The Art of Bookbinding/Chapter 6

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The Art of Bookbinding by Joseph William Zaehnsdorf
Chapter VI.



End Papers.—The end papers should always be made, that is, the coloured paper pasted to a white one; the style of binding must decide what kind of ends are to be used. I give a slight idea of the kinds of papers used and the method of making them.

Cobb Paper is a paper used generally for half-calf bindings, with a sprinkled edge, or as a change, half-calf, gilt top. The paper is stained various shades and colours in the making, and I think derives its name from a binder who first used it. Being liked by the trade, they have distinguished the paper by calling it "Cobb paper," which name it has kept.

Surface Paper.—This is a paper, one side of which is prepared with a layer of colour, laid on with a brush very evenly. Some kinds are left dull and others are glazed. The darker colours of this paper are generally chosen for Bibles or books of a religious character, and the lighter colours for the cloth or case work. There are many other shades which may be put into extra bindings with very good effect, and will exercise the taste of the workman. For example, a good cream, when of fine colour and good quality, will look very well in a morocco book with either cloth or morocco joints.

Marbled Paper.—This paper has the colour disposed upon it in imitation of marble; hence its name. It is produced by sprinkling properly prepared colours upon the surface of a size, made either of a vegetable emulsion, or of a solution of resinous gum. It is necessary, in either preparing an original design or in matching an example, to remember that the veins are the first splashes of colour thrown on the size, and assume that form in consequence of being driven back by the successive colours employed.

We have it on the authority of Mr. Woolnough,[1] that the old Dutch paper was wrapped round toys in order to evade the duty imposed upon it. After being carefully smoothed out, it was sold to bookbinders at a very high price, who used it upon their extra bindings, and if the paper was not large enough they were compelled to join it. After a time the manufacture was introduced into England, but either the colours are not prepared the same way, or the paper itself may not be so suitable, the colours are not brought out with such vigour and beauty, nor do they stand so well, as on the old Dutch paper. Some secret of the art has been lost, and it baffles our ablest marblers of the present day to reproduce many of the beautiful examples that may be seen in some of the old books.

For further remarks on marbled paper and marbling see chapter on colouring edges.

Printed and other Fancy Paper may be bought at fancy stationers; the variety is so great that description is impossible, but good taste and judgment should always be used by studying the style and colour of binding. Of late years a few firms have paid some attention to this branch, and have placed in the market some very pretty patterns in various tints.

The foreign binders are very fond of papers printed in bronze, and some are certainly of a most elaborate and gorgeous description. Many houses have their own favourite pattern and style. All papers having bronze on them should be carefully selected and the cheaper kinds eschewed, the bronze in a short time going black.

Coloured Paste Paper.—This kind the binder, can easily make for himself. Some colour should be mixed with paste and a little soap, until it is a little thicker than cream. It should then be spread upon two sheets of paper with a paste brush. The sheets must then be laid together with their coloured surfaces facing each other, and when separated they will have a curious wavy pattern on them. The paper should then be hung up to dry on a string stretched across the room, and when dry glazed with a hot iron. A great deal of it is used in Germany for covering books. Green, reds, and blues have a very good effect.

There are many other kinds of paper that may be used, but the above five different varieties will give a very good idea and serve as points to work from. The many bookbinders' material dealers send out pattern books, and in them some hundreds of patterns are to be found.

Before leaving the subject of ends, it may be as well to mention that morocco, calf, russia, silk, etc., are often used on whole bound work; these must, however, be placed in the book when has been covered.

After having decided upon what kind of paper is to be used, two pieces are cut and folded to the size of the book, leaving them a trifle larger, especially if the book has been already cut. Two pieces of white paper must be prepared in the same way. Having them ready, a white paper is laid down, folded, on a pasting board (any old mill-board kept for this purpose), and pasted with moderately thin paste very evenly; the two fancy papers are laid on the top quite even with the back or folded edge; the top fancy paper is now to be pasted, and the other white laid on that: they must now be taken from the board, and after a squeeze in the press between pressing boards, taken out, and hung up separately to dry. This will cause one half of the white to adhere to one half of the marble or fancy paper. When they are dry, they should be refolded in the old folds and pressed for about a quarter of an hour. When there are more than one pair of ends to make, they need not be made one pair at a time, but ten or fifteen pairs may be done at once, by commencing with the one white, then two fancy, two white, and so on, until a sufficient number have been made, always pressing them to ensure the surfaces adhering properly; then hang them up to dry. When dry press again, to make them quite flat. As this is the first time I speak about pasting, a few hints or remarks on the proper way will not be out of place here. Always draw the brush well over the paper and away from the centre, towards the edges of the paper. Do not have too much paste in the brush, but just enough to make it slide well. Be careful that the whole surface is pasted; remove all hairs or lumps from the paper, or they will mark the book. Finally, never attempt to take up the brush from the paper before it is well drawn over the edge of the paper, or the paper will stick to the brush and turn over, with the risk of the under side being pasted. While the ends are pressing we will proceed with further forwarding our book.

  1. "The Whole Art of Marbling as applied to Paper." C. W. Woolnough. Bell and Sons, 1881.