…himself, or of the individual who has the pleasure of applying his strength to turning the handle. I never pass or hear a rolling machine revolving very rapidly without having vividly brought to my mind a very serious accident that happened to my father. He was feeling for a flaw on one of the rollers, and whilst his hands were at the edge of the rollers the man turned the handle, drawing the whole hand between the cylinders. The accident cost him many months in the hospital, and he never regained complete use of his right hand. Great care must be used not to pass too many sheets through the machine at one time; the same applies to the regulating screw. The amount of damage that can be done to the paper by too heavy a pressure is astonishing, as the paper becomes quite brittle, and many perhaps even be cut as with a knife.
The back may be damped with a sponge lightly charged with water, or perhaps a better method is to place the book or books in a press, screw up tightly, and soak the backs with thin paste, leaving them soaking for an hour or two; they will want repasting two or three times during the period; the whole of the paper, glue, and leather can then be easily scraped away with a blunt knife; a handful of shavings rubbed over the back will make it quite clean, and no difficulty will be met with if the sections are taken apart while damp. He sections must, as pulled, as pulled, be placed evenly one on the other, as the paper at back retains sufficient glue to cause them to stick together if laid across one another. The whole must then be left to dry. When dry the groove should be knocked down on a flat surface and for this the knocking-down iron screwed up in the lying press is perhaps the best thing to use. The groove is the projecting part of the book close to the back, caused by the backing, and is the groove for the back edge of the mill-board to work in by a hinge; this hinge is technically called the “joint.” Continue reading →
It is generally the first thing the binder has to do with a book. The sheets are either supplied by the binders or printer (mostly the printer); should the amateur wish to have his books in sheets, he may generally get them by asking his bookseller for them. It is necessary that they be carefully folded, for unless they are perfectly even, it is impossible that the margins (the blank space round the print) can be uniform when the book is cut. Where the margin is small, as in very small prayer books, a very great risk of cutting in the print in incurred; besides, it is rather annoying to see a book which has the folio or paging on one leaf nearly at the top, and on the next, the print touching the bottom; to remedy such an evil, the printer having done his duty by placing his margins quite true, it remains with the binder to perfect and bring the sheet into proper form by folding. The best bound book may be spoilt by having the sheets badly folded, and the binders is perfectly justified in rejecting any sheets that may be badly printed, that is, not in register. The sheets are laid upon a table with the signatures (the letters or numbers that are at the foot of the first page of each sheet when folded) facing downwards on the left hand side. A folding-stick / bone folder is held in the right hand, and the sheet is brought over from right to left, the folios being carefully placed together; if the paper is held up to the light, and is not too thick, it can be easily seen through. Holding the two together and laying them on the table the folder is drawn across e sheet, creasing the centre; then, holding the sheet down with the folder on the line to be creased, the top part is brought over and downwards till the folios or the bottom of the letterpress or print is again even. The folder is then drawn across, and so by bringing each folio together the sheet is completed. The process is extremely simple. The octavo sheet is generally folded into 4 folds, thus giving 8 leaves or 16 pages; a quarto, into 2, giving 4 leaves or 8 pages, and the sheets properly folded, will have their signatures outside at the foot of the first page. If the signature is not on the outside, one may be certain that the sheet has been wrongly folded. I say generally; at one time the water or wire mark on the paper and the number of folds gave the size of the book. There are numerous other sizes, but it is not necessary to give them all; the process of folding is in nearly all cases the same; here are however, a few of the sizes given in inches. Continue reading →
There is little doubt that the first example of the style now know as “Grolier” were produced in Venice, under the eye of Grolier himself, and according to his own designs; and that workmen in France, soon rivaled and excelled the early attempts. The work of Maioli may be distinctly traced by the bold simplicity and purity of his designs; and more especially is the broader gold lines which margin the colored bands of geometric and arabesque ornamentation. All books, it must be understood, were not bound in so costly a manner, for we find pigskin, vellum and calf in use. The latter was especially preferred on account of its peculiar softness, smooth surface, and great aptitude for receiving impressions of dumb or blind tooling. It was only towards the latter part of the sixteenth century that the English binders began to employ delicate or fine tooling. During the seventeenth century the names of Du Sueil and Le Gascon were known for the delicacy and extreme minuteness of their finishing. Not disdaining the bindings of the Italian school, they took from them new ideas; for whilst the Grolier bindings were bold, the Du Sueil and Le Gascon more resembled fine lace work of intricate design, with harmonizing flowers and other objects, from which we may obtain a great variety of artistic character. During this period embroidered velvet was much in use. Then a change took place and a style was adopted which by some people would be preferred to the gorgeous bindings of the sixteenth century. The sides were finished quite plainly with only a line round the edge of the boards (and in some instances not even that) with a coat of arms or some badge in the centre. Continue reading →
Book binding carries us back to the time when leaden tablets with inscribed hieroglyphics were fastened together with rings, which formed what to us would be the binding of the volumes. We might go even still further back, when tiles of baked clay with cuneiform characters were encased one within the other, so that if the cover of one were broken or otherwise damaged there still remained another, and yet another covering ; by which care history has been handed down from generation to generation. The binding in the former would consist of the rings which bound the leaden tablets together, and in the latter, the simple covering formed the binding which preserved the contents. We must pass on from these, and make another pause, when vellum strips were attached together in one continuous length with a roller at each end. The reader unrolled the one, and rolled the other as he/she perused the work. Books, prized either for their rarity, sacred character, or costliness, would be kept in a round box or case, so that the appearance of a library in Ancient Jerusalem would seem to us as if it were a collection of canisters. The next step was the fastening of separate leaves together, thus making a back, and covering the whole as a protection in a most simple form; the only object being to keep the several leaves in connected sequence. I believe the most ancient form of books formed of separate leaves, will be found in the sacred books of Ceylon which were formed of palm leaves, written on with a metal style, and the binding was merely a silken string tied through one end so loosely as to admit of each leaf being laid down flat when turned over. When he mode of preserving MS. On animal membrane or Vellum in separate leaves came into use, the binding was at first only a simple piece of leather wrapped round the book and tied with a thong. These books were not kept on their edges, but were laid down flat on the shelves, and had small cedar tablets hanging from them upon which their titles were inscribed. The ordinary books for general use were only fastened strongly at the back, with wooden boards for the sides, and simply a piece of leather up the back. book binding stamp 2 In the sixth century, book binding had already taken its place as an “Art,” for we have the “Byzantine coatings,” as they were called. They are of metal, gold, silver or copper gilt, and sometimes they are enriched with precious stones. The monks, during this century, took advantage of the immense thickness of the wooden boards and frequently hollowed them out to secrete their relics in the cavities. Book binding was then confined entirely to the monks who were the literati of the period. Then the art was neglected for some centuries, owing to the plunder and pillage that overran Europe, and books were destroyed to get at the jewels that were supposed to be hidden in the different parts of the covering, so that few now remain to show how bookbinding was then accomplished and to what extent. Continue reading →