FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
“It sounds like you’re a pretty big outfit, with a restoration department and frequent mention of “we.” Just how big are you?” Not very big at all. I weigh in at about 150 pounds, and enjoy using the royal “we” both to divert attention from myself and to sound more dimensionally majestic than the singular “I” would convey. We (in the royal sense) employ occasional help as needed, and with your help will need more help.
“Why are you out in the middle of nowhere?” Oddly enough, we’re in the middle of our somewhere, and it’s been a great place to raise a pile of boys, and our TLAT daughter (the lovely and talented). It would be golden to have more room in the shop and a better retail location, but the commute is short!
“I’d prefer to spell your name as ‘The Guilded Leaf’, since back in the day, bookbinders formed guilds.” You are so right, but our name comes from the act of gilding, which is the process of applying gold leaf. And for more delicious punnery, a leaf is not only something which falls from a tree (our logo is a stylized image of a leaf that landed in our driveway) but is also the page of a book.
“Are your books as sturdy as the originals?” Usually more so! Just like publishers today, bookbinders were always looking for ways to save labor costs, and came up with some pretty ingenious but flimsy methods. While those old binders provide lots of work for our shop, we don’t use staples (pioneered in the late 1800’s), rubber cement (same period), sewing on sunken cords (an even earlier trick), skipping every other sewing station (you’d be amazed), the simple link-stitch, etc. Many of our new reproductions, for example are sewn on cloth tapes, a technique far superior to the original method of sewing on notched-in cords. Sunken cords take less time (which is why 19th century binders liked it) but is fairly weak, a defect our restoration department is ever grateful for.
“I can buy a blank journal at StuffMart for $6.99. Furthermore, my uncle time-traveled back to 1840 and bought one for $2.00 Why do your books cost so much?” Great question. Our staff has had similar experience with time travel, but while we were able to spend several profitable months in the 1700’s learning technique, we had no luck transporting the raw materials forward. To your question: to illustrate the immense contrast between handmade goods and the modern book, consider the following anecdote. George Whitefield purchased a set of Matthew Henry’s Commentaries in 1735 for 7 pounds, the equivalent of 4 months of a working man’s wages. If one made $2000 per month today, that little stack of books cost him about $8,000, and the bookseller let him take a year to pay for them. A modern printing may be had today in paperback for perhaps $12, or 99 cents on Kindle. The difference? Incredible machines! Sadly (or perhaps not), there are no incredible machines to duplicate the hand-marbled paper, the sewing structure, and the leathercraft involved in making these fine books. We trust you’ll enjoy them as much as we enjoy making them.