You can judge a book by its cover : a brief survey of materials [Wilcox, Michael, 1939-]

Bound hollow-back with laced-in boards covered with three scarf-joined pieces of goatskin; sewn on four slightly recessed linen cords; decorated with leather and tawed skin onlays and gold tooling; leather doublures; parchment flyleaves; silk and linen headbands; gilt top edges; other edges uncut; in a drop-spine box. 

Michael Wilcox was born in 1939 in Bristol, England. He served a six year apprenticeship in bookbinding with Edward Everard of Bristol and with George Bayntun of Bath. He was a part time student of bookbinding at Bristol College of Technology, and also took classes in drawing and bookbinding at West of England College of Art. After his schooling he emigrated to Canada in 1962 and, in 1969, set up a one-man binder in the Kawarthas, Ontario. He worked primarily on restoration and rebinding of antiquarian books until 1981, but has since made his living entirely from commissions for creative fine bookbindings. His bindings were exhibited at a one-man show in 1983 at the Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In 1985 he received Canada’s Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in the Crafts. The book Twelve Bindings: Michael Wilcox was published by W. Thomas Taylor, Austin Texas, in 1985.


“This is a hollow-back binding with laced-in boards covered with three scarf-joined pieces of goatskin. It is decorated with leather and tawed skin onlays and gold tooling, using tools made by the binder. Leather doublures made up from scarf-joined pieces and back-pared onlays are contained within tawed goatskin borders. Headbands have been worked in silk and linen and the flyleaves are of parchment. The top edge was gilt unburnished before sewing, other edges remain uncut. The sewing was done on four slightly recessed linen cords. I hope that my covers will not seem to contradict the claim made in the main title of this attractive little book or do anything that might bring discredit to Mr. Middleton’s good reputation. Rather than attempt an assemblage representative of the many and sometimes unexpected materials exploited by bookbinders, and which for me includes beaverskin, a material, I believe, not mentioned in this survey. I have used colors and abstract forms so as to present the idea of variety in a general and symbolic sense. This method has allowed me to stay with the more familiar leathers and gold tooling which I so much prefer.”