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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book from a number of folded or unfolded sheets of paper or other material. It usually involves attaching covers to the resulting text-block.

A traditional bookbinder at work




Origins of the book

The craft of bookbinding originated in India, where religious sutra were copied on to palm leaves (cut into two, lengthwise) with a metal stylus. The leaf was then dried and rubbed with ink, which would form a stain in the wound. The finished leaves were given numbers, and two long twines were threaded through each end through wooden boards. When closed, the excess twine would be wrapped around the boards to protect the leaves of the book. Buddhist monks took the idea through Persia, Afghanistan, and Iran, to China in the first century BC.

Western writers at this time wrote longer texts as scrolls, and these were stored in shelving with small cubbyholes, similar to a modern winerack. The word volume, from the Latin word volvere ("to roll"), comes from these scrolls. Court records and notes were written on tree bark and leaves, while important documents were written on papyrus. The modern English word book comes from the Proto-Germanic *bokiz, referring to the beechwood on which early written works were recorded.[1]

The book was not needed in ancient times, as many early Greek texts—scrolls—were thirty pages long, which fits into the hand. Roman works were often longer, running to hundreds of pages. The Greeks used to comically call their books tome, meaning "to cut". The Egyptian Book of the Dead was a massive 200 pages long but was never meant to be read by the living. Torahs, editions of the Jewish holy book, were also held in special holders when read.

Scrolls can be rolled in one of two ways. The first method is to wrap the scroll around a single core, similar to a modern roll of paper towels. While simple to construct, a single core scroll has a major disadvantage: in order to read text at the end of the scroll, the entire scroll must be unwound. This is partially overcome in the second method, which is to wrap the scroll around two cores, as in a Torah. With a double scroll, the text can be accessed from both beginning and end, and the portions of the scroll not being read can remain wound. This still leaves the scroll a sequential-access medium: to reach a given page, one generally has to unroll and re-roll many other pages.

Early book formats

The first solution invented to overcome this problem was a set of simple wooden boards sewn together, around the 1st century A.D. Romans called this simple book a codex—the Latin for the trunk of a tree. However, it was the early Coptic Christians of Egypt who made the first breakthrough. They discovered that by folding sheets of vellum or parchment in half and sewing them through the fold, they could produce a book that could be written on both sides. Wooden boards held it together, and the whole book was slipped into a goatskin leather bag to be carried.

Codices were a significant improvement over papyrus or vellum scrolls in that they were easier to handle. But despite allowing writing on both sides of the leaves, they were still foliated—numbered on the leaves, like the Indian books. The idea spread quickly through the early churches, and the word Bible comes from the town where the Byzantium monks established their first scriptorium, Byblos, in modern Lebanon. The idea of numbering each side of the page—Latin pagina, "to fasten"—appeared when the text of the individual testaments of the Bible were combined and text had to be searched through more quickly. This book format became the preferred way of preserving manuscript or printed material.

Early and medieval codices were bound with flat spines, and it was not until the 15th century that books began to have the rounded spines associated with hardcovers today.[2] Because the vellum of early books would react to humidity by swelling, causing the book to take on a characteristic wedge shape, the wooden covers of medieval books were often secured with straps or clasps. These straps, along with metal bosses on the book's covers to keep it raised off the surface that it rests on, are collectively known as furniture.

Marbled book board from a book published in London in 1872

Thus, Western books from the 5th century onwards were bound between hard covers, with pages made from parchment folded and sewn on to strong cords or ligaments that were attached to wooden boards and covered with leather. Since early books were exclusively handwritten on handmade materials, sizes and styles varied considerably, and each book was a unique creation or a copy of it.

Introduction of paper

The Arabs revolutionised the book's production and its binding in the medieval Islamic world. They were the first to produce paper books after they learnt paper industry from the Chinese in the 8th century.[3] Particular skills were developed for Arabic calligraphy, miniatures and bookbinding. The people who worked in making books were called Warraqin or paper professionals. The Arabs made books lighter—sewn with silk and bound with leather covered paste boards, they had a flap that wrapped the book up when not in use. As paper was less reactive to humidity, the heavy boards were not needed. The production of books became a real industry and cities like Marrakech, Morocco, had a street named Kutubiyyin or book sellers, which contained more than 100 bookshops in the 12th century; the famous Koutoubia Mosque is named so because of its location on this street. In the words of Don Baker: "The world of Islam has produced some of the most beautiful books ever created. The need to write down the Revelations which the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, received, fostered the desire to beautify the object which conveyed these words and initiated this ancient craft. Nowhere else, except perhaps in China, has calligraphy been held in such high esteem. Splendid illumination was added with gold and vibrant colours, and the whole book contained and protected by beautiful bookbindings"[4]

The binding of a Chinese bamboo book (Sun Tzu's The Art of War)


With the arrival (from the East) of rag paper manufacturing in Europe in the late Middle Ages and the use of the printing press beginning in the mid-15th century, bookbinding began to standardize somewhat, but page sizes still varied considerably.

With printing, the books became more accessible and were stored on their side on long shelves for the first time. Clasps were removed, and titles were added to the spine. The reduced cost of books facilitated cheap lightweight Bibles, made from tissue-thin oxford paper, with floppy covers, that resembled the early Arabic Qurans, enabling missionaries to take portable books with them around the world, and modern wood glues enabled paperback covers to be added to simple glue bindings.

Historical forms of binding

Historical forms of binding include the following:[5]

Some books have even been bound in human skin, a practice known as anthropodermic bibliopegy.

Modern commercial binding

There are various commercial techniques in use today. Commercially-produced books today tend to be of one of four categories:

Hardcover binding

A hardcover, hardbound book has rigid covers and is stitched in the spine. Looking from the top of the spine, the book can be seen to consist of a number of signatures bound together. When the book is opened in the middle of a signature, the binding threads are visible. The signatures in modern hardcover books are typically octavo (a single sheet folded three times), though they may also be folio, quarto, or 16mo. Unusually large and heavy books are sometimes bound with wire or cable.

Until the mid-20th century, those of mass-produced books were covered in cloth, but from that period onwards, most publishers adopted clothette, a kind of textured paper which vaguely resembles cloth but is easily differentiated on close inspection. Most cloth-bound books are now half-and-half covers with cloth covering only the spine. In that case, the cover has a paper overlap. The covers of modern hardback books are made of thick cardboard.

Some books that appeared in the mid-20th century signature-bound, appear in reprinted editions in glued-together editions. It is often difficult to find a copy of such books stitched together in their original format. They are sought for aesthetic and practical reasons.

A variation of the hardcover which is more durable is the calf-binding, where the cover is either half or fully clad in leather, usually from a calf. This is also called full-bound or, simply, leather bound.

Library binding refers to the hardcover binding of serials and paperback books intended for the rigors of library use. Though many publishers have started to provide "library binding" editions, many libraries elect to purchase paperbacks and have them rebound as hardcover books, resulting in longer life for the material.

