Master Bookbinder Jan Sobota and “Monte Walsh”


Monte Walsh (1963) is an American Western classic of the life and times of a tough cowboy who had a full montebig heart. Monte was partial to pretty women, gambling, and practical jokes.  Luckily for him, Monte’s best friend, Chet, is always there to post bail him out or get him out of town. As Monte grows older though, and the West inevitably changes, he resists changing with it, and shows his dedication and loyalty to the cowboy way of life. The popular 1970 film starring Lee Marvin and Jack Palance is loosely based on this moving story by Jack Schaefer

Author, Jack Schaefer was an American writer known for his Westerns. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio on November 19, 1907 and educated at Oberlin College in Ohio, he received his B.A. in Monte Walsh SigEnglish in 1929. Schaefer made his breakthrough in 1949 with a tale of a gunman’s involvement with a homesteading family in Wyoming entitled Shane. The book was later filmed and considered to be one  of the greatest motion picture westerns.

This copy of Monte Walsh, Muž se srdcem kovboje is written in Czech. The book was rebound in a design binding by Jan Sobota. Born in the Czechoslovakia in 1939, Sobota  studied binding in Pilzen and Prague. By 1977, he was recognized internationally as a  Master Bookbinder.  In 1982, Sobota and his family defected to Switzerland. Two years later he immigrated to the United States and settled in Cleveland where he began working as a conservator at Case Western Reserve University. Sobota was named Director of Conservation at the Bridwell Library of Southern Methodist University in Texas in 1990. He eventually returned to the Czech Republic where he died on May 5, 2012.

Sobota’s copy of Monte Walsh is a leather bound book with a heart on the cover – it is placed inside a leather monte openbound box whose cover has an opening which allows the book to be seen. The top of the box depicts a cowboy’s head with a broad brimmed hat. This box is placed inside another clamshell box with black sides, gray top and dusty pink bottom.  The Library’s copy is signed by the Schaefer and by Jan Sobota.

Cleveland Public Library owns this and many other examples of imaginative creations ,by Sobota and his wife Jarmilla Jelena Sobotova including his final: a miniature edition of Ray Bradbury’s short story collection, The Martian Chronicles. These and other works can be viewed in the Special Collections Department of Cleveland Public Library’s Main Library.Call 216-623-2818 or email for further information.

MArtian Chron

The Martian Chronicles written by Ray Bradbury, designed and created by  Jan and Jarmila Sobota shortly prior to Jan’s death in 2012. “Clear plexiglass box containing a book with text stamped and printed on aluminum pages affixed to thin leather backing and a red MP3 player on a base made of metal and leather with metal gear-like decorations and metal wheels that roll; accompanied by a set of earbuds and a USB cord in a zip-lock bag wrapped in two pieces of metallic red leather inside of a gray and black plexiglass box with a round leather and metal decoration.”