Grade: Run-Selection, grades II and III
Standard Substance: 0.6mm, 0.8mm, 1.0mm (depending on availability).

Black Hazel Golden Dark Nut Whisky



Saddle Pigskin - Just as the Jewel Pigskin above, we are no longer producing these traditional saddle and harness leathers, but still have a limited selection of skins available. They are aniline dyed and hand 'tallowed', which gives the traditional 'drag' and 'waxy' feel associated with saddle and harness leathers.

Price: £35.00 per skin
Average Skin Size: 1.11 sq.m. (12 sq.ft.)
Colours available: Black and Dark Brown
Grade: Run-Selection, grades I and II
Standard Substance: 1.0mm


These leathers may be purchased from our online shop.

(subject to shipping and VAT charges where applicable)


Skin Deep - Volume 28 - Autumn 2009

Download Skin Deep - Volume 28 in PDF Format