A book has always been a thing of wonder to me. Both the assembly and content of a book have been these magical things that I have never thought possible for me to do myself. While I am still a long way off from writing my own novel and creating the content of books, because of this class the structure of a book has been removed from the cloud of mystery it once was under. I now have learned how books are put together and bound.

To make a finely bound hardcover book, 8 to 16 leaves of paper are stacked together and folded in half. These folded stacks are called signatures. (


Each signature is sewn together, and then all the signatures are stacked and sewn to form a text block.

To make the cover, or case, a piece of binding board is cut that is 1/8th of an inch longer on all edges than the size of the text block. They are then glued using PVA glue to a piece of cut book cloth. The edges of the cloth are then notched, carefully folded, and glued down.

The text block is then glued into the casing of the book and the end sheets glued to the cover. (



In the Royal Edition of Anthony Trollope’s works, there are a few full page illustrations depicting scenes from the novel. They are accompanied by a thin, tissue paper with a quote from the text.


An illustration table lists the page number of each illustration, and includes the word “photogravures.”


Photogravures were instrumental in the development of photography and helped establish photography as a fine art. Using this process, books could be printed with high quality prints of photographs instead of the wood or metal carvings that had formerly been used. (Art of the Photogravure)

The process of making a photogravure print begins with cleaning and polishing a copper plate. The image to be used is transferred onto a gelatin tissue using the original negative. The gelatin tissue is placed on the copper plate and soaked in hot water to allow the gelatin containing the image to adhere to the plate. This gelatin is dried, and then the plate is placed into a series of acid baths that etch the image onto the metal.

Here is a short video that shows the etching process.

Once the image on the plate is finished, printing can begin.

Ink is placed onto the plate and smoothed out. The excess ink is removed using various methods including a tarlatan cloth, phone book pages, and the hands. The plate is then pressed onto the paper and the image is transferred.

This video is a bit long, about 10 minutes, but it shows the photogravure printing process very well.


Books used to be written entirely by hand. This made them expensive and time consuming to produce. The invention of movable type for printing changed that completely and provided a quick and cost effective way to disseminate knowledge. China was once again ahead of the game on inventing this, much like they were with paper, and had type made from baked clay as early at the eleventh century. Korea used metal to create their movable type in 1377, nearly 1,000 years before Gutenberg would during his invention of the printing press (University of Manchester).

To make metal type, molds called matrices would be made by punching metal in the desired shape of a letter. A mold would then be cast of that matrix, creating the mirror-image single letter of type that will then be arranged to form words and used to print (Chappell, A Short History of the Printed Word).

This picture shows matrices ready for casting (Wikimedia).


As I previously mentioned in my post on printing, a Linotype machine would have probably been used to arrange the type for the printing of this book.

Unfortunately, the Royal Edition of Anthony Trollope’s works does not contain a colophon. This means that my search for the type of type used in the book became ten times harder. I used’s font identifier tool to help in my search. After answering a series of questions about the shapes of the letters in the text, I was presented with a list of 20 possible types that could match the one used in my book. This is a really nifty and easy tool to help narrow down a manageable list of options.

The top match on my list was Kings Caslon Regular. I’m certainly not an expert, but looking at the sample, it is very likely that this is the type I was looking for. According to Adobe, the basic Caslon font was first cut in 1722 by William Caslon. Caslon was a gunsmith coerced into creating a type by William Bowyer. (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography) The type was apparently known as “the script of kings” and had many royal uses, but was also used for the first printed version of the Declaration of Independence. My book seems to be in lofty company.


“Do you even know how paper is made? It’s not like steel, you don’t put it into a furnace. If you put paper into a furnace do you know what would happen? You’d ruin it” – Michael Scott

I use paper everyday. Most everyone does. Notebook paper for taking notes in class, post-its for reminders to pick up milk on the way home, checks to pay rent, it’s all paper. All those different types of paper are made in basically the same way, and have been made essentially the same way ever since the Chinese Han Dynasty first began making paper in AD 105.

The paper making process is not terribly hard to understand. To begin, a pulp is made from fabric rags, plant fibers, or recycled paper. During the 1900s, a Hollander Beater would have likely been used to beat the materials into pulp.


This machine was invented in 1680, and iterations of it are still used today including portable versions such as the Oracle Beater, which is designed to fit into a suitcase. (

Once the pulp is made, it is suspended in water and a wooden frame stretched with mesh screen is placed down into the mixture. The pulp spreads across the mesh screen and is lifted out of the water. Felt is then used to help pull excess water out of the newly formed paper. Several layers of paper and felt are sometimes stacked together and then pressed to aid in water removal. The paper is then hung up to dry.

Though the process has become more and more mechanical, it has retained these general steps since its invention. Here is a short video showing the modern, industrial way paper is made using wood fibers.

Wood is primarily used to make paper now because of a rag shortage in 1850. Since there was a shortage of fabric fibers, an alternative source of pulp needed to be found and wood became the solution. Using wood kickstarted a rapid growth of paper mills in the US. Many of these newly opened mills opened up in Maine, beginning in 1868. Many New England states had huge paper factories, but Maine led the nation in pulp and paper production. (

My Anthony Trollope books were published by Dodd, Mead, and Company around 1900. Dodd, Mead, and Company was located in New York. I find it very likely that the paper used in my book could have came from and been manufactured in Maine.

