netkingcol

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Bookbinding Project #42: Restoring Primitive Physic

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In 1747 John Wesley wrote a book called Primitive Physic being an ‘easy and natural method of curing most diseases’. To this he added a ‘general receipt book containing upwards of four hundred of the most useful and valuable receipts’. This book offers an entertaining insight into mid-18th century medicine and domestic life.

While doing the rounds of charity shops on the lookout for a book restoration project, I was asked to see what I could do with a very distressed edition of Wesley’s book published in 1847. The following images show that the book was in a poor state of repair and virtually unusable; the covers were falling off; the first half-dozen signatures had come adrift, and the whole thing felt very fragile.

front cover

front cover

back cover

back cover

spine

spine

loose signatures

loose signatures

The first stage in repairing a book in this condition has the frightening title of ‘tearing apart’. In this instance it was very easy to remove the covers; I simply looked at them and they fell off. Slightly trickier was cutting all the threads to separate the signatures and then easing away as much of the old glue as possible. This was particularly difficult and slow work because it felt as though the pages would rip easily; but my confidence grew as I learnt the strength of the paper.

detaching the covers

detaching the covers

separating the signatures

separating the signatures

With a clean set of eighteen signatures, the next step was to work out where the tapes and the new stitches would go. Holding the signature in a clamp between two pieces of cover board, I could judge where to place the tapes so as to avoid all previous holes. I measured the positions and transferred the readings to a piece of board. It’s important to pierce holes in the signatures before starting to stitch. My technique for this is to clamp the signature and the marked-up board to the bench and pierce the signature at the positions marked on the board (see the illustration below).

working out tape location

working out tape location

preparing to pierce a signature

preparing to pierce a signature

With the signatures pierced the relaxing task of sewing them back together could begin. I say relaxing, and mostly it was, but I had to stop a few times to reinforce some of the pages where they were worn out; you simply cannot sew fresh air; it has no grip. This was the first book in which I had to use more than one length of thread. I attached a second piece with a bowline, positioning the knot over one of the tapes (see the image below). After the text block was sewn, I attached a strip of mull with a generous amount of glue. The project was beginning to feel more like a book again.

the sewn textblock

the sewn textblock

attaching the mull

attaching the mull

While the mull was drying I thought about how the cover would look. I searched the web for photos of the original covers, but none were to be found. I came across somebody selling a copy of Primitive Physic on ebay, but its covers were just as unattractive as those I had removed. However, the spine image was decent enough, so I decided that I would put a fairly plain cover on the book itself and create a dust jacket to give it some character.

When the mull was dry I attached endpapers, made from 100gsm vellum laid paper, and rounded the corners to match the book. I trimmed the tapes and mull and started to make the case using 1mm grey board and black buckram for the rounded spine.

trimmed text block with endpapers attached

trimmed text block with endpapers attached

hard back with rounded spine

hard back with rounded spine

The next task was to cover the boards with a suitable card. I chose a colour that matched both the endpapers and the somewhat discoloured pages of the book. The dust jacket was made creating the design in Word and printing on a Ryman P1 label (A4 size). I attached the label to an A4 sheet of 100gsm bright white paper and then covered the label with self-adhesive cover film (sticky-backed plastic). After trimming to size, I scored the inside faces of the jacket so it would wrap easily around the book. Finally, I cut bevels in the flaps and the job was done.

completed book

completed book

dust jacket

dust jacket

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2013

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Written by netkingcol

December 16, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Spirit of St Louis departing Roosevelt Field

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A short video introducing Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis.

Written by netkingcol

December 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Anglo-Saxon Roots

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I have started making regular visits to the refurbished Central Library in Liverpool. Outside it still has its Victorian façade, but inside is a vast atrium which has echoes of the Guggenheim in New York. I haven’t explored all of it yet, so my favourite room is currently the original Picton Reading Room – a vast circular space lined on three levels with books from floor to ceiling – it’s a cylinder of words.

