The Whole Art of the Book


    Lecture by Dominic Riley

    Monday 18th January 2016 at 2 pm

    Why was the best paper made from the worn out clothes of peasants? Why did leather have to be tanned outside the city walls? Why is gold leaf so thin that it is measured in atoms and cannot be touched with the hands? Why do printers have to do everything upside down and backwards? Why did gold finishers get paid more than other bookbinders despite not washing their hair? And why is the art of bookbinding itself, surely the most complex of all hand crafts, as beguiling and enchanting today as it was when it was invented on the banks of the Nile 2,000 years ago.

    This lecture is a ‘Through the Round Window’ for grown-ups, and tells the fascinating story of everything that makes a traditional hand bound book.Why was the best paper made from the worn out clothes of peasants? Why did leather have to be tanned outside the city walls? Why is gold leaf so thin that it is measured in atoms and cannot be touched with the hands? Why do printers have to do everything upside down and backwards? Why did gold finishers get paid more than other bookbinders despite not washing their hair? And why is the art of bookbinding itself, surely the most complex of all hand crafts, as beguiling and enchanting today as it was when it was invented on the banks of the Nile 2,000 years ago. This lecture is a ‘Through the Round Window’ for grown-ups, and tells the fascinating story of everything that makes a traditional hand bound book.


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