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Lester Capon


Lester started bookbinding in the mid 1970s at Camberwell School of Art and Crafts. Having gained a wide experience working for James Brockman through the 1980s he went on to run the Fine Binding and Conservation course at Guildford College during the 1990s. He has been a self-employed binder since 2000 working on manuscripts, early printed books and design bindings.

He taught a summer school in Finland for many years and has recently been conserving manuscripts in Ethiopia including a 6th. Century Gospels. He was elected Fellow of Designer Bookbinders in 1986 and served as president in 2003 – 2005 and 2009 – 2011. He is currently President again but he’s not sure why.
His work is represented in public collections such as the British Library, Liverpool Library, The John Rylands Library, The Pierpont Morgan Library and others, as well as most major private collections. He is a Brother of the Art Workers Guild.

An Alphabetic Assemblage of Bookbinding
Created by Lester Capon 2006
370 x 820 x 35mm

An assemblage placed inside an adapted printer’s tray. The contents display alphabetically some of the materials and tools that bookbinders use. Some compartments are full of multiple pieces, others have just one item. As it progressed I found I was making more of
the items than using existing objects.
Examples of compartments are :-
C – centre tools, Cambridge Panel, calf, chained book
P – paste papers, puckered leather, parings, palladium
Private Collection

The Poet’s Eye by Geoffrey Grigson
Illustrated by John Craxton Frederick Mullerand, 1944
Bound in 2008

Pierced vellum binding with hand coloured paper underlays and gold tooling.
The design reflects the rather surreal illustrations of shrubs and foliage within.
Private Collection

The Shepheards Calender
Edmund Spenser
Illustrated by John Nash
Cressett Press 1930 9/350 copies
335 x 200 x 35mm
Bound 2010

Full blue goatskin with multi coloured inlays and onlays, gold and blind tooling all contained within a grid of inlaid leather lines.
The spelling of the title is taken from one of the three variants used in the printing.
The panels are suggestive of trees in and out of bloom, wind, rain, snow, hills, etc.
I’ve also helpfully added in 12 numbers to show it’s a calendar. The images lie somewhere between pictorial and abstract.
Private Collection

Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot
Rampant Lions Press, 1976
Bound in 2011

Full burgandy goatskin. 24 recessed panels covered in calf and goatskin. Inlaid circles in each panel are covered in contrasting calf and goatskin variously designed, decorated and lettered using inlays and onlays, inlaid leather lines and gold tooling. The circles of lettering are glaired and gold tooled with the outer text in blind.
Private Collection

The Word Was Sung (The music of Veljo Tormis)
Bound for the Estonian Association of Designer Bookbinders in 2010

Semi limp vellum binding with multiple laced in vellum tapes. Four of these continue around the foredge to the back to form clasps and carry the gold tooled title. The tapes are hand inked and gold tooled.
Private Collection

The Writings of Gilbert White of Selborne
Gilbert White
Illustrated by Eric Ravilious
Nonesuch Press 1938 2 vols.
240 x 180 x 35 (each)

Mid green goatskin binding. Panels of gold and blind tooled goatskin, sprinkled calf, suede, inlaid leather lines, onlays, hand stained calf and vellum.
The designs are based on natural forms and weather. Made in a non literal way and veering into the realms of fantasy and whimsy.
Private Collection

Circus by Various Authors
Illustrated by Walter Bachinski
Shanty Bay Press, 2011
Bound in 2011

Full black goatskin. Gold, silver and blind tooling. Inlays and onlays, some of which have been hand stained.
The colourful and light hearted illustrations in the book have been reinterpreted and reimagined in the binding design by breaking them down and reassembling them in parts.
Private Collection

The Heroes by Charles Kingsley
Illustrated by W. Russell Flint
Bound in 2015

Full dark green goatskin with multicoloured inlays. Gold tooled and gold lettered.
This became rather celestial as the design developed but the stories do concern the Gods so I was happy with that. The central combination of inlays and gold tooling could be taken as the sun, or as a shield. It’s always best to be ambiguous.
Private Collection

The Overstory by Richard Powers
Published by William Heinemann 2018
240 x 185 x 50mm
Bound 2018

Full blue goatskin incorporating inlaid leather lines, onlays, inlays and gold & blind tooling.
Trees are central to this novel in terms of their communication and influence. A Booker binding presented to the author.

Baigneuses edited by Christopher Buckland Wright
Fleece Press, 1995

The book is full of wood-engraved female nudes which explains the curves, which extend even to the board edges. 5 different coloured calf skins are scarf jointed. Inlaid leather lines and gold tooling. The box has dark perspex half hiding the book until it is pulled out in a tray as if the bathers are emerging into the sunlight.
Private Collection


Email: lestercapon@btinternet.com
Instagram: @lester_capon_bookbinder
Facebook: @lester.capon.31
Accepts Commissions: Yes