Page:The Art of Bookbinding, Zaehnsdorf, 1890.djvu/189

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149
FINISHING.

the surface where the leather is intended to be placed with the edge of a knife. This will produce a rough and fibrous ground on which to place the pasted leather. This leather, when dry, must be prepared with paste-water and glaire, in the same manner as with other books.

In the foregoing instructions for finishing a book, the most that can be looked for towards teaching either the apprentice or the unskilled workman is to give him an idea how it is accomplished by practised hands. Pure taste, a correct eye, and a steady hand, are not given to all in common. The most minute instructions, detail by detail, cannot make a workman if Nature has denied these gifts. I have known men whose skill in working a design could not be excelled, but who could not be trusted to gild a back without instructions. Others, whose ideas of design were not contemptible, could not tool two panels of a back in perfect uniformity. Some also have so little idea of harmony of colour, that without strict supervision they would give every volume the coat of a harlequin. In a word, a first-rate bookbinder is nascitur non ƒit, and although the hints and instructions I have penned may not be sufficient to make a workman, I trust they will be found of some value to the skilled as well as to the less practised craftsman.

Blocking.—The growing demand for books that were at once cheap and pretty, became so strong, that mechanical appliances were invented to facilitate their ornamentation; and thus we have the introduction of the present blocking press.

I will not follow too closely the various improvements introduced at different periods, but roughly describe the blocking press, without which cheap bookbinding cannot be done at the present day. There can be no doubt that this press owes its extensive use to the introduction of publishers' cloth work.

Formerly, when the covers of books were blocked, a