Bookbinding is the art of securing together a number of separate leaves into one book, and is of very great antiquity, the invention being generally attributed to one of the kings of Pergamus, to whom we are also said to be indebted for the invention of parchment Bookbinding, properly so called, includes the binding of all printed books; while vellum-binding is the term applied to the binding of every description of account books. The two branches are quite distinct, and seldom, if ever, successfully practised by the same individual; we shall therefore describe each branch separately, beginning with bookbinding. Although the limits of this work preclude the possibility of entering minutely into all the practical details of the subject, yet it is hoped that the following account will be found to contain a clear and connected view of the nature of each process, and of the tools employed, with a brief notice of some of the more striking attempts at improvement.
In binding printed books, they are generally received by the binder in sheets, which are folded into quartos, octavos, duodecimos, etc, as the case may be. This process is assisted by certain catch-marks or signatures, printed at the bottom of each sheet, by attending to which, and keeping the folio of one page on the folio of another, and at the same time preserving the necessary correspondence between the foot of each page, the work will be properly folded, and an uniformity of margin preserved throughout the work. The book having been folded and pressed, is next beaten on a large smooth stone, with a cast iron bell-shaped hammer, weighing from twelve to fourteen pounds. This beating requires great care and skilfulness on the part of the workman, and various attempts have been made, at different periods, to supersede the process, by the use of hydraulic and other powerful presses; these, however, have proved unfit for the purpose, generally creasing and disfiguring the work. Mr. Burn, of Hatton Garden, has, however, succeeded in rendering books extremely compact and solid, by passing the sheets, when folded, between a pair of powerful rollers; and this method will eventually supersede the old laborious and imperfect one of hammer-beating.
The apparatus of Mr. Burn consists of two iron cylinders, about 12 inches in diameter, adjustable in the usual manner by screws, and worked by manual labour applied to one or two cranked handles. A boy sits in front of the press, who gathers the sheets into packets by placing two or more upon a piece of tin plate of the same size, and covering them with another piece, and thus proceeding, by alternating tin plates and bundles of sheets, till a sufficient quantity have been put together, which will depend greatly on the thickness and hardness of the paper, etc. The packet so formed is then passed between the rollers, and is received by the man who turns the winch, and who has time to lay the sheets on one side, and hand over the tin plates, by the time that the boy has prepared a second packet. The time occupied in this process is about one-twentieth of that requisite for beating. It is not merely a saving of time, however, that is gained by using the rollingpress, for the paper is rendered much smoother, and the compression of the book is one-sixth greater than could have been obtained by beating. The Society of Arts presented Mr. Burn with their silver Vulcan medal for his invention, which is now in very general and extensive use.
Newly-printed works will not admit of beating or rolling, and books which are only to be boarded, do not require more than a good pressing. After beating or rolling, the book is collated, and the plates (if any) put in their respective places. It is then put in the standing press, and after remaining there a short time, is taken out, and the waste leaves added at the beginning and end. The book is then taken up between the extended fingers of each hand, and the back and head knocked up nice and square"; one side of the book is then laid upon a pressing board as large as the book itself, beyond which the back must project about half an inch; a second pressing-board, corresponding in size and position with the former, is placed upon the upper side, and the board being firmly grasped with the left hand, the book is lowered into the cutting-press, which is screwed up tight, and a certain number of grooves, according to the size of the book, are cut in the back with a tenon saw, for the reception of the cords on which the book is to be sewed. After sawing, the sections are parted by passing a folding stick up and down between them.
The book is then taken to the sewing-press, of which the accompanying is a representation.
It consists of a stout flat board a a, and two upright screws b b, with a long opening between them. A top rail c rises and falls upon the screws by means of two nuts d d. Several cords, suited in size and number to the kind of books which are to be sewn, are attached to the rail c, and set to correspond with the sawed grooves in the back of the book; the cords being carried down through the aperture in the bed of the press, are fastened underneath by means of brass keys, of which e is a representation. The number and distances of the bands are quite arbitrary, and are disposed according to the fancy of the workman; it may, however, in general, be regulated as follows: 32mos. three bands; 18mos., 12mos, 8vos., and two-leaf 4tos. four bands; royal 8vos. and whole-sheet 4tos. five bands; and folios from five to seven bands.
In sawing the back two extra grooves are made, one at each end of the book, for the catch or kettle-stitch. The book being placed with the back towards the sewer, and the title uppermost, the flyleaf or end paper is first laid upon the press and sewed to the cords, by passing the needle in the first right-hand groove or catch-stitch mark, with the right hand; the left hand being kept in the middle of the section, receives the needle and draws it through, leaving two or three inches of the thread undrawn. The needle is then returned out on the head side of the band, received by the right hand, and passed through on the other side of the band, by which the thread is conducted round each band in succession. The needle being carried along the inside of the section, and led round each band in this manner, is at last brought out of the last groove or left hand catch-stitch mark. The first section of the book is then taken and sewed to the bands in the same way; when the needle comes out at the catch-stitch mark, over the end of the thread left out of the fly-leaf in the first sewing, the thread is tied to it in a knot.