|machine sewn book on the left, hand sewn on the right|
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Up until the latter half of the 19th century a lot of bookbinding work was done by hand, folding, sewing, casing-in, etc. Sewing was done "all-along", or in a variation such as "two-on" after a sewing channel or "kerf" has been sawed into the spine of the text-block. As mechanization spread throughout industry eventually all of the tasks were taken over by machine. The Smyth book-sewing machine was patented in 1868, by David Smyth and was purchased by the publishing company Appleton that had an in-house bindery.
You can really see the difference between hand work and machine work in these two spines. I was cleaning the old adhesive off the spines when my colleague Melanie looked over my shoulder and pointed it out. The machine sewing is straight, paired lines of chain stitching while the hand made book on the right has crooked kerfs and is even missing one at the tail.