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The art and transformation of Book Binding throughout the 19th Century.

The 19th Century was a time of change. The level of literacy increased and with it, the demand for books by the wider public.

The book binding industry responded by seeking alternative materials as well as cheaper and faster methods of production. The binding style up until this time in history had been hand sewn or formally known as ‘Sewn Bound’.

Vellum and leather were the traditional cover materials but these were expensive and in short supply.

The most successful new cover material was a linen fabric. This could be mass produced whilst maintaining a top quality finish, even allowing for personalized finishes in the form of an embroidered cover. Today the non-leather options are extensive ranging from paper based materials to fabrics and PU materials.

Further still, publishers discovered they could reduce costs by producing their own bindings instead of paying independent book binders. As time went on, many publishing houses started investing in machinery to assist with the growing demand of lower cost books.

The industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries had a national effect on book production. The pages of books, namely history books, were now being glued together as opposed to hand stitched. Today this method is known as ‘Perfect Bound’.

Towards the middle of the 19th Century, the trend for giving books as decorative gifts increased, as did the demand for novelty in the bindings, resulting in exciting and unusual combinations of materials and techniques. The world of book production had had a revolution of its own kind.

However, these economical methods did not dampen the desire for beautiful hand bound books. Book binding firm Gruiel had commissioned Engelmann and Graf to produce covers and manuscripts. The request for a number of alternative bindings styles ensured a variety of price points thereby ensuring a wide audience was captured.

Today, there are number of binding styles which cover budgets and requirements. The most cost effective being ‘Saddle Stitched’ which consists of folded paper held together with staples down the spine, to ‘Sewn Bound’ which is most often inserted into a casebound notebook and consists of pages’ being glued and stitched together for best quality binding.

Other commonly used binding methods include:

Loop Stitched, Stab Stitched or Side Stitched, Perfect Bound, Tape Bound, Sewn Bound, Screw Bound, Plastic Grip bound, Spiral Bound, Coil Bound, Wire-O Bound.

Rollo London notebooks are produced using only the finest quality materials and binding methods. Each product has a glued and sewn spine simulating the Sewn Bound method. In order to ensure every piece embraces a lasting quality and every piece is identical, machines are used when necessary. Rollo London proudly combines traditional production methods with modern methods and materials. The Rollo London premium range is produced from a sustainable FSC registered material ensuring the best quality is maintained whilst maintaining an environmentally sustainable focus. Further still, where possible Rollo London products re UK produced.

References: V & A – Tradition and transformation of 19th Century book binding

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