Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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Payne, Roger ( 1738-1797 )

The most accomplished and influential of the 18th century English bookbinders. Payne was born in Windsor, England, and was probably apprenticed to an Eton bookseller named Pote. Later he was employed by the Holborn bookseller, Thomas Osborne. In about 1770 Payne was set up in business by Thomas Payne (no relation), the principal bookseller of London.

Roger Payne was an outstanding craftsman. His books were very well forwarded and his style of finishing displayed not only a high level of skill but also very good taste. He usually sewed his books with silk thread and lined the spines with leather. He frequently used elaborately designed doublures, made his endpapers with leather joints, and covered the books with russia leather or morocco. Since Payne was usually short of cash, he cut his own (iron) finishing tools, building up beautiful designs with a relatively meager assortment of small ornaments.

Payne developed a style of splendid simplicity, perhaps made necessary by having to cut his own tools, which gave his design a simplicity and individuality which they otherwise might have lacked. His style consisted essentially of the repetition of small floral forms in borders of radiating corners, the background being formed with dots and circles.

Payne described his bindings as "bound in the very best manner," or "finished in the most magnificent manner," not because of mere vanity on his part, but simply as the only true description of his work. Oftentimes he presented his customers with highly detailed invoices describing the work he had done. He made his ornamentation appropriate to the subject matter of the book and while the spines were often richly embellished, the covers were generally quite simple.

The leathers he used were generally olive, red or blue morocco, or brown Russia. Payne's endpapers were nearly always solid in color. He preferred purple (sometimes pink) and generally used endpapers which clashed with the covers. His headbands were flat (upright) and sewn with green silk which sometimes had a gold thread in it. The edges of his bindings were rough gilt or plain. (112 , 347 )

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