Thursday, January 28, 2010

Without Further Ado - My Rebound 62 Breviary

Back in Advent I sent away my Benziger Brothers 1962 (64) Roman Breviary in English to be rebound. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of its delapidated condition. Truly this was the "Veleteen Breviary". I even put contact paper over its tattered leather cover to make it usable. The ribbons (which the bindery sent back) were frayed and barely long enough from 45 years of life. I had put tape on the ends and man was it ugly.


I opted for the semi-yapp cover which hangs over the edge of the book in order to protect the pages from errant scuffs. The years were not so kind to the pages but they are in tact (save for the first page). But they aren't covered you say? Bah! That extra half inch of leather does a lot. Trust me.

The leather is thick, not thin or flimsy.

Here is the bottom of the book. The quality of McSpadden's premium calfskin is wonderful. It feels like butter in your hand. You can see that I asked for six ribbons: 1) Proper of Season 1 2) Proper of Season 2 - post Pentecost 3)Ordinary 4)Psalter 5)Proper of Saints 6)Commons. You need all six when using a totum, as opposed to a Breviary split into parts, where 5 are sufficient. Notice the colors. They are not the ones I asked for. It was meant to have all dark ribbons and I even gave them a specific color I don't know what happened. Some light ribbons discolor over time. I hope these don't.

You can see why I opted to protect the pages.

Above you see how the cover extends out from under the book when it is open. The semi-yapp does a nice job framing the text block so your eyes focus on the psalms and prayers while reading. I didn't expect this effect but it is akin to putting up a new painting in a frame that enhances the art and draws your attention to it. Notice the ribbon has re-enforced edges along the sides.

There is another slight disappointment here in that the title on the spine is off-center. You don't have to look too closely to notice. This is an unfortunate part of getting a book rebound: one should have realistic expectations. It is not lined up by a computer but by hand and having this corrected would probably mean sending it back and having the whole thing done over. So I'll live with it as is. My Liber Usualis by the way, also bound by McSpadden's, is centered properly.

The Breviary opens flat but the text block doesn't. This is due to little flaps that McSpadden's puts along the inside cover in order to protect the binding. They loosen up with time and are eventually unnoticeable. This is part of the breaking-it-in process. Do not be alarmed if you get a book rebound and it comes back like this - it's meant to give your book a longer life.

It just looks great, doesn't it?

They used a different grain of calfskin for my Liber Usualis. The Liber is much more flexible. The Breviary is stiff right now but it won't stay that way. The semi-yapp technique used here prevents it from doing (or attempting) "Bible Yoga". With the sensitivity of the older pages in this book however this comes out as a plus. I'm glad it came back this way.

So there you have it. Another good experience with book binding. Originally I paid $75 for the book and it cost $86 to get this project done. I have seen lesser books of this kind on eBay go for over $500. They were not freshly bound in a semi-yapp calfskin. So this was worth every penny and maybe a few extra.

McSpadden's Book Bindery does not nickel and dime you by the way. The gold stamping and ribbons were included in the flat fee for both of my projects. On a hardcover I have there right now the die of a crest I re-drew cost extra from the die-caster but they don't appear to be charging me for the stamping itself. I like these people and hope you will too, should you send a book their way for a shiny new coat.


Latin_Mass_Mommy said...

lol it did feel like butter :-)

becket said...

Here is a similar Blog to yours.

sekman said...

Is this just Lauds Vespers and Compline in English?

Matt said...

Hi sekman,

No this is the whole thing. It is properly called a "totum", because it contains the entire Divine Office for the entire year in one volume. It does this and manages to be roughly the same size as one volume of the modern liturgy of the hours.

It is unfortunate that nobody will republish it. You can find them on eBay from time to time.

sekman said...

Very interesting. Amazing they could fit it all into one volume when even the new Latin re-typeset editions are multiple volumes. Very surprising that it contains Matins. I wish there was a nice Diurnale Romanum available.

Matt said...

Pcp has a very nice Diurnal which I also reviewed here on the blog.

In this totum, the typsetting is in a small but not tiny font, and the paper is rather thin, which helps fit it all in. There are also no extras contained in most breviaries. The layout is also formatted inside to save space.

Isaac Schwoch said...

