Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Japanese Account Book

The very first bookbinding book that I got, was the Japanese Bookbinding book by Ikegami. I was entirely impressed with all the history included in this book and I read every word and made every project. One of my favorite notebook structures from this book is this simple account book structure. This structure is called daifuku chō and it was used during the Edo period (1603-1868) for travel diaries, guest registers, and primarily as merchant account books (Ikegami p.68). Ikegami includes a photograph of an account book from the mid-1800s and that always catches my attention when I go through his book.

So a while back, I decided that I would try to replicate the "look" of that mid-1800s current-accounts book. The first thing I had to do, was figure out how to recreate the Japanese calligraphy. Since I'm not a calligrapher, and know nothing of Japanese writing at all, I had to figure out something that I could manage. So I carved some rubber stamps to recreate the Japanese characters on the cover.

I really don't know what they mean. Ikegami's text suggests that they would embellish the cover with the characters for "great fortune" but I don't know if this example follows that trend. I did speak to someone who knew a bit more than I, and she believed that the character on the bottom was the character for "account book." If any of my readers can enlighten me about the others, I'd love to hear from you!

Once I had my Japanese character stamps ready, I stamped them onto some cream handmade paper and added some little hand-drawn characters as well. The cover paper and the pages were then aged, and then I bound the books together using linen twine.

There is a long braided piece extending from the spine at the top of the book. Ikegami writes that completed ledgers might have been strung together and tied to a long cord so that in case of an emergency, such as a fire, the merchant could easily grab all his account books at once and toss them to safety.

I now have one of these for sale on Etsy.