Paul C Delrue: Patron of The Society Of Bookbinders

 It is entirely appropriate that after almost sixty years of bookbinding Paul C. Delrue was delighted to receive an invitation to become a Patron of the Society of Bookbinders and proud to follow in the footsteps of Bernard Middleton MBE and Maureen Duke BEM. 

Paul was a founder member of the Chester and North Wales region (now North Wales and North West) and its Chairman in 1979. He has been a stalwart ever since and no monthly meeting would be the same without him. In 1981 Paul was elected a Fellow of the Society and the quality of his fine bindings and the many competition successes were also suitably rewarded by a Fellowship of Designer Bookbinders. 

Paul was born in Middlesex in 1944 and started bookbinding after leaving school in 1959. He was apprenticed at University College, London from 1961-64 and remained there as a qualified binder until 1971. During that period he was part of a team sent to Florence to save and restore flood damaged books. Paul set up his own bindery in Bedfordshire in 1971 and has since had binderies in Cheshire and North Wales and is presently binding in the historic market town of Ruthin. 

Paul has had many students over the years; perhaps the most notable being Dominic Riley, the President of the Society. Paul’s design bindings are to be found in collections throughout the United Kingdom, the United States, continental Europe and some have found their way into libraries of members of the Royal Family. Paul is well known for two distinctive styles of fine bindings. He has called the first ‘Lacunose’ and the Second, ‘Tudor’ : Lacunose (meaning ‘furrowed’ or ‘pitted’) was a term suggested by a Liverpool University colleague. It involves applying small pieces of leather directly on the millboard using paste and PVA and then repeatedly overlapping more leather, puckering and sanding it after the applied watery PVA had dried. A laborious procedure but with extremely pleasing results. The Tudor Style of binding acquired its name simply because the first book Paul bound using this technique was Shakespeare’s Sonnets. The boards are covered with a series of overlapping strips of goatskin which create built up areas on the boards without the need to build up the boards underneath. 

Paul will work tirelessly in promoting the Society’s interests and together with the expertise and commitment of the other Patron, Michelle Brown, we can rest assured that the Society is in good hands. 

- David Lynch, September 2019