Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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Powell, Roger ( 1896- )

An English bookbinder and restorer, born in London and educated at Bedales. Powell did not become seriously interested in bookbinding until 1930, when he studied for a year at the Central School of Arts and Crafts under Douglas Cockerell and others. In 1931 he established his own bindery in Welwyn Garden City and maintained it for 4 years, before joining the firm of Douglas Cockerell & Son in 1935. The following year he became a partner, continuing on with the firm until 1947. He succeeded Douglas Cockerell as tutor in charge of bookbinding at the Royal College of Art, remaining there until 1956, when he left formal teaching to devote himself full time to his bookbinding and restoration business.

Powell has maintained a long standing interest in the field of restoration and repair, together with an abiding interest in problems relating to the durability and permanence of materials, sewing methods, and forwarding in general. Because of this, as well as his outstanding craftsmanship, he has been commissioned to restore many priceless (and irreplaceable) volumes, including The Book of Kells , for the Trinity College Library in Dublin (1953), The Book of Durrow (1954), The Book of Armagh and The Book of Dimma (1956-1957) , as well as numerous comparatively early books in the Aberdeen University Library. In recognition of his outstanding service, he was awarded the degree of Master of Arts, honoris causa (1961), from Trinity College, Dublin, and the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1976.

Roger Powell places soundness of construction, in both materials and method, ahead of decorative design. He believes that the actual design of a binding must be an integral part of the binding itself, because a book is a tangible object meant to be used. His desire to make bookbinding a work of artistic merit, and his ability to carry out this desire have made him one of England's outstanding bookbinders. (50 , 205 )

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