Methods of hardcover binding

There are a number of methods used to bind hardcover books, from them:

  1. Oversewing, where the signatures of the book start off as loose pages which are then clamped together. Small vertical holes are punched through the far left-hand edge of each signature, and then the signatures are sewn together with lock-stitches to form the text block. Oversewing is a very strong method of binding and can be done on books up to five inches thick. However, the margins of oversewn books are reduced and the pages will not lie flat when opened.
  2. Sewing through the fold, where the signatures of the book are folded and stitched through the fold. The signatures are then sewn or glued together at the spine to form a text block. In contrast to the previous method, through-the-fold books have wide margins and can open completely flat. However, the text block of a sewn-through-the-fold book is not very secure, which can cause some signatures to come loose over time. Many varieties of sewing stitches exist, from basic links to complex decorative stitches. While Western books are generally sewn through holes punched along the fold, some Asian bindings, such as the Retchoso or Butterfly Stitch of Japan, use small slits instead of punched holes.
  3. Double-fan adhesive binding starts off with two signatures of loose pages, which are run over a roller--"fanning" the pages—to apply a thin layer of glue to each page edge. Then the two signatures are perfectly aligned to form a text block, and glue edges of the text block are attached to a piece of cloth lining to form the spine. Double-fan adhesive bound books can open completely flat and have a wide margin. However, certain types of paper do not hold adhesive well, and, with wear and tear, the pages can come loose.[6]
Modern paperback spines

Punch and Bind

Different types of the punch and bind binding include:

  1. Double wire binding or Twin loop binding is the type of binding that is used for books that will be viewed or read in an office or home type environment. The binding involves the use of a "C" shaped wire spine that is squeezed into a round shape using a wire closing device. Double wire binding has a nice look, allows books to have smooth crossover and is affordable in many colors. This binding is great for annual reports, owners manuals and software manuals. Wire bound books are made of individual sheets, each punched with a line of round or square holes on the binding edge. This type of binding uses either a 3:1 pitch hole pattern with three holes per inch or a 2:1 pitch hole pattern with two holes per inch. The three to one hole pattern is used for smaller books that are up to 9/16" in diameter while the 2:1 pattern is normally used for larger books as the holes are slightly bigger to accommodate slightly thicker, stronger wire. Once punched, the back cover is then placed on to the front cover ready for the wire binding elements (double loop wire) to be inserted. The wire is then placed through the holes. The next step involves the binder holding the book by its pages and inserting the wire into a "closer" which is basically a vise that crimps the wire closed and into its round shape. The back page can then be turned back to its correct position, thus hiding the spine of the book.
  2. Comb Binding uses a 9/16" pitch rectangular hole pattern punched near the bound edge. A curled plastic "comb" is fed through the slits to hold the sheets together. Comb binding allows a book to be disassembled and reassembled by hand without damage. Comb supplies are typically available in a wide range of colors and diameters. The supplies themselves can be re-used or recycled. In the United States, comb binding is often referred to as 19-ring binding because it uses a total of 19 holes along the 11-inch side of a sheet of paper. [7]
  3. VeloBind is used to permanently rivet pages together using a plastic strip on the front and back of the document. Sheets for the document are punched with a line of holes near the bound edge. A series of pins attached to a plastic strip called a Comb feeds through the holes to the other side and then goes through another plastic strip called the receiving strip. The excess portion of the pins is cut off and the plastic heat-sealed to create a relatively flat bind method. VeloBind provides a more permanent bind than comb-binding, but is primarily used for business and legal presentations and small publications.
  4. Spiral binding is the most economical form of mechanical binding when using plastic or metal. It is commonly used for atlases and other publications where it is necessary or desirable to be able to open the publication back on itself without breaking the spine. There are several types but basically it is made by punching holes along the entire length of the spine of the page and winding a wire helix (like a spring) through the holes to provide a fully flexible hinge at the spine. Spiral coil binding uses a number of different hole patterns for binding documents. The most common hole pattern used with this style is 4:1 pitch (4 holes per inch). However, spiral coil spines are also available for use with 3:1 pitch, 5:1 pitch and 0.400-hole patterns.[8]
  5. Plastic Comb binding (GBC) Proclick is a relatively new binding style that was originally designed for use with a 3:1 pitch wire binding hole pattern. This type of binding uses an element that snaps shut and can be easily opened for editing purposes. The editing abilities of this style make it popular with direct sales organizations and mobile offices. Proclick is manufactured exclusively by the General Binding Corporation.
  6. ZipBind is also manufactured by the General Binding Corporation and offers easy editing. However, the binding spines for this style are designed to work with the 9/16" plastic comb binding hole pattern. Like Proclick, Zipbind spines can easily be opened and closed without the need for a binding machine. Thus the addition and deletion of pages is a simple process provided that the pages have already been punched.

Thermally activated binding

Some of the different types of thermally activated binding include:

  1. Perfect binding is often used, and gives a result similar to paperback books. National Geographic is perhaps the best known of this type. Paperback or soft cover books are also normally bound using perfect binding. They usually consist of various sections with a cover made from heavier paper, glued together at the spine with a strong flexible glue. The sections are rough-cut in the back to make them absorb the hot glue. The other three sides are then face trimmed. This is what allows the magazine or paperback book to be opened. Mass market paperbacks (pulp paperbacks) are small (16mo size), cheaply made and often fall apart after much handling or several years. Trade paperbacks are more sturdily made, usually larger, and more expensive.
  2. Thermal Binding uses a one piece cover with glue down the spine to quickly and easily bind documents without the need for punching. Individuals usually purchase "thermal covers" or "therm-a-bind covers" which are usually made to fit a standard letter size sheet of paper and come with a glue channel down the spine. The paper is placed in the cover, heated in a machine (basically a griddle), and when the glue cools, it adheres the paper to the spine. Thermal glue strips can also be purchased separately for individuals that wish to use customized/original covers. However, creating documents using thermal binding glue strips can be a tedious process which requires a scoring device and a large format printer.
  3. A cardboard article looks like a hardbound book at first sight, but it is really a paperback with hard covers. Many books that are sold as hardcover are actually of this type. The Modern Library series is an example. This type of document is usually bound with thermal adhesive glue using a perfect binding machine.
  4. Tape Binding refers to a system that wraps and glues a piece of tape around the base of the document. A tape binding machine such as the Powis Parker Fastback or Standard Accubind system will usually be used to complete the binding process and to activate the thermal adhesive on the glue strip. However, some users also refer to Tape Binding as the process of adding a colored tape to the edge of a mechanically fastened (stapled or stitched) document.
  5. Unibind is a variety of thermal binding that uses a special steel channel with resin rather than glue inside of it to give it a more sturdy bind to hold the pages in place. Unibind can be used to bind soft covered documents with a look that is similar to perfect binding. It can also be used for binding hardcover books and photo books. Like Thermal Binding, unibind usually requires you to purchase a one piece coverset to bind your documents. However, Unibind also offers SteelBack spines that allow you to use your own covers in the binding process. The majority of Unibinds covers can be printed on as well to give documents a unique finish. (Unibind is also the name of a International binding company)[9]

Stitched or Sewn Binding

Types of stitched or sewn bindings:

  1. A sewn book is constructed in the same way as a hardbound book, except that it lacks the hard covers. The binding is as durable as that of a hardbound book.
  2. Stapling through the centerfold, also called saddle-stitching, joins a set of nested folios into a single magazine issue; most American comic books are well-known examples of this type.
  3. Magazines are considered more ephemeral than books, and less durable means of binding them are usual. In general, the cover papers of magazines will be the same as the inner pages (self-cover)[10] or only slightly heavier (soft cover). Most magazines are stapled or saddle-stitched; however, some are bound with perfect binding and use thermally activated adhesive.

