Bookbinding Classes, Leicester College of Arts and Crafts

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Three presentation albums containing black and white photographs of the covers of books bound by students of the Bookbinding course at Leicester College of Arts and Crafts. The photographs reveal the intricate patterns and artistic designs worked by the students. One volume has some captions giving the name of the student and a date for the work, but the other two are unlabelled. The volumes were probably assembled as examples of student work to show at events such as open days, or for new students to study. The volumes themselves were most likely made in the Bookbinding classes.

Administrative / Biographical History

Bookbinding was first offered at the Leicester School of Art in the 1901-02 session. The prospectus stated that ' practical instruction will be given in all the branches of the craft'. By the 1930s teaching had expanded and the subject was taught as part of the Department of Printing and Book Production which offered day and evening classes for apprentices and journeymen in bookbinding and machine ruling. The course was designed to lead to the City and Guilds Institute qualification. Students were taught 'practical bookbinding', 'design', 'theory and English', and 'ruling'. There was also a course in 'bookcrafts' for trainee art teachers.

In the 1950s the Bookbinding Department came under the School of Printing. Students had to be employed in the industry or be preparing to enter it. The syllabus gave complete basic training in both letterpress and stationery binding. Part time students undertook a 5 year course which combined practical work, theory and design. The prospectus advised: 'a complete course comprises folding, cleaning, mending, guarding, sewing on cords and tapes, back gluing, cutting of edges, rounding and backing, marbling, edge-guilding and colouring, headbanding, covering in cloth, leather, vellum and other materials, hand lettering and tooling, gold and colour blocking, inlaying, spring back account books, laced banded ledgers, looseleaf books, repair and restoration of old books and bindings'. Importance was placed on design and decoration while experimentation was encouraged: 'the scope of the work is governed only by the limitations of the student'.

Formal teaching in bookbinding appears to have stopped when the College of Art became Leicester Polytechnic in 1969 and subjects from the School of Printing were absorbed within the new Graphic Design course.

Conditions Governing Access

Open and available for general access. External researchers are advised to contact the Archivist for an appointment.

Acquisition Information

Part of the institutional archive of the University.

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Katharine Short, Archivist, August 2013.

Conditions Governing Use

Photography will be permitted for private research purposes only, dependent on the condition of the binding of each volume.