Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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oversewing

A method of sewing the leaves of a book by hand or machine, almost always the latter in library binding. The sewing thread passes through the edges of each "section," in consecutive order, using pre-punched holes through which the sewing needles pass.

The oversewing process generally entails the removal of the original spine lining cloth. glue, original sewing, and the folds of the sections, which is usually accomplished by planing, grinding, sawing, or cutting the spine of the book, thus removing an eighth of an inch or more of the binding margin. Sometimes the spine is first nipped to remove the original backing shoulders before the folds are removed. The book, having been reduced to individual leaves, is then jogged, and a very light coat of glue is applied along the binding edge to hold the leaves together temporarily. A number of leaves, or a "section," between 0.055 and 0.065 inch in thickness (depending upon the thickness of the paper) is then sewn, either by hand, or, more commonly, in an oversewing machine. The thread passes through the section perpendicular to the plane of the paper (Holloway method) or obliquely. This later, diagonal method is known as the CHIVERS method, which is employed in oversewing machines. Altogether, about 5/16 or 6/16th inch of the binding margin is consumed by the process.

Hand oversewing was in common use by the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, particularly for large books and those with loose plates. The oversewing machine, which was invented and perfected in the first quarter of the 20th century, is the principal sewing machine employed by library binders in the United States. (22 , 236 , 255 )




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