Tag Archives: boards bindings

What a Joint Groove does on an Adhered-Boards Binding

The opening of an uncovered adhered-boards binding without a joint groove. Notice where the board naturally rests under its own weight.

The opening of an uncovered adhered-boards binding with a joint groove. Here, the board opens more than 180 degrees.

The traditional reason given for using a joint groove is to allow the covering material to bend backwards in a more gentle manor, so that the board swings opens more widely without bunching up on itself. This was part of the reason the joint groove made a comeback in the early years of the twentieth century on leather bound books, along with the split-board structure, as a way to use thicker leather in order to make books more durable.

This, however, is only part of the story. Adhered-boards structures are very common in early nineteenth century American leather, paper and cloth bindings. Instead of laced boards, the slips are pasted to the outermost endleaf.  Then the boards are adhered to this for about an inch or so. After this is dry, the unpasted area of the endleaf is torn off, and the boards can be trimmed to size.

As you can see in these images, the joint groove significantly affects the opening, even without any covering material. Note that it is the same book in both images, with the front board placed tight, and the back board with a joint groove.The difference surprised me. There is always something new to learn: this is what keeps me interested in the history and practice of bookbinding.

Thread Bookmark

Thread bookmark

Thomas Nuttall The Genera of North American Plants and a Catalogue of the species to the Year 1817. Philadelphia: Printed for the Author by D. Heartt, 1818.    Courtesy The Library Company of Philadelphia.

There are many kinds of bookmarks, and most often those that are attached to bindings are silk ribbons. This owner made bookmark, which is on a boards binding, almost crosses the line into becoming a kind of oddly knotted end band, which boards bindings never originally had. The fourteen separate threads are sewn into the spine, and were used to mark the pages of this presumably frequently consulted catalogue of plant species. It also seems to have stabilized the binding a bit at the head, where the spine on these  bindings often delaminates.

flowers

Thomas Nuttall The Genera of North American Plants and a Catalogue of the species to the Year 1817. Philadelphia: Printed for the Author by D. Heartt, 1818.    Courtesy The Library Company of Philadelphia.

It is also evidence against once strongly held notions that boards bindings are “temporary”. This binding not only displays considerable use (dirt, stains, flower and leaf storage) but the owner consulted it enough to warrant take the time to install this method keeping track of multiple places at one time, and used the book in the field.