DeGolyer Exhibition and Bookbinding Competition, 2015

Nancy Nitzberg
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania


Nancy Nitzberg began bookbinding in 1982 at Harvard College Library’s Conservation Unit. After receiving an M.S. in Library Service and a Certificate in Library and Archives Conservation from Columbia University, she served as a professional book conservator in major research libraries and a regional conservation center. In addition to providing conservation and custom bookbinding services through her own business, Book-Care, she recently became the Director of Library Services at Gratz College in Melrose Park, Pennsylvania. Her research interests include the structures and materials of book forms produced around the world through the ages, with attention to the use of local materials and the influence of trade routes and other factors.


Proposal:

I purchased my copy of Bernard C. Middleton’s The Restoration of Leather Bindings while a student at Columbia University's School of Library Service. In the conservation program we made many models of book structures and various elements of bindings. Now in my studio I have a large bulletin board with items spanning a few decades.  My inspiration for the design of this book is to have a bookbinder's “bulletin board” with models made from the information in Middleton's book. These are selected to bring a more tangible sense of materials to the informative black and white illustrations.

The deep purple goatskin was selected as a traditional regal hue to honor the author while elements of red symbolize leadership. The warm natural tones of the cork is harmonious with the color tones of the printed paper cover of the book, visually connecting the cover with the text block. Silk headbands in purple and dark gold continue the color scheme.  In homage to the author's origins, the endpapers are Cockerell marbled paper from England.

Example:

Michael Bryan. A Biographical and Critical Dictionary of Painters and Engravers.  London: Printed for Carpenter and Son; J. Booker; and Whittingham and Arliss, 1816. Volume one of two.

This binding represents an early nineteenth-century bookbinding style:  a smooth spine without raised or faux bands, half red leather binding, and the pattern of the marbled paper. Middleton notes that red leather is vulnerable to fading. Here bright red is used in order to demonstrate how historical bindings looked at the time of production, rather than after more than a century of exposure to light and pollutants.

While the exterior presents traditional aesthetics, the structural elements have been updated. There is a flexible hollow tube spine lining:  the leather is not adhered directly to the spine of the text block but to the exterior of a paper lining that is hollow. This allows the text block to flex upward, away from the leather, when the book is opened, thus preserving the spine leather and providing much text block flexibility. This binding can easily be completely opened 180 degrees; the worked linen headbands flex with the text block. I chose this binding as my example as it represents elements in my proposal for The Restoration of Leather Bindings. I would construct a similar hollow tube spine lining structure and the same headband style, but with silk rather than linen thread.