Making Their Mark: Decorating and Finishing

For Bookbinders, Finishing includes lettering, decorating and other processes that complete the binding process to identify, beautify and finish a book. Those who focus solely on this aspect of bookbinding are called Finishers. When impressions are made by hand it is called Tooling, and by machine, Blocking.

For more than five hundred years, hand tooling of leather bindings has utilized heated brass or metal stamps, pressed into the leather to make an impression. If the impressions are left unadorned it is called Blind Tooling. A common embellishment is to make the impression through gold leaf for Gold Tooling.

The American Bookbinders Museum is proud to share its collection of Finishing tools with you and to provide an overview of Finishing using both hand stamping tools and machine blocking dies. We hope you are inspired to Finish your own masterpiece

Hand Tooling

Processes

Processes used by the Finisher.

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Hand Tooling

Tools

Hand Tools of the Bookbinder for Decorating covers, backs and spines.

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Hand Tooling

Materials

Materials using during the Finishing process

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Hand Tooling

Gilding

Gold tooling: process and Tools

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Machine Blocking

Dies

Beautifully etched plates for larger designs

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Machine Blocking

Stamping

The stamping process

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Hoole Tool Company

The Hoole Tool company was America's most prolific maker of bookbinding tools. Founded by John R. Hoole and son, William E. Hoole.

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Riverside Press

Henry Houghton founded Riverside Press in 1852. The company attracted several significant publishing firms and in 1872, George Mifflin became a partner and the firm was renamed Houghton, Mifflin, & Company. Riverside was known for its typographic, stylistic, and artistic work; their motto: “Tout bien ou rien” – do it well or not at all – was part of their colophon. Riverside Press closed in 1971 after 120 years of operation.

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