Student Book Arts project [hand bound manuscript on the history of the book]
Hardcover, 9.5 x 6.5 inches,  pages. Undated and without much to go on other than the student's name, Pauline Robinson, purchased in Vermont. Likely work from a manual training class, ca. 1910-1920s, by a student around 14 years old. The project is a hand-bound manuscript report on the history of the book. Comprised of two sewn signatures made with laid paper of much better quality (Arches MBM Ingres) than the materials of the case binding.
The endpapers are attractively hand-printed with a block pattern and the first page of text is presented in the style of an illuminated manuscript with a decorated capital and traditional calligraphy. The remaining 11 pages of text are written in standard cursive and contain a sort-of history. She begins with oral tradition, philosophizing, "We may say the first book was written on the tablet of human memory," then onto knotted cords ("still used in Australia by the savages"), papyrus, bark, parchment, etc. She mostly makes a survey of written forms, then runs out of steam just in time for the modern book to appear: "In the middle of the fifteenth century the desire for reading became so great that there was a great demand for books, and everywhere they were trying to improve the block making process, and by the end of the century the book as we have it to-day was being made throughout Europe." So ends Ms. Robinson's report—though the balance of unused pages and untold centuries makes us suspect she was in a rush to turn the assignment in on time. An unsophisticated but nonetheless endearing effort, and a good surviving example of manual training at the middle-school level in education, possibly part of the Sloyd system of training, which had some traction in New England schools at the turn of the century.