Full leather finishing


IN whole-bound works a roll of sufficient breadth is generally run along the edges of the boards and the inside of the squares. This may be done by taking the gold upon the roll as usual and holding the volume on the work-bench firmly with the left hand. It is, however, generally best, especially if the volume be large, to screw it up in boards, either in the finishing-press or the laying-press, according to size.

The boards are used to prevent the back being injured. When the end-papers have a broad leather joint, which is to be finished, it is best to lay on gold over all the space, with the tip or cotton, and then work the ornaments as desired. It is upon the sides of whole-bound books that the competent finisher usually finds the best scope for his talent and can show his taste and skill. Where the ornamentation is confined to a simple roll worked round the side, a line made with the folder will be sufficient guide, and the gold can be taken upon the roll and worked direct. But when the pattern is large and complicated, and with much detail, it will be well to work all the tools upon the side before glairing, and apply the gold subsequently. The gold may be laid on one side only, and that side be finished first, and the book be screwed up in the laying-press.

Or, still better, the book may be placed between a couple of firm billets of wood resting steadily on the work-bench (Fig. 144); and thus the gold may be laid on both boards. The whole of the boards may be glaired over with the sponge, or the whole be first worked, and the impressions only glaired with the brush. To gild silk or velvet, it is necessary, owing to their delicate character, to adopt a different procedure to that used with leather. Wet glaire would, of course, permanently stain them, and therefore the whites of eggs are carefully dried, and brought to a very fine powder; this is placed in a small bottle, with a piece of fine muslin tied over the mouth, and can then be shaken and powdered over the place desired. On this powder the gold is applied, and the tools worked.

Many modern bookbinders prefer powdered gum sandarach to the egg albumen. As there is no moisture in silk, the finisher must not lay on so much gold at one time as he would on calf or morocco. “We will now give an example of a side finished in gold. We cannot give more than one, owing to the space which such illustrations would take up.

The principle, however, is in all cases the same, and the operator, if possessed of a little good taste and self-reliance, should have no difficulty in so combining a small collection of suitable tools as to make plenty of effective designs for himself. In our example (Fig. 145) it will be seen that the tools required are a single-line fillet, several semi-circular gouges of different sizes, some circles, and the line and corner tools shown at Fig. 146, of which two are volutes or scrolls.

The single-line fillet is first worked round the side, equidistant from each of the .edges. The tool A is then worked at each corner, as shown. Inside this, again, the fillet is used so as to produce a square incomplete at the corners, which are afterwards finished off with a gouge. The central ornament should be worked blind first. The middle knot is formed with gouges carefully worked so that the lines interlace. At their ends the volute (Fig. 146, B) is placed, and to this is added the smaller volute, 0. The circles worked within each other finish the design, which is chaste and pretty. Of course, the design is mainly one of lines. In others the ornaments preponderate, and a few lines are only used to bind them together in something like a coherent decoration.

Other designs have more of a border character consisting of a wide square or oval framework, formed by working broad rolls or a multiplicity of tools round, while the middle of the design has no ornament. For look, few methods are better than to cover the sides with scrolls or gouges carefully arranged to run into or branch out from each other, while small terminal tools spring from their extremities. Some of the smaller tools shown at Fig. 125, p. 151, are well adapted for this. Ancient binders of repute seem to have been very fond of a style of decoration which secured the most massive and showy appearance at little cost of designing skill. This was done by running a couple of broad rolls round the boards, working some large ornamentssay, a crown or a mitrein the middle, and filling up all the interspaces by continued repetitions of some small tool, as a fleur de lis or a rose.

Many of the books of Henri II. and Diane de Poitiers are finished thus; and the famous French binder Le Gascon was also much addicted to this manner. A side can be also completed by the use of rolls alone, working them in gradually lessening squares, or, rather, parallelograms, inside each other, and ending with a centre tool in character with the rolls. Blind Tooling. This is seldom done upon the sides of morocco-covered books. With calf it is not uncommon to run a roll round the board, and to fill up the central space with blind work produced by plates, and known as “graining.” The plates are of metal, and bear the “grain” that it is desired to impart to the leather on one side. One of the most common patterns is that termed ” russia.” For this, slight file-cuts are made round a sheet iron or copper plate, and thin copper wire is coiled around, passing into each of these saw-slots. When all the wire is wound, the plate is covered with molten solder on one side, which solders the wire firmly to that side of the plate.

The folds of loose wire on the other side are then removed, and the working face of the plate resembles A (Fig. 147), the lines of wire standing up boldly. To use these plates, one is placed on each side of the book, the whole put between boards, well pulled down in the standing-press, and left in all night, or longer. When removed, it will be found that the plates have stamped in the pattern A (Fig. 147) on each side. The plates are now reversed, so that the lines run across those already made, and again screwed down in the press. When taken out, the side will be found to bear the complete russia pattern, as at B (Fig. 147). Besides the above pattern, there are others known as morocco, turkey, fish scale, basket, shagreen, waving, and double patterns. These are engraved in solid metal plates, and are used the same as the ” russia ” plates, but do not need reversal and a second impression. Inlaying.

