The Perfume of Books and the Secret life of Watermarks

This project is now finished. All books are on their way to their new owners. Limited editions books will soon be available at the Cardiff Collective.


March Newsflash: March has arrived and the conference is only days away.

The Secret Life of Watermarks has only just made it to the printer. I waylaid the designer by going off on a tangent, and now I regret that mis routing. Impress Printers will probably have 40 copies ready, but not all the sheets will be handbound  by the 25 March. I am struggling at the moment with paring leather for Peter and Ann’s copies. I want to make something a bit out of my comfort zone. Maybe I should have chosen another moment? But what is Life for, if not for taking chances!




January Newsflash:  The Perfume of Books  is being bound by me

and a stack should also be returning from Impress Printers. The binding process is taking much longer than anticipated. However now that I have sorted out the design in my head, I am back on schedule.  The Secret Life of Watermarks is with Susan the Designer. Unfortunately I sent her off on a printing tangent, and the layout of this book is not as easy as it may seem. We are a little late, but it has been proof read, such as it is, and should go to Sarah the Indexer next week.

I’ve decided that these books will be the first in the Booksleuth Series. I’ve got another 7 up my sleeve. I am definately following in the footsteps of the Hilversum Paper Publication society. Would anyone out there pay me to write the other seven?

From here you can still view the Prezi – The Perfume of Books and you can keep up-to-date with the project’s progress.


In short:

Three years in the making; over 9000 photos through which to sift; over 200 books examined, prodded and sniffed. These books have revealed their secret watermarks to me. Everyone should get to see them.

The Project:

The first is The Perfume of Books, a descriptive catalogue of the various bindings from books in the Rare Book Stack. The second is the Secret Life of Watermarks, a photo essay on around 500 watermarks captured in these books. These books date between 1470 and 1840, chosen somewhat randomly.

Project consists of:

  • Compiling data – photos of bindings and watermarks need to be well described so that bookbinders, bibliophiles, booksellers and generally speaking all book lovers can understand what they  see equally;
  • researching history and background of watermarks in books and online databases;
  • editing and design of books and covers;
  • fully indexed;
  • printing up to 100 sets of sheets;
  • buying materials for hand binding;
  • handbinding the sheets to make up to 100 unique editions;
  • print on demand is a fact of life; people will be able to purchase books online as eBook or print on demand. (late 2017)
  • buying time to do said editing and binding

The books are rich in colour photographs, exciting to the eye and the imagination. They will answer the questions of the curious and are a perfect tool for the antiquarian bookseller.

The Kickstarter campaign raised $5000 and helped me  achieve my goal of getting these two books bound by March 2017. This will coincide with the National Bookbinding Conference to be held in Canberra.

If you are interested, watch this space for news on how I am progressing.





Creative Commons License
The Perfume of Books by Erika Mordek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Creative Commons License
The Secret Life of Watermarks by Erika Mordek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.