July 25, 2016

18th Century Bookbinding with Ramon Townsend

18th Century Bookbinding

Today I was fortunate enough to attend a class on Colonial Bookbinding will Williamsburg trained bookbinder Ramon Townsend at the Harrinton House, home of Walter Staib's A Taste of History.

First off, I was really excited to take this class as I love little journals and notebooks and have made quite a few in my life but have never had the chance to learn how to make them the 18th century way. I'm not kidding. I was so excited to take this class that I had that dream where you are late for something important and then everything that happens makes you more late. The universe also threw me for a loop when the morning of class my car decided it didn't want to start but finally acquiesced last minute and I made it in time. The class was so much fun and everyone left with a pretty book and I'm now in love with marbled paper.

I took a lot of pictures during the class in case anyone is interested in the whole process or curious exactly what is under the spine of old books. We used rag paper, paste and leather so these books should weather time as good as 18th century books have. Well made, 18th century books fare surprisingly better than many 19th century books due to the use of rag paper over wood pulp paper.

18th Century Bookbinding

We each used a sewing frame to hold the cords in place for sewing. We each only made one book but the frame is designed to sew a stack of books at one time.

18th Century Bookbinding

18th Century Bookbinding

18th Century Bookbinding

We learned how to sew in the signatures in the 18th century way. Along with the necessary stitches.

18th Century Bookbinding

18th Century Bookbinding

We glued down the cords to attach the covers.

18th Century Bookbinding

18th Century Bookbinding
18th Century Bookbinding

Attached the leather to the spines.

18th Century Bookbinding

Attached the decorative covers.

18th Century Bookbinding

18th Century Bookbinding

One of the other books made in the class.


We learned how to use embossing tools to decorate leather books.


It was an extremely enjoyable class and I hope to take the paper marbling and book repair class when they are offered again.

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