In a Bind, the Art of Book Binding

This week in class we will be learning the art of bookbinding. The art of bookbinding is so much more in depth than I ever imagined. There are so many different aspects of bookbinding. There are the decisions of what material to bind the book in, hard or soft bound book, signatures, and headbands. These various options allow there to be a wide variety of binding techniques. Knowing that I would be writing a blog on this, I was very torn about what book to choose in the beginning of the course to study because of the case. Originally, I wanted to pick one of the old, rebound leather books from Marshall’s Rosanna A. Blake Library of Confederate History in the special collections, but instead I chose to study “The Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson” by his widow, Mary Anna Jackson. This book was printed in 1895, so the book was printed during the time in which the Smyth sewing machine was used frequently to sew the signatures of the book together.The book was hard bound, in which case a board was cut to make a hard cover for either side of the book and to create the spine. The book features a cloth binding with lots of gold gilding on the cover. This book does not have a headband though (No one must have taught “Stonewall” Jackson the importance of accessorizing). Below is a video of the Smyth sewing technique.

Below is a video on how to make a case bound book, which is attaching the hard cover to the text block.

I hope that these videos help you to better understand just how much effort is put into making a truly beautiful book. Without this class, I never would have understood just how amazing and challenging it is to make a case bound book.


During the late 1700’s a new method for printing illustrations was introduced. This method, lithography, does not require carving like the previous methods used for illustration required. Lithography uses a greasy substance to attach the ink to the limestone plate to form an image that can be transferred onto paper. The process for creating this image involves drawing the image with oil and then treating it with a mixture of acid and gum. The acid and gum arabic help to etch the areas of the limestone that were not covered in oil. Then, water was applied to the plate, and it settled in the etched areas of the plate. After the water settled into the etched areas, an oil based ink would be applied to the plate. Because water and oil repel each other, the oil would be pushed away from the etched areas that are retaining water and would stick only to the oily image. Once, the ink sticks to the plate, it can be pressed to paper and will cause the image drawn in the oil to be printed on the paper.

I believe that this was the technique used to print the many illustrations the my book of study, “Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson” by his widow Mary Anna Jackson. This book has so many beautiful illustrations in it, and it would have been extremely time consuming and inefficient for the publishers to have used another medium for printing illustrations. Lithography was less time consuming and more efficient in that more copies can be made per plate than with the previous techniques used for printing in illustrations. Also, lithography did not require the time consuming effort of having to carve out the image perfectly into a plate, but simply allowed the artist to draw their illustration onto the plate with oil and then use the much faster method of using acid, gum arabic, and water to create the illustration on the plate so that it can be properly used for printing. Below are a few examples of the many lithographic illustrations in the book, “Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson.”

image from page 203 of "Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson"

image from page 203 of “Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson”

image from page 307 of "Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson"

image from page 307 of “Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson”

image from page 465 of "Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson"

image from page 465 of “Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson”

There’s a New Serif in Town

In the book I am studying, “Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson” by his widow Mary Anna Jackson the font appears to be placed by a Linotype press.  The Linotype was invented in the U.S. in 1884. The linotype press placed entire lines of type for printing, rather than just individual letter typesetting, which allowed for a much faster and more efficient form of printing in the late 1800’s. Which lead to new types being created and used. Based on comparisons between the book and the Adobe Type Library, I believe that the type used to print this edition of the book was Didone. The Didone type is characterized by its use of contrast between thick and thin lines. A type like this was not possible before the late 1800’s because the paper could not accommodate the fine hairlines associated with this particular type.

Another interesting fact about this type is that Didone, which was named after Didot and Bodoni, is characterized by its use of slab like serifs that don’t use brackets. The lack of brackets are possible due to the improvements made to paper in the 1800’s that allows sharper lines. Brackets are the curved or wedged line that connects the serif and the stem of the letter.The picture posted below provides a clear illustration of brackets highlighted in blue while the serifs and stem are in black. The lack of brackets on types with serifs allow a clean, crisp line that did not used to be available before the improved paper came along.

Image from

Writing on Wall (Paper)

During the early nineteenth century, a machine was invented that could make a continuous roll of paper. This was developed first in France by Nicolas Louis Robert between 1798 and 1806. Then, a model of the machine was taken to England, where it was patented. This was later named the Foudrinier machine after Henry and Sealy Foudrinier who subsidized the machines further development in England. The development of this machine changed the paper making process forever because it allowed publishers to choose the size of the page, and was more efficient in that paper could now be made in rolls that could later be cut into sheets of different sizes, rather than be formed in predetermined sheets. Because the Foudrinier machine was developed in England so early, I believe that they were exporting paper rolls to the U.S. by the mid 1800’s. Therefore, the paper used to print “The Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson” by his widow, Mary Anna Jackson would have most likely been on a roll made by a Foudrinier machine. I came to this conclusion because the book was published in 1895 in Kentucky, meaning that the South had begun recovering from the war financially and no longer had a blockade stopping the import of supplies to them. Below is a link to a brief video that explains how the Foudrinier machine works.

Even though my book was printed after the civil war, this week’s blog topic causes me to look back at what kind of paper was used during the civil war in the south for printing. During the Civil War, blockades were used to cut off supplies to the south. Unfortunately, the supplies cut off included paper. Due to the shortage of paper, many southern publishers had to become inventive and resourceful to stay in business. One of the few publishers who was able to be resourceful during this time was S.H. Goetzel. Because of the crippling financial situation the south was in during the war, many wealthy southerners were simply trying to survive and had no need for new wallpaper. S.H. Goetzel took notice of this and began printing on the backside of wallpaper. A few of the books he used wallpaper to make include a copy of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations bound in wallpaper and a copy of Henry the VIII and His Court by Luise Muhlbach printed on wallpaper. (This copy can now be found in LSU libraries’ special collection.) Goetzel’s ingenuity in printing and binding books with wall paper led to sheets of wallpaper being used to print newspapers on. Newspapers also went on to print editions on blue ledger paper, brown wrapping paper, and tissue paper as a way to be resourceful and survive during the war. One common misconception about the printing of books and newspapers using wallpaper was that it was ripped straight from the walls of southern parlors and then used for printing. The paper was actually taken from stores that sold them and used straight off the roll, not the walls.

