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Full leather binding


THE materials of the cover vary widely, and comprise most kinds of leather, parchment, vellum, bookbinders' cloth, velvet, needlework, wood, and imitations of different kinds, such as leatherette and feltine, Amongst the leather we have various kinds of morocco, goatskin, or imitation morocco, such as " levant," calf of different kinds, and imitation calfs, roan, sheep, and occasionally russia never hogskin.


If the book is to be entirely covered with leather, the skin, whether of calf or morocco, is laid down upon a large smooth board, with the " flesh " or rough side upwards. Then the book is grasped by the fore edge of the leaves with the left hand, the millboard hanging loose, and lowered down on the leather, so that the book rests on it and the boards lie on it flat (Fig. 109).

The leather can now be cut with a sharp-pointed knife round the book, allowing enough all round to turn in, which may be about fin. for an octavo, and less or more for smaller or larger books. Next, the exact size of the book may be marked on the leather with a soft blacklead pencil. Some binders keep paper or millboard patterns for the covers of all sizes of books, and cut out by these. The edges of the leather must now be "pared," "skived," or shaved down all round, so that they will cause no unsightly protuberances when the leather is pasted on. The part between the pencil marks and the edge is the portion to be pared. The operation is performed with a long sharp knife, on a marble slab, a bit of lithographic stone, or a piece of plate glass. The French paring knives, sold by Messrs. Eadie, of Great Queen-street, Lincoln's Inn (whose name we have previously mentioned), are by far the best in the market. The leather is laid on the slab with the grain side downwards, and drawn tight by the fingers and thumb of the left hand, while the blade of the knife is laid almost flat upon the edge of the leather, and gradually pushed forward by the right hand. More or less leather will be removed according to the angle at which the knife is held, and if it be held too upright it will go through the leather before the edge is reached, and make bad work. In setting the knife upon the oilstone, the " burr " should be left on the side which is to go towards the leather in paring; for, if the burr be on the other side, the knife will slip off the leather or not cut. What is especially necessary, when some skill is attained, is to take off a level shaving of the right thickness, and not to leave a series of ridges on the leather by uneven cutting. To overcome some of the difficulty which morocco and roan present in paring, it is the usual practice to damp the edges of the cover for a little way in, with a sponge and water.

The same plan is occasionally practised with rough calf, that is to say, calf which is dressed inside out, so that, when the book is covered, the " flesh " side is placed outwards. This is usually a " stationery" binding on account books, but occasionally law books or books of reference are bound in "rough" calf. Great care must be taken in paring the back, both at the head and tail, or when turned in the effect will be bad. It requires great practice to pare leather properly. If the cover be of morocco, it should now be well wetted with a sponge and grained up either with the hand or a piece of cork. The leather is then folded together, and rubbed in all directions with the cork until the " grain" is sufficiently developed, when the cover is pasted over on the flesh side with thin paste and hung up to dry. For " straight grain," the leather should only be rubbed one way. Where it is desired to have the morocco quite smooth, to imitate some antique book, the leather should be soaked with water, and the grain quite rolled out with a rolling-pin, used with good pressure; or, if the cover be small, it maybe beaten out by the careful use of the backing-hammer. Russia also should be moistened and well rolled with the rolling-pin. The cover (if of morocco) should now be well pasted with good thick paste, made as before directed, applied with a small brush (what painters call a " giash tool" is best). The paste should be spread evenly, and no more should be left on than is required to make the cover adhere to the book. Any lumps or hairs from the brush should be carefully removed. The cover is then laid on a clean millboard o:a the bench, fore edge to the operator, and pasted surface upwards, the squares at the book's head and tail carefully adjusted, a slight touch of paste applied with the finger to each band, and then lowered down upon the cover, as at Fig. 109, in such a position that the back of the volume which is farthest from the workman will be in the middle (see B). The far part (A) is then brought over the board which is uppermost, and fastened at the fore edge. The square portion (C) is then treated in a similar manner.

Care must be taken during this manipulation that the squares are not disarranged. The volume is now placed on its fore edge, and the leather tightly strained over the back with the hands and rubbed smooth with the folder. The leather is then alternately raised from each side board, drawn as tightly as it can be, turned in again at the fore edges, and smoothed down well on the sides and back with the hand and the folder. In manipulating morocco covers, care must be taken at every stage not to mark the covers with the folder. The bands (if any) should now be pinched slightly with a pair of band-nippers. The cover at the head and tail of the book must at this stage be turned in; to do so, take it by the fore edge, and place it upright on the bench with the boards slightly extended, and with the hands, one on each side, slightly pushing back the board close to the headband, and folding the cover over and into the back with the thumbs, drawing in so tightly that no wrinkle or fold is seen. If the back is an open one, the loose part of the fold previously made must be covered over with the leather, in the same way as the boards. The leather on both boards being turned in along the fore edge, and the edges rubbed well down and square, the parts of the cover are next brought together at the corners, pulled up almost perpendicularly with the board, pinched together, and nearly all above the angle of the corner cut off with the shears.

