Having six fingers on one hand may sound uncomfortable, but if one of them is a small, smooth bone-folder, like my favourite tool, you’re in good shape. This slender ‘digit’ was given to me by Danillo Cooper, a mate on the bookbinding course at the London College of Printing, in 1987/88. He had reduced it to this size – 100mm long by 18mm wide at its broadest point – and shaped it before presenting it to me. At first I wasn’t sure how much use it would be. However, I came to rely on it more and more. It became an extra finger, though much finer, more delicate, smoother, more controllable. It helps me to turn pages of fragile manuscripts, to lift or move small pieces of paper or textile, to go over tiny pasted surfaces to ensure adhesion, etc. The only drawback is its size: it’s so small that it is easily mislaid. Once I thought I had lost it forever, and I really grieved over it. Months later, at the end of an exhibition, it came to light in a display case. I’d used it during installation and set it down behind a book, where it wasn’t seen. I think every book or paper conservator would like this tool, and I’ve always been grateful to Danillo for making it for me.
Dana Josephson became a book conservator after a first career as an editor. He trained in bookbinding at the London College of Printing and in conservation with Chris Clarkson at West Dean College. He was briefly in charge of the BBC Music Bindery before going to work at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, from 1990 to 2011, as a bench conservator, then as an exhibitions organiser and, finally, as a conservator responsible for the portraits collection.