Letterlocking: Historical Practices of Securing Information Workshop

Letterlocking: Historical Practices of Securing Information a workshop with Jana Dambrogio

Saturday, June 20th, 2015 9am to 4:30pm The Library Company of Philadelphia

What did Queen Elizabeth I, her spymaster Sir Walsingham, Marie Antoinette, and Russian WWII soldiers all have in common? They were letterlockers. They, and many others throughout history, folded and secured their letters without the use of an envelope. It’s part of a 10,000-year information security tradition, ranging from Mesopotamian clay bullae to Bitcoins.
Come spend some time with Jana Dambrogio to learn how they did it. If you identify yourself as an artist, conservator, bookbinder, archivist, origami maker, paper engineer, letter- writer, secret keeper, or information security expert, this is the course for you.

Jana Dambrogio is currently the Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries. She has been working in the preservation field for 15 years as a conservator, consultant, and teaching professional. She previously held positions at the US National Archives, the United Nations, and the Vatican Secret Archives. She is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and an active member of various book and manuscript communities. She teaches workshops internationally on how to look at, make models of, and develop approaches to conserving library and archival binding and letterlocking structures.


DVC Collaborative Project 2014

DVC Collaborative Project 2014

An Atlas. Each participant makes a map of a place real or imagined. This could also be a state of mind.

Each participant will make an edition of maps.  The maps can be of any (reasonable) size and will then be folded to one specified size.  We will exchange the maps with each other after which the participants can either bind the maps as a book, or make a box for them.


1.       The folded measurement is 5.5”w x 8.5”h.  The folded maps should not be any bigger or any smaller than this measurement.  Maps can also be a single sheet, unfolded, but still must be 5.5”w x 8.5”h. You do not need to attach stubs or guards for binding, unless you want to incorporate them in your folding plan.  Participants who decide to bind their copy will in some case have to attach stubs or guards in order to sew the text block.

2.       You must include a cartouche on the map with at least the title of the map and your name. The cartouche can be very simple and it can also contain any other information you would like to include.  To learn more about cartouches: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartouche_%28cartography%29

3.       A digital list of all participants and map titles will be available to make your own title page or box list.

4.       The registration form and your check for $15 are due by April 4.

5.       You will be informed of the edition size on April 7th.

6.       The folded maps will be due on September 12th, and a collation party will likely take place on September 13.

7.       We plan to offer a one-day clamshell box workshop for $100 per member in the fall.

8.       Plans to exhibit this collaborative project are underway.  More to follow.

9.       You must be a member of the Delaware Valley Chapter for the duration of the project.

10.   Questions?  Email Jennifer: dvcgbw@verizon.net


Please write a check for $15 made payable to:

The Guild of Book Workers

Mail the check to:

Alice Austin

The Library Company

1314 Locust Street

Philadelphia, PA  19107


FYI concerning shipping: If we have to mail you anything for this collaborative project, we will insure the item to the extent that we can. However, there are complex rules concerning shipping artworks and it seems that the likelihood of getting any money for lost items is very small. Please understand that you assume the risk when we use the mail or a shipping company.




Saturday, April 26 (rain date April 27, or cancelled if inclement weather on both days)
10 am to 5 pm
To be held outdoors at Denise Carbone’s home In Stratford, New Jersey

This class is an intensive one-day introduction to one of the most basic human tool making activities  making and keeping an edge tool sharp without the use of jigs. The specific tools of bookbinders will be examined: paring knives, lifting knives, scissors, hole punches, spokeshaves and board shear blades. A wide variety of sharpening systems will be available for comparison: water stones, ceramic stones, diamond stones, oil stones, natural stones, silicone carbide powder, aluminum oxide powder, diamond paste, abrasive papers and stropping compounds. Some basic principals of tool steels will be explained, and edge geometry investigated. The goal is to free participants from the plethora of misinformation and mystique that surrounds sharpening and to instill confidence in sharpening and resharpening bookbinding knives. Participants should bring any stones and edge tools they have for evaluation. We will make one small knife from a hacksaw blade, and larger blanks with a factory grind will be available for purchase.

Jeffrey S. Peachey has been in private practice for 25 years and specializes in the conservation of books and paper artifacts for institutions and individuals. He makes specialized hand tools and is the inventor of the Peachey Board Slotting Machine, which is used by many institutions worldwide to treat books with detached boards. He was awarded a Sherman Fairchild Conservation Research Fellowship from the Morgan Library & Museum and the 2013 Reese Fellowship in American Bibliography from the Library Company of Philadelphia and a 2014 Research Fellowship from the Winterthur Library and Museum. He is an adjunct at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science (Boston), teaching historic book structures for conservators.

There is still room in the gold tooling workshop!

There is still room in the gold tooling workshop!

Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers Workshop
Gold Tooling with Jamie Kamph
November 2-3, 2013
(Saturday and Sunday)
10 am to 5 pm
The Library Company of Philadelphia
1314 Locust Street
$200 DVC members
$250 non-DVC members
materials fee not to exceed $30

In this gold tooling workshop Jamie Kamph will provide step-by-step instructions in the process of gold tooling and review principles of blind tooling and designing for gold work.  If time permits, she will demonstrate some techniques for repairing and restoring old gold tooling.

Participants should bring
4″ x 6″ sections of book board, covered in leather appropriate for tooling (goatskin is easier to work than calf—instructions to follow) and gold tooling implements, if you have them. We will provide gold in both book and ribbon form, finishing stoves, Fixor, and a selection of tools.

Jamie Kamph is a bookbinder/conservator who lives and works at her farm in Lambertville, NJ.  Her design bindings are in major public and private collections.  She has taught bookbinding workshops at Princeton University, University of Texas at Austin, Mt. Holyoke College, Anderson Ranch, and SMU.  She has published A Collector’s Guide to Bookbinding  and is working on another book, Tricks of the Trade

If you would like to tale this workshop, please email me for more information:
dvcgbw    at    verizon   dot   net  
or you can call me:  Jennifer Rosner, Chapter Chair, DVC:  215-546-3181