Bookbinding, and the Care of Books, by Douglas Cockerell

Chapter III

Guarding — Throwing Out — Paring Paper — Soaking off India Proofs — Mounting very Thin Paper — Splitting Paper — Inlaying — Flattening Vellum


Guards are slips of thin paper or linen used for strengthening the fold of leaves that are damaged, or for attaching plates or single leaves.

Fig. 8.
Fig. 8.

Guards should be of good thin paper. That known as Whatman’s Banknote paper answers very well. An easy way to cut guards is shown in Fig. 8. Two or three pieces of paper of the height of the required guards are folded and pinned to the board by the right-hand corners. A series of points are marked at the head and tail with dividers set to the width desired for the guards, and with a knife guided by a straight-edge, cuts joining the points are made right through the paper, but not extending quite to either end. On a transverse cut being made near the bottom, the guards are left attached by one end only (see Fig. 9), and can be torn off as wanted. This method prevents the paper from slipping while it is being cut.

Fig. 9.
Fig. 9.

A mount cutter’s knife (Fig. 10) will be found to be a convenient form of knife to use for cutting guards.

In using the knife and straight-edge a good deal of pressure should be put on the straight-edge, and comparatively little on the knife.

Fig. 10. — Mount Cutter’s Knife
Fig. 10. — Mount Cutter’s Knife

To mend the torn back of a pair of leaves, a guard should be selected a little longer than the height of the pages and well pasted with white paste (see page 288). If the pair of leaves are not quite separated, the pasted guard held by its extremities may be simply laid along the weak place and rubbed down through blotting-paper. If the leaves are quite apart, it is better to lay the pasted guard on a piece of glass and put the edges of first one and then the other leaf on to it and rub down.

On an outside pair of leaves the guard should be inside, so that the glue may catch any ragged edges; while on the inside pair the guard should be outside, or it will be found to be troublesome in sewing. In handling the pasted guards care is needed not to stretch them, or they may cause the sheet to crinkle as they dry.

Fig. 11.
Fig. 11.

Plates must be guarded round the sections next them. When there are a great many plates the back margin of each, to which a guard will be attached, must be pared (see Fig. 11, A), or the additional thickness caused by the guards will make the back swell unduly. In guarding plates a number can be pasted at once if they are laid one on another, with about an eighth of an inch of the back of each exposed, the top of the pile being protected by a folded piece of waste paper (see Fig. 12). To paste, the brush is brought from the top to the bottom of the pile only, and not the other way, or paste will get between the plates and soil them. Guards should usually be attached to the backs of plates, and should be wide enough to turn up round the adjoining section, so that they may be sewn through. Should a plate come in the middle of a section, the guard is best turned back and slightly pasted to the inside of the sheet and then sewn through in the ordinary way.

Fig. 12.
Fig. 12.

If plates are very thick, they must be hinged, as shown at Fig. 11, B. This is done by cutting a strip of about a quarter of an inch off the back of the plate, and guarding with a wide guard of linen, leaving a small space between the plate and the piece cut off to form a hinge. It will save some swelling if the plate is pared and a piece of thinner paper substituted for the piece cut off (see Fig. 11, C). If the plates are of cardboard, they should be guarded on both sides with linen, and may even need a second joint.

A book that consists entirely of plates or single leaves must be made up into sections with guards, and sewn as usual. In books in which there are a great many plates, it is often found that two plates either come together in the centre of a section, or come at opposite sides of the same pair of leaves. Such plates should be guarded together and treated as folded sheets (see Fig. 13).

Fig. 13.
Fig. 13.

In order to be sure that the pages of a book to be guarded throughout will come in their proper order, it is well to make a plan of the sections as follows, and to check each pair of leaves by it, as they are guarded:—

Thus, if the book is to be made up into sections of eight leaves, the pairs of leaves to be guarded together can be seen at once if the number of the pages are written out —

First the inside pair, 7 and 9, are guarded together with the guard outside, then the next pair, 5 and 11, then 3 and 13, and then the outside pair, 1 and 15, which should have the guard outside. A plan for the whole book would be more conveniently written thus —

1-15 17-31 33-47
3-13 19-29 35-45
5-11 21-27 37-43
7-9 23-25 39-41

and so on.

To arrange a book of single leaves for guarding, it is convenient to take as many leaves as you intend to go to a section, and opening them in the centre, take a pair at a time as they come.

The number of leaves it is advisable to put into a section will depend on the thickness of the paper and the size and thickness of the book. If the paper is thick, and the backs of the leaves have been pared, four leaves to a section will be found to answer. But if the paper is thin, and does not allow of much paring, it is better to have a larger section, in order to have as little thread in the back as possible.

The sheets of any guarded book should be pressed before sewing, in order to reduce the swelling of the back caused by the guards.

Throwing Out

Fig. 14.
Fig. 14.

