You can judge a book by its cover : a brief survey of materials [Smith, Sally Lou, 1925-]

Bound in brown goatskin (spine and lower edges), with remainder of cover in pink turkey skin, green goatskin skivings, pale blue salmon skin, and a piece of chicken foot; leathers separated by piping made from brown goatskin over linen thread; covers tooled in gold; spine lettered in gold; doublures and flyleaves of brown Japanese paper inlaid with marbled papers; gilt edges; accompanied by panel identifying the leathers used; in a drop-spine box. 

Although born and educated in the United States Smith came to London by way of Paris. She writes in 1998, “When I came to London from Paris at the end of 1957, the only thing I knew about bookbinding was that I liked its product. John Corderoy at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts accepted me as a full time amateur student and there I remained until the summer of 1962, even staying through evening classes on three days of the week. The canteen food was not all that great but it permitted survival. After a short break in America, I returned to London to work in my own bindery, doing any miscellaneous binding that came my way, and teaching part time in Southampton (1963-1964), Brighton (1963-1973) and London (1967-1995). One learns a great deal while teaching: so many more problems to solve than one would have on one’s own. Many personal friendships were made in class and I greatly regret that the authorities saw fit to retire me. When Florence was flooded in 1966, I went on several occasions to help with the rescue of the books in the Biblioteca Nazionale, an extraordinary and memorable experience. In 1965, I joined the Guild of Contemporary Bookbinders, which is now called Designer Bookbinders, and served as its President from 1979 to 1981. I have participated in nearly all its exhibitions and been part of what seems like (and probably are) dozens of committees – currently that of The Bookbinding Competition. And there continues to be so many books to be bound!”


“The spine and lower edges are covered in brown goatskin with the remainder covered with pink turkey skin, green goatskin skivings, pale blue salmon skin and a piece of chicken foot. The leathers are separated by piping made from the flesh side of thinly pared brown goatskin over lined thread. There are touches of gold tooling. It has leather joints and the doublures and facing leaves are of brown Japanese paper inlaid with marbled papers. The drop-back box contains a panel identifying the leathers used. Where do designs come from? Mine come costly from the world about me. I look constantly for visual appeal - line, space, texture, coloured pictures in magazines, broken windows, shadows, facades of buildings, graffiti, fabrics and store them in memory or physically. They surface when needed, when something in the book recalls them. I wonder what other bookbinders do?”