Hand Bookbinding & Rare Book Restoration
Historic Costume Research & Creation Illustration
The Merlicorn Bindery,
Julie Stackpole's bookbinding studio in Thomaston, Maine, USA, founded in 1975, is able to do all forms of hand bookbinding, from single-section pamphlet bindings in cloth to full leather gold-tooled historic reproductions or unique creative fine bindings, as well as book restoration and conservation, decorative papers, calligraphy, and custom slipcases, clamshell boxes and other book containers.
Guest books for weddings and other special occasions (such as the completion of a new house or its redecoration), the custom binding of an authors's copy of their book, binding a few copies made of a family history, are some of the uses of hand bookbinding. Generally we prefer not to do editions. The "design" or "creative fine" bindings shown in the galleries on this website are all unique or one-of-a-kind, unless indicated. Some are available for purchase; please enquire.
There are no set hours or set prices, but appraisals and estimates are free, by appointment only when in person; books can also be mailed for examination, after discussion over the phone or by email.
Appraisals and estimates are crucial for restorations especially, as many factors of condition influence the cost. Cost is based on the hours spent and materials.
Until the invention of machines to bind books in the mid-19th century, all books were bound by hand.
There are many styles of bookbinding, depending on the structural needs of the book as well as the economics. Certain styles produce a more permanent binding than the case-bindings of machine-bound books, and the materials of leathers, rag papers, and linen cords and threads have proven themselves over centuries.
Fine Hand Bookbinding
In the days when all books were bound by hand, certain ones were selected for more special treatment, being bound with the best materials, workmanship, and decoration for a wealthy person's library. This situation continues today when a writer, collector, or bibliophile might have a book hand-bound.
Creative Fine Hand Bookbinding
In addition to binding the book as a mechanical object, creative fine binding carries the book to a 4th dimension. The binding introduces and interprets the book it shelters, with reference to the typography, illustrations, subject, and date of the book, making it a pleasure to hold and read as well as to look at.
Books that have been broken because of age or usage can be repaired and restored to usability and better appearance. Cloth or Leather spines that have broken can be rebacked with new strong materials and the original spine returned over it, or if the old one is missing or too weak, the new can be titled and tooled appropriately. Paper can be washed, resized, bleached, deacidified and repaired, and many other techniques to make it strong and whole again, and the book resewn.
Julie Stackpole Handbookbinding
12 Gilchrest St., Thomaston, Maine 04861
By Appointment Only