Bookbinder delights members of Garioch Heritage Society

This month’s lecture was given by Nicholas Morrice whose talk was on bookbinding and the preservation of books, documents and maps.

Nick attended Aberdeen Grammar School and then graduated from Robert Gordon University with a BA in design, after which he became an apprentice bookbinder at Aberdeen University. At the time the workshop was a rather gloomy and cramped but is now much more up-to-date with the latest machinery and computer operated units, although some of the time tried equipment is still in use.

Nick is now a qualified bookbinder and he said it was a pleasure to talk about his trade. Using slides, he illustrated how books, which are seemingly beyond repair, can be renovated back to useful life.

He showed examples of books rebound with leather, mostly goatskin obtained from North Africa, although any type can be used. He demonstrated with photographs the various stages of renewing the hard cover of a book.

The unit binds about 60,000 students’ theses which adds up to quite a work load.

The University also caters for the private sector and accepts projects from all over the world, which helps cover running costs and is in demand to produce manuals for the offshore oil industry. Each book takes up to one week to produce and there are no requests that cannot be handled. Through constant use, the life of a book is only three to four years. Private requests to bind age-old family bibles which are very valuable, each different from the rest, can be very satisfying as they are decorated and labelled with gold lettering which can be very expensive, although synthetic gold paint is available and can cut down the cost. Nick was thanked by Grizelda McGregor who remarked that she loved books and was delighted to learn how to look after them.

Chairman Geoff Gill reported that a delegation from Scottish Museums had visited the new Heritage Centre and were impressed by the size of the building and the Society’s plans for the future.

The next meeting will be a social evening in the Acorn Centre on Wednesday, March 7, featuring the Spectrum Singers from Kemnay.