Bookbinding, and the Care of Books, by Douglas Cockerell

Chapter XVII

Pasting down End Papers — Opening Books

Pasting Down End Papers

When the finishing is done, the end papers should be pasted down on to the board; or if there is a leather joint, the panel left should be filled in to match the end paper.

To paste down end papers, the book is placed on the block with the board open (see Fig. 117, A), the waste sheets are torn off, the joints cleared of any glue or paste, and the boards flattened, as described at page 171 for pasting down leather joints. One of the paste-down papers is then stretched over the board and rubbed down in the joint, and the amount to be cut off to make it fit into the space left by the turn-in of the leather is marked on it with dividers, measuring from the edge of the board. A cutting tin is then placed on the book, the paste-down paper turned over it, and the edges trimmed off to the divider points with a knife and straight-edge, leaving small pieces to cover the ends of the joint (Fig. 117, A, c).

The cutting and pasting down of these small pieces in the joint are rather difficult; they should come exactly to the edges of the board.

Fig. 117.
Fig. 117.

When both paste-down papers are trimmed to size, one of them is well pasted with thin paste in which there are no lumps, with a piece of waste paper under it to protect the book. The joints should also be pasted, and the paste rubbed in with the finger and any surplus removed.

The pasted paper is then brought over on to the board, the edges adjusted exactly to their places, and rubbed down. The joint must next be rubbed down through paper. It is difficult to get the paper to stick evenly in the joint, and great nicety is needed here. All rubbing down must be done through paper, or the “paste-down” will be soiled or made shiny.

Some papers stretch very much when pasted, and will need to be cut a little smaller than needed, and put down promptly after pasting. Thin vellum may be put down with paste in which there is a very little glue, but thicker vellum is better put down with thin glue. In pasting vellum, very great care is needed to prevent the brush-marks from showing through. If the vellum is thin, the board must be lined with white or toned paper with a smooth surface. This paper must be quite clean, as any marks will show through the vellum, and make it look dirty.

When one side is pasted down the book can be turned over without shutting the board, and the other board opened and pasted down in the same way (see Fig. 117, B). In turning over a book, a piece of white paper should be put under the newly-pasted side, as, being damp, it will soil very readily. When both ends have been pasted down the joints should be examined and rubbed down again, and the book stood up on end with the boards open until the end papers are dry. The boards may be held open with a piece of cardboard cut as shown at Fig. 71.

If there are cloth joints they are put down with glue, and the board paper is placed nearly to the edge of the joint, leaving very little cloth visible.

In the process of finishing, the boards of a book will nearly always be warped a little outward, but the pasted end papers should draw the boards a little as they dry, causing them to curve slightly towards the book. With vellum ends there is a danger that the boards will be warped too much.

Opening Newly Bound Books

Before sending out a newly bound book the binder should go through it, opening it here and there to ease the back. The volume is laid on a table, and the leaves opened a short distance from the front, and then at an equal distance from the back, and then in one or two places nearer the centre of the book, the leaves being pressed down with the hand at each opening. If the book is a valuable one, every leaf should then be turned over separately and each opening pressed down, beginning from the centre and working first one way and then the other. In this way the back will be bent evenly at all points. When a book has been opened, it should be lightly pressed for a short time without anything in the joints.

If a book is sent out unopened, the first person into whose hand it falls will probably open it somewhere in the centre, bending the covers back and “breaking” the back; and if any leaves chance to have been stuck together in edge-gilding, they are likely to be torn if carelessly opened. A book with a “broken” back will always have a tendency to open in the same place, and will not keep its shape. It would be worth while for librarians to have newly bound books carefully opened. An assistant could “open” a large number of books in a day, and the benefit to the bindings would amply compensate for the small trouble and cost involved.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06