Flip Side Friday #11 – Bookbinding – It’s All in the Family

My husband’s sister’s daughter’s husband – can you believe it? In the states I think he would be considered my nephew. In Austria they don’t quite see it like we do and he is somewhat of a stranger.

Master Bookbinder

Modern Master Bookbinder

He is also within 5 years of my age so it adds to the confusion. However he is a Master Bookbinder, one of the last of a dying guild system in Europe.

When I finally understood what he did – I was all over seeing his workshop. This workshop is in two or three rooms in the vast structure that has been the family home for hundreds of years. Yes I said hundreds – I don’t think our country was around when the family built this compound.


Old-style line embossing tool heating on element. Electric letter embossing stamp.

The tools and storage cabinets have been updated at least three times since the bindery began, so there were tools to heat by fire, by electricity and those that now have the heat included if necessary – not a digital tool anywhere. Ahem – except his phone. 

Hmmm- I want to show more pictures so have collaged a few together. Slow down enough to really look – these are amazing tools and probably will not be used again after our Master Binder retires.


Yes – gold leaf.

Okay, control your lust – I have it too. See the little wooden box in the right picture towards the top? He has stacks of those – they are different letter fonts and sizes…drool.

Instead of keeping this contained and going into the evolution of printing and binding. I am just going to show you these amazing machines with their uses and assume you know that they are obsolete and only currently used for special orders in a declining market.

Lines and Grids

The biggest machine in the shop – this is for printing lines and grids on enormous sheets of paper.




Gluing-gluing papers together and into fly leaf etc.

This one above, is harder to imagine how it works, but see that roll of cloth on the right? It spreads out to the left of the machine and glue is painted on it. Then the pages to be glued are lain along the length and fed through the heavy roller. This heat seals and eliminates bubbles.


Bookblock gluing

I believe this was for gluing the book block.

I know this is getting long so I will show you my two favorites that I could use today…

paper cutter

I used this photo with Master J included so you could see the size.


Cabinets to love

Drawers, shelves, slots, hangers and workbench – what’s not to love?

And yes I lust after this workshop and its contents and the hundreds of journals I could make, but the reality of moving or shipping them is undeniable. 

My man points out that I should say our Master also restores old books and manuscripts (He’s working on a cookbook that is at least a hundred years old now.) And does make books for special order…if you want to use his services, contact us through the comments and we will link you up.

Thanks for reading. We should be back in the states when this publishes!




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