Ch. 3: A visit to the printer’s

Robert Smail’s Printing Works is well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Innerleithen. It is now a living museum, run by the National Trust for Scotland, where you can try your hand at letterpress printing

Smail's bookmark

bookmark I printed at Smail’s. The reference is to Celestine & The Hare

From 1866 to 1986 it was a typical family-run printing business of the sort to be found in many Scottish towns and it still retains much of the original machinery from that period in working order. It was there in May 2017 that I went on a one-day bookbinding course


proud bookbinders at Smail’s – note the beauty of the endpapers

I had made books before, in an impatience to see my work in print, but my efforts were entirely uninstructed, using whatever materials were to hand, and had many flaws.

20180204_130101a selection of some I made earlier

The course at Smail’s gave me a much better grasp of the basics of construction. It also introduced me to the seductive world of bookcloth and buckram and ornamental endpapers, as well as the name of J.Hewit & Sons, leather manufacturers and suppliers of all things necessary to the craft of bookbinding.

So although I did not realise it at the time, it was here that the seed was planted that led eventually to making McAvinchey.

next chapter: WYSINWYG: the great Adobe Acrobat booklet-printing mystery

[click here for full List of Contents]

2 thoughts on “Ch. 3: A visit to the printer’s

  1. I understand the seduction of a beautifully crafted book. Ornamental endpapers—swoooooon. ThIs should be a fun journey—to read how you made your McAvinchey masterpiece. (Also, nice plug for Celestine & The Hare!)

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