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|The Art of Bookbinding
by Joseph W. Zaehnsdorf
3rd Edition Published in London 1897
The cover is to be prepared and sprinkled in the same manner
as stated in marbling; the boards, however, must be bent a
little and a little water applied by a sponge in the centre of each
board to give the necessary flow of water; when the water is
thrown on, it will flow towards the centre or lowest part of the
boards, and when the sprinkle is thrown on, a tree, as it were,
will be formed. The centre being white forms the stem, and
from it branches will be formed by the gradual flow of the
streams of water as they run down.
For marbling, every thing must be ready at hand before any
water is thrown on, so that the water may not have time to run
off before the colour is applied. The water must run at the
same time that the spray is falling, or a failure will be the result.
It has been said that the marbling has discovered by an
accident; that a country bookbinder was sprinkling some books,
|when a bird, which was hung up in the shop, threw or splashed some water down on his books; the water running, took
some of the colour with it and formed veins. Liking the form it gave, the workman improved upon it and thus invented
marbling. There is, however, no doubt that it had its origin in Germany.
Tree calf seems to be coming into general use again, and to meet the demand for cheapness, a word block has been
cut resembling as closely as possible one done by the water process, and blocked in black on the calf; but, as might
have been expected, it has not found much favour.
This is a process with a sponge, charged with the black or the brown liquid, dabbed on the calf either all over the cover
or in successive order. Give the proper preparation to the calf, and be very careful that the ground tint of brown be
very even. Take a sponge of an open nature, so that the grain is pleasant to the eye; fill it with black and squeeze out
again, now dab it carefully over the calf. Repeat the operation with another sponge charged with brown. Cat’s paw,
French dab, and other various named operations all emanate from the sponge. When done properly this has a very
good effect, and give great relief to the eye when placed with a number of other books.
All these marbles and sprinkles require practice, so that a first failure must not be regarded with discouragement.
When one’s hand has got into the method with these two or three colours it is astonishing how many different styles
may be produced. In all this manipulation a better effect is obtained if a yellow tint be washed over the leather after
the sprinkle or marble has been produced. Again, by taking coloured calf and treating it the same manner as white,
some very pleasant effects are brought out; and when the colours are well chosen the result is very good. Take for
instance a green calf and marble a tree upon it, or take a light slate colour and dab it all over the black and brown.
In all operations with the copperas care must be taken that it does not get on the clothes, as it leaves an iron stain
that cannot be easily got rid of. Keep a basin for each colour, and when done with wash it out with clean water. The
same with the sponges: keep them as clean as possible; have a sponge for each colour, and use it only for that
colour. A piece of glass to put the sponges on will be of great use, and prevent the work-table or board from catching
any of the colour. A damp book or damp paper laid on a board that has been so stained will most probably be
damaged, even though it has waste paper between the work-board and book. No amount of washing will ever take
away such a stain.
When the book has been coloured, the edges and inside are to be blacked or browned according to taste, or in
keeping with the outside. The book is then ready for finishing.
Some very good results may be obtained if the binder, using coloured calf of a light brown, treats it as if it were white
calf, marbling with the usual colours; or a yellow calf, splashing it all over the salts of tartar only, the boards being
placed in a slanting direction to allow the colour to gently run down.
Or the whole of a cover may be blacked with tartar and copperas, then with a diluted solution of acid it may be
sprinkled this will give grey-white spots on black or slate ground: if, after, washing the cover be sponged over with the
same colouring liquid, such as aniline dyes, the spot will be of the colour used.
I do not give many methods or receipts for producing colours for calf, because, as before stated, the introduction of
fancy calf has rendered obsolete the old-fashioned way of boiling and preparing the different woods for making
colours, and the above will be found useful for colouring calf in many different ways.
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