When Bob Teidemann found he had filled the scrapbook for his classic 12-meter, Gleam, he didn’t run a search for “photo albums” on Yahoo!Shopping. Instead, he called upon bookbinder and fellow sailor, Jim Currier.
Jim, who had made Gleam’s original scrapbook more than twenty years ago, proceeded to create a twin to the original, of three-quarter leather and sturdy buckram cloth.
Currier enjoys work that connects him with his passion for sailing. “The satisfying thing about constructing a ship’s log is that it’s a working book. It needs to lie flat and stand up to constant use. Those are two criteria that are best met by hand construction.”
The Currier Bindery was first established in Newport in 1979, in a Thames Street storefront (now the site of The Steaming Bean cafe). But the Currier family’s ties to the City by the Sea stretch back a century further. Jim’s grandfather, a Newport native, was a naval architect and served three terms as commodore of the Newport Yacht club.
Currier and his assistants, Joanne Taddei and Fred Biastre, create fine bindings, restore worn or damaged books, and build custom slipcases and protective boxes. The bindery also takes on the occasional private publishing project.
But the Currier Bindery is perhaps best known for the restoration of antiquarian books. Taddei remarks on the museum-quality books that pass through. “I just love the fact that I touched Captain Bligh’s signature in a first edition of [the account of] his travels on the Bounty. The books we get to work on never cease to amaze me.”
Many of the tools found in the bindery have changed little since the 16th century. Tooling wheels, backing presses, cutters, and metal type all hearken back to the earliest days of the craft. But there is one new component in the bindery’s arsenal of restoration tools. According to Currier, “Our scanner, computer, and archival inkjet printer have become invaluable when we’re doing a restoration.
“We might have to reproduce a small strip of 200-hundred-year-old hand-marbled paper, or make a facsimile of an important print that’s missing from a book. Our goal is to make our work invisible. Restoration work of that degree is time consuming, but definitely worth it for a valuable collectible.”
For more information, visit the bindery website at www.currierbindery.com or call (401) 846-7878.
- by Helen Papp
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