When dry, the ends of the bands are cut off with a bevel, and a little piece of the boards from the corners nearest the back is also taken off on the bevel, that there may not be a sharp point to fret through the leather when the book is opened. This is also necessary, so that the head-band may be properly set. A sharp knife should be inserted in the hollow, and should separate it from the back at head and tail on each side so far as to allow the leather to be turned in. Morocco may have the back glued, as it will not show through, and will facilitate the adhesion of the leather.

Flexible Work

This is not lined up. The leather is stuck directly upon the book; the head-band is set as before explained, and held tight by glueing a piece of fine linen against it, and when quite dry, the overplus is cut away, and the back is made quite smooth. The bands are knocked up gently with a blunt chisel to make them perfectly straight, being first damped and made soft with a little paste to facilitate the working and prevent the thread from being cut Any holes caused by sawing-in, in previous binding, must be filled up with a piece of frayed cord, pasted. Any holes thus filled up must be made quite smooth when dry, as the least unevenness will show when the book is covered.

In "throw up" backs, or in "flexible not to show," a piece of thin linen or stuff called "mull" (muslin) is glued on the back first, and one piece of paper on the top. For the hollow, 3,4, or even 5 pieces are stuck one on the other, so that it may be firm; whilst the book itself will be as if it had a flexible back. The bands, if any, are then fastened on, and the corners of the boards are cut off. It is then ready for covering. "Mock flexible" has generally one piece of paper glued on the back, and when marked-up, the bands are put on as before, and the book is covered.


Books are covered according to the fancy of the binder or customer. The materials used at the present day are - leather of all sorts, parchment or vellum, bookbinders' cloth, velvet, needle - work, and imitation leather, of which various kinds are manufactured, such as leatherette and feltine.

Each kind requires a different manner of working or manipulation. For instance, a wet calf book must not be covered in the same manner as a velvet one.

Under the class of leather, come moroccos of all kinds; russia; calf, coloured, smooth and imitation; roan, sheep and imitation morocco.

The morocco cover, indeed any leather cover, is cut out by laying the skin out on a flat board, and having chosen the part or piece of the skin to be used, the book is laid on it and the skin is cut with a sharp knife round the book, leaving a space of about 3/4 in. for an 8vo, and more or less according to the size of the book and thickness of board, for turning in. The morocco cover should now have marked upon it with a pencil, the exact size of the book itself, by laying the book on the cover, and running the point of a blacklead pencil all round it. The leather must then be "pared," or shaved round the edges, using the pencil marks as a guide. This paring process is not difficult, especially if a French knife is used, such as may be purchased at Eadie and Son's, the chief point being that a very sharp edge is to be kept on the knife, and that the "burr" is on the cutting edge. The knife is held in the right hand, placing 2 fingers on the top with the thumb underneath. The leather must be placed on a piece of marble, lithographic stone, or thick glass, and held tightly strained between finger and thumb of the left hand. Then, by a series of pushes from the right hand, the knife takes off more or less, according to the angle given.

The burr causes the knife to enter the leather; if the burr is turned up, the knife will either not cut or run off. If the knife is held too much at an angle, it will go right through the leather. The leather should from time to time be examined, by turning it over, to see if any unevenness appears, for every cut will show. Special attention should be given to where the edges of the board go. The turning in at the head and tail should be pared off as thin as possible, as there will be twice as much thickness of leather on the back where turned in, the object of this care being that it must not be seen. The morocco cover should now be wetted well, and grained up by the hand or a flat piece of cork. This is done by gently curling it up in all directions; and when the grain has been brought up properly and sufficiently, the leather should be pasted on the flesh side with thin paste, and hung up to dry. Should the leather be "straight grain," it must only be creased in the one direction of the grain, or if it is required to imitate any old book that has no grain, the leather should be wetted as much as possible, and the whole of the grain rubbed out by using a rolling-pin with even pressure.

Russia and calf require no setting up of the grain, but russia must be well rolled out with the rolling-pin.

When the cover (morocco) is dry, it is well pasted, and the squares of the book are set, so that each side has its proper portion of board projecting. The book is then laid down evenly on the cover, which must be gently drawn on; the back is drawn tight by placing the book on its foredge and pulling the skin well down on the back. The sides are next drawn tight, and the bands are pinched well up with a pair of "band nippers." The 4 corners of the leather are cut off with a sharp knife in a slanting direction, a little paste is put on the cut edge, and the operation of turning in may be commenced.

The book is held on its edge, either head or tail, with a small piece of paper put close to the head-band to prevent any paste soiling the edge or head-band, and with the boards extended, the hollow is pulled a little away from the back, and the leather is neatly tucked in. The leather is next tightly brought over the boards and well rubbed down, both on the edge and inside, with a folding-stick, but on no account must the outside be rubbed, or the grain will be taken away. The foredge is treated in like manner, by tucking the corners in for strength. The head-band is set by tying a piece of thread round the book, between the back and the boards, in the slots cut out from the corners of the boards; this thread must be tied in a knot. The book being held in the left hand, resting on its end, the leather is drawn with a pointed folding-stick, as it were, towards the foredge, and flattened on the top of the head-band. When this is done properly, it should be exactly even with the boards, and yet cover the head-band, leaving that part of the head-band at right angles with the edge exposed. A little practice will indicate what amount of leather is to be left out from the turning in, so that the head-band can be neatly covered.