A Unique Binding by Julian Thomas

Collections / Exhibitions - Posted 24-10-2022

Over the years the library has collected books with fine and unusual bindings, especially those of Welsh interest.  A particularly rare example was added to the collection recently.  The volume is a reprint of a French book, La Prose du Transsibérien by the painter Sonia Delaunay-Terk and the poet Blaise Cendrars,  which was originally published in 1913.  The poem describes a train journey through Russia during the first revolution in 1905.  It is printed on four sheets glued together in concertina format.



For the 2019 reprint, 22 bookbinders were invited to create unique bindings.  The copy purchased by the Library this year was bound by Julian Thomas, the Library’s former Head of Binding and Conservation.  The case is covered in black calfskin coloured in fluorescent blue acrylic paint, with strips of calfskin inlaid, some gilded and others coloured with acrylics. The strips refer to the railway and the circle to the revolution and the wheels of the train.



This striking binding is a unique example of the work of one of the foremost bookbinders in the U.K.  More bindings by Julian Thomas, his predecessors in the Library and other craftsmen can be seen in the Beautiful Books exhibition in the World of the Book on the ground floor of the Library until 9th December 2022.


Timothy Cutts

Rare Books Librarian

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