The book is now ready for covering. The leather may be calf, or morocco, or Russia; but, whatever the leather, it is carefully chosen, so as to be free from blemishes, and of the proper size; being placed on a flat board, with the rough side up. the edges are pared thin with a sharp knife, so that, in turning them over the board, they may not bulge out into unsightly projections. The leather is then damped, and covered with paste, and applied to the book, a few simple tools being used to smooth it down and press it into shape, to square the edges, and to raise the bands. The leather is neatly turned in at the top and bottom, and then folded over the headbands. When the sides and edges are nicely smoothed and squared, the bands at the back are raised, and the spaces between them depressed, by working them with a bone paper-knife, and during all these mani pulations the man every now and then moistens the leather with it bit of wet sponge. When the leather cover is properly arranged, the marbled or other lining papers are inserted, and the book. is put into the standing-press for a few hours, after which it is ready for tooling. But in some descriptions of binding, a good effect is produced by having distinct lettering pieces, of a different color from the general binding. These are cut out separately, thinned at the edges, and attached by means of glue. The blind-tool ornaments of the book are put on by means of pieces of brass, cut into the desired pattern and shape, and mounted in handles as below.
If a long line, plain or figured, is to run up the sides of the book, it is cut upon the periphery of a disc of brass, moving upon a central axis, and furnished with a long handle which the man rests against his right shoulder, holding the tool near the axis; in this way, he can roll the tool the whole length of each side of the cover. All these tools are heated at a gas-stove, a great improvement on the unwholesome charcoal brazier formerly in use. The small tools are pressed down with an equable force in those parts of the cover where they are wanted. Gilt tooling is produced by covering the parts to be gilt first with glaire and then with goldleaf, and then pressing the hot tool upon the part thus covered. On wiping off the gold with a rag. that part of the gold only is attached which Caine in contact with the hot tool. Lettering is performed commonly by a set of lettering tools, each letter of the alphabet being cut out in brass, and mounted in a wooden handle. Letters, numerals, A:c., are kept of different sizes; but for words in common use, such as ” Holy Bible,” “Atlas,” &c., tools are kept, with the whole word or words cut in them. When the ornaments, lettering. &c., are complete, the book is finished off with polishing-irons, of various shapes and sIzes. one of which is shown. These are heated, and passed over the leather, and also over the marble lining-paper, &c.
We have thus gone over the principal processes concerned in binding a book. A few years ago, a method of binding by means of caoutchouc cement was patented, by which the operations of sawing-in, sewing, rounding, and the use of glue are dispensed with, and, instead of leaves attached by thread stitches at two or three points, they are agglutinated securely along their whole length. This plan is admirably adapted for binding engravings, maps, manuscripts, and collections of letters, which have little or no margin left at the back for the stitching. The plan has been thus described : “After folding the sheets in double leaves, the workman places them vertically, with the edges forming the back of the book downwards, in a concave mould, of such rounded or semi-cylindrical shape as the back of the book is intended to have. The mould for this purpose consists of two parallel upright boards, set apart upon a cradle frame, each having a portion or portions cut out vertically, somewhat deeper than the breadth of the book, but of a width nearly equal to its thickness ‘before it is pressed. One of these upright boards may be slidden nearer to or further from its fellow, by means of a guide-bar, attached to the sole of the cradle. Thus the distance between the concave bed of the two vertical slots in which the book rests may be varied according to the length of the leaves. In all cases, about one- fourth of the length of the book at each end projects beyond the board, so that one-half rests between the two boards. Two or three packtbreads are now bound round the leaves thus arranged, from top to bottom of the page, in different lines, in order to preserve the form given to the back of the mould in which it lay. The book is next subjected to the action of the press. The back, which is left projecting very slightly in front, is then smeared carefully by the fingers with a solution of caoutchonc, whereby each paper-edge receives a small portion of the cement. In a few hours, it is sufficiently dry to take another coat of a somewhat stronger caoutchonc solution. In forty-eight hours, four applications of the caoutchouc may be made and dried. The back and the adjoining part of the sides are next covered with the usual band or fillet of cloth. glued on with caoutchouc , after which the book is ready to have the boards attached, and to be covered with leather or parchment, as may be desired.”
