Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean by Captain Cook

We happened to have three sets of three-volume-set Cook's Voyage in the bindery from different clients, so I thought it might be of an interest to you to see different editions of this well known publication. I'm posting two of them here.

This particular one is a 1785, second edition of A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, by Capt. James Cook (vols. I & II.),  and James King. (vol. III), printed by H. Hughsm for G. Nicol and T. Cadell (London). It was bound in full pasta espanora leather with stone marble endpapers. For these volumes, I was asked to insert all the missing maps, thus consequently, I had to redo the previous binder's re-backing job. (It's because the thickness of the books would expand due to the inserted maps.) As for the spine lay out, I had no choice but to "recreate" what the previous binder tried to do because I didn't know how the original spine of this particular edition of Cook's Voyage looked like. So, I dyed the leather to match the boards, and did facsimile labels based on the few original labels left by the previous binder. Also, to replace the cheap n' ugly machine made headbands that he/she used, I examined the folds of signatures to find out the original colors of sewn headbands, (which turned out to be red and green.) and sewed them. Other restoration involved replacing the internal cloth hinges and minor repairs on the edges and corners.

This is a 1784 edition of A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, by Capt. Cook, Clerke and Gore, printed by W. & A. Strahan for G. Nicol, published by T. Cadell. (London) It was bound in a quarter leather with a beautiful french curl marble and a humble set of green sewn headbands. The client asked for a minimum restoration on these volumes, so the restoration involved here was re-hinging on front hinge for one, partial hinge repair on another, recreation of a missing skiver label, and repairs on the corners.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sawn sewing holes

One of my dear YouTube subscribers contacted me regarding the use of a saw to create sewing holes on the spine. Somehow, someone else has risen similar questions as his before, so I thought I should as well share my answers to his questions here, in case someone out there is also wondering about the same thing.
NOTE: The "Q", the questions, are the exact phases given to me, - copy/paste-ed on purpose.

Q: Why do you saw-cut the holes for stitching so deep? 
A: It isn't deep. It might appear to be deeper than that of an awl due to the visible incision of the outer sheet of a signature. - The saw cuts through to the inner most layer of sheet in a signature, while the awl would pock through to it. So, the depth of the hole is basically the same in both cases.

Q: Doesn't that (deeper outer-layer incisions) affect the pages inside?
A: No. But, you don't want the incision to be too radical (especially for a normal size book), or the glue might get inside the pages and the holes might become too visible when the book is opened. (ugly!) So, it's very important not to put too many sheets in a signature, (relative to the size of your book.) and important to consider the weight of the paper you are using, and that each sheet of folded paper is tightly jogged to the fold, so to minimize any unnecessary depth of incisions. Also, do make sure to check how deep you need to saw to get to the inner sheet before you start sawing, or the incisions on the outer layers of sheets could become unnecessarily too deep.

Q: I've been stabbing holes in my signatures but the sawing looks so much easier.
A: Needless to say, no professional bookbinder would poke holes one by one by hand, simply because it's time consuming and it isn't precise, (etc). Also, sawing by a saw allows each hole to have a minute width (of which depends on the width of the saw teeth) so that the thread wouldn't catch the paper around it. And, the width of the holes is necessary for various cord-sewing.

Q: Could you use a knife instead of a saw?
A: Yes, but I wouldn't recommend it. If you just create simple cuts by a scalpel or an Exacto knife (etc.), the hole is too tightly closed and doesn't have a comfortable opening to accommodate the thread, causing an excess "flare" of paper inside the pages (like the look of a flower.) as the needle and thread are going through it. So, if you really need to use a knife, make each incision in a slight "V" shape. - Make an incision in a slight angle, and trim the other in an angle. (The second diagram on the graphic. It's hard to see, but incisions are cut in V shape.) But, I wouldn't recommend using a knife because of its inconsistency of lines, depth and cleanliness, as well as the time it takes to do it perfectly. In conclusion, there's no need to use a knife unless you have no choice but to use it. :-)