Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Book Binding & Book Restoration - Stripping Down

Centuries ago books were a luxury that only a person of means could afford. A man's wealth and education was determined by his library, especially by the skill of the Master Craftsman he employed.

This 18th Century rare theology book was quite restorable in it's original subscribers plain calf binding, but the customer favoured a period Cambridge panelled calf fine binding.

So the first step is to strip the book down, this is a "fastback" binding which means the book is flexibly sewn on raised cords with laced-in boards and the leather is glued directly over the sewn sections of the book.

Not only must the old leather be removed, but great care must be applied when removing the old "animal glue" as not to damage the sections as these will need to be repaired before sewing.

There are several varieties of animal glue (fish glue, rabbit glue etc) but it is mainly animal bones boiled at high temperature and strained, the residue that floats above is gellatin, a product used for many puposes including the "jelly" in a pork pie, what is left becomes a glue, which is used hot in bookbinding, cabinet making, antique restoration and many other crafts.

The hand marbled endpapers and flyleaves are made and it is important to try and match the original pattern of the marble to keep a contemporary feel to the book, in this case the pattern is in an 18th century "Old Dutch" style.

The book is then stripped into sections and re-sewn on hemp cords. Hand made head and tail bands are also sewn in at this stage.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

BOOKBINDING & Prepare for Leather Binding

The boards are cut to size, marked out and holes punched in place, the hemp cords are laced through and splayed out flat.
The calf skin is then chosen and inspected for flaws such as scratches, holes and briar scars, having chosen the best part of the skin this is then cut to size allowing for turn-in and shrinkage when dampened, and pared on all edges.
The book is then covered and the edges coloured before turning in.

The colours are fermented vegetable dyes with an added mordant which makes them "light fast" so they do not fade.
The spine is coloured first and the covers are marked out and three colours applied.
The dyes used for this binding are horse chestnuts, cochineale, cherry, and crushed green walnut shells.

A tallow is prepared of bulls fat and candlewax, this is allowed to set, prepared and applied. Not only will the tallow help seal the leather but it will aid in the cooling of the hot tools, reduce scorching of the surface of the leather and give a rich burnished look to the finish of the tooling.

Book Binding - Blind Tooling & Gilding

The tallow is cleaned off and the endpapers are pasted down, the book is then tied up and left to dry overnight
The next operation is to decorate the spine using a series of small individual tools.
This done, the spine is then hand lettered and dated in the date panel at the foot.

The verso side of the binding is then hand lettered with the binders Latin signature before the book is polished with a hot iron.

Last of all a "Clamshell" box is made as a perfect fit to house the binding and afford protection.

All finished ready to be carefully packed for a private collection in the U.S.A.

For all your Bookbinding and Restoration requirements.

Paul Tronson at Period Fine Bindings


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Book Binding as an Art Form