 The portion on the side is then turned down (Fig. 110), and the other, on the fore edge, wrapped a little over it, the corner being set by the aid of the thumb-nail, and folded as neatly as possible, and so that no raw edge of the cover is visible. The folder should also be well rubbed in the joints to make the cover adhere to those parts where the back is likely to hold the leather oft'. If any derangement of the squares has taken place, it must now be rectified. The headband must next be set; this is an important operation, upon which much of the beauty of the work depends. It is usual to tie a piece of fine twine round the book between the back and the boards before the headband is set. This cord rests in the places where the inner corners of the bands at head and tail are cut off (Fig. 111), and should be tied in a knot.

 With a small smooth folder, one end a little pointed, the double fold of the leather at head must be rubbed, to make it adhere; and if the boards have been cut at the corners, the hand must be applied thereon, and headband forced close to the leather and made even on the back with the fingers, while a neat cap is formed of the projecting part on the top of it. The folder is then applied again to the edges of the boards, to ensure their square appearance. The cap of the headband should be exactly level with the boards, and yet cover the headband neatly and completely. The grain of the morocco should be nowhere marked or obliterated. The perfection of covering in TYING UP morocco is to have all the edges of the boards sharp and square, without the grain of the leather being anywhere destroyed. In some cases, when the leather is unusually thick or untract-able, some binders " tie up " the bands, to ensure the adhesion of the cover to the back, in the manner following. A pair of backing-boards are placed on each side of the book at the fore edge in such manner that they project slightly over it, and are then secured by a cord with a slip-knot (see Fig. 112). Another knot of the same kind is made at the end of a longer piece of cord, and the loop is placed crossways around one of the end bands. It is then drawn in a slanting direction over the backing-board at the fore edge, and drawn tight; next passed round the other band, then over the fore edge again, and so on with the other bands.

This is roughly shown at Fig. 112, whence it will be seen that the cord, which should be kept fairly tight, presses down on each side of each band and drives the leather home there, while the backing-boards prevent the cord leaving any impression on the edge of the boards at the fore edge. Th s cord is left on all nigbt until the cover is dry. TYING UP BANDS Half-binding.The same general directions as given for whole binding are applicable to half-binding. The corners are put on first, and afterwards the backs. With calf, the corners are first rolled up in the backs, flesh side out, tied tightly round with a strip of paring, and thrown into a pail of water.

When they are sufficiently soaked, the water is squeezed out, and  they are then untied and smoothed out well with the hands on a flat board, ready for pasting. The shape of the corners is shown in Fig. 113. As mentioned in the covering of whole-bound books, great care should be given to turning in the corners neatly. The corner should be put on slightly aside, so that when the side of it is turned over, there is a slight double of the leather at the extreme point, as at A, Fig. 114. Now when the top fold, B, is turned down, it is easy to see that the corner at the extreme angle will be a double or fold of the pared leather instead of a raw edge, and, therefore, much more durable.

All calf books, whether whole or half bound, will require a small piece of morocco leather affixed to the back, to receive the lettering. The calf itself, when properly prepared, will form a surface sufficiently good to receive, and retain, a fairly perfect impression, in gold, of the ordinary ornamental finishing tools; but good impressions of the letters cannot be depended upon, especially if small. When the back of the book is provided with five bands, the lettering generally occupies the space from the first to the second, as in Fig. 115 at A.


Occasionally there is a subsidiary lettering of the volumes, author's name, &c. This is sometimes placed on the single space just spoken of, sometimes on the space between the second and third band, as at B (Fig. 115), or more frequently between the fourth and fifth, as at C. Where the back is not provided with bands, the space should be divided off by the compasses, and the places where the bands would be, and where the fillet will be worked across, should be well and distinctly creased with the edge of a sharp folder, so as to leave a clearly perceptible channel. A single mark should be also made at the head, and a double one at the tail, as at Fig. 115. A piece of smooth morocco, which has no grain, or from which the grain has been entirely removed by wetting the leather and rolling it with a rolling-pin on a marble slab, or smooth board, or glass, or by rubbing it well with a blunt folder,  is selected. A slip of the width between the bands is now set off with the compass, and cut off with a sharp-pointed knife on the cutting-board.