Henry VIII and His Court by Luise Muhlbach. Image compliments of LSU Libraries Special Collection.

Henry VIII and His Court by Luise Muhlbach printed by S.H. Goetzel. Image compliments of LSU Libraries Special Collection.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens printed by S.H. Goetzel. Image credits to Tavistock Books.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens printed by S.H. Goetzel. Image credits to Tavistock Books.

Nobody Cares

When you consider the printing process used for most books that people have in their possession today, they are mass produced and not admired by the majority of the people who own them. Over time, the process of printing books has lost the public’s interest. Perhaps this is because the printed word is so cheaply and easily available to the public now that they don’t think about the procedure. Unfortunately, I could be counted as one of those people who has never thought or cared about the printing process of the book they are reading.

However, this week I have taken an interest in the printing process of my chosen book of study for this semester. In case you may have forgotten or haven’t read any of my previous blog posts, my book of study for this semester is “The Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson” by his widow Mary Anna Jackson.  I know that the book was printed in Louisville, Kentucky in 1895 by  the Prentice Press, Courier-Journal Job Printing Company. Unfortunately, my searches for what type of press they used at this particular press during this time has turned up fruitless. Based on my research, I can only make speculations about what type of press was used there during this time. My speculations about what kind of press they used during this time would be that they could have possibly used a monotype machine because they were invented in 1889, just a few years before the book was printed. Another option could have been that the printing press was a slightly older model because a newer model would have been expensive and they may have been short on funds as a printing press in the south post war. These older models could have included the Bullock press or Richard Hoe’s rotary press.

Image of Monotype Press courtesy of Google images

Hoe’s rotary press. compliments of google images.

A Surprise in the Stacks

During the past week in our class we went on a scavenger hunt of sorts. We were challenged to find two books with interesting bookplates and two books with interesting provenance in them. Bookplates how owners mark books from their own collection. Some are marked by a small piece of paper tipped in with a name printed on them, others are marked by a seal being imprinted, and others can be marked by a simple stamp. Provenance can include writings in a book by previous owners, items placed in the book, and book labels and stamps. Considering that most libraries don’t keep a record of provenance in their books and that they typically tear out the bookplates of previous owners, I had no clue where to start. My search started off fruitless because I didn’t think about what kind of books people would write in to leave a message to someone or would be most likely to place a bookplate. However, the search got a little better after a classmate suggested the religious section. In this section, I was able to find my four books before we were called back to class.

Despite the fact that I was able to gather all four books, I felt none of my samples were very interesting compared to my classmates. After a few students presented their findings our professor suggested that we look up the owner’s of the bookplates to see if they held some significance in the community or if there was something interesting about them to share. My search for bookplate owners was fruitless, but then an idea struck. I decided to research the name of the man in one of my provenance selections. What I originally thought would be another search that resulted in little to no results actually turned out to be extremely interesting.

Provenance found in the Morrow Library stacks.

Provenance found in the Morrow Library stacks.

The results of my search for this man were so interesting! The first piece of information that I found in my research that caught my revealed that this man was a pastor at the Norfolk Second Presbyterian Church during the civil rights movement. During this time, he was written about in Jet magazine’s Dec. 5, 1951 edition. It spoke of how he was a white pastor in Virginia preaching for the end of segregation. I found this piece of information truly fascinating, but wondered how one of his personal books came to be in Morrow Library’s possession. Upon further research, I learned that he later was the minister at Enslow Park Presbyterian Church in Huntington, WV for 25 years. During the course of his service here, he and his wife were very active in the community and involved with Marshall University, which is most likely how this book was donated. One of the craziest coincidences was discovered while searching for this book, though. I discovered this book in  the stacks on February 3, 2015 and majority of my information came from his widow’s obituary, which revealed that she had passed away on February 2, 2015. This experience of researching the provenance in this book took me on an adventure that I never would have expected from a simple note jotted down in the front of the book.

A Shady Book

photo credits to

photo credits to

This week, I was faced with the difficult task of finding an unusual book. During my search, I tried to find a book that had some unusual design element that truly spoke to me. It wasn’t until today that I came across a book that intrigued me with its unusual elements. At first glance, the book looks like any other mass produced book in modern society. However, upon closer inspection one can see seeds in the cover paper. That’s right, the first edition of We’re Getting On by James Kaelan has seeds in the cover paper. The first edition of this book was printed in 2010 and was the first book ever printed that offset its own carbon footprint. The book is also made out of 100% recycled paper.

What’s really interesting about this book is that the concept of its unusual design goes along with the subject matter of the book as well. The book tells the story of friends who escape modern conveniences and set off into the desert and make many life changing discoveries. The concept of this book’s design shirks the convenience of modern society that allows for the quick and easy mass production of books with material goods that are not concerned with the environment. The beauty of this book lies in that one can enjoy reading the book several times over if they want, and when they are done they can enjoy its beauty a second time around after they plant the book and a tree starts to grow. Perhaps one day you could even enjoy a new book while sitting under the cool shade of this one’s second life. This book’s design concept is truly beautiful in that it embraces the idea of the circle of life. Before it was a book, the the contents of the book were part of a tree and after they serve their purpose for the book they will help to grow a new tree.http://