Today’s pick is one I actually have. Books are my first love, and from a very young age. (In fact, years ago I camethisclose to pursuing a graduate degree in the history of books and book making.) Woodworking came later in life, but is now equally important to me. So something that combines both these interests? Perfect! (And to me, worth saving my pennies to purchase.)
The limited-edition deluxe version of “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry” is a thing of absolute beauty in both form and content. It is far and away the most handsome modern book I own (and that I’ve handled). It’s also, at 12″x17″, the largest – which is important because that’s the same size as the Andre-Jacob Roubo’s 18th-century original; at this size you can see incredible detail in the full-size plates. And, because it’s printed on absolute top-quality paper (#100 Mohawk superfine), there is incredibly crisp reproduction. The binding is gorgeous (a spine of Italian fabric printed in gold and black foil, with boards covered in #printed #80 Mohawk loop antique vellum), and it comes in a handmade slipcase.
I admit that it was the book’s “production value” that most made me want it; but since reading it (several times both before and after publication), I am now far more interested in the possibilities marquetry offers, and eager to add period approaches thereto to my skill set. (That said, I’m slavering for the next volume, “Roubo on Furniture Making” … and saving my pennies.)
But if the binding etc. isn’t important to you and it’s simply the top-notch historical information you’re after, well, consider the non-deluxe version; it’s far less of a wallet shock, and still nice. (But not nearly as.)
p.s. I will again state that my picks are in no way sponsored or solicited. Yes, the publisher, Christopher Schwarz, is among my close friends, and he writes for Popular Woodworking both on his blog and in the magazine. But that has zero impact here. R1 (as the team that worked on it calls it) is quite simply the best-made post-1900 book I’ve ever experienced – and I’ve handled a lot of books. (The 1926 reproduction with hand-colored illustrations of William Blake’s 1789 “Songs of Innocence” in the University of Cincinnati’s rare books collection comes in a close second…but there are not enough pennies in my future to ever own a copy.)