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Another one for “the books”. An appreciation of John Roberts Hoole



An earlier blog (The Tie That Binds) looked at the life of Edward Walker, Stephen Mather’s maternal grandfather. Edward Walker emigrated in 1832 and established a bookbinding business in 1836. By mid-century, Edward Walker & Sons was regarded as the largest bookbindery in New York City.


Stephen Mather’s wife was Jane Thacker Floy. Her maternal grandfather was John Roberts Hoole. In the Mather attic is the “Grace Sutcliffe” bible. In it is recorded the birth of John Roberts Hoole on 7 April 1811, his marriage to Grace Sutcliffe, and his death on 17 October 1884.



The American Bookbinders Museum includes this biographical note:

“John R. Hoole emigrated to America from England, where he had been a bookbinders’ finishing tool maker, around 1830. This was very early in the history of specialist finishing tool makers…Hoole and his children built a flourishing firm in New York, and became a major retail bookbinders’ supplier as well as a manufacturer of finishing tools…it was at the top of the trade in America, both for size and for quality, for most of its existence. Any historical materials on the Hoole firm and how it worked are vital to understanding the finishing tool trade, which was a key supplier to the binding trade.”


Yes, both Stephen’s and Jane’s maternal grandparents were in the bookbinding business, in New York City, and at overlapping times!


Were they rivals? Did Edward purchase tools from John? Did they ever meet? Questions not answered, but as with so much of the Homestead history, fragments that continue to add dimension.


Images below:

1. John R. Hoole born April 7th 1811. From the Grace Sutcliffe Bible

3. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. Binding Design by John R. Hoole

4. Embossing Tool manufactured by John R. Hoole



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