Black Cat Bindery

Black Cat Bindery
Black Cat Bindery. Traditional Craft Bookbinders

Friday 5 April 2019

Antiquarian books

Just thought I would share with people the kind of books we get in for a bit of TLC.
Looking around the bindery I found this pile of lovely looking books and thought it would be a little snap shot of what we deal with in the bindery on a weekly / monthly basis.
We restore antiquarian leather and cloth books as well as make clamshell storage boxes for the really special editions.
Some books just need a little clean while others are here to be restored and /or boxed.

Our clamshell storage boxes are handmade using double thickness boards with interlocking corners for strength and rigidity. Covered in a multitude of different fabrics or leathers we can produce a box to suit any book or occasion be it for storage purposes or a presentation evening. 
Below is a little video of a little cloth covered storage box for some rather lovely poetry books by Gustav Regler. Printed and bound in Mexico in 1943. illustrated by Alice Paalen and Louise Vogeler-Regler. One is signed by Regler and Paalen and is copy number 12 of 50. The pair of books also come with a photograph of Regler at a dinner party.......... I love a bit of history

We can also make storage boxes to look like leather bound books. These can stand on your library bookshelf and echo the look of book it is protecting. No more horrid, ugly storage solutions.

Monday 30 July 2018

Leather table planners / seating planners
Handmade by Black Cat Bindery, Somerset, UK

This bespoke leather Table Planner is the perfect dinner party companion. Ideal for those who loves hosting dinner parties. A lovely centre piece designed for fine dining. You can freely arrange the seating plans for your guests, swapping things around at the last minute if someone cancels or requests to bring an extra guest. Just pop the name card between the leather panels to hold them securely. Also makes for a great housewarming gift.
Our traditional seating planner is bound in genuine  leather with gold hand decorative tooling on front. It measures approx. 19” x 9”. A house or family name can be embossed in gold in the middle of the planner, included in the price.
Colours available are the classic racing green, which compliments the gold tooling beautifully, the rich scarlet red, traditional tan and a beautiful mid blue.
We can also source further colours, if needed, from our supplier.
The seating planner is lined, on the back, in a moire cloth and housed in a velvet bag. 
We also include a bundle of blank name cards.
Some examples of recent planners below

We also make matching personalised leather napkin rings.

Company logos and family crests can also be embossed onto the centre of the seating planner.

We can also make table planners to bespoke sizes and shapes

Friday 28 April 2017

Presentation storage boxes

Bespoke clamshell storage and presentation boxes hand made to order.
Perfect storage solutions which are both beautiful and useful. 
Keeps items dust free and away from damaging light.

These boxes are covered in leather and linen with a rounded book spine. Raised bands on the spine with gold lettering and decorative tooling

Half leather storage box with marbled paper sides. Leather spine labels and decorative gold tooling

Thursday 29 September 2016

 This post is going to be more of a call for information.
I have this lovely Japanese book with illustrations of plants. I have been told that its title is "Encyclopedia of Flora " but this is all I know. It would be lovely if I could find out a little more information so if you know the book or can translate any of the text I would love you to get in touch.
 It belonged to my Great Aunt, Tania Midgley, a garden photographer and came to me along with her extensive library.
Ive also popped some pictures on our Facebook page as well at

                                                              Encyclopedia of Flora

Wednesday 20 April 2016



We have had quite a lot of antiquarian books arrive in the bindery over the last few weeks. Mostly calf bindings and although beautiful, most in rather a sorry state. What we have noticed is that a few have had some lovely bookplates.
bookplate, also known as ex-librīs [Latin, "from the books of..."], is usually a small print or decorative label pasted into a book, often on the inside front cover, to indicate its owner. Simple typographical bookplates are termed "booklabels".
Bookplates typically bear a namemottodevicecoat-of-armscrestbadge, or any motif that relates to the owner of the book, or is requested by him from the artist or designer. The name of the owner usually follows an inscription such as "from the books of..." or "from the library of...", or in Latin, ex libris.... Bookplates are important evidence for the provenance of books.

Link to history on

As we like bookplates in general and always find them fascinating, I thought I would take some photos and post them on a blog

Ive done a little digging around on the internet a have come up with some info on a couple of them.
If anyone wants to add or know any further info just email me at and I can add it. I may also add more book plates as and when they land on our doorstep.

I did think it would be nice to produce some modern bookplates for newly married couples to mount in the front of wedding albums, photo albums, keepsake boxes and  guest books.

The de Burgh coat of arms A red cross on a gold shield above which is a seated and chained 'mountain cat'. Legend says that the red cross started with the first crusade. One story is that a de Burgh recovered a gold shield from a slain Saracen and marking a red cross on it with his own blood. Another story said that Richard I dipped his finger in the blood of a slain Saracen king, put a red cross on the gold shield of de Burgh, and said "for your bravery this will be your crest". The Cat is said to represent liberty and courage and is believed to be awarded for a de Burgh's courage and skill in battle during the crusades. The motto has varied between 'A cruce Salus' meaning 'salvation from the cross' which would have originated in the crusades or 'ung roy, ung foy, ung loy' which means 'one king, one faith, one law' and this would've originated when the family moved to Ireland.

Edward Heron-Allen FRS (1861–1943)

He was the fourth son of George Allen (1823–1911), a lawyer from London and Catherine Herring or Heron (b. 1830). He married 1stly, Marianna Lehamn, daughter of the artist Rudolf Lehmann. 
In 1903 he married 2ndly, Edith Emily (1872–1943), daughter of William Brown Pepler MD. 
The bookplate was thus made after 1903.~

A lawyer by profession, Edward Heron-Allen is one of those personalities difficult to define. A man of many talents and a vast range of interests, both in the arts and science, he dedicated much of his life to the study and writing on a wide variety of subjects – novels and short stories, chiromancy, the art of violin making, local history and archaeology, marine zoology (the chalk foraminifera), heraldry, bibliography, asparagus culture, the translation and study of Persian literature classics, and on oriental religions (Budhism and the Egyptian Nefer sign).
His literal prose translation of The Ruba'iyát of Omar Khayyám is still celebrated (see,
Info taken from

Thanks to a lovely customer two more bookplates were brought into the bindery to add to our new collection.

The  below bookplate shows arms of Trinity House with the motto “Trinitas in Unitate” (Three in One). The Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford Strond, known as Trinity House, has three core functions: it is the official General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar, responsible for the provision and maintenance of navigational aids, such as lighthouses, buoys, and maritime radio/satellite communication systems. Trinity House is also an official deep sea pilotage authority, providing expert navigators for ships trading in Northern European waters.

A rather nice library is depicted in this American bookplate owned by Arthur L' Fisher MD