Book Conservation | Restoration | Repair
Fine Bindings in Cloth & Leather
BA in History, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 1991
Certificate in Fine Bookbinding, Guildford College of Technology, Surrey England 1992
Partner, Lamb & Buck Bindery, Bennington, VT 1993-2003
Independent Bookbinder, Spencer County, KY 2003 - 2010
Independent Bookbinder, Dahlonega, GA 2010 - Current
| COURIER-JOURNAL - Louisville,
In his "American Moments" television series, actor James Earl Jones once described Amanda Buck's ancient methods of restoring antiquarian books as literally "stitches in time."
Using many hand-binding techniques developed by Second-Century Coptic monks, Buck labors quietly, restoring aged and rare books in a back-country barn loft studio in Spencer County, Kentucky.
"People who are meant to find me—by some obscure chance—hear about me," she mused. "Some people have been carrying around these books for twenty years, waiting for the right person to come along."
After earning a degree in history from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Buck studied bookbinding at Guildford College of Technology in Surrey, England, where she learned traditional methods of fine binding dating to the Middle Ages. She later worked at Harcourt Bindery in Boston and was a business partner with master binder Richard Lamb for 10 years in the Lamb & Buck Bindery in Bennington, Vermont.
When her marriage ended, Buck, 38, decided to relocate with her daughter, 6-year old Kendall, to Kentucky, where her Blanton and Kendall ancestors had settled on land grants after their service in the Revolutionary War.
She unpacked her antique backing press, nipping press, sewing frame, finishing press, her linen threads and tools—nearly two years ago in a loft overlooking 15-acres of rolling Kentucky countryside.
"I wasn't sure I could make it here, but work is picking up," she said. "Up in New England, we did a lot of rare book departments for different colleges and museums. I haven't been able to break into that down here, other than the Baptist Theological Seminary. I just did a bunch of their amazing 16th Century books last year—and it was the highlight of my year."
Most of her work in Kentucky and Southern Indiana so far has been restoration of heirloom family bibles, historical books, poetry, and books relating to various professions. When there is time, she lectures at libraries on book care, restoration and repair.
Corydon, Indiana, financial consultant and historical book collector Blake Cromwell recently brought Buck a large, 1875, Indiana atlas and a 1906 Harrison County atlas for restoration and rebinding in leather and cloth.
"I felt lucky to find her," Cromwell said. "She did an excellent job, and I have passed some of her business cards around at the local library. There just aren't people who do it the right way anymore."
Buck and Lamb once restored some French, hand-scribed, parchment, manuscripts from the 1400s, and were chosen from among many other master bookbinders to produce 70 two-volume, leather-bound, facsimiles of the Gutenberg Bible.
"I think a lot of people are afraid to approach a book restorer for fear that it's going to be very expensive," said Buck. "But the cost for restoring most leather-bound books is under $200, and the cost for most cloth books—unless they're gigantic—is under $100."
"A real professional. Superior work, quick and affordable." Larry Wandling, Old South Books, Atlanta
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