On one of my visits Bernard had held back a folio set of Gould's Birds that he had re-backed so that I could see them. They were lovely dark green Levant goatskin bindings that he re-backed with matching leather and elaborate full-gilt spines. That week he asked me to go along with him to deliver them to Henry Sotheran's Bookshop in London ( http://www.sotherans.co.uk ). I watched as he 'penciled' his signature inside the back covers.
The private mentoring I received from Bernard Middleton was by no means all encompassing, but when reflecting on the many gifts he gave to me over those few years of knives, two sizes of tying-up boards, tools, papers, a period-style binding, etc., (in addition to the obvious guidance in historical authenticity) was obviously appreciated. On one visit, we re-backed a Cambridge-style 1720 Lucas' Sermons, a late 18thC Philadelphia printing of Barclay's Apology, a re-backing of a thin 19C. Offenbarung Johannes, a full-gilt back on L'Origine de la Gravure, and discussion and explanation of numerous other books. On that same visit, I had taken along a 1777 Taylor & Skinners Maps of Ireland that I had rebound in historically authentic 'reverse calf' ~ which he liked so very well that he seemingly proudly handed the book to a very important guest/customer to the house that day and said "This is a lovely reverse-calf binding [Michael] made." That guest was no other than the 29th Earl of Crawford and Balcarres. Who immediately invited me to visit him, and Lady Crawford at Balcarres Castle in Scotland, on my next journey to the UK. And that, I did. And it was a splendid visit. I have photo's of the visit.
Like many things, friendships sometimes come and go. And while it would serve no good purpose to go into detail, the envious and jealous person that drove the wedge knows who they are, and that's all that really matters. And I can think of no better way to describe that person than with [un-related] words of Mr. Middleton himself in 1997, as he & I stood enjoying a chili-hot dog at the Amish community livestock auction.... "This is rather difficult to eat with any degree of dignity, isn't it?"
Shown here are two photos of books done by Middleton and myself. He did the full-gilt back in 27 minutes, not including the label.