Modern hand binding

Hardbound book spine stitching.
Traditionally sewn book opened flat.
Halfbound book with leather and marble paper.

Modern bookbinding by hand can be seen as two closely allied fields: the creation of new bindings, and the repair of existing bindings. Bookbinders are often active in both fields. Bookbinders can learn the craft through apprenticeship; by attending specialized trade schools[11]; by taking classes in the course of university studies, or by a combination of those methods. Some European countries offer a Master Bookbinder certification, though no such certification exists in the United States. MFA programs that specialize in the 'Book Arts,' (hand paper-making, printmaking and bookbinding) are available through certain colleges and universities.[12]

Hand bookbinders create new bindings that run the gamut from historical book structures made with traditional materials to modern structures made with 21st century materials, and from basic cloth-case bindings to valuable full-leather fine bindings. Repairs to existing books also encompass a broad range of techniques, from minimally invasive conservation of a historic book to the full restoration and rebinding of a text.

Though almost any existing book can be repaired to some extent, only books that were originally sewn can be rebound by resewing. Repairs or restorations are often done to emulate the style of the original binding. For new works, some publishers print unbound manuscripts which a binder can collate and bind, but often an existing commercially-bound book is pulled, or taken apart, in order to be given a new binding. Once the textblock of the book has been pulled, it can be rebound in almost any structure; a modern suspense novel, for instance, could be rebound to look like a 16th-century manuscript. Bookbinders may bind several copies of the same text, giving each copy a unique appearance.

Hand bookbinders use a variety of specialized hand tools, the most emblematic of which is the bonefolder, a flat, tapered, polished piece of bone used to crease paper and apply pressure.[13] Additional tools common to hand bookbinding include a variety of knives and hammers, as well as brass tools used during finishing.

When creating new work, modern hand binders often work on commission, creating bindings for specific books or collections. Books can be bound in many different materials. Some of the more common materials for covers are leather, decorative paper, and cloth (see also: buckram). Those bindings that are made with exceptionally high craftsmanship, and that are made of particularly high-quality materials (especially full leather bindings), are known as fine or extra bindings.

Conservation and restoration

Conservation and restoration are practices intended to repair damage to an existing book. While they share methods, their goals differ. The goal of conservation is to slow the book's decay and restore it to a usable state while altering its physical properties as little as possible; the goal of restoration, however, is to return the book to a previous state as envisioned by the restorer, often imagined as the original state of the book. In either case, the modern standard for conservation and restoration is "reversibility." That is, any repair should be done in such a way that it can be un-done if and when a better technique is developed in the future. Bookbinders echo the physicians' creed, "First, do no harm."

Rebacking saving original spine, showing one volume finished and one untouched

Books requiring conservation treatment run the gamut from the very earliest of texts to books with modern bindings that have undergone heavy usage. For each book, the conservator must choose a course of treatment that takes into account the book's value, whether it comes from the binding, the text, the provenance, or some combination of the three. Many professional book and paper conservators in the United States are members of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), whose guidelines, set forth in the AIC's Code of Ethics, are generally considered to outline an appropriate approach to the treatment of rare or valuable materials.

In restoration hand binding, the pages and book covers are often hundreds of years old, and the handling of these pages has to be undertaken with great care and a delicate hand. The binding archival process can extend a book’s life for many decades and is necessary to preserve books that sometimes are limited to a small handful of remaining copies worldwide.

The first step in saving and preserving a book is its deconstruction. The text need to be separated from the covers and, only if necessary, the stitching removed. This is done as delicately as possible. All page restoration is done at this point, be it the removal of foxing, ink stains, page tears, etc. Various techniques are employed to repair the various types of page damage that might have occurred during the life of the book.

Geneva Bible, 1603, rebound in the style of Elizabeth I's Book binder.

Master Bookbinders are qualified to undertake restoration and traditional hand binding, and use great care to make sure this process does not further damage the pages. The pages are added as groups of page signatures, which when collated are beaten flat and pressed.

The preparation of the "foundations" of the book could mean the difference between a beautiful work of art and a useless stack of paper and leather.

The sections are then hand-sewn in the style of its period into book form.

The next step is the creation of the book cover; vegetable tanned leather, dyed with natural dyes, and hand-marbled papers can be used. Finally the cover is hand-tooled in gold leaf. The design of the book cover involves such hand-tooling, where an extremely thin layer of gold is applied to the cover. Such designs can be lettering, symbols, or floral designs, depending on the nature of any particular project.

Terms and techniques

  • A leaf or folio is a single complete page, front and back, in a finished book.
    • The recto side of a leaf faces left when the leaf is held straight up from the spine (that is, an odd-numbered page).
    • The verso side of a leaf faces right when the leaf is held straight up from the spine (or an even-numbered page).
  • A bifolio is a single sheet folded in half to make two leaves. Each half of the bifolio is a folio, though the terms are often used interchangeably.
  • A section, sometimes called a gathering, or, especially if unprinted, a quire[14], is a group of bifolios nested together as a single unit.[15] In a completed book, each section is sewn through its fold. Depending of how many bifolios a section is made of, it could be called[16]:
    • duernion – two bifolios, producing four leaves;
    • ternion – three bifolios, producing six leaves;
    • quaternion – four bifolios, producing eight leaves;
    • quinternion – five bifolios, producing ten leaves;
    • sextern or sexternion[17] – six bifolios, producing twelve leaves.
  • A codex is a series of one or more sections sewn through their folds, and linked together by the sewing thread.
  • A signature is a section that contains text. Though the term signature technically refers to the signature mark, traditionally a letter or number printed on the first leaf of a section in order to facilitate collation, the distinction is rarely made today.[18]
  • Folio, quarto, and so on may also refer to the size of the finished book, based on the size of sheet that an early paper maker could conveniently turn out with a manual press. Paper sizes could vary considerably, and the finished size was also affected by how the pages were trimmed, so the sizes given are rough values only.
    • A folio volume is typically 15 in (38 cm) or more in height, the largest sort of regular book.
    • A quarto volume is typically about 9 in (23 cm) by 12 in (30 cm), roughly the size of most modern magazines. A sheet folded in quarto (also 4to or 4º) is folded in half twice at right angles to make four leaves. Also called: eight-page signature.
    • An octavo volume is typically about 5 to 6 in (13 to 15 cm) by 8 to 9 in (20 to 23 cm), the size of most modern digest magazines or trade paperbacks. A sheet folded in octavo (also 8vo or 8º) is folded in half 3 times to make 8 leaves. Also called: sixteen-page signature.
    • A sextodecimo volume is about 4+12 in (11 cm) by 6+34 in (17 cm), the size of most mass market paperbacks. A sheet folded in sextodecimo (also 16mo or 16º) is folded in half 4 times to make 16 leaves. Also called: 32-page signature.
    • Duodecimo or 12mo, 24mo, 32mo, and even 64mo are other possible sizes. Modern paper mills can produce very large sheets, so a modern printer will often print 64 or 128 pages on a single sheet.
  • A quire is a set of leaves which are stitched together. This is most often a single signature, but may be several nested signatures. The quires for a single book are arranged in order and then stitched together as a set.
  • Trimming allows the leaves of the bound book to be turned. A sheet folded in quarto will have folds at the spine and also across the top, so the top folds must be trimmed away before the leaves can be turned. A signature folded in octavo or greater may also require that the other two sides be trimmed. Deckle Edge, or Uncut books are untrimmed or incompletely trimmed, and may be of special interest to book collectors.

