Crossing the Bench: Geneva Bible, 1568.

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We received this old Bible in bad shape, as you can see from the picture above, but we went to work saving it, and it will live to see  several more centuries to come!  

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We removed the old tattered cover and removed a lot of dirt, old rubber cement, and insect cocoons. There had been previous restoration—the kind that actually causes damage—hence the rubber cement. There was also rediculous oversewing, so we took that out too.  

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While cleaning up the spine we found fun very old parchment manuscript waste that was used to line a few signatures. 

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The spine needed serious reshaping, so after rounding and backing, we left the book securely wrapped in the backing press with extra wrapping to ensure the spine would dry back in its proper shape.  

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We embroidered new end-bands using linen thread, then cosmetically aged the endbands to look as if they’ve been on the book for a couple hundred years. 

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We finished the project with a full leather binding, complete with a Renaissance tooling design.  

Crossing the Bench: 1617 KJV Bible Historical Rebind.

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We had the pleasure of restoring and rebinding this Holy Bible (KJV) from 1617, and it was such a fun project, and somewhat of a milestone as this was the first time I made brass corner bosses.  

I'm not usually a huge fan of books with corner bosses because of the thin brass used. I decided to use a thicker brass stock for my corner bosses, as I feel the hardware on large books should be proportional to the thicker boards and text blocks. I'm happy I made the decision to use a thicker brass stock, because the hardware looks fantastic! 

I treated the leather, dyed it, cosmetically aged it, and tooled the boards in both blind and gold tooling. I hand cut the brass for the claps and corner bosses, and engraved period appropriate designs in the metal. I embroidered a single bead end bands for the text block using lovely linen thread. All of this during huge storms, multiple tornadoes, and a two day blackout. 

Below are a few photos showing the process and finished binding.  

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Crossing the Bench: Historical Rebind, Geneva Bible, 1570.

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We recently had the pleasure of rebinding this fantastic copy of a Geneva Bible, 1570.  The text block was the cleanest copy we've seen of a 446 year old book.  Even though the text block was in good condition, a book this old still needs to be handled with care.  As you can see from the photo above, the binding was falling apart, so our client wanted a historical rebind rather than saving the old binding (which was not an original binding).  

We carefully disbound the book, consolidated the text block, rounded and backed the text block, hand embroidered chevron end bands, covered the book in hand dyed (by us) calf leather, hand tooled the leather in a 16th Century design, saved the book plate from within the old binding and placed it in the new binding, hand cut and engraved brass clasps, and finished the binding by cosmetically aging it. We also made a leather enclosure to match the binding. 

This book had been previously rebound by Francis Fry (1803-1886), a bibliographer, editor, and book collector. It's been said that he had nearly 1,300 bibles and testaments; mostly in the English language, as well as special editions of the Tyndale, Coverdale, and Cranmer (The Great Bible).  Fry produced the first complete Tyndale New Testament facsimile by tracing each page and then making copies through the process of lithography. 

Preserving bindings as a preservation practice is very 20th Century; rebinding in the 1800's was a common preservation practice, which is why so many books we now work on and/or rebind - though over 400 years old - have bindings that are actually quite modern.  Unfortunately, because the quality of leather and other materials in the in 1800s was so inferior, those modern rebindings aren't lasting the test of time.  I love adding my work to the history of these relics.   

Take a look at the binding process:  Binding project took 38 hours, with 1,075 individual tool impressions. 

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Profile of a Rare Book: Ahiman Rezon, Abridged and Digested, William Smith D.D., 1783

                   Before:  How the book arrived at Eidolon House. 

                   Before:  How the book arrived at Eidolon House. 

The Book:  Ahiman Rezon, Abridged and Digested:  As a help to all that are, or would be Free and Accepted Masons.  To which is added, a sermon preached in Christ-Church, Philadelphia, at a general communication, celebrated, agreeable to The constitutions, on Monday, December 28, 1778, as the anniversary of St. John the Evangelist.

Published by the order of The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, by William Smith D.D.

Philadelphia:  Printed by Hall and Sellers, M,DCC,LXXXIII [1783].

