The Golden Age of Bookbinding

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A 1961 documentary produced by the AFL-CIO, Bookbinders, reveals and romanticizes the craft of "the people who make the pen mightier than the sword"

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Recently, we took a detour from my intense interest in the evolution of publishing and instead examined its past with a fascinating 1947 documentary on making books. Today, we're back with some excellent companion viewing: the 1961 documentary Bookbinders, part of the America at Work series by the AFL-CIO, which frames the book production process with enough romanticism to make today's most notorious "better-nevers" nod along like the bobblehead dogs on the dashboard of a New York cabbie.



"Americans at work, in an art that is the preservation of all arts: The making of books. These men are masters of their tools, from the most primitive instruments to the latest equipments of the machine age. With other craftsmen, these are the people who make the pen mightier than the sword."
—Bookbinders

For a richer celebration of this vanishing craft, I highly recommend Lark's 500 Handmade Books: Inspiring Interpretations of a Timeless Form.


This post also appears on Brain Pickings.
Image: YouTube

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Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

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