The Bibliophile as Bookbinder: The Angling Bindings of S.A. Neff, Jr.

November 5, 2016
10:30 am - 1:00 pm

Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts

Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
University of Pennsylvania
3420 Walnut Street, 6th Floor, Rooms 626 & 627

S A Neff protrait colorStudio Session book test-100

A screening of this documentary film about S.A. Neff, Jr., followed by a demonstration of Neff’s techniques for decorating leather using a single tool with stiff paper templates. Several sets of his bindings will be on display.


This film is about one individual’s passions: books and angling for trout. In the early 1980’s, S.A. Neff, Jr. transitioned from a career in graphic design to bookbinding. An autodidact by nature, Sid began his training with occasional workshops and seminars. Since 1986 his work has been exhibited in the U.S. and abroad. At the turn of the century he had perhaps the largest solo binding exhibition ever mounted in this country. The show traveled to six institutions during a two year period. The exhibit catalogue won a prestigious award for fine design in 2000. Examples of Sid’s work have been published in books and periodicals in the U.S. and Europe.

The first part of the film invites the viewer into Sid’s angling library, containing over 3,000 volumes. The second part introduces Sid’s favorite sets of bindings. He discusses concepts and techniques that distinguish his skillful creations. His collection of angling bindings is unique in its genre. The three filmmakers involved in the production of this documentary have a total of over 100 years of experience. The film is 47 minutes in length.

After the film is shown Sid will demonstrate his techniques for decorating leather using a single tool with stiff paper templates. He will show: tooling in blind; the use of linear in-lays; and tooling with gold foil, the use of stiff paper templates allows a designer to create and execute exact duplicate designs (including perfect concentric circles). Several sets of bindings will be on display. The demonstration will be 1 ½ to 2 hours in length.

Light breakfast fare will be served.


This event is co-sponsored by the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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