Gayle Garlock. Canadian Binders’ Tickets and Booksellers’ Labels

Gayle Garlock. Canadian Binders’ Tickets and Booksellers’ Labels. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2015. 158p., ill., CD. ISBN 9781584563372. US $95.00 (hardback).

At first glance, Gayle Garlock’s Canadian Binders’ Tickets and Booksellers’ Labels appears to be a slim book on a narrow topic. However, one is happily surprised to find the vast range of information contained in this work, not only on the topics specifically represented by the title, but on well-referenced aspects of the history of the book in Canada. The accompanying CD includes a ‘Bibliography’ with a separate section listing directories. Catalogue A is described as ‘Canadian Binders’ Tickets,’ but is much more, as there are images of bindings, with detailed information on the bindings as well as tickets. Catalogue B, ‘Canadian Booksellers’ Labels,’ also containing extensive information. The CD also includes a ‘General Index,’ and an ‘Index to Catalogues A and B.’

This volume treats dates from the 1700s to the 2000s. Described are the tickets and labels in regard to their printing methods, aesthetic considerations and content. Garlock theorizes that the early custom of a bookbinder’s ticket may have developed from the tradition of early trade cards, which can explain the relatively large size of many early tickets.

Printed labels which are depicted and discussed in this book include those made by letterpress, engraving, lithography, wood engraving, reverse printing, photoengraving, rubber stamps, offset photolithography, transfer lithography, electrostatic printing, dot matrix and laser printing, and more. Colored inks were often used. Supports include paper, glossy paper, metallic foils and cellophane tape. “The style, type, method of printing (when ascertainable), and material used (for example, coloured ink or foil) also provide indications of date range” (13). In addition to bookbinders’ tickets, other forms of binders’ identification have included blind embossed, stamped and tooled designations, and the very early practice of incorporating initials into rolls.

The bindings in which some of these tickets were located are described in terms of materials and techniques, including types of leather, bookcloths, marbled or plain endpapers, edge decoration and more. The author has created a very useful chart (38-42) for the marbled papers found in ticketed or signed Canadian bindings, using a format and the time ranges established by Richard J. Wolfe in his Marbled Paper: Its History, Techniques, and Patterns.

The booksellers’ labels are evaluated for their successful design elements, the information they include and the technologies used to create them. Garlock states that they usually include more information than bookbinders’ tickets, as the bindings themselves spoke for the bookbinder, and for other reasons. Also included is information on trade and restrictions, such as how in Quebec after 1759, books in French could not be purchased directly from France and had to be obtained through Great Britain or elsewhere at greater expense, penalizing French-language booksellers (25-26). Other analyses of the statistics presented are given thoughtful consideration. The locations where books were sold is illustrated and documented by booksellers’ labels. Often, general stores, apothecaries, and hardware stores had book departments, providing a venue for the public to obtain books (47). Some bookselling enterprises also lent books and periodicals for a fee. In some regions, booksellers had competition in the form of agents who sold directly to these groups of professionals, such as government workers and the clergy.

The value of this book, in addition to the specific content on the tickets and labels found in books, is that they provide links to information which may further elucidate the book history of Canada and beyond. This book continues to build on the work of Willman Spawn and Thomas Kinsella in the study of signed bindings and provides guidance and inspiration on how such evidence in books can be used to create more of an understanding in fields associated with the history of the book.

Nancy Nitzberg
Gratz College