If want to buy only one book on the practical history of the Medieval bookbinding, that has to be The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding by Janos Alexander Szirmai. And here is the good news: book was just reprinted by the Routledge academic publishing house. What’s even better, this time you can choose from hardcover, paperback or digital edition of the book! Continue reading →
It took 15 years to gather Kathleen V. Roberts Collection of Decorated Publishers’ Bindings. Its hallmark being that books were chosen for their covers and arranged by decades. That way of organization gives a unique chance to see how the historical events affected book decoration and book production in general. It truly makes books a subject of an interdisciplinary study of art, history, design and commerce. Continue reading →
On this day, 24th of August, 1456, Johannes Gutenberg finished making the first book in Europe using movable type. Quires were printed in 1455 (or even before). There is a letter by Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini (future pope Pie II) dated 12 March 1455, that suggests that pages were already printed. Continue reading →
Even today many printers only uses paper hand made in selective province's in China, this special paper is made using an age old technology. The paper is called jade paper, it begins with bamboo and hemp being ground into pulp. After this, workers lie a very fine bamboo sieve vertically into the solution and let the sieve sit in this manner to collect the fibers.
The fibers are then carefully smoothed out on a wooden board until they take shape, dehydrate and become a thin piece of paper. After it is completely dried, it becomes a sheet of paper. The water used in every step from grinding the hemp and the bamboo to sieving the fabric comes from nearby mountain springs. Tap water is never used. As a result, this paper, perfectly absorbing the ink is ideal for block printing.
The first ever books in the world were the Egyptian papyrus rolls, which were composed of several columns of ancient writing scripts. The first of these manuscripts goes back as far as the 25th BC, and until the Christian era, they remained quite popular. However, during this period, the paper or the book industry underwent a transformation, and parchment started replacing the Egyptian papyrus rolls (more on Egyptian Papyrus Rolls on Wikipedia). Writing on parchments was arranged in parallel columns, and vertical lines were used to separate one column from another. This particular pattern gave rise to the idea of cutting the parchments into flat panels, which comprised of either three or four columns. Later on, this form evolved into the books we see today. Continue reading →
The boards having been squared, they are to be attached to the book by lacing the ends of the cord through holes made in the board. The boards are to be laid on the book with their backs in the groove and level with the head; they must then be marked either with a lead pencil or the point of a bodkin exactly in a line with the slips, about half an inch down the board. On a piece of the wood the mill board is placed, and holes are pierced by hammering a short bodkin through on the line made, at a distance from the edge in accordance with the size of the book. About half an inch away from the back is the right distance for an octavo. The board is then to be turned over, and a second hole made about half an inch away from the first ones. The boards having been holed, the slips must be scraped, pasted slightly, and tapered or pointed. Draw them tightly through the hold first made and back through the second. Tap them slightly when the board is down to prevent them from slipping and getting loose. When the cords are drawn through, cut the ends close to the board with a knife, and make the board close on the slips and hold them tight. The slips should be well and carefully hammered, as any projection will be seen with great distinctness when the book is covered. The hammer must be held perfectly even, for the slips will be cut by the edge of it used carelessly. Continue reading →
Mill-Boards There is no occasion to wait for the book to be advanced as far as the backing before the workman sees to his boards; but he should take advantage of the period of drying to prepare them, to look out the proper thickness of the board, and to line them with paper either on one side or on both. Continue reading →
The word “rounding” applies to the back of the book, and is preliminary to backing. In rounding the back, the book is to be laid on the press before the workman with the foredge towards him; the book is then to be held with the left hand by placing the thumb on the foredge and finders on the top of the book pointing towards the back, so that by drawing the fingers towards the thumb, or by pressing fingers and thumb together, the back is drawn towards the workman at an angle. In this position the back is struck with the face of the hammer, beginning in the center, still drawing the back over with the left hand. The book is ten to be turned over, and e other side treated in the same way, and continually changed or turned from one side to the other until it has its proper form, which should be a part of a circle. When sufficiently rounded, it should be examined to see if one side be perfectly level with the other, by holding the book up and glancing down its back, and gently tapping the places where uneven, until it is perfectly true or uniform. Continue reading →
Is the book to have a gilt top? Marbled or gilt edges? Or is it to be left uncut? These questions must be settled before anything further is done. If the book is to be uncut or have a gilt top, the rough edges should be taken away with a very sharp knife or shears: this process is called “trimming.” Continue reading →
Two single leaves of white paper, some what thicker than the paper used for making the ends, are to be cut, one for each side of the book. The end papers are to be laid down on a board, or on a piece of paper on the press to keep them clean, with the pasted or made side uppermost, the single leaves on the top. They should then be fanned out evenly to a proper width, about a quarter of an inch for an 8vo., a piece of waste paper put on the top, and their edges pasted. Continue reading →