Spine orientation and titling conventions

The spine of the book is an important aspect in book design, especially in the cover design. When the books are stacked up or stored in a shelf, the spine is the only visible surface that contains the information about the book. In a book store the details on the spine are what initially attract the attention.
This bamboo book does not have a spine; rather, the pages fold back upon each other continually, in a zig-zag pattern.
Without a spine, the entire book can unfold into a flat sheet.

In left-to-right read languages (like English), books are bound on the left side of the cover; looking from on top, the pages increase counter-clockwise. In right-to-left languages, books are bound on the right. In both cases, this is so the end of a page coincides with where you flip.

(Some English-language books are bound on the right side of the cover. By far the most common examples are English-language translations of Japanese comic books. Since the art is laid out to be read right-to-left, this allows the art to be published "unflipped".)

In Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, literary books are written top-to-bottom, right-to-left, and thus are bound on the right, while text books are written left-to-right, top-to-bottom, and thus are bound on the left.

Early books did not have titles on their spines; rather, they were shelved flat with their spines inward, and titles written with ink along their fore edges. Modern books, however, have their titles on their spines. In languages with Chinese-influenced writing systems, this is naturally written top-to-bottom (as the characters don't change orientation, and the language is generally written top-to-bottom), but in left-to-right (and right-to-left) languages, the spine is usually too narrow for the title to fit in its natural orientation, and conventions differ. In the United States, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, titles are usually written top-to-bottom, and this practice is reflected in an industry standard;[19] when the book is placed on a table with the front cover upwards, the title is correctly oriented left-to-right on the spine. In most of continental Europe, the general convention is to print titles bottom-to-top on the spine.

See also


  1. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  2. ^ Greenfield, Jane (2002). ABC of Bookbinding. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press. pp. 79–117. ISBN 1-884718-41-8. 
  3. ^ Al-Hassani, Woodcock and Saoud, "1001 Inventions, Muslim heritage in Our World", FSTC Publishing, 2006, reprinted 2007, pp.218–219.
  4. ^ Baker, Don, "The golden age of Islamic bookbinding", Ahlan Wasahlan, (Public Relations Div., Saudi Arabian Airlines, Jeddah), 1984. pp. 13–15, at p.13
  5. ^ Historical Bindings Teaching Set
  6. ^ Parisi, Paul (February 1994). "Methods of Affixing Leaves: Options and Implications". New Library Scene 13 (1): 8–11, 15. 
  7. ^ "Binding Machine Resources Guide". Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  8. ^ "Understanding the Different Pitches of Color Coil Binding". Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  9. ^ [1] Unibind. Retrieved 15 January 2010
  10. ^ "A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology: self-cover". Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  11. ^ Such as the: Centro del bel Libro, The Camberwell College of Arts, The London College of Communication, and The North Bennet Street School
  12. ^ Such as: Columbia College Chicago, the University of Alabama, – Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
  13. ^ "Etherington & Roberts. Dictionary—folder". US Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  14. ^ "Etherington & Roberts. Dictionary—quire". US Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  15. ^ "Etherington & Roberts. Dictionary—section". US Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  16. ^ "Printing and Book Designs". National Diet Library, Japan. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  17. ^ "Etherington & Roberts. Dictionary—sexternion". US Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  18. ^ "Etherington & Roberts. Dictionary—signature". US Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  19. ^ ANSI/NISO Z39.41 – Printed Information on Spines NISO Standards – National Information Standards Organization. Section 6.

Further Reading

  • Brenni, Vito J., compiler. Bookbinding: A Guide to the Literature. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1982. ISBN 0-313-23718-2
  • Diehl, Edith. Bookbinding: Its Background and Technique. New York: Dover Publications, 1980. ISBN 0-486-24020-7. (Originally published by Rinehart & Company, 1946 in two volumes.)
  • Gross, Henry. Simplified Bookbinding. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, ISBN 0-442-22898-8
  • Ikegami, Kojiro. Japanese Bookbinding: Instructions from a Master Craftsman / adapted by Barbara Stephan. New York: Weatherhill, 1986. ISBN 0-8348-019896-5. (Originally published as Hon no tsukuriikata.)
  • Johnson, Arthur W. Manual of Bookbinding. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1978. ISBN 0-684-15332-7
  • Johnson, Arthur W. The Practical Guide to Craft Bookbinding. London: Thames and Hudson, 1985. ISBN 0-500-27360-X
  • Lewis, A.W. Basic Bookbinding. New York: Dover Publications, 1957. ISBN 0-486-20169-4. (Originally published by B.T. Batsford, 1952)
  • Smith, Keith A. Non-adhesive Binding: Books Without Paste or Glue. Fairport, NY: Sigma Foundation, 1992. ISBN 0-927159-04-X
  • Zeier, Franz. Books, Boxes and Portfolios: Binding Construction, and Design Step-by-Step. New York: Design Press, 1990. ISBN 0-8306-3483-5

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BOOKBINDING. Bindings or covers to protect written or printed matter have always followed the shapes of the material on which the writing or printing was done. Very early inscriptions on rocks or wood needed no coverings, and the earliest instances of protective covers are to be found among the smaller Assyrian tablets of about the 8th century B.C. These tablets, with cuneiform inscriptions recording sales of slaves, loans of money and small matters generally, are often enclosed in an outer shell of the same shape and impressed with a short„ title. Egyptian papyrus rolls were generally kept in roll form, bound round with papyrus tape and often sealed with seals of Nile mud; and the rolls in turn were often preserved in rectangular hollows cut in wood. The next earliest material to papyrus used for writing upon was tree bark. Bark books, still commonly used by uncultured nations, often consisting of collections of magical formulae or medical receipts, are generally rolls, folded backwards and forwards upon themselves like the sides of a concertina. At Pompeii in 1875 several diptychs were found, the wooden leaves hollowed on the inner sides, filled with blackened wax, and hinged together at the back with leather thongs. Writings were found scratched on the wax, one of them being a record of a payment to Umbricia Januaria in A.D. 55. This is the earliest known Latin manuscript. The diptychs are the prototypes of the modern book. From about the 1st to the 6th century, ornamental diptychs were made of carved ivory, and presented to great personages by the Roman consuls.