From a very early period in the history of bookbinding, endeavours have been made to get variety by embellishing the sides of the boards in various devices with pieces of leather of different colour to that which the book was bound in. This is termed ” inlaying.” Most of the larger volumes in the famous library of the celebrated Grolier, chancellor of France, were inlaid. The pattern generally used was that of interlaced strapwork. In Grolier’s time, this peculiar kind of ornament was very popular, especially in Flanders and Germany, and to some extent in France, as a general decorative enrichment; it consists of a narrow fillet or band folded and’crossed, and occasionally interlaced with another, the convolutions sometimes exhibiting much ingenious elaboration. The style originated, however, at a much earlier period. A specimen which dates as far back as the eleventh century, and possesses all the characteristics of the Byzantine art of that time, is sculptured in stone over the church gate at Nassau, Saxony. The adoption of this peculiar ornament was exceedingly common in the later days of the Renaissance, and became a prevailing characteristic of that style. It was carried to perfection under Henri II. of France, and hence it is not surprising to find it brought into the bookbinding of that era. Books so bound are often called ” Groliers” in the present day, from those of that chancellor bound in this style.

Fig. 148 exemplifies a simple pattern of this description; it consists of an interlaced square and diamond. Patterns of this kind are easy for anyone to design in great variety. It is only necessary to bear in mind that any under of either ribbon must be followed by an over. Fig. 149 shows a more complex corner strapwork ornament of the time of Henri II.

The pattern is usually cut out of morocco of two or more colours, differing from that of the book cover. For instance, if the book be bound in purple morocco, the square (Fig. 148) may be scarlet, and the diamond bright green. They may be cut out with a sharp-pointed knife. Of course, the leather is only used single; that is to say, when one colour appears to go under thd other, that portion is omitted. The leather should be pared thin before the ornament is cut out, as otherwise it may be found very difficult to pare it. It should also be cut from morocco which either has no grain or from which the grain has been rubbed out.

The various portions of the ornament are carefully pasted over with thick paste, laid accurately care also being in the position which they are to occupy on the book side, and rubbed down scrupulously with the folder; taken not to stretch the leather. When the paste has got out, place a pie the book in the a little set, clear away any that has squeezed ce of clean waste paper on each side, screw press and leave it there until dry. The inlaid ornament is finished by working pallets and line tools in gold around all its outlines. These had better be in fine lines. If the binder have a tolerable assortment of single-line pallet gouges, and the others recommended in Chapter XIX., he should have no trouble in matching any pattern; but, if he have any doubt, then, in designing his pattern, he mrst take into consideration what tools he has, and modify it accordingly.

Fig. 150 shows a side of an ancient book in the Grolier style, from the Morante collection. This pattern is a very good one. Fig. 151 shows a less complicated pattern of the same period. Etruscan.In this style, instead of being covered with gold, the back is ornamented with Gothic and Arabesque compartments, or imitations of Greek borders and Etruscan vases, in their proper colours, which, when well executed, have a good effect.

The Marquis of Bath possesses a copy of Caxton’s ” Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye,” bound in this coloured manner by Whittaker, of London, who some years ago brought it to great perfection. The back represents a tower in imitation of stone, on the battlements of which is a flag. bearing the title, and on a projection of the tower the name of the printers is impressed. On the sides are Trojan and Grecian armour in reliefs, round which is a raised impression of the reeded axe. The insides, which are also of russia, are ornamented with drawings, in Indian ink, of Andromache imploring Hector not to go out to fight, and the death of Hector.  The edges of the leaves are gilt, on which various Greek devices are painted. To execute this kind of work properly, the design must be carefully marked out on the covers. The proper tints and shades for the colour must be ascertained by trials on waste pieces of the same leather as the book is bound in. Painting.Another variety of ornamentation for the sides of whole-bound books are landscapes. These can of course only be done if the workman be skilled in painting. The volume ia prepared by being paste-washed, so as to present an uniform fawn colour, the designs slightly traced and afterwards coloured, according to the pattern, the colour being mixed to the proper shade with water. The shades must be tried on pieces of refuse leather, as, being spirit colour, when once laid on, no art can soften them down if too strong, and a peculiar lightness of touch will be necessary to produce effect. Portraits, &c., may also be executed in this manner, and many superb designs have at times been executed by the best binders of France. M. Didot, the celebrated Parisian printer, presented a copy of the ” Henriade,” published by himself, and most elegantly ornamented in this style, to Louis XVIII. It was executed by M. Leniers Belliers, bookbinder, of Tours, and exhibited on one side a miniature of Henri IY., and on the other a similar one of Louis XVIIL, both perfect likenesses. The greatest difficulty consisted in the portraits, which were first imprinted on paper, very moist, and immediately applied to the cover, on which they were impressed with a flab roller. When perfectly dry, they were coloured with all the art of which the binder was capable, and the other ornamental paintings were executed by hand. This kind of work demands much time and care. When this style of ornamentation is required, and the workman does not possess the requisite skill to properly paint a landscape, the same, or nearly the same, effect may be attained by the use of “transfer” pictures. The proceeding is as follows : Cut the print intended to be transferred close to the design on the sides. Let it steep in glaire till it is well saturated. During this time, glaire the book twice, letting it dry on each application.

Take out the print, place it exactly in the centre of the side cover, and, laying a piece of paper above, rub it sharply on the book, so that it may adhere very closely. Remove the upper paper, and with the fingers rub off the paper gently until the printed design begins to appear, wetting the fingers in glaire should the paper get too dry. The utmost attention will now be necessary, for the least carelessness in removing the paper that still remains may entirely destroy the design, and the whole of the previous labour be lost. The paper must be gently removed piece by piece, till the design only appears in the leather while damp. When dry, a whiter appearance will be presented, arising from the small particles of paper adhering to the ink; but these will be sufficiently hidden in glairing the side previous to finishing. The extent and variety to which, at a small expense, these designs may be carried, with the finish and beauty given to the sides of the books, render the subject worthy of the ornamental workman particularly; but he must possess perseverance and carefulness in an eminent degree to carry it to perfection. After the gilding or other ornament is executed, the side must be finished off in the usual manner. A slight coat of varnish will give a superior finish.