J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bound to Listen

Three things about bookbinding I hadn’t thought about until I listened to Harmony Hunter’s discussion with master craftsman Bruce Plumley on Colonial Williamsburg’s podcasts:
  • Bookbinding predates printing by centuries.
  • In a provincial capital like Williamsburg, 80% of a bookbinder’s sales came from one type of book: blank ledgers.
  • Paint on the edge of the bound white pages helped to hide the inevitable soiling of use.
Each Colonial Williamsburg podcast is an interview ten to twenty minutes long. Some are about eighteenth-century crafts on display at the museum village, others cover recent developments in the early history of Virginia. They’re aimed at the general public, so the host always starts from a basic level of knowledge. The production values are, of course, top-notch. (I particularly enjoyed listening to bookbinder Plumley’s accent.)

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