Trip to the American Bookbinders Museum
So I finally sit down to write about my trip to the American Bookbinders Museum in San Francisco back in June – and I can’t find my notes.
I can’t even express how so very irritated I am. I know I didn’t throw them out and I’ve gone through every inch of my studio. Even though I’m super-bummed, I’ve decided to go ahead with this post.
For the past 20 years, Tim James of Taurus Bookbindery has been the mastermind behind the collection at the American Bookbinders Museum. Tim graciously gave us a tour of the Museum, which surprisingly had no admission fee.
The Museum not only has an impressive array of bookbinding equipment from the 19th century, but also a large library of bookbinding-related ephemera and documentation – binder’s tickets, bindery business records, equipment manuals – just to name a few.
During my visit, I learned that unions played in important role in 19th century binderies. There were unions not only for men, but also for women bookbinders – for example, The Bindery Women’s Union Local 125 was organized in 1902. Pins represented the different unions – I was surprised by how many there were.
In the United States in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, women played an increasingly important role in the binderies. By 1900, there were more women working in binderies than men (51.6%). You can read more about women bookbinders in the book, Women in the Bookbinding Trade by Mary Van Kleeck (it’s available as a free download).
I loved the Museum and I would say that it was one of my favorite stops during my vacation to California. My pictures don’t do the Museum justice – you just have to go there yourself. You’ll thank me later.
Tim has a wishlist of things he’d like to add to the collection – keep your eyes open at antique shops. If you’re feeling generous and would like to make a donation, checks can be sent to The American Bookbinders Museum, 2736 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.