Worktable Wednesday

This morning was really interesting. Someone came by with a book that needed repair – a Webster’s Dictionary from 1952.

Webster's Dictionary

It’s GINORMOUS. It’s use-me-to-defeat-the-intruder-in-your-home size. Seriously. The thing is five inches thick:

Webster's Dictionary

The binding is really odd – I’ve never seen anything like it before. The whole book is post-bound.

Webster's Dictionary

The spine isn’t attached to the front and back covers – it gets sandwiched in between the text block and the covers when you close the screw posts.

Webster's Dictionary

My friend Elizabeth, who attended the North Bennet Street School, told me that she thinks that this isn’t how the book was originally bound. She pointed out how the spine-edge of the pages don’t all line up as they should – it’s as if the book were cut into sections and then rebound using screw posts.

Webster's Dictionary

I didn’t start working on the book repair today because I had to focus on a custom order that I received from Etsy. I’m customizing a large photo album with a different ribbon binding. This will be my first book to live in Spain! ¡Hurra!

Today was Glue Day:

Handmade photo album in progress

3:27 p.m.

Handmade photo album in progress

3:40 p.m.

Handmade photo album in progress

3:50 p.m.

The handmade orange oak leaf paper is my absolute favorite paper by Richard Langdell. Please don’t tell the other papers that I’m playing favorites.


8 Responses to “Worktable Wednesday”

By Mags Bonham - 16 December 2010 Reply

Wow, that dictionary is huge and gorgeous! It looks like it will be quite the challenge to fix.

By Elissa - 16 December 2010 Reply

Mags –

As strange as it seems, I think it will be easier to fix than a “normal” book. I don’t have to deal with spine reattachment, only the repair of the covers.

If I had more skill (and the customer wanted it), I would probably try to restore it to its original condition, with the covers attached to the spine.


By Alexandra - 16 December 2010 Reply

I’ve got one of those mega-dictionaries that was left at the house when we moved in. I guess nobody wanted to schlep it out. It will probably also need repair one day. Is it better to have it standing up or lying down? Right now, we have it sleeping. Eventually, I want to get Howard to build a lectern for it!

By Elissa - 16 December 2010 Reply

Alex –

I think it’s better to keep it flat – that way you don’t have gravity pulling on the binding. Is it post-bound or is the spine attached to the covers?

My customer wants to get a book stand for her dictionary. I’m not sure how easy it is to find one that can hold a 5″ book. She might have to get something made for her.


By steve kennedy - 16 December 2010 Reply

This dictionary was sold in sections by the A&P supermarket chain each week you could purchase a new section of the dictionary with your weekly grocery purchase. I have one at home that I put together each week after shopping with my parents.

By Elissa - 16 December 2010 Reply

Steve –

Thanks for the information – what a great story! I’m excited to tell my customer the history of the book.

So part of the weekly dictionary adventure included buying the covers and the screw posts? Do you have pictures of your dictionary that could send me? I’d love to add them to this post.


By dinahmow - 16 December 2010 Reply

I was going to give you my thoughts, but Steve has already nailed it! I have 2 volumes of a garden encyclopaedia that are comprised of weekly sections.The covers are icky plastic-pretending-to-be-leather. (I should pull it apart and rebind in smaller volumes.Ditto our ginormous Webster.)

By Elissa - 22 December 2010 Reply

Diane –

This whole weekly section book dealie is so cool. The dictionary I’m working on also has a vinyl/leather-wannabe cover.


So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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