Events  |  International Competition


The International Bookbinding Competition is held every two years and runs in conjunction with the Society’s biennial conference. Like the Conference it has grown over the years and now attracts, on average, around one hundred entries from countries all around the world.

Since the Competition started in 1999 it has developed into one of the most successful regular exhibitions of the craft. Its success has been in the variety of work which is represented, with fine binding sitting happily alongside restoration and book-arts. The Competition runs in conjunction with the Society’s biennial Conference, and attracts around one hundred entries from countries all around the world. In 2015 there will be fifteen prizes awarded over five categories, including two new awards. We are also pleased to announce that there will be an exhibition catalogue which will include colour images of every book, and each entrant will receive a copy.

The winning entries will be announced at the Society’s Conference at Keele University on 20th – 23rd August 2015. Awards will be presented on the first evening of the Conference. All the entries will be exhibited at the Conference for the duration, after which the winning books will be exhibited at Shepherds, London and George Bayntun’s Bookshop, Bath. Dates for these venues will be advertised on the Society website.

Entrants should register before the 29th May 2015 by completing a registration form which can be downloaded here (PDF). Alternativelly, you can download a MS Word version here. The period for submission of bindings is 22nd – 26th June 2015.

Entrants submitting work to the competition do so in the knowledge that if their work is selected for an award, it will be retained by the Society for the touring exhibition, and will only be returned following the final venue. Photographs of winning books will be taken for use on Competition promotional material. Full entry details and instructions for delivering your books will be sent out with the acknowledgment of registration. Please email your registration forms to the address on this leaflet.

Please do not send books until you have registered!

For all enquiries please contact competition organisers Hannah Brown and Arthur Green.

View / download registratation form (PDF)


Category A:  Fine Binding
Entries in this category should be a binding of a contemporary nature in a codex form; displaying an excellent standard of craftsmanship, along with an outstanding overall concept and design. Entries will be judged on the quality of the concept and design; the forwarding; finishing; craft skills; and use of materials.

Category B:  The Complete Book
Both the content and the binding should be designed and executed by the entrant. Work in this category encompasses both artists’ books and traditional bindings, and need not be in codex format. Entries will be judged on the quality of the concept and design; the content of the book; the binding; craft skills; and use of materials.

Category C:  
Case Binding
Entries in this category must be of a case bound structure, i.e. the book made in two parts; the cover made separately from the text-block and joined by attaching the end papers to the cover boards. Entries will be judged on the quality of the concept and design; the forwarding; finishing; craft skills; and use of materials.

Category D:  
Any binding repaired in a way that returns the book to a former or original condition. Entries will be judged on the suitability of the repairs; the aesthetic of the restored book; craft skills; documentation; and materials used. Entries must be submitted with photographic documentation prior to restoration, along with a full written record of all work undertaken.

Category E:  
Historic Binding
Entries should be a high quality binding of a traditional nature. Bindings can display an element of creativity, but must show excellent re-creation of a period of binding or historical structure, as well as a high standard of craftsmanship. Entries will be judged on the faithfulness of reproduction; the forwarding; finishing; craft skills; and suitability of materials.

View / download registratation form (PDF)

Estimated prize fund of £6000
Fine Binding
First Prize – F.J. Ratchford (The John Coleman Trophy) Value: £750
Second Prize Value: £250
Third Prize Value: £100
The Complete Book
First Prize – The Portnall Award – Value: £750
Second Prize Value: £250
Case Binding
First Prize – The F.J. Ratchford Trophy – Value: £750
First Prize – The Bernard Middleton Trophy – Value: £750
Historic Binding
First Prize – The ABA Educational Trust – Value: £750

The Farthing Press Award for Best Newcomer – Value: £500
People’s Choice Award – Value: £250  (New Award!)
Fine Cut International Award for Finishing – Value: £100
Harmatan Leather Award for Forwarding – Value: £100
Incline Press: Dave Godin Memorial Award for Animal Free Binding – Value: £250   (New Award!)
J Hewit & Sons Awards for Excellence in Design – Value: £175
J Hewit & Sons Awards for Excellence in Craftsmanship – Value: £175

View / download registratation form (PDF)

Competition Rules

  • The Competition is open to anyone except the judges and organisers.
  • The winning books will be decided at the discretion of the three judges only.
  • Entries must not have been submitted in, or have any known association with, any other bookbinding competition.
  • The final day for submission of entries will be 26th June 2015.
  • More than one entry is permissible. Fees for entry are £55 for the first book and £30 for subsequent entries. The entry fee includes one catalogue per person.
  • All work submitted must have been completed within the 2 years prior to submission.
  • Work done by other hands is acceptable but must be declared.
  • A completed entry form must accompany each entry.
  • Your name must not appear on any part of your work.
  • A newcomer is defined as a person who has, within the last three years, started learning bookbinding/restoration/book-arts from scratch, and has not yet entered another competition.
  • All costs for delivery and return of entries must be borne by the entrant.
  • Work must be submitted in a protective box or case, which will be used for its return.
  • Prizes take the form of cash, goods, and vouchers; and are subject to variation at the discretion of the organisers.
  • The Society will take every precaution to keep entries safe; however, all work is submitted at the entrant’s own risk. Full insurance of bindings is recommended as The Society cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage incurred during the competition or subsequent exhibitions.

View / download registratation form (PDF)

Sponsorship gratefully received to date:
The ABA Educational Trust
ABS Supplies Bookbinding Supplies
Brown, Mr and Mrs
Conservation by Design Limited
Duke, Maureen
Farthing Press
FiberMark Red Bridge International Limited
Fine Cut Graphic Imaging Ltd
Fleece Press
George Bayntun Booksellers
Griffen Mill
Gwasg Gregynog
Habberley Meadows
Harmatan & Oakridge Leather 2008 Ltd
Hewit, J, & Sons Ltd
Inky Parrot Press
Incline Press
Jemma Lewis Marbling and Design

John Purcell Papers
JVO Papers
Leather Conservation Centre
Louise Brockman Marble Paper
Nye, David & Maureen
Old School Press
Old Stile Press
P & S Engraving
Payhembury Papers
Ratchford, F J, Ltd
Russells Fine Leather
Shepherds Bookbinders Ltd
Sophie Schneideman
Mr Stuart Southall
William Cowley Parchment and Vellum
Winter & Co
William Zachs                 

… And many kind anonymous donors