Sunday, January 24, 2021

Indexing Shears

Lots of books have need for indexing tabs, books such as directories, address books, and ledgers. The marks for the index are placed along the fore-edge of the book. These can be half-round cuts called "thumb indexes" like those found on many dictionaries, or they can be strips of decreasing length that are cut out of the fore-edge. It is the latter I will show here. 

Mary Sullivan of Crowing Hens Bindery in Nashville, TN reached out to me about this topic and provided the beautiful images of her German-style indexing shears and an image of the one described in Wm Atkins Account Book Binding - A Classic Article on Folding, Sewing, Equipment,..., pg 33. Note: This is text is available as Print on Demand and is excerpted from The Art and Practice of Printing by John Mason, edited by Wm. Atkins. Mary, by the way makes beautiful springback bindings. Check them out on her website. They open flat and are great for writing in.

Mary Sullivan's German Indexing Shears (top).
Hickock Index Shears from Atkins, pg 33 (below).

Here is an image of shears, including the Registerschere from the 1928 catalog (pg. 38) for Braunwarth und Lüthke in Germany.

The Registerschere is 2nd from right. The elongated shape
between the handles shows the shape of the cutout.

Both feature an adjustable gauge to set the depth of the cut. So, how would one go about using these.?

First, one would need to determine how many cuts need to be made. In most traditions there are letters that might be combined, or even left out. The indexing tabs would also need to be evenly spaced out to have a clean looking index along the foredge. So, how would one do this? Math by dividing height of textblock by number of tabs, or is there an easier way? Well, it so happens that there is, reusable even. As an aside, this idea can also be easily adapted for determining sewing stations of pretty much any number for any common book. Just lay the signature on the template so that the textblock aligns at top and bottom, then transfer marks.

Index Scale Card from Atkins, pg 32.
Note "X" at the top and the added "Mc" at the bottom.

Register-Einteilungsschema from Fritz Wiese's Werkzeichnen für
, 1937. Note the combined and added indexing tabs.
We called a Registerkamm where I was an apprentice. Kamm = comb.

Paul Adams described how to cut these tabs in his Practical Bookbinding (1903) on pages 166-67.

For all such work a thumb index is generally required; each page takes one or more letters, or a specification is given, according to which the binder counts off the number of pages required for each letter—X and Y being here excluded. Nowadays, the indices are cut with index shears, which not only regulates the depth of the index but also avoids the acute angles which are so easily torn in.

Commence cutting from the back, that is, with the Z ; this, being the last letter, is not cut out. Then count off W, cut with the shears, and cut off what remains below to the bottom edge with a sharp knife, to do which a narrow thin board [or sheet of zinc] is slipped underneath. The further you proceed towards A, the longer is the strip which has to be cut out with the knife. When the excisions for the whole alphabet have been made, the letters are pasted on. These are sold ready printed, and nowadays are almost always in one piece for back and front. 

The printed sheet with the alphabet is glued or gummed on the back, and, after drying, the alphabet is creased lengthwise and either cut so or punched out with a suitable tool. The single letters are damped and stuck in position.

When cutting with the shears, it is useful to cut a manageable number of pages at a time for comfort, and to keep "round" of the foredge, such as it will be. This cutting, as well as the vertical cut described by Adam above can be done before or after sewing.

Here what the index looks like. Image taken from Mary's copy of Leonard Monk's A Text Book of Stationary Binding, 1912.

The cut out indices.

Finally, some beautiful images of Mary's German shears, with the final one of them in use.

The brass "clip" at bottom holds the shears closed when not in use.

View of the shears showing the wide cut on the right.

The shears in use showing various cut depths. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Bernie, Like Elvis, is Everywhere...

We all get to deal with "difficult" clients from time to time. It didn't help that I made Bernie wait in the cold, and that the fish skin box wasn't what he expected. Some days you can't win...

At least he was somewhat dressed for our Syracuse weather. Needs a hat.!

For those not familiar, Bernie Sanders made quite the appearance at President Joseph Biden's inauguration this past Wednesday. Here is the original picture of him in the visitors' seats, just a different view.

You can see the ever-increasing number of memes at Google. The knitting pattern for the mittens is on, account required.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Packing and Shipping Art - An Adventure

 Martha Edgerton, book conservator and artist, was one of my first supervisors and mentors when I was a wet behind the ears and ahead of myself work-study student in the Department of Conservation and Preservation (1981-84) at Johns Hopkins. I've always admired her work so was happy to give Human Enclosure II, a powerful statement on the parallels of slavery and mass incarceration here in the United States, a home. It's been wonderful to keep the connection with her all this time. 

The work is part of a larger series about the Atlantic slave trade titled The Amazing Race: The Atlantic Slave Trade Through the Pages of Book Art acquired in part by Special Collections at Johns Hopkins' Sheridan Libraries along with other works by Martha. Back in 2017, I was able to see many of those works as part of a larger exhibit at the Libraries titled Freedom Where I Stand that included many historic documents along with works of art that spoke to those themes.

Josephine Baker in Freedom Where I Stand

In the online catalog for the exhibit. 
"The theater box represents the barracoons used to temporarily jail
captured Africans until enslavement and mid-Atlantic transport.
It also speaks to the subject of mass incarceration."

I purchased the piece from a large exhibit held in Baltimore at the Creative Alliance back in July. After the close of the exhibit it took a long time to get the work shipped, and then when it arrived it was damaged in transit. Talking with Martha, she asked to complete the needed conservation treatment and shipped it back to me. That was November 30th, and it took over 6 weeks to make it back to Syracuse

COVID is real! USPS is everywhere and its employees very exposed.
Value them, they are essential!

Martha had her assistant LuLu help secure the elements and pack it up. The two of them did a great job (Martha is a very good teacher). LuLu's small fingers were no doubt an asset and really able to get in there.

LuLu preparing it for its journey.
Little did we know how long.

So, for the same reason I asked Fritz Otto to unpack. No damage this time. 

It was nice to see everything supported and secured so well.

Big supports, but very light.

The right tools for the job.

Even little supports where they were needed.

Everybody needs a hand, sometimes.

Almost done.

All done. So glad there was no damage. Thank YOU LuLu.
Perhaps we'll have a chance to meet someday.

The work really makes you think about the Black lives destroyed by slavery and mass incarceration. We can and must do so much better.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Bookbinders from Meinholds Handwerkerbilder

Below the image for bookbinding from Meinholds Handwerkerbilder. This was number 15 in the series illustrating trades. They were produced by Meinhold und Söhne, Dresden primarily as "posters" that were suspended between wooden rods for classroom use in 1924. The scan below is from a postcard series that was also issued.

Meinholds Handwerkerbild Nr. 15, Buchbinder

The Series:

Nr 1. Der Schmied / Blacksmith, Nr 2. Der Tischler Cabinetmaker, Nr 3. Der Schuhmacher Shoemaker, Nr 4. Der Schneider Tailor, Nr 5. Der Bäcker Baker, Nr 6. Der Töpfer Potter, Nr 7. Der Klempner Plumber, Nr 8. Der Böttcher Barrelmaker, Nr 9. Der Bauhandwerker Construction worker, Nr 10. Weber Weaver, Nr 11. Der Flußfischer River fisherman, Nr 12. Der Sattler Saddlemaker, Nr 13/14. Schriftsetzer und Buchdrucker Typesetter and printer, Nr 15. Der Buchbinder Bookbinder, Nr 16. Der Fleischer Butcher, Nr 17. Der Korbmacher Basketmaker, Nr 18. Der Gerber Tanner, Nr 19. Der Maschinenschlosser Machinist, Nr 20. Der Gärtner Gardner