Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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basil

A vegetable-tanned, sheep- or lamb-skin, producing a soft, smooth leather but with only moderately good wearing qualities. Its smooth surface lends itself well to graining in imitation of other skins, such as goat. There are several types of basil, including E.I. (East India), N. Z. (New Zealand) and Aus. (Australia), all of which are generally tanned with native or mimosa bark. Crust basils are tanned loose in pits and sold dry as taken from the drying sheds; strained basils are tanned as crust, but wet down, set out with a slicker, stretched and allowed to dry; tawed basils are sheepskins dressed with alum and salt and finished in a white or nut brown color; and organ basils are also tawed but with the salt removed. Diced basils are skins which have been dyed red, glazed, and embossed with a diced cross line. Because of their relatively poor wearing characteristics, basils are not often used today in bookbinding, although in the first half of the 20th century they were employed fairly extensively in binding cheaper blankbooks, and the like. (61 , 69 , 343 )




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