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Re: [BKARTS] Recent Fan and Perfect Bindings Discussions - Repair of Perfect Bindings from 1830/80s?

Rodney, wouldn't it be good to repair the books so they are close to
original. I'm not an official antiquarian or conservator, but I have just
spent quite a bit of time learning about antique books and bindings. I am
quite fascinated by cloth softcover books right now. I originally found some
in a local Museum about 2 minutes walk from my place. Then I went to
Lawrence Books in Vancouver Canada to browse through their old books. It is
an interesting shop. I spent all day scanning through 10s of thousands of
books and found only 5 cloth softcover books all from about 1900 to 1954. I
pretty much cleaned them out of this style of binding. My point is that I
bought the books for how their binding was made. I like opening and closing
the books and feeling their action. If you change the binding completely
much of the value would be lost?

You say that this book is perfect bound? A perfect bound book does not have
a "hollow back" as you suggested. Is the book perhaps an adhesive bound book
which was still a new thing in that time period. If it has a hollow back,
then wasn't the book block meant to lay-flat on opening?

This book seems to be a hard cover book which is adhesive bound. This book
block was also likely meant to lay-flat on opening?

Why is everyone suddenly wanting to notch double-fan books? I thought maybe
Pete Jermann was suggesting it for coated stock, but today he says even here
there are better ways. He was just commenting on it's use. But your books
don't sound like they have coated stock? Why would you want to notch?

Both of your books appear to have been adhesive bound books with flexible
backs. They would be so much more valuable and enjoyable to look at if they
retained their flexibility. Perfect bound books using wrap around paper
covers went to stiff spines as the cardboard didn't bend well. I believe
earlier adhesive bound books were meant to lay-flat. They were supposed to
be similar to the sewn books. That is why they used a rubbery adhesive.
Regarding cold emulsion not penetrating well into paper. It doesn't but non
coated paper bound by double-fanning is still twice as strong as perfect
binding. Regarding you particular papers, maybe you could experiment first
on similar stock. I think double-fan gluing and using a 0.010 inch thick
plain weave muslin cloth as liner with no paper might work perfectly.

Gavin Stairs suggested using adhesive to bind without double-fanning.
Personally I have had no luck at all in adhering pages using this method
using any kind of adhesive when hand binding. When adhesive binding is used
without double-fan gluing in factories, they use special soft roller
applicators. The book block is clamped somewhat back of the spine with the
spine pointing down. The spine is allowed to flair slightly. The soft
applicator wheel squishes adhesive slightly between every page. The adhesive
is hot melt, which penetrates the paper better. The same effect is hard to
do by hand as you would have to apply adhesive underneath the book block.
Even so the glue line is slightly uneven and is really only suitable for
stiff bindings.

Ben Wiens...applied energy scientist
Ben Wiens Energy Science Inc.
8-1200 Brunette Ave. Coquitlam BC V3K1G3 Canada
E-mail: ben@benwiens.com
Energy Website: http://www.benwiens.com
Read my popular web-booklet "Urban Travel Issues"

-----Original Message-----
 I have read the recent messages with interest on the structure and
for fan/perfect bindings as a chartered engineer who binds and restores as a
hobby.  In particular, the descriptions of the forces on the coated and
uncoated papers as the book spine is flexed.

The perfect binding as practiced in the latter part of the 1800s was using
gutta-percha or caoutchouc, which was considered at the time to provide a
and cheaper method of binding books, not just for the ever widening reading
public at the time, but it seems even for the "expensive" books.

Unfortunately it also rapidly perished, no doubt aided by the atmospheric
pollution of the times in the urban areas!  I am contemplating two such
for restoration at the moment, where the most of the pages are now detached,
a retirement exercise.

Briefly a description of their state:--  One is Wood's "General Conchology",
(1835), [this leather half binding with marbled boards is probably later
1836 when the perfect binding patent was first issued] with a text block
2in thick.   The book is a reasonable size 6"x9". It has about 60
plates on paper ca 0.008" thick, which I don't think is coated (query -
coated papers available then?).  The text is on 0.005" paper; all edges are
gilt.  The bindings is in reasonable condition, but almost separated from
text block.  The spine is slightly rounded with well formed shoulder joints
covered with thin cloth (ca 80 threads/in) in turn covered by a pasted-on
hollow.  The text block appears to only have been held in place by the
back and the marbled, made end-papers, the linen providing no structural
support. The lining has completely separated and is covered with the usual
reddish-brown adhesive.
 The spine surface is quite smooth (not roughened?) and appears to have been
formed or rounded, such as it is, by machine.

The other is Paul's "Sepulchral Slabs of N.W.Somersetshire", (1882), with a
text block about 3/4 in thick.  This is larger at about 11" x14" bound in
with thick boards.  The paper is the same throughout, about 0.01" thick.
it does not seem to be coated, the plates are lithographs.  The spine in
case was also rounded, but covered first with thick paper and then open
mull which was taken under the paste downs.  This is also completely

My problem and question is should I carry out the fan binding in part, as
described in the recent discussions, by notching slightly (1/16" say), or
some thin cord or even thinner sewing thread in shallow slots cut across the
spine.   I would tend to go for unwaxed thread, which is softer and has more
"give" than the harder or stiffer waxed sewing thread (perhaps a thread from
sewing cord?).  Possibly the slight notches should be angled across the
(see A W Johnson's book "Manual of Bookbinding", p.202). It has to be borne
mind that in both these cases the text block was rounded and has to fit back
the binding and requires "shoulders" at the joints to accommodate the board
thickness , i.e. not a flat back binding as with the new books discussed -
forgetting the gilt edges, which I could re-gild, but preferably keep the
original.  Obviously it is not necessary for these antiquarian books to be
flat for photocopying!

I think it would be quite difficult to fan the spine for these books to
the adhesive to penetrate between the pages, particularly for the gilded
block.  It may be possible for the large book as the edges, not being
could be trimmed very slightly subsequently.  But then as Ben Wien discussed
his message of 11 Nov there are problems with the double fan-binding and
adhesive penetration.

For strength/support I think the spines would need to covered with a thin,
linen cloth let into the boards, or under the board paste-downs (I have some
0.006" thick about 80 threads/in).   For a sewn book I would perhaps
the lining adhesion by sewing through all along the joint, but in these two
instances I am doubtful.   The large "folio" volume I would not put upright
the shelf, it would remain on its side thus minimising any spine stress
to detach the text block from the boards.

I would be interested in comments on what might be thought most appropriate
these books.

From an occasional contributor.
Rodney Fry

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