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.

Details and images of prizewinners from previous competitions can be seen by choosing from the menu to the left.

The next competition will be held in 2017. Further details will be posted here in due course.


Category A:  Fine Binding
This category encompasses any skilled binding of a contemporary nature in a codex form. The binding must display a high standard of craftsmanship along with excellent overall concept and design.

Entries will be judged on the quality of the concept and design; the forwarding; finishing; craft skills, and suitability of materials used.

Category B:  The Complete Book
Both the contents 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 contents of the book; the binding; craft skills; and suitability 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 endpapers to the cover boards. Entries will be judged on the quality of the concept and design; the forwarding; finishing; craft skills; and suitability 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
A skilled or ‘fine 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 over £6000

• Best Book Submitted by a Professional Binder: £1000
• Best Book Submitted by a Non‑Professional Binder: £1000
• Best Book Submitted by a Newcomer: £500 ‑ The Farthing Press Award
• Fine Binding 1st Prize Value: £500 ‑ Charnwood Books & F J Ratchford ‑ John Coleman Trophy
• Fine Binding 2nd Prize Value: £200
• Fine Binding 3rd Prize Value: £100
• The Complete Book 1st Prize Value: £500 ‑ The Portnall Award
• The Complete Book 2nd Prize Value: £200
• Case Binding 1st Prize Value: £500 ‑ The F.J. Ratchford Trophy
• Restoration 1st Prize Value: £500 ‑ The Bernard Middleton Trophy
• Historic Binding 1st Prize Value: £500 - The ABA Educational Trust
• Fine Cut International Award for finishing
• Harmatan Leather Award for forwarding
• J Hewit & Sons ‑ three Awards for Excellence in Design, Craftsmanship and Innovation

View / download registratation form (PDF)

Competition Rules

  • The Competition is open to anyone except the judges and organisers.
  • The final day for submission of entries will be 12th July 2013
  • Applicants should state whether they are professional or non-professional to be eligible for the top two prizes: a professional is defined as a person whose majority of income comes from bookbinding or similar occupation.
  • 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 entered a competition.
  • More than one entry is permissible. Fees for entry are £30 for the first book and £20 for subsequent entries.
  • All work submitted must have been completed within the two years prior to submission, and must not have been awarded a prize in another competition.
  • Work done by ‘other hands’ is acceptable but must be declared.
  • Winners will be decided at the discretion of the three judges only.
  • A completed entry form must accompany each entry.
  • Your name must not appear on any part of your work.
  • 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
Charnwood Books and Ratchfords Ltd
Conservation by Design Limited
Duke, Maureen        
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
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
Presteigne Bindery/ Christopher Rowlatt
Ratchford, F J, Ltd
Russells Fine Leather                 
Shepherds Bookbinders Ltd
Mr Stuart Southall
Tern Press                               
William Cowley Parchment and Vellum
Winter & Co                 
Wrights of Lymm Ltd         
William Zachs                 

… And many kind anonymous donors