You can judge a book by its cover : a brief survey of materials [Brockman, James, 1946-]

Bound in full red leather; concave spine lettered in black and gold; covers stamped in three shades of gold leaf, with black and white onlays; gold patterned endpapers; gilt edges; in a pull-off box with both concave and convex spines. 

Brockman was born in Oxford, England in 1946 and apprenticed as a bookbinder at Blackwell’s in Oxford. He pursued further studies under Ivor Robinson at the Oxford Polytechnic. From 1968 to 1973 he worked with Sydney Cockerell at Cambridge. In 1973 he started the Eddington Bindery for Lord and Lady Fermoy and managed it through 1976. He became an Arts Fellow at the University of Wales, Gregynog beginning in 1982. He became the first visiting lecturer at the Institute of Fine Binding and Book Conservation, Humanities Research Center, University of Texas. He was the President of Designer Bookbinders from 1985 through 1987. He worked in collaboration with Edgar Mansfield form 1987 to 1994. He has conducted two lecture/masterclass tours of the U.S.A. and Canada, one tour of Australia and two of Holland, and has given numerous lectures and demonstrations in the United Kingdom. Many articles of his on innovations in bookbinding have been published in The New Bookbinder, Bookbinder, and many overseas publications. He has run his own bindery in Oxford since 1976 with a small staff and occasional trainees from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, working on a wide range of books from early manuscripts to modern design bindings. His bindings are in royal, public, and private collections worldwide. His son Stuart, an engineer, joined the bindery in 1995.


“This is the latest in my series of concave spine bindings and is the first miniature. My discovery of the concave spine evolved from my earlier work with metal and single hinge bindings. The rigid concave spine is the obvious structure for books as it holds the spine in a permanent thrown up position, thereby avoiding all the spine movement when the book is used. This results in an indestructible spine – if it cannot move, it cannot break. The two finishing tools are a negative and positive of the same design and are used for the first time on this binding. I have used three shades of gold leaf and the design is focused on the word BOOK. The black and white onlays represent concave spine bindings and their floating positions give the design another dimension. The pull-off case has both concave and convex spines. The top may be put on either way to demonstrate the difference in the two spines. This illustrates how much a convex spine would move when opened.”

--James Brockman