Collating, Book Plates, Maps and Interleaving

This entry is part 9 of 20 in the series The Art of Bookbinding (Joseph W. Zaehnsdorf, 3rd Edt, 1897)

In a great measure, the whole beauty of the inside work rests in properly collating the book, in guarding maps, and in placing the plates. When pasting in any single leaves or plates, a piece of waste paper should always be placed on the leaf or plate the required distance from the edge to be pasted, so that the leaf is pasted straight. It takes no longer to lay the plate down upon the edge of a board with paper on the plate, than it does to hold the plate in the left hand, and apply the paste with the right hand middle finder; by the former method a proper amount of paste is deposited evenly on the plate and it is pasted in straight line; by the latter method, it is pasted in some places thickly, and in some places none at all. I have often seen books with the plates fastened to the book nearly half way up to its foredge, and thus spoit, only through the slovenly way of pasting. After having placed th plates, the collator should go through them again when dry, to see if they adhere properly, and break or fold them over up to the pasting, with a folding stick, so that they will lie flat when the book is open. I must again call attention to colored plates. They should be looked to during the whole of binding, especially after pressing. The amount of gum that is put on the surface, which is very easily seen by the gloss, causes them to stick to the letter-press: should they so stick, do not try to tear them apart, but warm a polishing iron and pass it over the plate and letter-press, placing a piece of paper between the iron and the book to avoid dirt. The heat and moisture will soften the gum, and the surface can then be very easily separated. By rubbing a little powdered French chalk over the coloured plates before sticking them in, these ill effects will be avoided.

It sometimes happens that the whole of a book is composed of single leaves, as the “Art Journal.” Such a book should be collated properly, and the plates placed to their respective places, squared and broken over, by placing a straight edge or runner about half an inch from its back edge, and running a folder under the plate, thus lifting it to the edge of the runner. The whole book should then be pressed for a few hours, taken out, and the back glued up; the back having been previously roughed with the side edge of the saw. To glue such a back, the book is placed in the lying press between boards, with the back projecting about an eighth of an inch, the saw is then drawn over it, with its side edge, so that the paper is as it were rasped. The back is then sawn in properly, as explained in the next chapter, and the whole back is glued. When dry, the book is separated into divisions or sections of four, six, or eight leaves, according to the thickness of the paper, and each section is then overcast or over sewn along its whole length, the thread being fastened at the head and tail (or top and bottom); thus each section is made independent of its neighbour.

The section The sections should then be gently struck along the back edge with a hammer against a knocking-down iron, so as to embed the thread into the paper, or the back will be too thick. The thread should not be struck so hard as to cut the paper, or break the thread, but very gently. Two or three sections may be taken at a time. After having placed the plates, the book should be put into the press (standing or otherwise) for a few hours. A standing press is used in all good bookbinding shops. The Paris houses have a curious way of pressing their books. The books are placed in the standing press; the top and bottom boards are very thick, having a groove cut in them in which a strong thin rope is placed. The press is screwed down tightly, when, after some few minutes has elapsed, the cord or rope is drawn together and fastened. The pressure of the screw is released, the whole taken our en bloc, and allowed to remain for some hours, during which time a number of there batches are passed through the same press. When taken out of the press the book is ready for “marking up” if for flexible sewing, or for being sawn in if for ordinary work.


Boomer-PressIt is sometimes required to place a piece of writing paper between each leaf of letter-press, either for notes or for a translation: in such a case, the book must be properly beaten or rolled, and each leaf cut up with a hand knife, both head and foredge; the writing paper having been chosen, must be folded to the size of the book and pressed. A single leaf of writing paper is now to be fastened in the centre of each section, and a folded leaf placed to every folded letter-press leaf, by inserting the one within the other, a folded writing paper being left outside every other section, and all being put level with the head; the whole book should then be well pressed.

If by any chance there should be one sheet in duplicate and another missing, by returning the one to the publisher of the book the missing sheet is generally replaced; this, of course, has reference only to books of a recent date.

There is a new press of American invention that has come under my notice. It will be seen that it facts on an entirely new principle, having two horizontal screws instead of one perpendicular. The power is first applied by hand and finally by a lever and ratchet-wheel in the centre. A pressure gauge is affixed to each press, so that the actual power exerted may be ascertained as the operation proceeds. The press can be had from Messrs. Ladd and Co., 116, Queen Victoria Street, E.C.; and they claim that it gives a pressure equal to the hydraulic press, without any of the hydraulic complications.

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