Volume 37 - Spring 2014


Cutting Jane

Over trim at your peril! - by Tom Conroy

With thanks to Andrew Lang, who revealed the binders' torment in hell.

Jane was hasty trimming edges,
Used a battered guillotine.
Cut 'em crooked, shaped like wedges,
Cut 'em deep and cut 'em mean.
All her books wailed lamentations,
Cropped to text with deep striations.

Then one day Jane went to too far,
Tried her tricks on Oscar Wilde;
Cutting marks drew cutting re-marks,
Always witty, never mild.
Nothing here to make her placid.
Paper cuts and dripping acid;

Soon Jane died in agony.
Still her trials weren't over:
Satan snickered nastily
"Behold! These binders did what you have done.
They sit or lie on heaps of paper shavings
Composed of edges trimmed while they were living,
Ablaze upon their pyres but not consumed."
Bigger heaps mean higher flames
And the biggest heap was Jane's.

She begged succor earnestly,
But her bindings screamed "No leaven!"
There she writhes eternally
While righteous binders up in heaven
Laugh with Wilde, who mocks her pains.
May your fate not mimic Jane's.

MORAL: Trim lightly if at all, and with a sharp plough.

Tom Conroy is a book restorer, binding historian, toolmaker, teacher, and fine binder in Berkeley, California. After fifteen years as a self-taught amateur binder he began benchwork training with Theodore and Anne Kahle at Capricornus in 1981. He holds an MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) from the University of California at Berkeley.


Skin Deep - Volume 37 - Spring 2014

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