Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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Cobden-Sanderson, Thomas J. ( 1840-1922 )

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An 1892 binding by Thomas J. Cobden-Sanderson on an 1841 copy of J.R. Lowell's A Year's Life . Reproduced from Bookbindings by T.J. Cobden-Sanderson , printed by the Spiral Press, 1969, for the Pierpont Morgan Library. (18.3 cm. by 11.5 cm. by 1.5. cm.)

An English lawyer who left the legal profession to take up bookbinding, working for six months under Roger de Coverley before opening his own shop. Cobden-Sanderson produced some 100 bindings, and his work was generally considered to be superior to that of his contemporaries. His forwarding was excellent, and his finishing was skillfully designed and executed, and noted as much for its restraint as for its elaboration. He produced these bindings with the use of only a relatively few simple tools worked in intricate combinations. He designed his own tools, and, with the exception of sewing and edge gilding, did all of his own forwarding. Cobden-Sanderson signed his bindings with the initials C S and the date, usually on the doublure, a practice widely imitated since by craft binders.

Cobden-Sanderson's binding had a highly beneficial influence on the binding of his day. To a certain extent, he started bookbinding on a path away from the situation in which the vast majority of bookbinders seem unable or unwilling to consider new approaches, except within the narrow limits of accepted methods. His influence on his contemporaries was considerable, and it is not unreasonable to maintain that his influence is being felt to this day.

Cobden-Sanderson gave up his own bindery in 1893 to establish the Doves Bindery, originally for the purpose of binding the publications of William Morris' Kelmscott Press. He did no more binding from this time, but restricted his activities to creating the designs and supervising the work of the bindery. (2 , 94 , 236 , 281 , 347 )

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