9 Iconic Modern Bookbinders Who Changed Bookmaking Forever

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Le Gascon Mystique Our cover design reproducing a binding attributed to Le Gason

Le Gascon Mystique
Our cover design reproducing a binding attributed to Le Gascon

Rather than a history lesson, think of this post as a wish list of future Paperblanks artwork. The ten bookbinders below have all made major contributions to their field and left behind a legacy of innovative and high-quality designs. We are proud that we already offer Paperblanks journals featuring the work of many of these great artists and who knows, maybe one day we can all ten off the list!

1) Le Gascon

Era: Early 17th century

Lasting Contribution: Developing the fanfare (complicated gold-tooled geometrical framework) and pointillé (small dots that create a larger pattern) binding styles.

2) Nicolas-Denis Derome, le jeune

Era: Mid–late 18th century

Lasting Contribution: Going against the production norms of his time and creating unique dentelles (the outer board lace-like design) with different artwork or designs from the rest of the binding. He was especially celebrated for his bird motifs (dentelles à l’oiseau), as well as his more common but just as well craft geometric patterns.

Parisian Mosaic Safran Reproducing an au semé binding by Derome

Parisian Mosaic Safran
Reproducing an au semé binding by Nicolas-Denis Derome

3) Roger Payne

Era: Mid–late 18th century

Lasting Contribution: Founding a purely English style of binding, almost exclusively using crimson straight-grain morocco leather with gold tooling to create an elaborately decorated spine with a more simple cover board.

4) Josen Zaehnsdorf

Era: Mid-19th century

Lasting Contribution: Establishing a bindery in 1837 that continues to produce intricate bindings of the highest quality.

5) Cedric Chivers

Era: Late 19th, early 20th century

Lasting Contribution: Discovering the vellucent process, by which an artist’s designs can be applied to the surface and then overlaid with transparently thin vellum, allowing the original work to be included rather than simply reproduced, with the vellum sheet acting as both a protective barrier and decorative glaze.

Autumn Symphony Cadenza and Allegro Reproducing two bookbindings designed by Michel

Autumn Symphony Cadenza and Allegro
Reproducing two bookbindings designed by Marius Michel

6) Marius Michel

Era: Late 19th, early 20th century

Lasting Contribution: Being one of the first binders to design the cover of the book to thematically match the contents of the written work within.

7) Bayntun-Riviere

Era: Late 19th, early 20th century

Lasting Contribution: Celebrating old-fashioned bookbinding and traditional handbinding. The firm is still family-operated today and continues to bind most of their work by hand.

8) Sangorski & Sutcliffe

Era: Early 20th century

Lasting Contribution: Bringing back jewelled bindings and becoming renowned for their sumptuous and dazzling designs.

9) Douglas Cockerell

Era: Early 20th century

Lasting Contribution: Writing about his craft, becoming an influential voice for bookbinders and proponent of book conservation. His 1901 publication, Bookbinding, and the Care of Books, continues to be studied today.

For More

We are passionate about celebrating artists of today, too, and have enjoyed fruitful partnerships with our in-house bookbinder, Wade Berridge, and German-born paper artist Nadine Werner. To learn more about their craft and hear about bookbinding from the binders themselves, check out our “A Book Binder’s Journey” feature with Wade and Nadine as well as our Paper-Oh interview with Nadine Werner!

About Paperblanks®: At Paperblanks, we believe that art should have a place in all aspects of life. That’s why we follow the artist’s way in everything we do – creating, crafting and releasing designs we believe have the power to touch people. For more about Paperblanks, go to our website at paperblanks.com.

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