Victorian Bookbinders Guild

For all interested in the Art, Craft and Practice of Bookbinding                                             


Greetings to you all. Our next meeting at West Hawthorn Uniting Church  is a presentation by Julian Renard .

Julian has a long history  publishing, buying and selling fine books.  Along the way he has developed  the skill of evaluation of the qualty of books and their bindings. Julian in the past has bought in rare and special bindings to display for us, and also challenged us in our  ability to evaluate the books and bindings, both new and old. 

At the August meeting Julian has requested we  each bring along a book or booksof our own, so we can discuss the quality of the works, with a close attention to binding quality and craftsmanship. The aim of this evaluation is to improve our ability to examine our own work, and perhaps also works we might want to buy. Critical evaluation ( which is not negative criticism )  is a skill we all need for our own work. It is the  the ability to see works against a standard, and to see below the surface to the reasons why the book is like it is. This allows us to  not simply  be content with what is,  but to  strive for improvement. 

So bring along a bookor two, and lets hope the weather will treat us better next Tuesday, or at least we will be warmed up by a friendly atmoshpere while we learn.  Dig out those special books and we wll see you there.

Also, as you renew your memberships, please update your details. We are updating the website, and hope soon to be able to arrange members access to the site for members only materials. ut we want to be sure the details are correct.

Working on your challenge copy of Nolan, Landscapes and Lengends. I stll have a few copies and there is still time to bind them before the presentation of the books in November. 

My apologies for being slow with the release of the report for the AGM, it will be in the next newsletter, due out in a few weeks. Life sometimes gets in the way of plans

 My regards Jim

June Meeting Report.

It’s cold in Melbourne these evenings, but it was warm in the meeting room. We had setup for a mini workshop  of  titling using gold foil, hand letter tools, and  type. A small blocking press, with several fonts of type, and Cockerell stove  to  heat  the hand tools, enough to keep us all busy.The setup included practice book spines with leather, swatches with leather and cloth, and a range of small items which are part of the list of tools and materials that are regularly used when making titles.025A2087 x

After a brief introduction, we all set about learning something of the operation of the tools. From the blocking press, leather bookmarks received names. Terry, a new member who attended  the basic 101 case binding workshop bought along 4 books he had made since the workshop, to receive the names of his grandchildren, one member bought along a notebook to receive his wife’s name,  and another creative book received a  title. 

In the meantime, down the other end,  handle letters were being tried out on test swatches, and test book spines, and some pallets used to make borders. 9pm came around very quickly. And I think we all had a great time being introduced to this part of book binding. 

June  26  Meeting  at West Hawthorn Uniting Church.  Mini workshop Making Titles.  Visitors welcome

A hands on session on the basics of  making titles. A demonstration of gold foil titles 025A9710 zusing a blocking press and hand tools. Then time to experiment with the use of the blocking press, and the use of hand tools, with a few hints on how to be successful with titles.  We will have cloth covered boards as workpieces, gold foil, hand tools, training aids. Maybe yu have a book awaiting a title, bring it along. Bring a  black ink stamp pads  would be  if you have one.  Be ready for some serious work and a lot of enjoyment.

 Registration is essential to make sure we have enough materials. There is no charge for attending and participating.  REGISTER HERE TITLING MINI WORKSHOP


Guild Meeting May 2018 Discussions of ideas for the Binding Challege

Design Ideas   a presentation at the May Meeting by Jim Finger

Our Binding Challenge for the year is  the unbound sheets of Nolan  Landscapes and Legends,  A retrospective. This work looks at the art of Sydney Noland as displayed at an exhibition in theNational Gallery of Vctoria in 1987.025A2060 x

The idea of this presentation was to generate discussion and stimulate interaction and ideas as to how we design the book, and how we design books in general. Its very easy to learn a method of making a book and then just keep using the same method. Its harder to learn new methods, and then do enough work to be reasonably proficient in that method, before we move on to the next new thing.  But its again harder again to generate a fusion of the two, to marry the creative ideas  with the best techniques, so then end result is attractive, communicative and functional. At least it is for me  so I think maybe others have the same challenges.

Once again the bookbinding guild made the journey to Clunes to participate in the book fair. We had a fantastic setup with Tim and Jim bringing up a lot of equipment. There was even video’s running on the computer showing bookbinders at work. We had books in various stages of production to show how a case bound book is made. And there were a lot of tools on display to show what bookbinders use. Our display was located in the church, just up the hill from the main bookselling area. The State Library as well as other booksellers were in the church with us.

Even though the church probably does not get the full traffic that move through the book selling area in the main street, those people who did come through the church were really interested in our display. People were very interested to see how a book is made and we explained the process to a lot of viewers. Of course we also spoke about the bookbinding guild and our monthly meetings and hopefully we will get some new members from our participation in the book fair. We also advertised our case binding workshop which we arranged for June. Quite a few people signed up for this.

Some of our members stayed in the area over the weekend as they had to set up the display on Friday afternoon, ready for people coming through on Saturday morning. I just went up for the day so I spent a few hours talking to people, trying my best to get them interested in bookbinding and the guild. Then I had a great time looking around all the book stalls. Of course even though I intended not to buy many books, I did come back with about ten books. Now the problem of fitting them into my bookcase!

