Binding in Every Sense

September 14, 2012
2 comment(s)

Met the nicest people yesterday – fascinating in themselves and fascinating by way of what they do for a living. Taff and Jack Fitterer restore/repair/rebind rare books. Tass is an artist and Jack took a passion for book-binding, added restoration skills and shared them with Tass. He also happens to be an ordained Buddhist priest.
Together they repair paper (they told me that much of the value of 20th century first editions is in their original dust jackets), restore cloth and leather bindings, create new bindings and craft their own marbleized paper for end pages. I watched a tiny piece of a repair process on an early Canadian edition of Tom Sawyer.
"Someone poured Elmer's glue down the spine," Taff laughed. She removed that and repaired the original cloth binding, matching color precisely and painting where wear had removed the original pigment.
She asked Jack if he wanted the original gold cover lettering touched up. He said no, explaining, "Our clients know exactly what they want. Some want their books to look their age and others, especially if the bindings have disintegrated, want a binding that looks new."
They have restored some fascinating documents that few people will ever see, including an original Beethoven manuscript. They explained that museums either have their own restoration laboratories or they have limited funding and are mostly concerned with digitizing their documents to preserve the content. Taff and Jack work with dealers and private collectors, with the occasional repair of an old family Bible thrown in.
The Fitterers moved to Indian Lake (well, way out in the woods in the vicinity of Indian Lake) in 2005. Before that, they spent several decades building up the business in Columbia County, south of Albany. Now, with an established client base and the internet, they are free to work where they choose.
"My family vacationed in Blue Mountain Lake for years and I came here from the time I was little," Taff said.
"Coming here was her dream," Jack said, adding with a smile, "but our life plan always included living in a rural area."
SometimesTaff and Jack work seven days a week, and they have enough work to keep them busy for the next year. They do take time to enjoy hiking in the woods around their house, and they proudly showed off an eggplant from their garden.
Jack noted that he was surprised by how "spontaneously friendly" everyone in the area was. "I wasn't used to engaging in conversation with people in stores, for example, but everyone talks to everyone here."
I can only observe, like Jack, that everyone talks to everyone else here (even strangers) because we have fewer "everyones" than other places.
He was also surprised to be asked to sit on the county government Ethics Board. "That's usually something that happens when someone has lived in the community for a long time, but here the community really wants your involvement." 


Two very amazing people ! & I

Two very amazing people ! & I am lucky enough to call them family !!

Fitterer Story

Have been a Fitterer client for years.  They do fantastic work!

Great photo and story!