April 14, 2011

The invaluable art of the book binder


Here’s a testament to the serendipity of the internet: Tuesday, MobyLives ran a story about a book brought to an antiques appraiser in Sandy, Utah that turned out to be a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle from 1494 valued at over $100,000. Then yesterday, among the many random calls we receive (most of which usually start out along the lines of “Hey, are you a publishing company? I just finished my book–will you publish it?”) someone called asking if we could appraise an old prayer book in her possession. Since the Nuremberg Chronicle story had just gone up, I chalked up the call to that. Random, yes, but at least we had recently published something in the neighborhood of what this person was talking about.

But what made the call more serendipitous for me is that I had just watched the following video from the Toronto Standard (via Casual Optimist) about a book binder by the name of Don Taylor in Toronto who specializes in restoring old books. While no one has brought him a version of the Nuremberg Chronicle to restore (that he mentions anyway), he is brought a lot of old books of sentimental value to repair. To which he mentions a customer who’d brought him an old prayer book given to them by a family member. Nothing special, probably worth less than the cost of taking it to Don in the first place, but an object worth the care, attention, and skill that only someone like he could provide.

Anyway, the video is an excellent reminder that, as books become more and more disposable, there are still people out there who value the book as an object and will go to great lengths to preserve the very special ones. Enjoy.

MADE IN TORONTO, THE BOOKBINDER from Toronto Standard on Vimeo.