After seeing the response to the first posting of Care and Feeding
, I decided that it was time to take a field trip. I set off across town to the early twentieth-century office building where our book binder, Phil Poehlein, practices his craft.
On the second floor, in office space reminiscent of Samuel Spade's (minus the partner's desk he shared with the luckless Miles Archer), Phil repairs, rebinds, and revives treasures from our inventory, as well as books sent to him from people all across the country.
Phil was rebinding a bible the afternoon that I stopped by. It had been a softcover edition, but he was putting it into a classic full-leather binding with the title stamped on the spine, and the owner's name in gilt on the front cover.
We send some of our rarest books to Phil. He can color match cloth bindings...
...as well as repair spines, create new leather bindings...
...and repair loose or detached pages in a book by gluing and re-sewing. I'm crazy about the beautiful marbled paper he has in stock. Which to choose?
Some of the examples of Phil's work here in our rare book room include the custom clamshell box for Einstein's Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitatstheorie and the box that houses the 1814 German edition of Patrick Gass's Journal.
Chatting with Phil while he worked, I asked the "cat urine" question: What can one do about horrible smells?
Negative ions, Phil told me. While there are negative ion generators out there, it might not be cost effective to buy one just to rescue your copy of The Runaway Jury. It might be a good idea to contact disaster recovery firms and ask if they rent out their own negative ion generators, but again cost will have to be a factor in your negative ion decision.
As for the other questions posted about bugs, mildew, the (perhaps) harmful effects of neat's-foot oil on stamped gilt (browse Brodart.com for archival quality supplies)... well, I wasn't able to get all the answers. Phil and I did talk about his newfound passion for collecting, though.
What does our craft bookbinder collect? Records. The long-playing kind.
You can find Phil online at www.bookcraftsonline.com.
Suggested reading on the care of books: The Care and Feeding of Books Old and New and The Booklover's Repair Manual. The repair manual comes with a pretty good toolkit and a well illustrated "how to."
And, finally, a word to Portland-area book collectors: ABAA bookseller and fine press publisher Charles Seluzicki will teach a class on book collecting at Ink and Paper in SE Portland, beginning October 18. Details can be found at the Ink and Paper website.