Bridges on the Backs

by Peter Eden (Introduction)
Illustrated by David Gentleman
Published by Cambridge University Press, 1961 (First edition)
Book dimensions: H 200 x W 270 x D 20mm
Box dimensions: H 241 x W 300 x D 55mm
Sample board #53
Bound in 2019
Collection of Stuart Southall, UK

About the book:
“Bridges on the Backs” was printed in 1961 and formed part of a series of more than 34 books that were published by Brooke Crutchley at The University of Cambridge in between 1930 and 1958 as part of “A Printer’s Christmas Books” – the printing of these was the University Printer’s continued custom of giving a book to friends of the press at Christmas. The series was started by Walter Lewis and Stanley Morison in 1930. Brooke Crutchley was the University printer at Cambridge and oversaw the production of the Christmas Book series from its inception 1930 until its discontinuation in 1973. He gave a talk at St. Bride Printing Library in December 1975 at the opening of an exhibition of the Christmas books which ran from 10 December 1975 to 30 January 1976.

About the binding:

  • Full leather stub-binding covered in scarf-jointed black goatskin and fair calf with miscellaneous leather and suede onlays in grey, brown, white, green and gold.
  • The leather is embroidered in multiple lines and patterns over the onlays with coloured silks using a variety of embroidery stitches.
  • The whole book is tooled both blind and with carbon.
  • The endpapers and doublures are made using a combination of paper silhouettes (mattered with a textured finish using a roller and black ink) with embroidered embellishments and gold leaf, plus leather and paper onlays. 
  • Oak box with carbon-tooled book title on the lid.

Binder’s Statement:

The nine illustrated drawings inside the book depict all the nine Bridges on The Backs, a picturesque area to the east of Queen’s Road in the city of Cambridge, England where several colleges of the University of Cambridge back onto the River Cam. The name “The Backs” refers to the backs of the colleges. The nine Bridges are as follows; Great Bridge, St John’s New Bridge (otherwise known as the Bridge of Sighs), St John’s Old Bridge, Trinity College Bridge, Garrett Hostel Bridge, Clare Bridge, Kings College Bridge, Queens Bridge (otherwise known as the Mathematical Bridge) and Silver Street Bridge.

Each of the nine bridges are illustrated in some way throughout the book and box design, with the oak box designed so that the book can stand upright between some channels inside the lid for display. Each of the bridges names are tooled and attached to the book and box.

More details about this binding can be read in a blog posts here.

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