Rolls of papyrus, vellum or paper were written upon in three ways. (I) In short lines, at right angles to the length of the roll. (2) In long lines each the entire length of the roll. (3) In short lines parallel to the length of the roll, each column or page of writing having a space left on each side of it. Rolls written in the first of these ways were simply rolled up and kept in cylinders of like shape, sometimes several together, with a title tag at the end of each, in a box called a scrinium. In the case of the second form, the most obvious instances of which are to be found in the Buddhist prayer-wheels, the rolls were and are kept in circular boxes with handles through the centres so that they can revolve easily. In the third manner of arranging the manuscript the page forms show very clearly, and it is still used in the scrolls of the law in Jewish synagogues, kept on two rollers, one at each end. But this form of writing also developed a new method for its own more convenient preservation. A roll of this kind can be folded up, backwards and forwards, the bend coming in the vacant spaces between the columns of writing. When this is done it at once becomes a book, and takes the Chinese and Japanese form known as orihon - all the writing on one side of the roll or strip of paper and all the other side blank. Some books of this kind are simply guarded by two boards, but generally they are fastened together along one of the sides, which then becomes the back of the book. The earliest fastening of such books consists of a lacing with some cord or fibre run through holes stabbed right through the substance of the roll, near the edge. Now the orihon is complete, and it is the link between the roll and the book. This " stabbed " form of binding is the earliest method of keeping the leaves of a book together; it occurs in the case of a Coptic papyrus of about the 8th century found at Thebes, but it is rarely used in the case of papyrus, as the material is too brittle to retain the threads properly.

The method of folding vellum into pages seems to have been first followed about the 5th century. The sheets were folded once, and gatherings of four or more folded sheets were made, so that stitches through the fold at the back would hold all the sheets together and each leaf could be conveniently turned over. Very soon an obvious plan of fixing several of these gatherings, or quires, together was followed by the simple expedient of fastening the threads at the back round a strong strip of leather or vellum held at right angles to the line of the backs. This early plan of " sewing " books is to-day used in the case of valuable FIG. Common Prayer (London, 1678). Smooth red morocco, gold tooled with black fillets. Bound by Samuel 1Vlearne.

FIG. ,E FOR Jean Grolier. Pale brown morocco, gold tooled.

FIG. 2. - ST. LL. i ilui.i.1"S Gospels.

Red leather with repousse design, probably the work of the 7th or 8th century. The fine lines are impressed by hand, and painted blue and yellow.

FIG. 6. - LE [[Livre Des Statuts Et Ordonnances De L'Ordre Du Benvist Sainct Esprit]] (Paris, 1578).

Brown morocco, gold tooled, arms of Henry III., King of France. Bound by Nicholas Eve.

IV. 216.

FIG. 7. - Catalogue Of The Pictures At Hagley Hall.

Red niger morocco, gold tooled. Bound by Douglas Cockerell.

FIG. 8. - Walton'S Compleat Angler (1772).

Golden brown morocco, gold tooled, Bound by Miss E. M. MacColl.

FIG. I. - Winchester Domesday Book Of The 12th Century.

Dark brown morocco, blind stamped.

Plate Fig. 4. - Binding Made For James I.

Dark blue morocco, gold tooled. The red in the coat-of-arms inlaid with red morocco.

books; it is known as " flexible " work, and has never been improved upon.

As soon as the method of sewing quires together in this way became well understood, it was found that the projecting bands at the back needed protection, so that when all the quires were joined together and, so far, finished, strips of leather were fastened all over the back. But it was also found that vellum leaves were apt to curl strongly, and to counteract this tendency strong wooden boards were put on each side. The loose ends of the bands were fastened to the boards, which hinged upon them, and the protecting strip of leather at the back was drawn over the boards far enough to cover the hinge. So we get the medieval " half-binding " which shows the strip of leather over the back of the book, projecting for a short way over the boards, the rest of which is left uncovered. The boards were usually kept closed by means of clasps in front.

The leather strip soon developed, and covered the whole of the boards, " whole " binding as it is called, and it was quickly found that these fine flat pieces of leather offered a splendid field for artistic decoration.

The first ornamentation on leather bindings was probably made by means of impressions from small metal points or lines, pressed upon the leather. This in time led to the purposeful cutting of small decorative stamps to be used in the same way. It is considered that English binders excelled in this art of " blind"' stamping, that is, without the use of gold leaf. Most of the stamps were cut intaglio, so that their impressions are in cameo form. Such bindings were made to perfection during the 12th and 13th centuries at Durham, Oxford, Cambridge, London and other places. One of the most charming examples left is the binding of the Winchester Domesday Book of the 12th century (Plate, fig. 1), now belonging to the Society of Antiquaries of London.

From about the 7th to the 16th century illuminated manuscripts were held in the greatest esteem. Among them can be found not only exquisite calligraphy but exquisite miniature painting. Moreover, the gorgeousness of the illuminations inside suggested gorgeousness of the outside coverings, so we find splendid work in metals with jewels, enamels and carved ivory, dating from the 7th-century Gospels of Theodolinda at Monza, the Irish cumdach of the Stowe Missal, the Lindau Gospels now in America, and the Gospels of Charlemagne in the Victoria and Albert Museum at South Kensington, to the magnificent bindings of 14th-century Limoges enamel in the British Museum. Such English bindings of this kind - intrinsically precious - as may have existed have all disappeared, - most likely they were melted up by Henry VIII. or Edward VI.; but at Stonyhurst there is a book known as St Cuthbert's Gospels, which is bound in red leather with a repousse design upon it, and is probably the work of the 7th or 8th century (Plate, fig. 2).

When printing was introduced into Europe about the middle of the i 5th century, there was very soon a reaction against the large, beautiful and valuable illuminated MSS. and their equally precious covers. Printing brought small books, cheap books, ugly books, generally bound in calf, goatskin or sheepskin, and ornamented with large panel stamps in blind. But a new art came into birth very shortly, namely the art of gold tooling on leather, which in capable hands is almost a great art, and specimens of the work of the few great masters that have practised it are now much sought after and likely to increase in estimation and value. All this, as usual, brings a school of skilled faussaires into the field, and already the collector of fine bindings must be wary, or he may easily give thousands of pounds for forged or made-up objects that are worth but little.

In the matter of leather bindings with gold tooling, an art which was probably brought to Venice from the East, the finest examples are to be found in late 15th-century Italian work. The art quickly spread, and Thomas Berthelet, Royal Binder to Henry VIII., seems to have been the first binder who practised it in England. Berthelet's work is strongly Italian in feeling, especially at first, and it is likely that he was taught the new art by an Italian master; he worked until about 1558.

During the late 15th and the 16th century in England, numbers of fine printed books were bound in velvet and satin, sometimes set with enamels, sometimes embroidered. These books, having strong threads of metal freely used upon them, have lasted much better than would be expected, and instances of such work made for Henry VIII. are still in excellent condition, and most decorative.

