Milford shop preserves your history

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:03

MILFORD - If, like Barry Anthony, you get into the business of selling old books and art prints, you will likely see a lot of deteriorating history. Many treasured family bibles and heirloom books, whether from overuse or misadventure through the generations, come to the point of falling apart. Old glue cracks in spines or an undiscovered leak in the attic find an ancient cover. Many old and often valuable books that fall victim to time and treatment wind up with a cover of butcher paper and scotch tape to hide the damage. Sadly, others are discarded as their owners never consider the idea of rebinding them. Anthony and his wife, Hillary, operate Books and Prints, with stores in Honesdale and at 220 Broad Street in Milford. They witnessed this kind of loss for years, until chance brought a college student to work in their shop. She had spent three years at a university library, where she learned the art of book binding. Barry watched, learned, and after she left, began doing the painstaking work himself. He believes he has become the only bookbinder between Harrisburg and New York City. How much work is involved with each book depends on the original quality and the extent of the damage. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of new covers, a tail band and end-papers. But often the problems are worse, as the quality of the available papers were often not very good. Those books will have brittle or missing pages. Books were assembled by sewing together leaf sections, known as signatures. The completed book was then glued at the binding, sealing the threads. In older books, the threads often tore through the pages, or more often the older glue, which was in fact made from the rendered remains of horses, cracked. “It smells as bad coming off as you might imagine,” he said. Rebinding them can take two or three days or a week. Modern materials like Sturdite covers are more durable and less expensive than leather. But the process, he explained, “involves a lot of fussy work. It’s got to be exact. I’ve been known to (finish and) take it all apart and start over,” he said. The finished product is worth the effort for him. “There’s a certain satisfaction when you know it will be around for a long time.” For more about store hours and prices, call Anthony at 570-296-4777.