Maps or diagrams that are frequently referred to in the text of a book, should be “thrown out” on a guard as wide as the sheet of the book. Such maps, &c., should be placed at the end, so that they may lie open for reference while the book is being read (see Fig. 14). Large folded maps or diagrams should be mounted on linen. To do this take a piece of jaconet and pin it out flat on the board, then evenly paste the back of the map with thin paste in which there are no lumps, and lay it on the linen, rub down through blotting-paper, and leave to dry. Unless the pasting is done evenly the marks of the paste-brush will show through the linen. If a folded map is printed on very thick paper each fold must be cut up, and the separate pieces mounted on the linen, with a slight space between them to form a flexible joint.

Fig. 15.
Fig. 15.

A folded map must have in the back of the book sufficient guards to equal it in thickness at its thickest part when folded, or the book will not shut properly (see Fig. 15).

Paring Paper

For paring the edge of paper for mending or guarding, take a very sharp knife, and holding the blade at right angles to the covering-board, draw the edge once or twice along it from left to right. This should turn up enough of the edge to form a “burr,” which causes the knife to cut while being held almost flat on the paper. The plate or paper should be laid face downwards on the glass with the edge to be pared away from the workman, the knife held in the right hand, with the burr downwards. The angle at which to hold the knife will depend on its shape and on the thickness and character of the paper to be pared, and can only be learned by practice. If the knife is in order, and is held at the proper angle, the shaving removed from a straight edge of paper should come off in a long spiral. If the knife is not in proper order, the paper may be badly jagged or creased.

Soaking off India Proofs

Place a piece of well-sized paper in a pan of warm water, then lay the mounted India proof, face downwards, upon it and leave it to soak until the proof floats off. Then carefully take out the old mount, and the India proof can be readily removed from the water on the under paper, and dried between sheets of blotting-paper.

Mounting Very Thin Paper

Very thin paper, such as that of some “India” proofs, may be safely mounted as follows:— The mount, ready for use, is laid on a pad of blotting-paper. The thin paper to be mounted is laid face downwards on a piece of glass and very carefully pasted with thin, white paste. Any paste on the glass beyond the edges of the paper is carefully wiped off with a clean cloth. The glass may then be turned over, and the pasted plate laid on the mount, its exact position being seen through the glass.

Splitting Paper

It is sometimes desirable to split pieces of paper when the matter on one side only is needed, or when the matter printed on each side is to be used in different places. The paper to be split should be well pasted on both sides with a thickish paste, and fine linen or jaconet placed on each side. It is then nipped in the press to make the linen stick all over, and left to dry.

If the two pieces of jaconet are carefully pulled apart when dry, half the paper should be attached to each, unless at any point the paste has failed to stick, when the paper will tear. The jaconet and paper attached must be put into warm water until the split paper floats off.

Inlaying Leaves or Plates

Fig. 16.
Fig. 16.

When a small plate or leaf has to be inserted into a larger book, it is best to “inlay it”; that is to say, the plate or leaf is let into a sheet of paper the size of the page of the book. To do this, a piece of paper as thick as the plate to be inlaid, or a little thicker, is selected, and on this is laid the plate, which should have been previously squared, and the positions of the corners marked with a folder. A point is made about an eighth of an inch inside each corner mark, and the paper within these points is cut out (see Fig. 16). This leaves a frame of paper, the inner edges of which will slightly overlap the edges of the plate. The under edge of the plate, and the upper edge of the mount, should then be pared and pasted, and the plate laid in its place (with the corners corresponding to the folder marks). If the edges have been properly pared, the thickness where they overlap should not exceed the thickness of the frame paper. If an irregular fragment is to be inlaid, it is done in the same way, except that the entire outline is traced on the new paper with a folder, and the paper cut away, allowing one eighth of an inch inside the indented line.

Flattening Vellum

The leaves of a vellum book that have become cockled from damp or other causes may be flattened by damping them, pulling them out straight, and allowing them to dry under pressure. To do this take the book to pieces, clean out any dirt there may be in the folds of the leaves, and spread out each pair of leaves as flatly as possible.

Damp some white blotting-paper by interleaving it with common white paper that has been wetted with a sponge. One sheet of wet paper to two of blotting-paper will be enough. The pile of blotting-paper and wet paper is put in the press and left for an hour or two under pressure, then taken out and the common paper removed.

The blotting-paper should now be slightly and evenly damp. To flatten the vellum the open pairs of leaves are interleaved with the slightly damp blotting-paper, and are left for an hour under the weight of a pressing-board. After this time the vellum will have become quite soft, and can with care be flattened out and lightly pressed between the blotting-paper, and left for a night. The next day the vellum leaves should be looked at to see that they lie quite flat, and the blotting-paper changed for some that is dry. The vellum must remain under pressure until it is quite dry, or it will cockle up worse than ever when exposed to the air. The blotting-paper should be changed every day or two. The length of time that vellum leaves take to dry will vary with the state of the atmosphere, and the thickness of the vellum, from one to six weeks.

Almost any manuscript or printed book on vellum can be successfully flattened in this way; miniatures should have pieces of waxed paper laid over them to prevent the chance of any of the fibres of the blotting-paper sticking. The pressure must not be great; only enough is needed to keep the vellum flat as it dries.

This process of flattening, although so simple, requires the utmost care. If the blotting-paper is used too damp, a manuscript may be ruined; and if not damp enough, the pressing will have no effect.

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