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Re: concave spine

An interesting question, and one that I was mentioning just the other day.

During my apprenticeship in the early 1970's, my mentor, Bill Anthony, was telling me about the BOOK OF KELLS. Roger Powell had restored that great Irish treasure in the 1950's. When the beautiful pages are exhibited, the sewing structure and spine are supported by a wooden dowel that is inserted.
Bill described the stress that a book encounters as the book is opened and the spine moves from a convex shape to the concave. Why do we force a book to do that? He explained the swelling that is created by the sewing thread, and how we, obviously, manage that swelling by rounding a book with the convex shape.
He wondered what would happen if the book were bound with the concave- shape built-in ---- a shape that is seen on some well-used flat-spine books, such as, thick telephone books.
In order to learn more, we prepared an old discarded text-block by sewing on it on linen tapes. After gluing up the spine, we reversed the round to accommodate the swelling, thus producing a concave spine. Since we were thinking that the book should look "normal", we prepared a piece of wood --- #1 pine (without knots) from the local carpenter, as I recall -- to fit the concave shape; the linen tapes were then wrapped around the wood. Then another piece of wood was shaped for a "normal" spine, but this wood was wider to allow a "normal" shoulder to accommodate the boards. The binding was quarter leather with vellum sides.
The true beauty of the binding was obvious upon opening. The book functioned magnificently with no stress or strain -- the pages lay flat --- the gutter margin easily viewed --- absolutely perfect and a dream binding to behold.

Sadly, Bill died on February 8, 1989. This one and only "reverse- round" book seems to be lost as it was not part of Bill's collection. I would love to see that first book again. Many of Bill's other binding structures can be seen at the University of Iowa, Center for the Book.

As we all know, James Brockman has furthered the development of this interesting and unique structure, something that deserves further investigation for that special book ---- or perhaps for all books, if that were possible.

Bill Minter

On Mar 26, 2009, at 7:20 PM, George Baker wrote:

I am tempted to try a concave spine, ala James Brockman. As an engineer the benefit to page attachment and drape appeal to me. I would appreciate any comments from those who have knowledge of, or personal experience with,, such bindings. George Baker


William Minter Bookbinding & Conservation, Inc.
4364 Woodbury Pike
Woodbury, PA  16695
Fax:   814-793-4045
Email:    wminter@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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