Liz Conway, Bookbinder

The newly re-bound Tourist Guide from 1932

Regular readers of the diary may recall the appearance of some pages of the tourist guide called ‘The Roman Wall District’ a couple months ago. A very tatty and bedraggled copy, we wanted to refresh it for convenient viewing by our dear friends who’d loaned it for sampling.

As I’d mentioned back in August, I dropped in to chat with Liz Conway, Bookbinder, on the New Line, about a preservation binding job. Liz is a member of Network Artists North-East, as well as the Society of Bookbinders, and she spends a good deal of time with colleagues at the Lit & Phil in Newcastle upon Tyne. She offered a realistic quote, and we agreed to move the project forward. It turned out that the front cover was missing, but she found another edition, possibly the next one, from a librarian colleague which was scanned and reprinted for completeness. A couple of days ago she emailed me to say that the book was ready for collection.

And what a lovely job it all was!

The new binding, with gold letters on the spine

One of the tricky bits of this job was to safely incorporate the fold-out hand-coloured map from the inside middle pages, which was tightly and brilliantly achieved. Just as important was to tidy up the frayed edges of the pages, also a superlative success!

Liz does most of her bookbinding work in her small but accessible studio on the New Line. She has her own gold-lettering press, but for this little job she used the letters at the Lit & Phil to run the title down the little book’s spine. I thought, I bet nobody knows what a bookbinder’s studio actually looks like, so I took a quick photo. ‘Organised chaos’ Liz might say, self-deprecatingly, but it looks more like organised orderliness to me.

Our friends were deeply impressed with the quality of the bookbinding that Liz pulled out of the bag, and now they can peruse the pages of the little tourist guide without fearing that it will fall apart in their hands.

A job well done all around! Liz is prepared for any sort of preservation binding job, and would be delighted to hear from folks who might have a similar sort of project, seeking to keep a much-loved volume in good presentable condition.

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