B. F. Hardwick

From Russell Ash and Brian Lake’s Bizarre Books (1985):

The notorious B. F. Hardwick of Bradford has been justly described as “probably the world’s worst binder”. He flourished towards the end of the nineteenth century and certain features of his bindings can be spotted across a crowded bookshop. These include:

  1. His use of half pigskin, heavily tanned, which reduces to powder with handling.
  2. Neat trimming of the margins – often affecting the text area. (One of the star attractions of the 1982 Dud Books of All Time exhibition in York was a copy of Wordsworth’s White Doe of Rylstone which Hardwick had reduced from quarto to octavo.)
  3. Rounding of corners, thus further reducing the margins.
  4. Highly durable imitation alligator-skin boards.
  5. A binder’s label that has a pronounced tendency to oxidize and disintegrate.

The firm continued until 1974. One of its last jobs was to bind Ruan Maclean’s Victorian Publishers’ Book Bindings for Lund Humphries. Ironically, at its liquidation the firm had a reputation for high-quality craftsmanship.


One response to “B. F. Hardwick

  1. As a school student, I worked in a series of temporary jobs at B F Hardwick’s in Bradford during school holidays from 1961 onwards before the company relocated to Shipley, about three miles east. The firm’s bread and butter work included mail order catalogues. There were two editions each year hence the availability of temporary jobs in order to help make the huge quantities of these glossy, heavy but disposable publications. The work was boring but the opportunity to mix with factory girls, women, men and other students was great fun and an education in itself.

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