Monday, January 21, 2013

Cat Tail Run Hand Bookbinding, Winchester, VA

As I mentioned in my January 5th post about “The ABC,” I have found what I consider to be a wonderful resource for anyone with family artifacts that need repair, restoration or special protection. Eventually most of us come into possession of old family books, bibles, or documents that we want to preserve for future family members to enjoy; sadly though, many times the articles are in bad condition and in need of repair or perhaps almost complete restoration.  My copy of The ABC is a good example of a family genealogical artifact that was just too rare and valuable to let it deteriorate any further.  Cat Tail Run Hand Bookbinding was the group of artisans that came to the rescue and performed the beautiful restoration and resurrection pictured in the January 5th post and again below.     

Cat Tail Run Hand Bookbinding is a small bookbindery located in the Shenandoah Valley just outside of Winchester, Virginia.  The bindery has been serving the bookbinding and restoration needs of a national community for over 20 years now.  It is nestled in a sylvan setting that provides a nice drive down a winding country road in order to approach it.  The drive is so nice that my mother-in-law has been my companion on several visits to the bindery and she had a classic book of nursery rhymes from her youth restored by Cat Tail Run. 

Cat Tail Run nestled in the woods near Winchester, VA
The Bookbinder and owner is Jill Deiss.  She holds degrees in Chemistry and Library Science (with a specialty in the study of archives and rare book collections).  She studied bookbinding and restoration in Northampton, Massachusetts, and then at Cornell and in the Smithsonian Conservation Laboratories.  [And, take it from someone who commutes daily 50 miles each way to work, Jill has one of the greatest commutes of all time!  Her bindery is connected to her home in the woods by a very short pedestrian bridge that runs over her flower garden.  Her commute is probably less than 15 seconds!]  

You can get more of the particulars about Cat Tail Run Hand Bookbinding at their website  You can read about the other members of the talented staff and see some of the challenging and historic projects on which they have worked.

Cat Tail Run is not merely a bookbindery and book restoration business. I have had at least five projects done by Jill and her staff.  Only two of the five projects have involved books -- the most ambitious being the restoration of my ABC and the other being the conversion of my paperback copy of E. Jean Scott’s genealogy, A Few of the Tews of Newport, Rhode Island, to a hardback binding.  Two of the other projects involved crease damage repairs to important documents (my 2X great grandfather’s discharge paper from the Union Army and a 1760 deed to land in Coventry, Rhode Island).  The fifth project was a beautiful clamshell protective box made by specialist Dee Evetts to house and protect my ABC.

The ABC restored

The ABC restored
The ABC in its clamshell box (half open)
The ABC in its clamshell box (fully open)
The Tew genealogy after conversion to hard binding
and The ABC's protective clamshell box
Samuel Carpenter's discharge paper from the Union Army
Repaired 1760 land deed
I have been very happy with each and every project I have brought to Jill and her very talented staff.  I highly recommend Cat Tail Run Hand Bookbinding if and when you are looking to have any bookbinding done, repair and restoration of heirloom books/documents accomplished, or protective boxes made to preserve your family artifacts.   And if you are ever looking for an excuse to visit the Shenandoah Valley, Skyline Drive or even Washington, DC, dropping off your project at Cat Tail Run so you can see the bindery in the woods and chat with the staff is the perfect excuse!

UPDATE (June 28, 2013) -- For more information about Cat Tail Run -- and to see an interior photo -- check out this new article about Cat Tail Run that ran in the Washington Post on June 27, 2013. 

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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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  1. Hello John, I have given you the Liebster Blog Award, if you choose to accept it. Go to my blog post for details =>

  2. Thank you very much Leslie Ann. I am sorry it took me several days to respond, but I just posted answers to your 11 questions!

    Best wishes!