Peacock Bindery

Traditional bookbinding, Wellington, New Zealand

Peacock Bindery Wellington

Conservation, Restoration and Tradition

“After that to a bookseller’s and bought for the love of the binding three books.”

Samuel Pepys Diary, May 15, 1660.

Traditional bookbinding by hand is a craft centuries old. But the techniques are still largely the same today. Printed paper leaves (folios) must be folded down the middle. Groups of folios are made into sections. Those sections are sewed horizontally through the folds using linen thread on a sewing frame. The sewing frame has a number of tapes or cords that are perpendicular to the base. As sewing progresses, around the tapes or cords, a strong book is created. From the 16th century, coloured marble paper was often used as the front and back endpapers.   After sewing, the book is rounded and backed, boards are attached and then it is covered in leather. Decoration with blind tooling or gold gives further beauty to the finished book. From the mid 19th century, book cloth became available as a cheaper alternative to leather.

I repair or restore books using traditional hand bookbinding techniques. I use only high quality materials. I will strive to preserve as much of the original as possible.  I will usually adopt the same style of binding: for example, if the book was originally sewn on raised cords (as many older books were), then I will repair in the same way. I will repair torn or damaged pages and damaged leather wherever possible. However, when the old is beyond repair, new must be substituted and I adopt accepted conservation practices and principles. I take pleasure and care over every job.  I am a member of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works and I adhere to its Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.


Repair and restoration of leather bindings and cloth-cased books

Paper repair and conservation (individual sheets, documents and bound books)

Custom fitted boxes

Rebinding of some paperback books (Note this depends on binding method)

About Susan

When my grandfather in England died in 1987, my mother had many of his books brought to New Zealand. They were old and in poor condition. One day I observed to my husband that it would be good if I could fix those books. My husband knew a Wellington bookbinder – Barbara Schmelzer – and she agreed to teach me. Barbara is a Master Bookbinder who had trained in Germany. My lessons started with her in 2007. In 2008, Barbara decided to move to Sydney which was sad for me but there was a positive in that she sold me her heavy items such as board chopper, presses, drawers, weights etc.

I then needed my own studio and we converted the loft above our double garage in Thorndon, Wellington to be my bindery. I carried on my training with teacher Rosemary Greager who trained in England and has a Diploma in Fine Binding and Conservation from Guildford College of Technology, UK.

In 2012 I was accepted into the American Academy of Bookbinding and I then pursued study through the Academy with my tutor Don Etherington, a highly respected bookbinder with an international reputation. My study took me to the States from 2013 to 2015 and I graduated from the Academy with a Diploma of Conservation Bookbinding in 2016.

I was a lawyer for many years and loved that profession. I am now retired from legal work but just as happy as a bookbinder. I am lucky to have found another passion.

Susan Peacock

Phone: +64 (0)21 241 3000

32 Tinakori Road
Wellington 6011
New Zealand

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© Peacock bindery 2017