Cloth Embossing Press

Cloth Embossing Press

Used to create the raised pattern on book cloth. The machine would have two, or more, steel rollers that would be heated by gas. One roller would have engraved design and second roller (covered with cotton or paper) would accommodate the design. Cloth would be fed between the rollers and the design would be imparted, in relief, on to the cloth.

Cutting Machine / Plow


Signature Beating Hammer

Beating Hammer

For centuries bookbinders would beat the thick hand made paper that made up book signatures to remove the swell (sponginess). These 5 to 14 lb hammers are not to be confused with the much lighter rounding and backing hammers.

Signature Rolling Machine

Signature Rolling Machine

The first piece of “modern” bookbinding equipment. Developed in the 1820’s to flatten signatures prior to sewing. Replaced the hammering or ‘beating’ of signatures to reduce swell (see beating hammer, above).

Library and Archive Wanted

  • Photographs of bookbinders, binderies or bindings
  • Signed bindings, particularly American
  • Bindings that illustrate quality of workmanship
  • Bindings illustrating unusual materials or techniques
  • Bookbinding manuals or hand written descriptions of how to bind books
  • Books or periodicals related to bookbinding not already held by the museum
  • Equipment catalogues, operating manuals, instructions or parts manuals
  • Manuscripts: letters, journals, documents related to bookbinders or bookbinding
  • Sample books: cloth, leather or paper samples
  • Oral histories of bookbinders
  • Bookbinder’s Tickets or labels
  • Images of bookbinders; photographs, engravings, or drawings
  • Women in the bookbinderies: photographs, engravings, drawings, documents, letters
  • Labor Unions: photographs, ephemera, badges, literature, certificates
  • Company histories
  • Ephemera and paraphernalia related to binderies: advertisement, signage, letterhead, invoices, price lists of services
  • Archives of pre-1930 personal and business papers of bookbinders: letters, letterheads, invoices from bookbinders, account books, ledger books
  • Advertisements for binderies or bookbinding equipment
  • Eighteenth Century Trade Binding Cutaway Model created by Karen Hanmer

Equipment Wanted

  • Machine parts for Smyth # 3 sewing machine
  • Signature rolling machine: Similar in appearance to a wringer, this machine has two steel rollers probably 8-14″ in diameter and was used to flatten signatures prior to sewing.
  • Cloth embossing machine: used to impart patterns to book cloth
  • Early Dexter folder
  • Stabbing machine: smaller machine with a handle or foot peddle with several nail like punches. used to stab hole in side of book for side sewing

Tools Wanted

  • Beating hammer, usually 12 to 14 lbs, used to hammer the folds in hand made paper (not to be confused with a backing hammer)
  • Early charcoal stove used to heat finishing tools
  • Cast Iron glue pot
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