Constance Karslake

The daughter of preeminent founder of the Guild of Women Binders Frank Karslake, Constance Karslake played an instrumental role in the founding and perpetuation of the Guild of Women Binders under her father’s tutelage. Constance Karslake assumed leadership of the Guild of Women Binders workshop bound closely to Frank Karslake’s Hampstead Bindery. At the workshop, Constance Karslake worked intimately with Edith and Florence de Rheims, the three of whom created characteristic gold-tooled and onlaid bindings. Constance Karslake and Edith and Florence de Rheims produced prolifically for the Guild, each responsible for over two dozen bindings. While the Guild of Women Binders experienced great notoriety and acclaim, Frank Karslake ultimately contributed to the demise of the Guild as his fatal deficits in understanding the craft and business of bookbinding eventually became apparent. Several years following the dissolution of the Guild of Women Binders in 1904, Constance Karslake retired from bookbinding to marry. While Constance Karslake remained inactive in bookbinding, her former partner Edith de Rheims subsisted in the craft for a sustained period of time. When the Guild of Women Binders and the legendary workshop spearheaded by Constance Karslake sunset in the early twentieth century, Frank Karslake returned to his antiquarian bookselling roots, while the bookbinding work of Constance Karslake transcended time, achieving legendary status (Tidcombe, 1996).