Death of a Bookbinding Organization, Birth of a Bookbinding Supplier

I just received in the mail the following cards:

CHB Farewell

(As the type appears somewhat small, I’ll paraphrase:  Sadly it seems we must declare that Chicago Hand Bookbinders is no more. Please join us to say farewell… In order to legally dissolve the organization, we must have two- thirds of the membership vote for dissolution. Please use your rsvp to cast your vote. If you wish to keep the organization alive, please only do so by indicating which office you wish to assume. –There are options for President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.)

I’m not sure if I was sent two ballots with the intention that I might stuff the ballot box for dissolution, or whether I was being asked to nominate myself for two board positions, but I’m only returning one, whatever I decide. The imminent demise of this thirty- year- old organization has been in my awareness for some time now, possibly even a year (since the last election, when no one ran for President). Kind of a bummer, I guess, since as the sometime secretary, newsletter- producer, and evangelical recruiter, I had something of a stake in keeping it alive. Of course, I would not have any regrets if CHB had to dissolve. It is not easy to maintain an organization along with all the things we all have to do to keep our lives going. The field of bookbinding in Chicago has dissolved in many ways, too, since the inception of Chicago Hand Bookbinders.

The big excitement for me about Chicago Hand Bookbinders was that it was born in what seemed to be a golden age for bookbinding in Chicago. Bill Anthony’s studio was in the Old Colony building at that time.  Several people I know or have met studied with him there, including Mark Esser, who established the program at North Bennet Street School in Boston, where I studied.  All kinds of bookbinders and others in the bookbinding- related arts (particularly paper marbling) were doing great work then– more than I can name here, and I discover more all the time. There was a supportive and highly- skilled community– many were professional bookbinders,  some not. It seems they showed their “extra” or fine work relatively often, especially after CHB came into being. Chicago Hand Bookbinders also hosted the Guild of Book Workers Standards Seminar that was held in Chicago in 1988.

This time period is one that bears much further research, and anyone who was around at that time is warmly invited to chat with me about it as I continue to collect more information. For the moment, I am taking CHB underground. If you are interested, contact me. I know who you are.

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I received word through Book Arts-L last week that a new conservation supply company has been formed. Their products have obviously been carefully picked by the founders, as they seem to be of the highest quality.  I think we all breathe a sigh of relief to know of a plurality of suppliers to our trade in order to have a range of options available to us. Just to clarify: I have not been paid to offer this observation, and I don’t know any of the people at the firm! But something I truly loved about their website for its nerd appeal was the fact that in each photo of each product being offered for sale, a color- bar strip with ruler was included. Do visit:

http://www.polistini.com

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