The fashion of ornamenting English royal books with heraldic designs, which is considered to have begun in the reign of Edward IV., has continued without break. The same fashion in books belonging to private owners was first followed during the later Tudor period, and then numbers were made, and have been, more or less, ever since.

During the whole Tudor period several small bindings of gold ornamented with enamels were made. Some of these still exist, and they are charming little jewels. They were always provided with a ring at the top, no doubt for attaching to the girdle.

Aldus Manutius, the great Venetian printer, had several of his books charmingly bound in dark morocco with " Aldine " knot leaves and small dolphins both in blind and gold tooling; and Giunta, a Florentine printer, had his books bound in a similar way but without the dolphins. Many early Venetian bindings have recessed panels, made by the use of double boards, the upper of which is pierced, finished in true oriental fashion.

Jean Grolier, viscount d'Aguisy, treasurer of France in 1545, was a great collector of fine books, most of which were bound for himself, and bear upon them his legend, Portio mea domine sit in terra viventium, and also his name, Io Grolierii et Amicorum (Plate, fig. 3). Tommaso Maioli, an Italian collector of about the same time, used the same form of legend. Books bound for him are curiously marked with atoms of gold remaining in the irregularities of the leather.

Demetrio Canevari, physician to Pope Urban VIII., had his books bound in dark green or deep red morocco, and upon them is a fine cameo stamp with a design of Apollo driving a chariot with one white horse and one black horse towards a mountain on which is a silver Pegasus. The stamp was coloured, but in most cases the colour has now worn off. Round the stamp is the legend Opos2e Kai Mil AOZIS2/.

The Italian bindings which were made for popes and cardinals are always of much interest and often of high merit, but as a rule later Italian bindings are disappointing.

Geoffrey Tory, printer and engraver to Francis I. of France, designed some fine bindings, some for himself and quite possibly some for Jean Grolier.

For Henry II. of France much highly decorative work in binding was done, richly gilded and coloured. These bindings have upon them the king's initials, the initials of his queen, Catherine de' Medici, and the emblems of crescents and bows. Henry's device was a crescent with the legend, Donee impleat totum orbem. Bindings of similar style were made for Diane de Poitiers, duchesse de Valentinois, with her initials and the same devices of crescents and bows. They are always fine work.

German bindings are mostly in pigskin, finely stamped in blind. Several are, however, in calf. Gilding, when it exists, is generally bad.

In England during the 17th century much fine work was done in binding, most of it in morocco, but Henry, prince of Wales, always had his books bound in calf. The Jacobean style is heraldic, with semis of small stamps and heavy corners, but James I. has left some very fine bindings in another style (Plate, fig. 4), very possibly done for him by John Gibson, who bound the royal books while James was king of Scotland only. During the reign of Charles I. Nicholas Ferrar founded his curious establishment at Little Gidding, and there his niece Mary Collet and her sisters set up a bindery. They made large scrap-books, harmonies of the Gospels and other parts of the Bible, with illustrations, and bound them magnificently in velvet stamped in gold and silver. They were taught by a binder who worked for John and Thomas Buck, printers to the university of Cambridge, and the Little Gidding stamps are often identical with Buck's.

Samuel Mearne (d. 1683) was royal binder to Charles II., and invented the cottage style of decoration, a style which has lasted till the present day; the Bible on which Edward VII. took the coronation oath was ornamented in that way. An inner rectangle is run parallel to the edges of the book, and the upper and lower lines are broken outwards into the outline of a gable roof. Mearne's work as a binder (Plate, fig. 5) is of the highest merit. Many of his books have their fore-edge painted in such a way that the work is invisible when the book is shut, and only shows when the edges are fanned out.

In France 16thand 17th-century binding is distinguished by the work of such masters as Nicholas Eve, who bound the beautiful Livre des Statuts et Ordonnances de l'ordre du Benvist Sainct Esprit for Henry III. (Plate, fig. 6); Clovis Eve, who is credited with the invention of the style known as " fanfare," a delicate tracery over the boards of a book, filled out with spirals of leafy stems; and Le Gascon, who invented the dotted work which has been used more or less ever since. Le Gascon caused his small gilding tools - curves and arabesques - to be scored across, so that when impressions were made from them a dotted line showed instead of a right line. Florimond Badier worked in a style very similar to that of Le Gascon and sometimes signed his work, which Le Gascon never did. Le Gascon had many imitators, the best and closest being Poncyn and Magnus, Dutch binders who worked at Amsterdam in the 17th century, and his style has been continuously followed to the present day.

The bindings of Padeloup le Jeune often have small tickets with his name upon them; they usually have borders of lacelike gold tooling known as "dentelle " and are often inlaid. He belonged to a family of binders, all of whom were excellent workmen, and lived in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Deromes were another of the great French families of binders; the most celebrated was Nicholas Denis, called " Le Jeune," born in 1731. He used dentelle borders resembling those of Padeloup, but with little birds interspersed among the arabesques - " dentelles a l'oiseau." Among the many French binders of the 18th century who useddelicate inlays of coloured leathers, Jean Charles le Monnier was perhaps the most skilled. He often signed his bindings in small capitals impressed in gold somewhere about the inlaid part.

Eliot and Chapman bound the library of Robert Harley, earl of Oxford, about the middle of the 18th century. The bindings are in morocco, with broad, richly gold-tooled borders, and usually a diamond-shaped centre-piece. This is known as the Harleian style.

Thomas Hollis had his books bound in fine red morocco, ornamented with small, well-cut stamps engraved by Thomas Pingo, the medallist. These stamps comprise a cap of liberty, a figure of liberty, a figure of Britannia and several smaller ones.

Towards the end of the 18th century, when binding in England was decoratively at a low level, Roger Payne, a native of Windsor, came to London and set up as a bookbinder. He was a splendid workman, and introduced richly gold-tooled corner-pieces, ornamental " doublures " or inside linings, and also invented the graining of morocco, graining it, however, in one direction only, known as the " straight grain." It is said that Payne cut his own binding tools of iron; they certainly are exquisitely made, and in many of his bindings he has put a written description of loving work he has done upon them. Payne was, unfortunately, a drunkard, but he has in spite of this rendered an immortal service to the art of bookbinding in England.

In 1785 John Edwards of Halifax patented a method of making vellum transparent, and using it as a covering over delicate paintings. He also painted pictures on the fore-edges of many of his books in the same manner as that followed by Samuel Mearne in the 17th century, so that they did not show until the book was opened. John Whitaker used calf for his bindings, but ornamented the calf in a curious way with strong acids and with prints from engraved metal plates. Both Edwards and Whitaker liked classical borders and ornaments, and their bindings are in consequence often known as " Etruscan." The main styles used in England at the beginning of the 19th century were nothing more than distant imitations of Roger Payne. Kalthoeber, Staggemeier, Walther and Hering were all disciples of this master, but Charles Lewis worked on original lines. He developed arabesques and paid particular attention to richly gold-tooled doublures. He also used gold end papers, and the bands at the back of his bindings are often double and always broad, flat and gold-tooled. His workmanship is excellent; he worked largely for Thomas Grenville and other great collectors.