I realize this is an older post, but I have a question. What do you think of the format and translation of this breviary compared to others you have used? I am pondering whether I want to get the new Baronius set when it comes out or find an excellent copy of this one. I can imagine the cost will be similar either way, and I'd like to know your thoughts.

Matt said...

Hi Isaac,

There are a lot of questions to be answered as of yet about the Baronius set coming out. One I have is will the leather be decent, or will it be the hard plasticky stuff...

Regarding the layout - the Baronius set will use the Collegeville Breviary (1963) layout. I recently acquired one of these so that I could compare it with the new Baronius edition coming out. The problem I have with it is that all the extra helps can be very distracting. The Psalms are constantly split up and explained. Perhaps a lot of people will think they add a great deal of value. Apparently, the original editors held to this opinion. Nevertheless when we get it, it will be a great service to the Church.

The one here that I had rebound is a straightforward English translation of the 1962 Breviary. I like it a lot. It contains some misprints that make it confusing. For instance some of the responsories during Matins contain the wrong text. One of the psalms is missing a word that changes the meaning of a verse. Time will tell which one I like better.

The original Collegeville Volume 1 is just about the same size as the Anglican Breviary. So, its a big book. We have no idea if the Baronius set will be as big. This single volume totum that I had rebound is as slender as a single volume of a two volume Latin 1962 Breviarium Romanum. It is very convenient.

I believe the Baronius Breviaries will replace a lot of 4-Volume Liturgy of the Hours sets in use now by traditionally minded people.

Isaac Schwoch said...


Thanks for your reply. I've recently gotten a copy of one of the original Collegeville Breviary volumes from the library and I have to admit that I'm less than thrilled with it. The layout has too many "extras" and the translation is somewhat lackluster. The Anglican Breviary translation (which I own) is far superior, IMHO. I've also requested a copy of the one-volume Benziger Brothers breviary for comparison. What do you think of the translation of that one overall (errors nonwithstanding)? Also, since it is a totum, do you find it overly complicated to use? That is the biggest complaint I have about the Anglican Breviary. The rubrics are just too complex to master well, and while the Pius X rubrics are to blame for some of that, I think the fact that it is a totum is party to blame too. I remember that my old one-volume edition of "Christian Prayer" was far more difficult to pray than my four-volume LOTH as there was too much flipping back and forth.

Matt said...

This edition, the Benziger Bros., is not difficult at all to navigate. Its easy as pie for me. It is way easier than the Anglican Breviary which can be so difficult to get around that you need a secret decoder ring.

The Psalms language used is closer to the modern Liturgy of the Hours than it is to the AB. But it isn't dry bones. Certainly it is not flowerly. Also, keep in mind these two translations we are talking about here are the Pius XII Psalter. The new Baronius edition will use the Vulgate Psalter.

I love the Benziger edition. I use it daily.

Hao-ah said...

Hi Matt:

Hopefully you read comments from older posts!

I also have a copy of this same breviary that is in dire need of repair.

Just needed some advice on rebinding. Did you get a choice of which type of leather you wanted? I liked the leather that you used for your Liber Usualis and wonder how closely you worked with the book binder. How did you choose your binder over someone else?

On a more specific note, my copy seems to have had water damage from the previous owner and the page wrinkling is annoying (does give it character but...). Do you have any advice on how to flatten the text block? Any advice on this would be most appreciated. Thanks!

Matt said...


McSpadden uses calfskin as their standard, but you can also choose goatskin for a higher price. I have yet to try that option out.

The binder will call you once they receive the book to go over the project with you. They can discuss the leather and different binding styles. Or if you like, you can just give them a call before you send the book and see if they can produce your desired result.

As far as flattening out wavy pages I'm afraid you might be out of luck. I have flattened out a few books before by putting heavy objects on top but that will only go so far. You could also try straightening out the pages one by one...but just be careful with the integrity of the book.

Regardless, rebinding will lessen the ugliness of your breviary! I chose McSpadden on a whim and have had good results with them.

One thing I might have done differently on this breviary is the semi-yapp. In other words if I had to do it over again I wouldn't have chosen that feature.

Hope that helps!

Patrick said...

Hey Matt,
Met you in Pittsburgh back in 2010 (CMAA XX). Thinking about rebinding my Liber after seeing your notes on McSpadden's. How would you recommend contacting them, about what did it cost, and would you recommend a yapp on it or not (if so semi or full)?

Thanks in advance, Best,

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton