Have you ever wondered just how a Franklin Library Book is put together?
Franklin Library, a division of the Franklin Mint, as many a book collector can attest, was considered the equivalent of the Cadillac division of GM in the modern 20th Century book market. They put out several series of gorgeous full leather-bound books, quarter leather-bound and leatherette-bound books that would have made a 16th Century european Renaissance patron stand up and take notice:
- The 100 Greatest Books of All Time (100 books)
- The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature (100 books)
- The Collected Stories of the World’s Greatest Writers (100 books)
- 60 Signed Limited Editions (60 books)
- Pulitzer Prize Classics (53 books)
- Franklin Mystery Masterpieces (51 books)
- The First Edition Society (72 books)
- Great Books of the Western World (96 books)
- World’s Best-Loved Books (100 books)
- Greatest Books of the 20th Century (50 books)
The actual book binding for the Franklin Library was contracted to a company known as Sloves Organization, Ltd. which worked exclusively in the high end leather book-binding trade.
The craft of leather book-binding is a dying art today as publishers shift their from the traditional book market to the digital book market.
Franklin Book Deconstruction:
I have always been a bit curious about how one of these fine leather bound editions is put together and the other day, going through a few of these books I have picked up over the years, I discovered one that had considerable water-damage to many of the pages which basically renders the book worthless and un-sellable as a rare book. In its present condition the book is worth maybe $4-6 dollars as a reader’s copy. The title of the book is Guy de Maupassant’s Stories, illustrated by Lily Harmon.
I therefore concluded that this exercise could serve two purposes; the first being to share a bit of unique insight into the binding of a well made book and then re-purpose much of the book after taking it apart and sell the parts in one form or another for more than I would receive for the book on Ebay.
From the archival paper that the book is printed on I should be able to make about 600 bookmarks which I intend to hand paint with watercolours. Since this particular book has a set of very nice illustrations that can be used in decoupage projects and perhaps a mixed media collage or two, I removed these intact. The actual leather binding will be used for binding together a hand-made journal later. After cutting the strips of paper to make book marks, I will still be left with the actual printed block which I intend to cut into a smaller block and hand sew into my own private small edition of this very book.
The photos below show how the book was put together:
For more information on the Smythe Sewn process, click here.
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