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Giving old books a new lease of life

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York Bookbinding owner Philip Winskill has been binding books from the day he started his apprenticeship 44 years ago.

He started at York University on 2nd September 1975 and bound, mostly periodicals, for the next 25 years. In January 2000 he was made redundant from the university but had already had his own bindery built by the side of his house in York.

From then on his work became a lot more varied. Not only binding and repairing a large variety of books and styles of bindings, he also makes many styles of ‘slip cases’ and boxes to hold books, papers and articles.

Among the books he is asked to repair or recover are family bibles (mostly Victorian big thick ones with often metal clasps). He also gets bibles going back even further, these are normally in ‘calf skin’ (brown) cow hide, some are also covered in ‘rough calf’ (suede).

He often needs to repair pages and sewing and sometimes replace lost clasps. When they are finished he often makes (Solander) clamshell boxes to help protect the life of the books he has brought back to life. Phil says “they have to be in very bad condition for us not to be able to bring them back to life and make them usable again”.

Most of the bibles are from private owners but some come from churches and Masonic lodges.

Other work includes theses binding (despite electronic submission these days), magazine bindings (mostly for train, car and motorbikes and birding magazines). Antiquarian books and monograph repairs.

He has regularly carried out work for York Minster, Castle Howard, Lord Halifax Estate and many other stately homes and museums.

For further information visit www.yorkbookbinding.co.uk

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