I find it fantastic to be involved with the book fair and represent the guild at this great book event. I enjoyed being on our stall and talking to interested people about bookbinding . Of course I also enjoyed looking around at all the bookstalls to find books I am interested in and would not see elsewhere. The most unusual book I purchased was “Union Cases”. What on earth is that about, you may ask. Well it is all about cases made for daguerreotypes and ambrotypes in the USA. Because daguerreotypes were fragile photographs they were covered with a glass plate and put into a case, often which had a velvet lining on the inside. The cases were made from a variety of materials and were considered as America’s first plastics. The union in the title is referencing the different materials that were combined to make the case. I have one of these cases which is what piqued my interest in the book. Also as I do photographic conservation it is important to know how these early photographs were cased. Daguerreotypes were first introduced in 1839 and the plastic union cases were produced from 1853 so they are there at the very early stages of photography.

Back to the book fair! It was only committee members looking after our stall for the two days. It would be great if other members would get involved and come up and be on the stall for a few hours. As I said it is really interesting talking to the public about bookbinding and being involved with the book fair. And of course it is fantastic to look around the book fair and maybe find a treasured book.

Debra Parry


Meeting   July 24 2018-07-04

Our AGM, where you have the opportunity to elect your committee, and to make sure its fun we will have buy swap and sell. Bring along anything surplus and replace it with other peoples surplus plus all sorts of other bookbinding materials. If you have a lot to sell book a table.

VISITORS ARE WELCOME, but of course you can’t vote for the committee

We have on sale some lovely marbled papers, most new genuine vintage papers, plus end papers, board,  new teflon folders, awls, cloth offcuts, and much more.

Bring a plate to share, and we will have some goodies to add to it, plus the usual tea coffee, and some other herb stuff some people call tea, but we won’t hold that against them, or you!!

Do you have some posters you want laminated? Drop me a line, and if there is some demand, I will bring along a 700 wide laminator, and get some of those interesting posters protected. (its NOT archival so nothing precious).  But I will need a little convincing to pack it in the truck, because its heavy.

So call me also if you want your own table so we don’t get caught without enough tables etc,

And if you want to be extra helpful, why not log onto the website and register for the event, that will make it all the easier. Register Here

Regards Jim

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Annual General Meeting of VBG Inc.

Will be held will be held on Tuesday July 24th 2018

at the West Hawthorn Uniting Church, 10 Power St, Hawthorn West, meeting room commencing at 7pm.

Following the AGM we will have a member’s buy, swap sell evening – see enclosed notice

Annual General Meeting Agenda 2018

  1. Welcome
  2. Present
  3. Apologies
  4. Proxies
  5. Confirmation of minutes of the previous AGM
  6. Business arising from the previous minutes
  7. Treasurer’s Report:
  8. President’s Report:
  9. Election of Office Bearers and Committee for the following positions:


Vice President



Committee positions (newsletter editor)

  1. Member’s Subscription Rates for the financial year 2019 – 2020
  2. Any special business of which notice has been given in accordance with the Rules
  3. Items for next year’s AGM agenda
  4. Close and refreshments and guest speaker.

Only current financial members are permitted to participate and vote at the AGM


24 April our meeting was at the State Libray behind the scenes in the Conservation Department

A night at the State Library.

A good group of 12 members and friends enjoyed a night with the conservators at the State Library, and we are thankful for the opportunity to see behind the scenes.025A1999 x

The facilities make us amateur binders drool, having ample space, great equipment, excellent natural light during the day, and pretty impressive artificial light as well.

Case Binding 101 is the first workshop for those considering making their own books.

I will be opening my bindery as a trial on Thursday evenings  in May to allow Guild members another option for  their projects. The Bindery is small, allowing only 6 people plus myself if we want to do serious work.  However happy to have others drop in and see the facilities.

Presenter Jim Finger

In this workshop we will explore the production methods of the oldest surviving complete codex books from the Nag Hammadi area of Egypt. These books show the migration of the scroll to the codex, and so have a significant place in the history of the book.

After the heat and humidity of China, we headed into Scotland. fter all we were already half way there. These is so much to see, so many uniques libraries, art collections, and amazing little churches hidden away with  amazing atworks. I would have liked to visit John Rylands Library now part of University of Manchester, but it didn’t fit into the schedule. However we did get to the Innerpeffray Library .

October Meeting 2017-10-26

Friends,  I had the pleasure of making a presentation at the meeting on Tuesday. I certainly had a good time as I like telling the stories of what I have been able to do, and I hope the people attending enjoyed it too.


I applied to The National Library of China to visit the conservation department of the library.


The main reason for our travelin 2017  was involvement in an immersion English program in China. A team of 25 or so volunteers from 4 different countries spend a week of training and 3 weeks of intensive English speaking. 

A design for a childrens book. This new style of black and white is intended for very young children, where they cannot see colours but shapes.

 English in Egypt  with the life of General Gordon,   published 1885?  Cloth boards with nice gold blocking. All edges Gilt. Badly damaged covers. To be repaired for my personal reading.

The Family Bible makes a lot of the work of many of todays binderies. Repairs to these pieces  of family history is important. But did you ever look to see where thay all come from?  

I was all set to depart for China in late June when an email arrived

Daphne Dobbins Bindery was for sale in mid NSW and that a clearing sale was to happen while I was away.

Member login

Meetings & Events

No events

Victorian Bookbinders Guild Inc.  Incorporated 1981     Registration No A2896  ABN: 97 853 169 281     PO Box 355, Seddon West, Victoria 3011