You can judge a book by its cover : a brief survey of materials [Tonkin, John]

Bound French simplified style; spine and board edges of emu feet; covers have collage of goatskin suede; olive headbands; gilt top edges; in a two-piece box lined with pigskin and covered in an unidentified reptile skin. 

Tonkin writes about his early efforts in bookbinding, “My first careers were soldiering and engineering. The interest in binding started in the mid-seventies when I attended evening classes in order to restore my own books. From this beginning I became intrigued with fine binding and, of course, most of my books have remained in their original state of disrepair. I spent a year in Ascona and some time at the school in Le Vesinet, Paris where I subsequently taught at the summer schools. The result is that my binding techniques are a mixture of the French, Swiss and English. Two criteria govern my approach to design binding. The binding must reflect and introduce the text of the book; and it must be original, creative and hopefully pleasing to the eye. I like to experiment with unusual materials which include plant fibers, wood, and out of the ordinary skins. Most bindings are finished by non-traditional methods. I am now Director of the Australian School of Book Arts, based in Canberra, and with the help of my wife Joy, a fellow binder, coordinate instruction in all aspects of the making of books and book objects.”


Tonkin comments on the binding of this particular book “The binding style is the French Simplified. The spine and board edges are made from emu feet. The boards are covered in a collage of goatskin suede, back paired and backfilled to give a smooth front surface. Head treatment is gold, in keeping with the decoration of the chapter headings. The box is lined in a pigskin clothing leather, covered in an unidentified reptile skin with an onlay of vellum (or is it parchment) for the title piece on top. For me, the contents directed that this book should not be bound in a traditional manner and I have looked for unusual materials not mentioned in the book, especially ones with an Australian flavor. Emu suited the bill admirably. The title, a large one, has been highlighted in traditional tooling on the lid of the container.”