Each edge of this is pared very carefully, and pieces are accurately cut off the slip of the width necessary for the various volumes. Each of these has now its other two edges carefully pared. The lettering pieces are then well pasted over with good thick paste, stuck on the proper place, and well beaten and rubbed down with the folder. Scarlet, bright green, or purple, and occasionally blue, are the colours usually chosen for lettering pieces. Where there are two, they are generally of different colours. Half-bound books have their sides covered with cloth or marbled paper, the first being the more substantial.

Either is folded and cut to the shape of Fig. 116, so as to allow enough to turn over, and to permit sufficient of the corner to show The corner space must be of the same size on both sides. The cloth sides are glued as previously described; the marbled paper sides are pasted with thin paste. Both should be carefully rubbed down, and made nicely square and sharp over the edges of the board with the folder. The cloth is usually selected to match the leather in colour and (if morocco) in grain as far as possible. Some binders think that the sides of half calf should contrast, but this is not good taste. Marbled paper should match the end-papers and edges. The new leatherette, feltine, &c., may at times be used advantageously.

Cloth Binding.

The covers are cut out, like the leather ones, a little larger than the size of the book, to allow for turning in. They are then each rolled up with the hand the contrary way to what they have been in the roll. This is to take the curvature out of them, and make them lie flat. Each one is now laid, right side down, upon the glueing-board, and is lightly but completely glued over. To make a good job of this, it is indispensable that the glue should be in good condition. In the first place, it should be thoroughly melted, and so thin that it will run easily from the brush when the latter is raised from the glue-pot. But it may be all this, and still be stripy and scummy when applied, as the grain of the cloth offers some obstacle to complete distribution. To "cut up" the glue, therefore, it is best to take the glue-brush (which should be a good sized one) out of the pot while filled with glue, dab it down on a piece of waste brown paper, and, with the handle between the open palms of both hands, give the brush a rapid rotary motion, while held upright, for a few minutes. The brush is then replaced in the pot and the same motion imparted to it. In a few minutes the glue-pot will be filled with froth. The glue is now well " cut up," and, if the cloth be rapidly but perfectly :glued over, there will be no streakiness, but tlie whole surface will look, as it were, frothy, as did the glue in the pot.

The book is now laid upon the glued cloth, and the manipulation of covering proceeded with, much the same as the covering of a whole-bound book in leather. The cloth must be well rubbed down, so as to thoroughly adhere both to the back and boards, and the edges of the boards must be made nicely square. The joints should also receive particular attention, but great care should be taken not to mark the cloth with the folder, nor damage the grain more than possible. If necessary, through the glue getting too cold to work, the book may be held to the fire for a few seconds, when the glue will again become fluid. The " forwarding " of the book is now practically finished, and it is ready for the finisher. Some binders paste down the endpapers now, while others prefer to leave that operation until the book has been finished.

Whenever the former plan is carried out, it is best to cut a slight shaving only from all round the outside loose end-paper with the knife and cutting-board, as this obviates any unsightly projection of the end-paper inside the board, caused by the stretching of the end-paper from the damping with the paste. The board of the book is laid back, and the end-paper pasted over with thin paste by the brush, and the board lowered upon it, when it will adhere. The board is then again raised, and the end-paper rubbed down with the hand and folding-stick, the latter being especially applied with great care at the joints. This is very necessary, or the paper may not properly "go home " and adhere here, and, if it should not, an unsightly protuberance of loose paper at the joint will be the result, which is generally termed a " pencil case," and is a clear mark of bad bookbinding. Flexible Binding.The kind of work thus denominated concerns those books which, as before explained, are sewn upon the bands without any saw-kerfs being made in them, so that the bands or cords stand up from the back, as in old books.

This kind of work is not lined up, and the leather is attached directly upon the backs of the sections themselves; but a piece of fine linen is glued over the headband and well rubbed down, the surplus being cut off when dry. The bands are damped, and then knocked up perfectly straight and square with the end of a cutting-board or a blunt chisel. If there are any saw-kerfs in the back from former binding, pieces of untwisted cord are pasted and carefully worked in. These are all well smoothed when dry, and no means should be neglected to make the back perfectly level, as any inequalities will show through the leather when the book is covered. In the style called " flexible, not to show," a piece of stiff muslin, called " mull," is glued on the back first, and th^n one piece of paper. For the hollow, three, four, or even five pieces are glued one on the other to gain firmness, whilst the book itself will appear as if it had a flexible back.

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