Its Story:  "Ahiman Rezon" or "The Book of Constitutions of this Grand Lodge"  was originally written by Laurence Dermott for the Antient Grand Lodge of England, which was formed in 1751.  The phrase Ahiman Rezon has been said to be of Hebrew origin, and has several different interpreted meanings, such as:  "To Help A Brother", "Will of Selected Brethren", "The Secrets of Prepared Brethren", "Royal Builders", and "Brother Secretary".  Ultimately the reason why Laurence Dermott used it as the title, and what it meant to him, is still a mystery.(1)    

Rev. Brother William Smith D.D. was the Grand Secretary of The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and prepared the 1783 Pennsylvania publication of the "Ahiman Rezon".  It's said that it was almost entirely a reprint of Dermott's work, with the addition of a sermon that was given to the Grand Lodge in Philadelphia in 1778.  Smith's prepared copy was approved by Grand Lodge 22 in Novemeber 1781 and finally published in 1783, and dedicated to Brother George Washington.  The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and South Carolina are the only two jurisdictions in the United States that still call their constitutions by the name "Ahiman Rezon".(1)  

Dedication to George Washington found on page 3.

Dedication to George Washington found on page 3.

Dedication to George Washington found on page 148.

Dedication to George Washington found on page 148.

The frontispiece was engraved by Robert Scot, a Mason and very talented engraver who eventually became the Chief Engraver of the United States.  Robert Scot was born in Canongate, Scotland in 1745.  He grew up to learn watchmaking, and trained as a line engraver under Richard Cooper Sr. at the Trustees Academy, with classes at the University of Edinburgh.(2)  

Frontispiece engraved by Robert Scot - The Arms of the Most Ancient & Honorable Fraternity, of Free and Accepted Masons.

Frontispiece engraved by Robert Scot - The Arms of the Most Ancient & Honorable Fraternity, of Free and Accepted Masons.

Scot moved to Fredricksburg Virginia in 1775 where he began engraving plates for Virginia currency, first using the arms of Britain.  In 1780 Scot moved to Richmond Virginia as engraver to the state of Virginia.  Sadly on January 4, 1781 Richmond was burned and destroyed by British troops under the command of General Benedict Arnold at which point Scot moved to Philadelphia.(2)

As mentioned earlier Scot was a Freemason and engraved the frontispiece for the Philadelphia publication of Ahiman Rezon.  In 1793 Scot was commissioned as the Chief Engraver of The United States Mint where he worked until he died in 1823.(3)

Frontispiece engraved by Robert Scot - The Arms of the Operative or Stone Masons. 

Frontispiece engraved by Robert Scot - The Arms of the Operative or Stone Masons. 

Restoration:  We had the pleasure of restoring this copy of Ahiman Rezon.  We dis-bound the book, washed the text block, sewed it back together and gave it a period appropriate binding in calf leather we hand dyed, speckled, tooled, and lightly aged.

The anchor tooled on the front cover is a common Freemason symbol, representing faith.  The lyre we tooled on the spine to represent the Masonic songs found within the text.  

Before & After Period Rebind, by Eidolon House.

Before & After Period Rebind, by Eidolon House.

This is a great book for anyone interested in the history of Freemasonry or the early United States.  It also provides a link to Robert Scot, an engraver of early U.S. currency, which would be great for a collector of legal tender.

Collect. Conserve. Restore.  Become Part of the History.

~~~~~ 

Get your own copy of an original publication:

Get your own reprinted copy: 

Reference links:  (1)  (2)  (3) 

 

 

Historical Rebind: 1611/13 "She" KJV Bible.

Before historical rebind - 1611/13 "She" KJV Bible.

Before historical rebind - 1611/13 "She" KJV Bible.

We had the pleasure of restoring and rebinding another 1611/13 King Jame Bible, "She" edition.  This will be our fourth!  It's always an honor to rebind these great historical books.  

We're pretty sure this cover is an original cover.  Our client however wisely wanted a new binding.  We saved the boards and are making an enclosure for them, which will stay with the book, I'm sure.  When rebinding a book this old, there is always going to be extensive paper conservation, which was the case in this book.  The cords were just okay, and we thought about leaving as much of the original cords as possible by splicing in new cord with the original.  When we thought about the time it would take to do that, we decided against it, also, new cords are better for the book than half rotten ones to ensure it will last another 400+ years.  

Here is the breakdown of the restoration and binding: 

  • Disbind, saving the original boards.
  • Paper mends throughout the text block.
  • Resewn text block with new cords.
  • New hand embroidered end-bands, aged to match  the original end-bands.
  • New binding in calf leather, hand dyed by us, on new wooden boards.
  • Historical leather tooling design in blind and gold. 
  • Just over 600 individual tool impressions (mostly on the spine).
  • Total time for this project 91 hours.