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Trip to the American Bookbinders Museum

Over the summer, I spent a week in California with my family (a real vacation – yay!). I was fortunate enough to visit The American Bookbinders Museum in San Francisco. 

American Bookbinders Museum sign

American Bookbinders Museum

I visited the museum back in 2009 when Tim James ran it. It has since moved into a gorgeous space and now offers a wonderful experience of the history of bookbinding and an explanation of why it’s relevant today. It’s amazing what can happen in a few years!

American Bookbinders Museum

American Bookbinders Museum

American Bookbinders Museum

American Bookbinders Museum exhibit

I was charmed by the posters – they seem to be reproductions of what I’m assuming are etchings.

American Bookbinders Museum

American Bookbinders Museum poster

American Bookbinders Museum poster

Hey bindery ladies!

I’m pretty sure that this is the same press I visited nine years ago. The detail work is beautiful.

Imperial Arming Press, ca. 1832

Imperial Arming Press, ca. 1832

Imperial Arming Press, ca. 1832

Imperial Arming Press, ca. 1832

Until the book-sewing machine was introduced, books were usually hand sewn by women. Women were a natural choice to operate the machines due to their familiarity with textile sewing machines.

Smyth #3 Book Sewing Machine, ca. 1887

Smyth #3 Book Sewing Machine, ca. 1887

Palmer & Rey Guillotine, 1884-1892

Palmer & Rey Guillotine, 1884-1892

The irony is not lost on me that the person who donated this guillotine has the last name of Stump.

Palmer & Rey Guillotine sign

Imperial Arming and Printing Press, ca. 1880

Imperial Arming and Printing Press, ca. 1880

There were a number of historic book models on display that just happened to be bound by one of my favorite people, Karen Hanmer. If you’re new here, you should know that I’m a bit of a Karen groupie. If you’re not new here, then maybe you’re tired of hearing me talk about her. Too bad.

Book models by Karen Hanmer

As we were leaving the museum, I took a look at the donors list and saw quite a few familiar names…

American Bookbinders Museum donor list

…including my own!

American Bookbinders Museum donor list

I totally forgot that I had sent them some sample books a number of years ago – I acquired them from a bookbinder who had passed away.

If you’re in San Francisco and geek out over bookbinding and its history, then you absolutely need to haul ass over to the museum. Here are the details:

  • Address: 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco, CA (Google Map)
  • Phone: (415) 824-9754

4 Responses to “Trip to the American Bookbinders Museum”

By Robin - 16 January 2019 Reply

Elissa Thank you for the photographic tour of a wonderful museum.

By Elissa - 17 January 2019 Reply

Robin –

Have you been there before?

If I had been there by myself I would have spent more time exploring the collection. Unfortunately, Anna wasn’t having it.

Elissa

By Karen Hanmer - 17 January 2019 Reply

The ruling machine was particularly fabulous.

By Elissa - 17 January 2019 Reply

Karen –

And one machine shall rule them all!

Elissa

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