The American Bookbinders Museum

It’s a very interesting time for books, perhaps the most pivotal in history (though not the most tempestuous), and conversations about the future of books sound a lot like… past conversations about the future of the written word. Those of us who fancy the early days of printing and publishing in San Francisco, or at the very least have an affinity for Deadwood-era ink stories, will be delighted to know that The American Bookbinders Museum, in all its dusty glory, resides here in San Francisco.

Reader Shalaco was surprised to discover it himself, writing:

Last Saturday I was biking home along Harrison when I saw a peculiar sandwich board, “Bookbinders Museum open today 12-4” Having nothing better to do and a natural affinity towards books and the book making process I decided to take some time out of my day to find out about this oddity.

Tim James is a commercial bookbinder who is fascinated by the bookbinder and the bookbinding process. This process has undergone a complete transformation since the mid 1800’s when every step in the process was done by hand and only the rich could afford books.

But the Bookbinders Museum isn’t just about books; it’s about machines. “It is the goal of the American Bookbinders Museum to amass a collection of working machines used for each part of the printing process.” And don’t forget the Bookbinder’s Bowling Club! You can visit, you can tour, or you can help them find equipment for their collection. Tours are free and on Saturday 12-4 — or by request: call Tim James and if he can he will run over from his print shop to give a tour.

The American Bookbinders Museum is at 2736 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. Phone: (415) 671-2233 | (415) 710-9369

Violet Blue
Violet Blue