French binding of the 19th century is remarkable for wonderful technical excellence in every part. Among the most skilled of these admirable workmen and artists may be particularly mentioned Thouvenin, Bauzonnet, Lortic, Niedree, Cape and Duru, and fortunately they generally sign their work in small gold lettering either on the back of their bindings or inside along the lower edge.

Recent years have witnessed a marked revival of interest in the art of bookbinding, but modern binders have two serious difficulties to contend with. One of these is the prevalence of bad paper, overladen with clay and with wood pulp, and also the fact that many of the modern leathers are badly prepared and dangerously treated with sulphuric acid, which in time inevitably rots the fibre. The Society of Arts has appointed committees of experts to report upon both of these evils, and the published accounts of both inquiries are of much value, and it is to be hoped that the results may be beneficial. Concurrently with the revival of the artistic side of the subject, there has also arisen a remarkable development in the technical processes, owing to the invention of ingenious and delicate machinery which is capable of executing the work which had hitherto been always laboriously done by hand. The processes of folding the printed sheets, and sewing them together on bands, rounding the backs when sewn, and of making the outer cases, covering them with cloth or leather and stamping designs upon them, can now all be efficiently executed by means of machines. The saving in time and labour thus effected is very great, although it must be said that the old methods of carrying out the process of sewing and rounding the backs of books by hand labour were safer and stronger, as well as being much less liable to bruise and injure the paper. These processes unfortunately are not only slow but also necessitate highly skilled labour. Already the larger trade binders utilize machines extensively and advantageously, but exclusively high-class trade binders do not as yet materially depart from the older methods. Private binders have naturally no reason to use machines at all. Fine and delicate examples of large metal blocks or dies have been very successfully used for the decoration of covers measuring about II 2 by 8 in.

Besides the large trade binders working mainly by the help of machinery, and producing a great quantity of bound work which is not expected to last long, there also exists in London, Paris, New York and other large cities, a small class of art binders who work throughout upon the principles which have been continuously in use for first-class work ever since about the 5th century. The initial impetus to this school can be traced to William Morris, who himself made some beautiful designs for bookbindings, to be executed both in gold and in blind. Although he probably did not fully appreciate either the peculiar limitations or the possibilities of the art of gold-tooling on leather, nevertheless his genius guided him truly as to the spirit in which the designs should be conceived. The revived art soon reached its first stage of development under the guidance of Mr T. J. Cobden-Sanderson, who may fairly be considered as the founder of the modern school of design for gold-tooling on book-covers, the pre-eminence and individuality of his work in this direction being proved by the number of his imitators. Among the most successful of his pupils is Mr Douglas Cockerell, whose work (Plate, fig. 7) is distinguished by a marked originality of treatment, while it shows a scholarly appreciation of ancient methods. Mr Alfred de Sauty has succeeded in developing a new and admirable style in inlaid leathers, combined with delicate pointille work. A number of women artists, both in England and in America, have already discovered in bookbinding a fitting and lucrative field for their energies. One, Miss Sarah Prideaux, is not only skilled and original in her own work, but she has also given us much valuable literature on her subject. Miss E. M. MacCoil may claim to be the inventor of the small curved gold line produced by means of a tiny wheel, for though the possibility of producing such a line in blind was known for a long time, it was rarely used. The graceful curves and lines found on Miss MacColl's work have been designed for her by her brother, Mr D. S. MacColl (Plate, fig. 8). Miss Joanna Birkenruth recalls the highly decorative medieval binding by her use of jewels cut en cabochon, but set in morocco instead of gold or silver, and there are many others who are working well and earnestly at art binding with delicate skill and taste. Outside full advantage of them can only be taken where there is a large edition of one book.

Book-sewing machines (fig. 9) are of two kinds: one sews the books on bands, either flat or round, and the other supplies the place of bands by a kind of chain stitch. The band-working machines bring the return thread back by pulling it through the upper and lower edges of the back of each section, thereby to some extent weakening each section, but at the same time this weakening can be to some extent neutralized by careful headbanding. The other system, where the band is replaced by a chain stitch, brings back the return thread inside each section; the objection to this is that there is a flattening out of the back of the book, which becomes a difficulty when the subsequent operation of covering the book begins. The sections are sewn continuously in a long line, and are afterwards cut apart. The threads catch into hooked needles and are drawn through holes made by piercers set to a certain distance; a shuttle like that used in an ordinary sewing-machine FIG. 9. - Book-sewing Machine.

the inner circle of professional bookbinders there has grown up a new profession, that of the designer for pictorial bookcovers, especially those intended to be shown in colour on cloth or paper. Among notable designers may be mentioned Lewis F. Day, A. A. Turbayne, Walter Crane and Charles Ricketts.


The principal types of machine for commercial binding are described below. They are almost all due to American or German ingenuity. It may be noted that, while books sewn by hand on bands have the loose ends of the bands actually drawn through the boards and strongly fastened to them through their substance, no machines for covering sewn books will do this so effectively. All they will do as a rule is to paste down to the inner surfaces of the boards the loose ends of the tapes on which the sewing is done. So that, although it may last a long time if not much used, a " cased " book is likely to slip out of its cover as soon as the paste fixing it perishes. Modern bookbinding machines of all kinds are usually driven by power, and in consequence of the necessary setting of most of them accurately to some particular size of book, they are not suitable for binding books of different sizes; the sews the inner thread backwards and forwards. Each section is placed upon a sort of metal saddle by the hand of the operator, one after the other, the machine working continuously unless the action is cut off or controlled by a foot-lever or pedal. This machine is much quieter to work, and although the inner threads are too bulky to be quite satisfactory, this is not a serious matter like the cutting of the upper and lower edges of the back already described, and, moreover, is probably capable of being either improved away or so minimized that it will become of small importance.

The Martini book-sewing machine, which sews books on tape without cutting up head or tail - a most important improvement - and also forms complete Kettle stitches, will sew books of any size up to 18 in. The needles are straight, and the necessary adjustments for various sizes of books are very simple.

The machine for rounding and backing sewn books requires a rather elaborate and very careful setting of several parts to the exact requirement of each size to be worked. The sewn book with the back glued is caught in a clip and forced between two tight rollers, the result being that the hitherto flat back is automatically turned into a rounded shape (figs. to and i The book is then drawn forward, by a continuance of the onward movement, until it reaches the rounding plate, which is a block of steel with a polished groove a little larger than the size required. This rounding plate moves within a small arc by means of heavy counter-weights, and on the back of the book being strongly pressed against it, it receives the permanent form of the groove cut in it, at the same time a strong grip on each side of the book causes the ledge to rise up along each outer edge of the back. This ledge it is which enables the boards to be subsequently fixed in such a way as to hinge on a line outside the actual and natural boundary of the book. Before the discovery of the possibility of producing this ledge, the boards of books hinged upon a line coincident with the inner edges of the back, the result of which was that when the book was opened there was an invariable tendency to open and pull away the few outer sections of the paper or vellum itself - a destructive and disagreeable peculiarity. These machines are capable, after they are properly set, of rounding and backing about 750 volumes of the same size within an hour.

