Interview with George Martin Cunha, March 5, 1991

Project: University of Kentucky Oral History Project

Interview Summary

In this interview, George Martin Cunha discusses at great length the crafts of bookbinding and papermaking. He mentions various books and authors on these subjects, describes the similarities of vellum and parchment paper and notes that the making of vellum is a dying art and practiced more in Europe. He talks about watermarks on paper and how fake ones can be made. Cunha discusses Gutenberg's first moveable type printing process and that carbon ink was used. He says when printers began to use the offset printing process in the 1940's they found carbon ink was not necessarily the best so began to experiment with aniline dye inks. He describes how a first impression of a book is made today with carbon ink on moveable type and then the offset plates are made with this original copy using "generally less durable inks" and says it is necessary to test the ink before using organic cleaning solvents. He talks about the opportunities for travel and meeting people that the craft of bookbinding has given him.

Cunha has studied bookbinding from both the craftsman's and preservationist point of view. He talks about the need for printers to continue practices learned over the centuries, especially the use of soluble adhesives, since books eventually need to be repaired. He notes that fine book making is the same today as it was in the 1490's. Cunha says the paper mills converted to the alkaline process purely for economic reasons and that paper has not changed in two thousand years, it's what people have done to it, i.e., treating paper with alum and rosin. He emphasizes that "acid is the arch enemy" and warns "choose your paper carefully." He comments that bookbinding requires the characteristic of patience, that women seem to have more of this than men, and the success of the Guild of Book Workers in America is due to the dedication and capable leadership of these women. He discusses the techniques of Japanese bookbinding.

Interview Accession

1991oh085_af441

Interviewee Name

George Martin Cunha

Interviewer Name

Karen Ellenberg

Interview Date

1991-03-05

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Cunha, George Martin Interview by Karen Ellenberg. 05 Mar. 1991. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Cunha, G.M. (1991, March 05). Interview by K. Ellenberg. University of Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Cunha, George Martin, interview by Karen Ellenberg. March 05, 1991, University of Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7z348gj47w