Bonefolders – Update

falzbeine pzillig
Foto by vuscor aka Peter Zillig

A few days ago I brought up the question: “Why is there a hole in almost all bonefolders that I encounter?” – Thanks again to all who shared their experiences!

I got even more curious about the topic since many uttered their opinions, but no-one seems to know. So I decided to pose the question on the book arts list.

There, too, no-one seemed to know why it is there, not everyone had a hole in their folder, and those whose bonefolders had holes often used it as a means of storage.

Here are some answers that I received:

“Only reason I can think of to have a hole in a bonefolder, but would never put the cord through to hang because it would get in the way. Hanging from a nail, maybe… ” Peter Verheyen

“[...]one of the more experienced people there had PUT a hole in her bonefolder. She actually wore it around her neck, so that she would not misplace it[...] Carol Pratt

After that the answers were rather funny, culminating in:

“After I sharpen one edge of the pointed end of my bone folder I file a notch midway on the other side. I can then feel that notch with my finger to know, without looking, that the sharpened side is down. Turn it over if the unsharpened side is needed.

The hole? I use it to look through.” Leonard Seastone

Haha! I still chuckle every time I see my bonefolders now.

I also received an email from Peter vuscor, who told me that apparently the hole in the folder is a German thing, it does not result from the making process. And he send me this beautiful image of his collection of folders and tools on a nail that you can see above.

So is the hole put in by the producer for the user to hang the  folder from a nail? Why is it a German thing then? – Rulers have holes everywhere in the world! Aesthetic reasons? – It seems strange to me that something is so widespread here, but not in the rest of the world. That makes it sound like fashion – a fashion for bookbinding tools that has lasted for several hundreds of years? I am more intrigued than ever…

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3 Responses to Bonefolders – Update

  1. Liesan says:

    I must say I have 5 bonefolders and only one has hole, but now I’m curious too

  2. Jeff Peachey says:

    I think it is just tradition. Throughout history, bookbinders hung tools on a wall, see Dirk De Brays’s illustrations, for example. Even the odd shelve tended to be placed high up, perhaps out of reach of children or animals? Many other tools have these vestigial holes- painters brushes, adjustable wrenches, etc. Of course, there are other, more poetic explanations; wanting to keep the tool physically embodied with the user, by wearing it as an amulet around one’s neck…

    • buechertiger says:

      Probably it is, all comments and views I received so far seem to indicate that. Still it seems striking that German makers of bone folders put holes in out of tradition, but stopped to do that, once they immigrated to America.

      Thank you for pointing out the painting. I figured that the next step would be to find out when people started to put holes, but I didn’t know where to start. Now I know where I can continue my investigations.

      By the way. I noted that when searching for bone folders on Wikipedia, in the picture that accompanies the German article all folders have holes, and in the English version none have:

      http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falzbein
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone_folder