The machine for making cases, or "case" covers (fig. 12), for books is large and complicated, but beautifully effective. It contains altogether over fifty springs, some of which are very small, like watch FIG. io. - Section of back of FIG. I I. - Section of same book after book sewn on bands. it has passed through the machine for rounding and backing.

fittings, while others are large and powerful. The machine is fed with pieces of cardboard cut exactly to the sizes of the required boards, other pieces cut to the size of the back, and a long roll of the cloth with which the cases are to be covered, and when set working the roll of cloth is gradually unwound and glued by contact with a roller, which is drawn along until it reaches a point where the two boards are ingeniously dropped upon it one by one, then on again to where a long arm swings backwards and forwards, at each movement picking up a piece of cardboard for the back and placing it gently exactly upon the glued bed left for it between the two boards already fixed. Next, as the cloth passes along, it comes under the sharp influence of two rectangular gouges which cut out the corners, the remaining side pieces being gradually but irresistibly turned up by hollow raisers and flattened down by small rollers, a very delicate piece of machinery finishing the corners in a masterly way. Then, lastly, an arrangement of raisers and rollers acting at right angles to the last mentioned turn over and press out the remaining pieces of cloth. Of course each piece of cloth is cut across at the proper point before the turning up begins, This machine is capable of producing 1200 cases in an hour of any size that the machine will take.

The Smyth casing-in machine (fig. 13) pastes the sides of a book as required and then attaches the cover over all. Cleverly arranged rollers catch the book, and by a carefully regulated pressure fix the cover in the proper position. There is a " jointing-in " device which FIG. 13. - Smyth Casing-in Machine. Scale 1 :25.

A. Cases. I. 1st position.

B. Side of Case Hopper. 2.2nd position.

C. Paste box. 3.3rd position and finished book.

D. Head Clamp Rod. When in 2nd position the book E. Head Clamp. drops to level of paste box.

at a critical moment forces the joints in the cover into the joints in the book. It will work books from 4 to 22 in. in length and from to 3 in. in thickness, and can cover from 10 to 15 books per minute.

Here may also be mentioned the Sheridan wrappering machine, which covers magazines and pamphlets ranging from 5 to 12 in. in length at the rate of 40 a minute.

Wiring is a cheap method of keeping together thin parts of periodicals or tracts. The machine that executes it is simple in construction 4)4#)1' I '- -_. Ui,l E'I' /?,??% I FIG. 12. - Case-making Machine.

and use. It drives a short wire pin, bent at right angles at each end, through the folds of the sections of a book or through the entire Wiring. thickness, sideways, after the manner of stabbing. The W projecting ends, when through the substance of the paper, are bent over and flattened so as to grip firmly. The metal used for these pins was at first very liable to rust, and consequently did much damage to the paper near it, but this defect has now been largely remedied. At the same time the principle of using hard metal wire instead of flexible hempen thread is essentially vicious, and should only be used as a temporary expedient for publications of little value.

The machines (fig. 14) now used for blocking designs upon bookcovers are practically the same as have been employed for many years. Several small improvements have been introduced as to better inking of the rollers for colour work, and better heating of the blocks used for gold work. A blocking press is now, in consequence of the size of many of the blocks, a large and cumbersome machine. The block itself is fixed firmly in a strong metal bed, and a movable table in front of it is fitted with gauges which keep the cover exactly in its right place. For gold FIG. 14. - Blocking Machine.

work the block is kept at the proper temperature by means of gas jets, and the cover being properly overlaid with gold leaf is passed, On its table, directly under the block and then pressed steadily upwards against it, lowered, drawn out, and the superfluous gold rubbed off. The same process is followed in the case of colour blocks, only now the block need not be heated, but is inked by means of a roller for each impression. A separate printing is necessary for each colour. These printings always require great care on the part of the operator, who has to watch the working of each pull very carefully, and if any readjustment is wanted, to make it at once, so that it is difficult to estimate at what rate they can be made. In the matter of gold blocking there must be great care exercised in the matter of the heat of the block, for if it is too hot the gold will adhere where it is not wanted, and if too cool it will not adhere where it is required. Great nicety is also necessary as to the exact pressure required as well as the precise number of moments during which the block should be in contact with the gold, which is fastened to the cloth or leather by means of the solidification by heat of egg albumen. Blocking presses are mainly of German make, but Scottish and English presses are also largely used.


See the Anglo-Saxon Review (1899-1901); C. J. Davenport, Royal English Bookbindings (1896), Cantor Lectures on Bookbinding (1898), English Embroidered Bookbindings (1899), Life of Thomas Berthelet (1901), Life of Samuel Mearne (1906); W. Y. Fletcher, English Bookbindings in the British Museum (1895), Foreign Bookbindings in the British Museum (1896); L. Gruel, Manuel de l'amateur de relieures (1887); H. P. Horne, The Binding of Books (1894); S. T. Prideaux, Historical Sketch of Bookbinding (1893); E. Thoinan, Les Relieurs francais (1893); O. Uzanne, La Relieure moderne (1887); H. B. Wheatley, Remarkable Bindings in the British Museum (1889); J. W. Zaehnsdorf, The Art of Bookbinding (1880). (C. D.)

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

<< To Contents Chapters: Intro - Why? - Perfect - Japanese side stitch - Saddle stitch - Long stitch - Equipment - Materials

If books had been invented after the computer, they would have been considered a big breakthrough. Books have several hundred simultaneous paper-thin, flexible displays. They boot instantly. They run on very low power at a very low cost.

Prof. Joseph M. Jacobson, MIT Media Lab, quoted in the New York Times, Apr 8, 1988, page B2.

Books tend to be bound in factories these days, but the craft of binding books by hand has been practiced without interruption since the second century AD. There are many good reasons to learn these techniques, from preserving information to creating works of art in bound form. Whether the content is centuries old or yet to be created, whether the pages were mass-produced or written longhand, and whether the printing was done with a laser printer, movable type, or not at all, books have the same benefits: they turn a collection of loose, vulnerable pages into a compact, accessible package that's well-protected and easy to store.

Table of contents

Historical bookbinding
  1. Motivation
  2. Content of self-bound books
    • Printing free material
      • Wikibooks and Wikipedia
      • Other sources
    • Preservation & restoration of existing books
    • Blank books: notebooks, photo albums, scrap books, planners, sketch books, etc.
    • Self-publishing
  3. Types of binding
  4. Equipment
  5. Materials
    • paper
      • pH
      • grain
    • adhesive
      • contact/rubber cement
      • PVA homopolymer vs. copolymer
    • spine
      • super
      • Thread
      • stiff materials
    • cover
      • letter size card stock
      • Museum board
      • clear adhesive vinyl
        damaging effect on toner
      • re-used materials
      • binder's board & buckram

See also


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