A Creative Approach to Saving Ye Olde Cassette Tapes

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Quite possibly, the most agonizing decision being made by Baby Boomers across the nation these days is what to do with all that vintage Hi-fi equipment and boxes full of classic rock and roll cassettes and 8-Tracks.

I faced this dilemma head-on this past summer as I definitely wanted in on the newfangled bluetooth speakers that could play the CDs I had loaded into my computer hard drive, wires free, but also wanted a way to play my cassettes without having to fire up my Sansui receiver.

One day, I stumbled upon a simple fix somewhere on the internet that informed me all I needed to do was connect an old school dual cassette deck directly into a bluetooth speaker that had an auxiliary port via a $3.00 cable that was configured with a 3.5 mm male stereo plug on one end and two male RCA plugs on the other.

After a bit of research and reading countless reviews, I settled for a Creative Labs D200 bookshelf speaker, currently priced at around $80 bucks at Amazon.com.  When placed inside a wooden bookcase or an acoustically tuned room space, the sound is nice and rich. The computer stored music plays just fine.  The speaker does require a bluetooth dongle.  I settled on Creative’s BT-D1 for $39.99.   The main reason for selecting the D-200 other than good reviews was of course the ability to hook up a cassette deck through the AUX IN port.  Click here to read a review on the Creative D200.

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Satisfied that the Creative D200 would indeed solve my looming cassette dilemma, I ordered the proper cord but hesitated at moving my 60 pound vintage wood encased Sansui cassette deck from its permanent location,  so I did what any good Hi-fi loving Baby Boomer would do in this situation— I went on a good old fashioned vintage stereo hunt on eBay.

After pouring over hundreds of listings for a couple of days, I settled on a Japanese built dual Onkyo cassette player Model TA-W460 from the 1980s, mainly because of the quality and fact that it was black and would make a nice base to set the speaker on top of. Final Auction Price Tag: $23.00 plus $12.00 for shipping.

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In this configuration and sitting inside a wooden bookcase, the sound is absolutely fabulous.

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My cassette collection is now in fact growing and I visit eBay on a regular basis and cherry-pick from all those discarded vintage cassettes out there—SWEET!  

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Franklin Library Book Deconstructed – Taking a Peek inside the Cadillac of Book Bindings

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Have you ever wondered just how a Franklin Library Leather Bound bound together?

Franklin Library, a division of the Franklin Mint, as many a book collector can attest,  was considered the equivalent of the Cadillac division of GM in the modern 20th Century book market.  They put out several series of gorgeous full leather-bound books, quarter leather-bound and leatherette-bound books that would have made a 16th Century european Renaissance patron stand up and take notice:

  • The 100 Greatest Books of All Time (100 books)
  • The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature (100 books)
  • The Collected Stories of the World’s Greatest Writers (100 books)
  • 60 Signed Limited Editions (60 books)
  • Pulitzer Prize Classics (53 books)
  • Franklin Mystery Masterpieces (51 books)
  • The First Edition Society (72 books)
  • Great Books of the Western World (96 books)
  • World’s Best-Loved Books (100 books)
  • Greatest Books of the 20th Century (50 books)

The actual book binding for the Franklin Library was contracted to a company known as Sloves Organization, Ltd. which worked exclusively in the high end leather book-binding trade.

The craft of leather book-binding is a dying art today as publishers shift their from the traditional book market to the digital book market.

Franklin Book Deconstruction:

I have always been a bit curious about how one of these fine leather bound editions is put together and the other day, going through a few of these books I have picked up over the years, I discovered one that had considerable water-damage to many of the pages which basically renders the book worthless and un-sellable as a rare book.  In its present condition the book is worth maybe $4-6 dollars as a reader’s copy.  The title of the book is Guy de Maupassant’s Stories, illustrated by Lily Harmon.

Therefore, after a lengthy internal debate over the justification of deconstructing a book, I came to the conclusion that I could repurpose much of the book after taking it apart and sell the parts in one form or another for more than I would receive for the book on Ebay.

From the archival paper that the book is printed on I should be able to make about 600 bookmarks which I intend to hand paint with watercolours.  Since this particular book has a set of very nice illustrations that can be used in decoupage projects and perhaps a mixed media collage or two, I removed these intact.  The actual leather binding will be used for binding together a hand-made journal later.  After cutting the strips of paper to make book marks, I will still be left with the actual printed block which I intend to cut into a smaller block and hand sew into my own private small edition of this very book.

The photos below show how the book was put together:

Water Damage to about 1/5th of the pages of the book.

Water Damage to about 1/5th of the pages of the book.

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Water Damage

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Water Damage

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Illustration

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Illustration from Title Page

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Illustration from Title Page. This particular illustration and a few others may also be matted and framed as independent works of art.

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Water Damage to about 1/5th of the pages of the book.

Water Damage to about 1/5th of the pages of the book.

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Another view of water damage.

 

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Closeup of water damage.

 

 

 

 

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Closeup of water damage.

 

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This picture shows the silk moire end paper after removing from the binding. This is an actual piece of silk fabric. The glue and remaining paper can be easily removed by soaking in water and the silk repurposed into other craft projects.

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This picture shows front cover after having removed the silk moire end paper and making a razor incision to separate the block from the cover.

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Front free flyleaf cut from block after silk moire removed.

 

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Another view of silk moire endpaper.

 

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Removal of illustration.

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Illustrations removed from book.

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Pulling the block from the spine. Notice the strip of black paper. This is a thin paper that is glued to the spine and the block is glued to this paper. Notice that the leather is stretched around the cover boards.

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After removing the block from the leather cover and pulling back the binding paper and tape, we see that the satin bookmark is glued in about two inches down. The block now nicely displays the Smythe binding process where 8 double pages are folded in half to make 16 page booklets which are then stitched together at about five different places up and down the spine to hold the pages together. Glue is then applied and a special binding tape strip is glued on along with the small fabric spine caps. Then the block is glued into the black paper which has been glued to the leather book cover. After this has dried, the silk moire endpapers were added to give strength and help hold the block in place.

For more information on the Smythe Sewn process, click here.

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In this photo, one can see the criss cross of the white binding tape, which resembles a the type of fabric used in making casts for broken legs and arms.

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