Through random browsing, I came across the text: Complete Old English (Anglo-Saxon) by Mark Atherton. It’s in the Teach Yourself series, an earlier form of For Dummies, but less jejune. On impulse, I borrowed the book and scanned through it on the bus home. What a surprise when I reached Chapter 10 and saw the heading: These are the bounds of the pasture at Hazelhurst. It turns out that, in 1018, King Cnut granted some land called hæselersc to archbishop Lyfing. That land is in a place that is now called Lower Hazelhurst in Sussex. I know that my name is spelled differently (Hazlehurst), but its origin is surely the same.

This is a transcription of part of the charter, penned in my neatest Chancery almost-but-not-quite-cursive:

charter

Being a reactive sort of a person, I have thrown my time into studying Anglo-Saxon and letting it spill over into another current pastime: bookbinding. After a lifetime of computer programming, I find that traditional craft gives me a level of satisfaction that I used to get from coding. Even so, my first act was to search for and download an Anglo-Saxon font; I chose the Junius font, as recommended by the University of Virginia.

Using this font, my first bookbinding project was a copy of Beowulf in Anglo-Saxon:

beowulf_text

I thought this would give me something to translate as my Anglo-Saxon wordhoard grows. I also found, courtesy of the Gutenberg Project, the text of Henry Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Primer. I bound this as a hardback book:

AngloSaxonPrimer

but immediately found errors in it (mine not Henry’s), so I have on my to-do list to knock this book into shape.

All in all, like Jethro Tull, I’m happy, smiling, and living in the past.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2013

or, to put it another way:

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Joshua Slocum – Sailing Alone Around the World

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Written by netkingcol

September 16, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Bookbinding Project #13

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Not wanting to miss the opportunity of a bookbinding project, I decided that my great-nephew, George, who will be two years old early next year, might need something to distract him at a wedding we both attended over the Late Summer Bank Holiday.

I found some old index cards that used to belong to George’s great-great-grandfather, Arthur Walker. I folded these and stitched them into a book-block. Then I made a hard cover. The cover design was printed on an A4 label (Ryman P1) which I laminated with some sticky-backed plastic. The cover boards were positioned over the label and pressed down to adhere them.

The purpose of the gift was to give George a diverting activity, so I bought a rainbow of wax crayons which were held to the book with a length of elastic sewn into a loop.

To keep everything together, I wanted to make a slipcase, my first ever. The process for marking out, cutting, and constructing the slipcase I found in Aldren A. Watson’s book: Hand Bookbinding, A Manual of Instruction and followed Sage Reynolds’ video for lining and covering it. I can whole-heartedly recommend the very useful guidance on the topic of bookbinding to be found in the YouTube videos presented by Sage Reynolds.

It gave me a lot of pleasure to create this gift and, of course, George took absolutely no notice of it when there was so much excitement and adventure to be had at the big party.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2013

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Written by netkingcol

August 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Newport to Fairhaven

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

Slocum and the Spray have returned to the United States after a voyage of 46,000 miles. However, Slocum feels that the spiritual home of the Spray is at Fairhaven, her place  of birth. Accordingly, less than a week after completing the circumnavigation, he sails his ship to her home port:

The Spray was not quite satisfied till I sailed her around to her birthplace, Fairhaven, Massachusetts, farther along. I had myself a desire to return to the place of the very beginning whence I had, as I have said, renewed my age. So on July 3, with a fair wind, she waltzed beautifully round the coast and up the Acushnet River to Fairhaven, where I secured her to the cedar spile driven in the bank to hold her when she was launched. I could bring her no nearer home.

...where I secured her to the cedar spile driven in the bank to hold her when she was launched. I could bring her no nearer home.

…where I secured her to the cedar spile driven in the bank to hold her when she was launched. I could bring her no nearer home.

There is no other way to mark the end of this journey than in Slocum’s own words:

And now, without having wearied my friends, I hope, with detailed scientific accounts, theories, or deductions, I will only say that I have endeavoured to tell just the story of the adventure itself. This, in my own poor way, having been done, I now moor ship, weather-bitt cables, and leave the sloop Spray, for the present, safe in port.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here concludes Chapter XXI of Sailing Alone Around the World and brings Slocum’s adventure to a close.

