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A Closer Look at Fine Press Books

By Kristin Masters. Sep 20, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Fine Press, Book Making

Made in limited quantities, fine press books elevate publishing to an art. They are highly sought after by art lovers and book collectors alike. If you've been reading our blog for any length of time, you know of our affinity for fine press books. We love seeing what the likes of Heavenly Monkey, The Golden Cockerel Press, Nawakum Press, and more create. Do you have a fine press collection? Or are you interested in adding fine press titles to your library?

     
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VLOG: Long Stitch Bookbinding

By Brian Hoey. Apr 11, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Making, Fine Press

Medieval Germany: it brought us Otto the Great, the formation of the Hanseatic League, and the first stirrings of the Protestant Reformation. It also, as best as we can discern, brought us long stitch bookbinding, a non-adhesive form of bookmaking (meaning it eschews the use of glue or other adhesives) that gained some popularity in 18th and 19th century Europe.

     
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Boxcar Press, Letterpress, and Fine Press Bookmaking

By Audrey Golden. Jan 12, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Making

For many authors and illustrators, the ability to make your own book is quite appealing. If you’re interested in collecting fine press objects or bookmaking through the art of letterpress, what are your options? One of the more interesting possibilities for contemporary authors who want to pursue letterpress comes from Boxcar Press. Unlike other presses, Boxcar Press isn’t always printing books (although it does have printing capabilities). Instead, it’s making polymer plates for letterpress bookmakers and broadside artists who are interested in modern fine press. We’ll tell you a little bit more about the polymer plates that Boxcar Press makes, and then we’ll tell you about some of the great resources it offers to those who are new to letterpress as well as those who have been doing letterpress for quite awhile.

     
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VLOG: The Evolution of the Printing Press

By Matt Reimann. Aug 10, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Making, Fine Press

As early as the year 1040, the Chinese had made movable type out of clay and earthenware. The innovation, for a variety of reasons, did not catch on in the East, but four centuries later it became the center of a revolution in Europe. In 1439, the craftsman Johannes Gutenberg used movable type in his shop in Mainz. His screwpress method was so effective that for three and a half centuries little was done to improve its design. But evolve it did, becoming ever more complex and efficient, bringing the written word to ever greater swaths of the population.

     
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VLOG: The Entrancing Art of Japanese Papermaking

By Matt Reimann. Jun 9, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Making

Centuries before Europe, and as early as the 800s, Japan hosted the best papermaking craftsmanship in the world. To this day, a few hundred businessesoften family-run and ownedcontinue the tradition of making superior-quality paper by hand. The process is labor intensive, slow, and requires years of expertise, but why expect anything less when it comes to manufacturing some of the best paper on earth?

     
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VLOG: Paper Marbling

By Brian Hoey. May 10, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Making

Paper marbling is an art form that may well date back more than a thousand years. The technique involves creating paint patterns on top of a container of water and transferring those patterns to paper, usually paper of high quality. The result is stunning, unique designs that can be used for covering leather-bound books or simply as decorative art in its own right. At the very latest, it first appeared in 12th century Japan before spreading across Asia. In the 15th century, it had either made its way from East Asia or been re-invented independently in Turkey, where a new, more sophisticated version of the practice (called ebru) would gain popularity. This spread throughout the Islamic world and eventually reached England around the 17th century. There, marbling was used not just on books but also for wrapping gifts and lining drawers and shelves. Want to see the process for yourself? We've compiled some videos of paper marbling.

     
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VLOG: How Is Vellum Made?

By Brian Hoey. Apr 21, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Making

Vellum, a fine parchment traditionally made from calf skins, was for many years the default material for use in printing important manuscripts or documents. Many of Gutenberg’s first Bibles, for instance, were printed on Vellum, as were many illuminated manuscripts from the Medieval Era. And, in fact, despite the decrease in the material’s prevalence over the centuries, all British Acts of Parliament are still printed and archived on vellum. Differentiated from other forms of parchment by the quality of the animal skin used (debate continues as to whether vellum must refer to parchment made from calf skins or if it is more broadly applicable to finer quality parchment), vellum is extremely labor-intensive to produce. The resulting product, however, is durable and high-qualitysuitable for printing a book of hours or a religious work.  To learn more about the process, check out the four videos below.

     
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VLOG: Five Videos on the Art of Gilding

By Leah Dobrinska. Feb 23, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Making, Book Collecting

Gilding is an overarching term that can be used to describe the art of applying a thin layer of gold leaf or powder to surfaces such as stone, wood, or metal. Gilding was used by the early Egyptians, and, according to Pliny the Elder, it became common in Rome following the fall of Carthage. Gilding today can be found in woodworking, ceramics, architectural and interior designs, and of course, book binding.

Book sellers and collectors use the terms gilding and, commonly, gilt, when referencing a book’s decorative gold appearance. Often we see book sellers describe their books as having all gilt edges or gilt stamped titles. These descriptors tell a collector about the decorative nature of the collectible, but what about the process that goes in to making them so? Let's take a look at some videos of the art.

     
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Thomas Bewick's Most Noteworthy Engravings

By Brian Hoey. Jan 26, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Book Making

Thomas Bewick, an English naturalist and woodcut engraver working during the 18th and 19th centuries, was by all accounts at the top of his field during his lifetime. He combined tools originally developed for metal engraving and innovative techniques that introduced the gray scale into what was previously a black-and-white medium with tremendous wit and artistic talent. In doing so, he created engravings that still delight audiences today. His devotion to the natural world (birds in particular) as well as his interest in fairy tales led to the creation of images so intricate and detailed that they often had to be examined with a magnifying glass in order for the full effect to be realized. Here’s an overview of some of his most noteworthy engravings.

     
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VLOG: Four Videos on the Art of Chromolithography

By Matt Reimann. Dec 20, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Making

The word lithograph comes from lithos, the Greek word for stone. Lithography differs from similar image-based printing methods by not requiring the artist to carve into the medium, as she would have to do with a copper engraving or a woodcut relief. Instead, she draws the image onto the smooth surface of a limestone block, and then uses oil and other substances to transfer it onto paper.

     
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How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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