William Anthony was born November 9, 1926, in Waterford, Ireland, and began his apprenticeship in bookbinding there at the age of 16. He later worked as a journeyman in Dublin and at several binderies in England.
In 1965 Bill came to Chicago to work as a fine binder at the Cuneo Press, where he rose to the position of art director. In 1973, he formed a partnership with Elizabeth Kner and, on her retirement in 1982, continued the business as Anthony & Associates, Bookbinders. Perhaps the most notable conservation work from those years was his work on Northwestern Universityâs copy of Birds of America, by John James Audubon. While conservation was the mainstay of his business, Bill also worked on edition bindings for small presses and continued to create fine bindings. Bill brought apprentices into his business and taught private classes in Chicago.
In 1984, Bill came to The University of Iowa as the first University Conservator. Professor K.K. (Kim) Merker, Professor of English and director of the Windhover Press, envisioned a Center for the Book at Iowa and wanted to recruit a master binder to the Center. With the support of D. C. Spriestersbach, Dean of the Graduate College, and University Librarian Dale Bentz, Kim was instrumental in bringing Bill to Iowa.
Bill established the Conservation Department in the Universityâs Main Library, where he and his apprentices worked on rare books from the University collections. Notably, these included conservation bindings of two important early printed books: the Nuremburg Chronicle (1493, in Special Collections in the Main Library) and Vesaliusâ De humani corporis fabrica (1555, in the John Martin Rare Book Room of the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences). He also executed fine bindings, two of which were in traveling exhibitions and seen throughout the U.S. in the last years of his life
Most of the fine bindings Bill created during his career are in Special Collections at the UI Main Library, either donated by his family or purchased with donor funds. Other fine bindings are in private collections and libraries, including the British Library, London; the Lily Library, Indiana University; and the Newberry Library, Chicago.