Leather Journals and Bookbinding – Yesterday and Today

By: Chriss Tyrrell

You may not realize it due to the ready availability of books and leather journals but there was a time in the not too distant past when books were incredibly expensive. In fact it was only some two hundred years ago when books were all made by hand using an incredibly labor intensive process.
A Time When All Leather Journals Were Made By Hand
Even so, the paper, leather and even the ink and glue were all also made entirely by hand as well. Hence; leather journals and books were only owned and kept by the small segment of the population that could afford them. In fact the very reason that leather was used was to protect and insure the longevity of what was in that time period a quite valuable piece of property.
Leather Bound Books are Still in Demand
So while good high quality leather journals may seem expensive today, the truth is that when adjusted for inflation, the cost of one now is but a small fraction of what our distant ancestors had to pay. Even so, in spite of their declining comparative value in the book market, the look and feel of genuine leather is still desirable and just can't be duplicated by modern means.
The First Leather Bound Books
It was the 8th century Egyptians who have provided archaeologists with the first known examples of leather book binding. It's just too bad that they didn't keep personal leather journals though. For if they had it would be difficult to imagine a book that would make more fascinating reading. Instead, virtually all early Egyptian leather books were devoted to religion.
Custom Leather Book Binding Today
Today, just like many other tasks that were once meticulously performed by hand, leather bookbinding is a dieting craft. In fact there are really very few companies that actually still provide this service and ironically because it is once again a rare craft it has become quite expensive. Today one of the most popular custom leather book binders is a company known as Felton Book Binding and their clientèle is mostly confined to libraries, museums and collectors of rare books.
The Durability of Leather Journals
As for leather journals though, they are still readily available in all forms of sizes and designs and in fact they can easily be purchased online. Once again, it is the durability of the leather that makes it the number one choice for people keeping a journal. Indeed, a leather journal will be handled countless times over the course of time that it is in use.
Today’s Finely Crafted Leather Journals
With prices starting at around $10 for plain basic leather journals, there can be no doubt that our distant ancestors who had to sacrifice what amounted to several days wages for the average worker to own one are literally rolling over in the their graves. Even a handmade, finely crafted Italian leather journal priced at some $150, which might resemble the leather journals of ancient times would be considered a steal when factored for inflation.

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Chris Tyrrell writes for Just Trade, an online store that import and sell leather journals and many other fair trade products including jewellery.

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