Binding and aging

Daniela K. Rosner, A.S. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In many respects, we take the age of things for granted. Age is assumed to be an inherent quality, dictated by the time a thing has been in existence and put to use. Many of us have even developed an appreciation for the wear associated with age. The worn leather covers of old books, their mottled pages and the creases along their spines are all considered, in some circles at least, to be signs of age and thus value. This article examines such ideas of age through the practices of restoration bookbinding. First and foremost, it illustrates how age can be something produced through the interleaving of both social and material practices. Age is seen here not as an intangible, definite attribute. Rather, it is something actively worked on; it is co-produced through an ongoing relationship between materials, craftsmen and the world they work in. The article focuses, specifically, on the craft of restoration binding. From 200-year-old antique books to the most mundane paperbacks, restoration binding requires that manual skills and aesthetic sensitivity be distributed between the binders, the materials and tools of the trade. However, notions of age have changed over the years and these, we hope to show, are tightly interwoven with the social and material practices that make up restoration bookbinding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405 - 424
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Material Culture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2012


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