Blank-book binding is a distinct branch of the trade, and is applied to the binding of every description of account-book. The paper is first folded and counted into sections, which in foolscap generally consist of ‘ six sheets, and, above that size, of four sheets. These are sewed upon strips of vellum, three strips being usually applied to foolscap folio, and a greater number for larger sizes. In sewing account books, waxed thread is used, as being stronger. After sewing. the first ruled leaf at each end is pasted to the waste paper, and the marble lining paper inserted. The back is then glued, and when dry, the fore edge is cut and the back rounded, a rounder back and consequently a deeper hollow being given than in printed books. The two ends are then cut, and the edges greened. The headbands are worked on a slip of parchment, as before described. Strong pieces of leather are then glued at the top and bottom of the back and between each of the vellum slips. A hollow back is produced by soaking in water a strip of mill-board about a quarter of an inch wider than the back of the book, and gluing it on both sides; it is then placed on a sheet of paper, and a roller corresponding to the curvature of the back of the book is placed upon it, and the strip is worked backwards and forwards on the roller, which gives it the semicircular shape. It is then dried hard before the fire. Another method is to paste a number of pieces of paper in succession upon a roller, and when thoroughly dry it is cut down lengthwise, thus forming two semicircular backs. Thin sheet-iron is sometimes used for the purpose. The milled boards are then cut out for the side covers. In large books, it is usual to glue together two thin boards for each corer, and to insert beween them the projecting ends of the vellum bands on which the book is sewn. The first and last fly-leaves are pasted to the boards, and after they are squared, the curved back above described is placed on, and a piece of canvas sufficient to extend over half the width of the book on one side to the same distance on the other side, is glued on the boards and over the back : this holds the hollow back firmly in place. The book is then ready for covering, for which purpose the leather is carefully pared all round and neatly put on. The covers are usually sheep skin and Russia, white and covered; smooth and rough calf. If the cover be rough calf or sheep, it is dressed with pun:ice-stone and a clothes-brush. Smooth calf are glaired and polished as in printed bookbinding. Rough calf or sheep books are usually ornamented by passing a very hot roller round the edges and sides of the cover. Large books are always furnished with bands of Russia leather worked on sometimes with thongs of vellum, which add to the strength of the binding, and have a neat appearance.
The finer qualities of binding, embracing Turkey morocco, calf, and Levant, in the various styles of richly gilt, massive panels, and velvet, embossed with rich ornaments, have many processes which are very attractive and curious to the uninitiated. The operation of embossing and illuminating the edges, which is carried to great perfection in this eetablishment, gives the book an ornamental and attractive appearance, of which it is impossible to give our readers any idea. In this process the books are fastened firmly in iron preseee, the edges are .then scraped smooth as polished ivory, they then receive a coat of size upon which the goldleaf is laid. When the leaf is dry, it is polished with agate and blood-stone burnishers. Should the book be designedfor the panelled or more costly style of binding, the edges are then ready for embossing or illuminating, the process of which we have before described. Finishing, as its name denotes, is the last process of this interesting art. The finisher must possess a high order of taste and skill. The mechanical execution of his branch is much the Caine as in embossing, with the difference that he must work out his designs with the aid of the small tools we have before mentioned, upon leather. The difficulty he has to overcome, and the nicety with which his work must be done, can be understood, when we inform our readers that one pattern which we saw in this establishment had five thousand impressions of different tools upon its surface.
To enumerate all the various styles of decoration as practised in book-finishing, would be a very difficult, if not an endless task, as some styles are purely local, while others again do not stand the test of progressive and improving taste, and consequently are but of short-lived duration. There is scarcely any style of ornament which book-finishers do not more or less practise. The improved artistical knowledge of the workmen of the present day, and the proficiency attained by them in the execution of designs, are far ahead of anything in the art of bookbinding which has preceded them.
The earliest specimens of bookbinding extant were executed in the monasteries by the monks, anterior to the invention of printing, which procured for such the name of the monastic style, the monks being then the principal composers, coffers, and bookbinders. The monastic style is distinct and peculiar in itself, the sides of the book being closely filled up with what is technically called blind tooling, that is, the impressions made by the tools are not put in gold; this style is much sought after in the present day, especially in the binding of old books. But this is not the only description of finishing to which the monks of that period applied themselves, books being then, as regards price, of great value compared to what they are in the present day, and it was consequently considered that nothing could be too costly in decorating the exterior. Renee arose those beautiful specimens of needlework of various colored silks – gold and silver ornaments – stones, and jewels of great value, with which the books of that period were frequently richly ornamented.
The next in rotation is the Aldine style, which derives its name from Aldus, a famous printer and bookbinder who flourished in Italy in the fifteenth century. This style (like the monastic) is principally in blind tooling, but of a lighter and more open description of tools, and more fancifully arranged.
