Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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paring

The process of thinning leather by cutting away the flesh side, or shaving the edges, i.e., beveling the edges that are to be turned in. A PARING MACHINE is generally used for the thinning process (or a SPOKESHAVE if no paring machine is available), while a PARING KNIFE is used for shaving or beveling.

Very little if anything is known of the method or methods used by binders to reduce thickness in the early days of covering books with leather, but it is entirely possible that from about the latter part of the 16th century they purchased leather from the manufacturer in the required thickness and then simply pared the edges.

During the 19th century there were no paring machines in use in binderies, nor were there any spokeshaves. There is no evidence of any paring of leather other than edges during the first half of the 19th century; consequently it must be assumed that the leather was purchased already pared, or was purchased and then sent out to be pared as required. (161 , 236 , 335 )




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