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Lining the back


THERE are two methods of dealing with the back of a book before covering: it may be either what is called " tight" or "open." In the first, one or two thicknesses of paper are glued to the back, and when the book is covered with leather, the leather which falls on the back is pasted to this paper. The result, of course, is that, in this case, the leather has to take any form that the back itself does.

Thus, for instance, when the book Is open the back rises up, as at B, Fig. 104. In the "hollow," or "open," back, some slips of paper are glued LOOSE BACK to the back, over which are placed others free from the back When the book is covered, part of the leather is turned in between these, so that the covering of the back only adheres to the loose paper. The consequence is that, when the book is opened, the real back flies up; but the loose back, to which the leather cover is attached, retains its shape. This is shown at Fig. 104, where a loose-backed book is shown open. B is the back of the book, which has naturally sprung up; A is the outer part of the lining, with the leather attached, which, being detached from the actual book, keeps its regular shape. Each method has its advantages. The " tight" back is undoubtedly the more antique and the stronger system.

 All old books have tight backs, so have most small Church Services of the present day (of which more anon) and large pulpit Bibles. But the hollow back opens better, and the " finishing " is less liable to damage; and, in short, this kind of back is almost universal at the present day. Before lining the back, the headband should be set. This is done by means of glue. If the headband be worked, it is glued over both at head and tail, and then, by the aid of a folder, the headband is made to take the same curve as the back of the book. This is accomplished by holding the book, with its back downwards, on the cheek of the press, in the left hand, while with a pointed folder, held in the right hand, the bead of the headband is rubbed down and manipulated to make it of good shape. The silk or cambric at the back is then rubbed down as closely as possible, and the book allowed to dry. In lining a tight back, the book is screwed up in the laying-press, back projecting; the back of the book is carefully glued over with glue of tolerable thickness. A piece of smooth brown paper is now taken, which has one edge cut quite straight. This straight edge is applied to the left side of the back, the paper put down on the glued surface, and then well rubbed down to the back with a stout bone folder and the palm of the hand. It is then cut off straight with a sharp knife at the right side of the back. It is well to glue this brown paper over, and apply a second piece; or, still better, a thickness of stout smooth cartridge paper. The paper should be long enough to project a little over the headbands at head and tail. For hollow backs the proceedings differ somewhat. The first thickness of brown paper is glued on, as described. This is next glued over, and another piece put above it, but not quite up to the edge of the back on the left-hand side.

This stage of the lining is represented at Fig. 105, where A shows the glued portion of the first thickness of the paper, not covered by the second thickness (B). The second thickness is rubbed well down with the hand and the thick folding-stick; then it is creased or folded straight along the right-hand side of the book at B, When the lining is dry, the overplus paper at the head and tail should be cut off with the scissors level with the top of the headband. With a sharp penknife inserted into the hollow of the back, each side should be cut down for a couple of inches at the head and tail, so as to allow the leather to be turned in when covering.

If the book is to have bands, these should now be placed. Bands are those projections on the back of a well-bound book which represent the projection of the actual band upon which antique books were bound. Some binders use string or cord for these, but they generally consist of two or three thicknesses of leather glued together and dried under pressure, then cut into slips one-eighth of an inch or less wide, with a sharp knife and the cutting-board. A single thickness of stout morocco will generally be sufficient. A piece of thin white paper is usually glued inside the leather, whether it be of a single thickness or made of several. Of course, the larger the book the wider the band. The book is now placed in the press and marked up.

The general number of bands is five, and they are placed equidistant, rather more space being allowed at the tail than at the head of the book. Fig. 106 shows a small sketch of a back so marked and proportioned. The inside (paper side) and the surplus portion, C, is brought over to the left hand, where it adheres to the glued part, and again folded down. When this is done, the small amount of glued space left at A will be found enough to hold this fresh fold of the paper down. This being done, the top of this last fold of paper is again glued and folded over from left to right, and then cut off level by folding it back and running a sharp knife along the fold. This style of lining up is technically known as " two on and two off," because, as will be understood from the preceding description, there will be two thicknesses of paper glued to the back of the book, and two others semi-detached from it, being only connected at each edge, so that, when the opened book is viewed from the head or tail, it will present the appearance shown at Fig. 104, where A is the loose thickness of the lining paper, and B that which adheres to the book and assumes its shape. For thin books, one thickness on the back and two on the hollow will be sufficient. Thick or large books may have more paper applied, in proportion to their size.

Overcast books should be rather strongly lined to relieve the strain. Good paper should be used for this important operation. Flabby brown paper, with a liability to stretch, is quite unsuited. Old writing, account-book, or copy-book paper is fairly suitable; tough smooth brown paper is better; and good quality cartridge is best of all.

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