After that period, books becoming more plentiful, book ornamentation consequently took a more extensive range, as we find, before the expiration of the sixteenth century, great improvements had taken place in book-finishing. A style of intersected patterns were much in practice, which, for beauty of design, are rarely surpassed, added to which, the Elizabethan style of ornament was much in use; since then, down to the present day, various styles one after the other have been adopted, all tending to the perfection of the art, and the advancement of the profession in general.
We have given as near as we could an idea of the process of Bookbinding, as conducted at this establishment; but there has been much that we could not insert without going more into detail than our readers would wish. They can form some estimate of the labor required, front what we have recorded above, and we here offer our thanks to all concerned, for their attention to us in our progress through this establishment.
The publishing house of Lippincott, Grambo, Co. was established over thirty years ago, by John Grigg, Esq., who, with his partner, Hugh Elliot, Esq., and others who now continue in the firm, conducted the business under the firm of Grigg, Elliot, .& Co., until a few years back, when J. B. Lippincott, Esq., who had been in the same business for a number of years, purchased the interest of Messrs. Grigg & Elliot, and, in connection with the junior partners of the old firm, established the present one. The reward which enterprise and industry always bring has favored this house from the commencement. Increasing yearly in its business, it has gradually extended its sphere until it is at present one of the largest, if not the largest, publishing house in the United States, employing in its operations over half a million of dollars. In their store can be found not only their own publications, but those of every publisher in the country; as they receive all new books of other houses as soon as published. It is this fact, together with the vast number of books issued by themselves, which renders their business one of such immensity, and makes their establishment the great jobbing book. house of the country.
To enumerate their various publications would require a volume; they embrace all subjects, scientific, historical, scholastic, &c. &c. Over one hundred books have been issued by them since the commencement of the year, many of which are among the most costly ever issued in the country, comprising, amongst others, the “Waverley Novels,” in twelve volumes; ” Schoolcraft’s Work on the American Indians,” elaborately illustrated with steel engravings by the best engravers in the country; “A Series of Histories of the States in the Union;” “Ancient Christianity,” by Dr. Coleman ; “Shakspeare,” two editions, one in four volumes, and the other in one volume; and a numerous variety of school books, &c. &c. They have the stereotype plates of over two hundred volumes of standard works, from which they are constantly working off editions to supply the current demand. These plates cost, originally, over $250,000. Of Bibles and prayer-books alone, they sell upwards of fifty thousand copies yearly, and most of them bound in a superior style. In this class of books, their sales are next to those of the American Bible Society, Mr. J. B. Lippincott having, for years before he purchased an interest in this firm, enjoyed the reputation of being the “Bible publisher of the country.” Of one book which they are now publishing, they issue daily one thousand copies bound in cloth, and this independent of the other works they have in press. After the above facts, our readers can well imagine why we were struck with astonishment at what we saw, and will, with us, give this house a just raced of praise for the enterprise they exhibit.
In the store, a view of which we give on the top of the first page, and which will doubtless be recognized by hundreds of booksellers through the country, are employed twenty-seven clerks, who have each their separate departments to attend to. This room is also used for packing ; the books, after being sent down from the second and third story rooms, are here boxed up and sent to their various destinations. The second and third story rooms of the main building,, and one room in the adjoining one, are occupied as salesrooms, each one of which is about twenty feet wide and one hundred feet long. In these rooms, a view of one of which we give on the first page, there are thousands of volumes on the shelves on both sides of each, requiring the services of a number of salesmen to attend to the duty of selling and recording orders. In looking at the vast number of books in these salesrooms, and the constant operations of sending off and replacing, which pass before you, the wonder is what becomes of them all, and what an amount of capital is required to keep up such a stock. Few persons, without seeing, would believe the thousands of books which are daily sent from these rooms to every section of the New World, and to portions of the Old.
The fourth and fifth stories of their own and the adjoining buildings on each side are occupied as their bindery, and comprise eleven rooms. In them are employed over two hundred hands, men and women, in the various branches of bookbinding which we have previously described. Some of the finest specimens of binding ever executed in this country have been done in the establishment of Lippincott, Grambo, & Co., among the more prominent of which is a Bible which was presented to Queen Victoria.
In the semi-annual “trade sales,” or sale of books by auction to booksellers only, which takes place in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, Messrs. Lippincott, Grambo, st Co. are one of the largest depositors and purchasers; and their enterprise and capital furnish employment to over tire hundred workmen in their own, and other establishments employed by them.