You can follow the entire voyage in Google Earth at:  http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum where three years, two months, and two days of adventure are compressed into five hours and thirty-three minutes of animation and narration.

Effectively, I have created an audio-book from Slocum’s text and added Google Earth illustration. There should be a name such a work.

  • Geobook?
  • kpub (it’s a KML publication)?
  • suggestions are welcomed

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Antigua to Newport

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

Slocum sails from Antigua on 05Jun1898. He shapes a course for Cape Hatteras in about 35°N with the intention of coasting along past Chesapeake and Delaware Bays up to New York; a grand finale to the voyage.

The sun passes directly overhead on 08Jun1898 when he is in the latitude of 22° 54’N.

Many think it excessively hot right under the sun. It is not necessarily so. As a matter of fact the thermometer stands at a bearable point whenever there is a breeze and a ripple on the sea, even exactly under the sun. It is often hotter in cities and on sandy shores in higher latitudes.

Several degrees further north Slocum finds the Spray becalmed in the region of the North Atlantic known as the Sargasso Sea. The Sargassum seaweed bunches together into a vast mat around the sloop. For day after day, he can only sit and read and wait for the wind. The smooth and monotonous sea lasts for eight days when a strong south-westerly gale springs up and carries the Spray into the Gulf Stream.

Parts of the sloop’s rigging begin to fail including the peak halyard-block used for controlling the gaff mainsail. More seriously, on 20Jun1898 the jib-stay breaks away at the masthead. This stay is used to carry the jib, but its main function is to hold the mainmast in place. The stay, with the sail attached, falls into the sea but Slocum is able to retrieve it; without the stay the mast sways about ‘like a reed’, but he must climb to the masthead to rig a gun-tackle purchase¹ to secure the mast. He is able to rig a reefed jib to this improvised stay which once again “was soon pulling like a sodger.”

Slocum is now growing weary of the relentless thumping of the waves and the squalls throwing the Spray about. On 23Jun1898 he is pelted by hailstones and subjected to continuous lightning flashes, but there is worse to come; what he calls the climax storm of the voyage:

By slants, however, day and night I worked the sloop in towards the coast, where, on the 25th of June, off Fire Island, she fell into the tornado which, an hour earlier, had swept over New York city with lightning that wrecked buildings and sent trees flying about in splinters; even ships at docks had parted their moorings and smashed into other ships, doing great damage. It was the climax storm of the voyage, but I saw the unmistakable character of it in time to have all snug aboard and receive it under bare poles. Even so, the sloop shivered when it struck her, and she heeled over unwillingly on her beam ends; but rounding to, with a sea-anchor ahead, she righted and faced out the storm.

After the storm, Slocum finds he is closer inshore and, sighting the land, discovers he is some miles to the east of Fire Island. The plan changes; Newport, Rhode Island, is the new destination; he heads eastwards along the coast of Long Island, rounding Montauk Point in the early afternoon. By nightfall, Point Judith is abeam and soon the Beavertail promontory is passed.

The only obstacle now remaining is that the entrance to Newport harbour is mined, owing to the war with Spain. Slocum steers close inshore, hugging the rocks, reasoning that it would be better to have an argument with a rock than with a mine.

Flitting by a low point abreast of the guard-ship, the dear old Dexter, which I knew well, some one on board of her sang out, “There goes a craft!” I threw up a light at once heard the hail, “Spray, ahoy!” It was the voice of a friend, and I knew that a friend would not fire on the Spray. I eased off the main-sheet now, and the Spray swung off for the beacon-lights of the inner harbour. At last she reached port in safety and there, at 1.a.m. on June 27, 1898, cast anchor, after the cruise of more than forty-six thousand miles round the world, during an absence of three years and two months, with two days over for coming up.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here opens Chapter XXI of Sailing Alone Around the World, and this post is a trailer for the adventure that I am retelling in Google Earth at:  http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

Notes

1. A gun-tackle purchase is a simple system of two pulley wheels and a rope.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

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