Monday, 3 December 2007

Designer Bookbinders Annual Bookbinding Competition

Having been asked for the second year running to be a judge for the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Associations prizes given at the Designer Bookbinders Annual Bookbinding Competition, it was a special pleasure to attend the private view on November 17th at John Rylands University Library. I had not revisited Manchester since I was a student there in the early 80s. I loved it then and I love it now – the skyline has been completely transformed, there are new buildings everywhere but somehow the city has retained its unique charm and continues to have a real buzz and edge. I also managed to take in a great Jill Scott gig at the Academy down by the university.

The set book for the competition this year was this:

The Somme: An Eyewitness History'
288 pages, with 16 pages of black and white photographs

“Commissioned by the Folio Society to commemorate the ninetieth anniversary of the battle of the Somme, this magnificent and moving book relives the most terrible military campaign in British history through the accounts of participants from both sides, from the generals at the headquarters to the ordinary soldiers in the trenches.”

I thought that there were many terrific interpretations, not least one copy of the book bound as a kitbag complete with whistle and leather pouch (by Shelley Richards, probably my personal favourite in the whole competition); there was much use of representations of poppies, mud and barbed wire, others more understatedly had names of the fallen in gilt or blind. Two of the prizes my colleague Michael Silverman and I awarded were for books other than the set book however. I’m told that lettering is just about the most difficult aspect of binding and it has to be said that a number of entries were let down by it, making Laurence Worms’ (Ash Rare Books) lettering prize all the more essential.

It was all in stark contrast to last year’s entries when the set book was A Book of Mediterranean Foods and Other Writings by Elizabeth David, also published by The Folio Society, 2005. Particularly striking was a copy of the book bound by Mary Norwood with a rather beautiful silver fish appearing to be leaping through it:

(Image courtesy of the British Library)

Here is a list of the 2007 prizewinners:

The Mansfield Medal for Best Book in the Competition
Dominic Riley

Folio Society prize for the Set Book
1st Prize: Dominic Riley
2nd Prize: Ann Tout

The Clothworkers' Prize for Open Choice Book
1st Prize: Dominic Riley
2nd Prize: Kaori Maki

DB award for Forwarding
Simon Haigh

DB award for Finishing
Mariko Whiteway

The Arthur Johnson Award (judged by Bernard Middleton)
Simeon Glyn Jones

The Elizabeth Greenhill award for Gold Tooling

Pamela Richmond

The Ash Rare Books Lettering award
Margaret Willmer

The J. Hewit & Sons prize
Derek Hood

The Harmatan Leather Ltd prize
Yuko Matsuno

The Judges award (donated by Maggs Bros)
Kaori Maki

The Shepherds Falkiner Fine Papers prize
Andrew Brown

Four Highly Commended Certificates (given by Antiquarian Booksellers Association)
Judith Ellis
Vivien Frank
Tatjana Gretschmann
Shelley Richards

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