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Seven Seas Writer (2nd Generation) and Standard Notes


Inspired by America, Made in Japan



Several months ago (ca. April 2014), here in Irvine, on an early, clear Sunday morning, I was strolling the aisles of a huge outdoor antique show, when I stumbled upon a beautiful, decades-old book in excellent condition. What I mean by beautiful was not that it had gilt edges, an ornate cover or illuminated letters, but that it was totally utilitarian, made of the best materials and workmanship, and just looked rugged. I picked up the book, and it turned out to be a welding manual, or more like a welding text book, and judging from its shop wear, most likely faced the rigors of everyday handling in an industrial arts trade school.



Its overall design - the lay-flat, Smythe-sewn binding, rounded corners, flexible spine, dimensions and heft - was very similar to the Seven Seas Writer (SSW), except that its cover was stiffer and made with buckram. Those were the main differences, and really made a strong impression - I am always looking for ways to improve the Writer.



If you're not familiar with buckram, it is the cloth material that you've seen covering re-bound library books. Indeed, there is a reason why many libraries restore books with buckram - aside from leather, it is the toughest flexible book-cover material ever made, designed to preserve the text-block during upcoming decades for book-borrowers like ourselves.



In fact, the book that I found at the antique show was printed in 1932, and except for its frayed edges, which gave it a charming threadbare appearance, it seemed hardly affected by the last 80+ years. It was also somewhat rare to see buckram trimmed to a flexible cover (a trimmed cover is one of the design objectives for the Writer) rather than the more common practice of folding it over a hard cover binder's board. The presentation, threadbare edges and all, made so much practical sense that, as long as we could keep production costs to a reasonable level, we would utilize this traditional material, which has greatly improved over the last hundred years, to protect the book block of the SSW.



Sourcing the material in Japan turned out to be a non-issue - buckram is just as popular there as it is here, and, in fact, Japanese buckram comes in a variety of colors and finishes. So, our partner in Japan had no problem providing samples and working with buckram and actually has tons of experience with it - so we moved forward.



We whittled down our choices to a traditional satin finish and textured weave. Actually, we could not make up our minds about which to choose, so we decided to use the former on the Seven Seas Standard, and the latter on the Seven Seas Writer. The satin-finish is smooth, almost like the material we were already using, and the textured weave has a cloth-like feel. Both are very nice, although the satin-finish buckram is closer to our original inspiration which was the shop manual we found on that sunny day in Irvine.



So, that's the story of how we went with the buckram cover. Looking back at the SSW over the past year, I am happy about its evolution and direction, and, based on feedback, its utility and role in daily lives. I fully expect that 200 years from now a threadbare Writer will have survived as an important artifact that captured the soul of a citizen of our modern age.