Printing in 1900

My book of study was published in 1900. Though I don’t know exactly how my book was printed, I have a few ideas of how it might have been.

The Platen Jobber press was popular and widely used at the time. This type of press got its name because a platen is the flat metal plate that is pressed against the paper to cause the impression by the block of type on the opposite side. An illustration from Wikipedia Commons will help at this point to understand what I mean and how this thing works –


This is what a platen press generally looked liked, with a few modifications to the basic structure of the machine based on the date it was manufactured and who manufactured it. (

lightning jobber.thumbnail

Here are a couple of cool videos of them in action.

The modern version of the platen press that could have potentially been used to print my book was invented in 1851 by George Gordon of New York. This machine was called The Alligator, because it had a reputation of catching and crushing the hands and fingers of the men operating it.

Though the platen was a popular press at the time, everything I have read makes it seem as if it were really only used for small jobs such as newspapers or cards. While it’s possible that my book could have been printed this way, it is probably not very likely.

Rather, it may have been printed using a cylinder press, which had first been invented in 1832. These cylinder presses used the same type of concept as a platen press to make their impressions, only the type was set on a curved plate that rolls over the paper (Harry Ransom Center at University of Texas).

cylinder press

The type for this press could have been set using a linotype machine. Edward Aveling describes the linotype in an article for Time from 1890. According to him linotype “does the work of six men” and he considers it the second biggest revolution in printing, the first being movable type. A linotype machine looks similar to a typewriter (


The operator of the linotype would press each letter that he needed for each line that was to be printed. The machine would pick up that letter and set in in the correct spot. When finished, the machine would even sort the letters back into their corresponding boxes for storage until they were needed again. This machine was a big deal, as it meant that the time consuming process of setting type by hand was no longer necessary. This machine was generally used by large companies, so I am pretty confident that this would have been the method of type setting by Dodd, Mead, and Company for the printing of my book.

History Through A Bookplate

This past week in class, we participated in The First Great Morrow Stack Book Hunt. These were our instructions.

Book Hunt

As we descended into the stacks, I must admit that I had a slight advantage over my classmates in this competition. One of the books in the set I have chosen as my book of study contains a bookplate, so I already knew I could find at least one. The Duke’s Children, Volume II is the title in the set that contains this bookplate, belonging to Philander Moore.


This is a very pretty and realistic looking bookplate, depicting a serene river. Sadly, an online search of the name did not produce any significant results. The best hit I could find on this name is a University of Mississippi football player, who I am pretty confident is not the owner of this bookplate and book. The identity of the owner of this bookplate remains a mystery.

I must have a lucky touch down in the stacks though. During The Great Morrow Stack Book Hunt, I happened upon yet another set of books that also contained a bookplate. This set is titled The Peasants by Ladislas Reymont. On the title page it is described as “A Tale of Our Times in Four Volumes.”

The Peasants Cover Peasants Title Pages

Now this book is already cool, because it is an Alfred Knopf book. Founded in 1915, Knopf is apparently a big deal in the publishing world. The thing I was most interested in this book for however, was tipped into the cover.

Rufus Switzer Bookplate

This is a cool bookplate. I can only imagine that the library depicted was Rufus Switzer’s personal library. But who was this guy? I searched his name online not expecting much to pop up, but I was surprised and thrilled with what I found.

Rufus Switzer was a lawyer who first came to Huntington, WV in 1891. Immediately I’m impressed and feel a connection with this guy. I am planning to attend law school next fall, so the fact that the original owner of the book I found was an attorney is really neat.

When Switzer settled into Huntington, he began getting himself involved with the local politics winning first City Councilman and then becoming Mayor in 1909. As Mayor, Switzer encountered several upset citizens who didn’t want a planned city  incinerator near their homes. To settle the matter, Switzer pushed for the purchased land to become a public park. The city of Huntington had never had a park before, but thanks to Switzer’s insistence Ritter Park was formed (The Herald Dispatch.)

rufus switzer

Huntington was expanded by Mayor Switzer as well, bringing the towns of Guyandotte and Central City into Huntington city limits (Legendary Locals of Huntington.) Switzer continued to help the community of Huntington even after his death. His will provided that his estate be the foundation of both the Huntington Museum of Art and the Huntington Clinical Foundation. And, apparently, some of his books were donated to the Marshall College Library.

The illustrator of Switzer’s bookplate is Bank B. Gordon. While I can find many other examples of his book plates online, including this bookplate for silent film star Lionel Atwill, I cannot seem to find much on his life. I do find it impressive however that Switzer commissioned a bookplate artist to design his personal bookplate.

I am amazed at all the history that can be discovered through one simple piece of paper glued into the inside of a book.

An Unusual Book

Though I’m sure you’re eager to learn more about my Anthony Trollope books of study, this week I’ll be talking about an unusual book instead.

The unusual book I found is titled Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock. I stumbled across this book by accident while online. It instantly caught my attention due to the way the book is constructed and the story is presented.

Griffin and Sabine tells the story of two artists who correspond with each other through letters and artwork. Though Griffin wonders if Sabine could simply be a figment of his imagination and loneliness, the two slowly fall in love.

griffin and sabine

The book is richly illustrated. When asked about the illustrations, author Nick Bantok told that, “If you took a standard novel and knocked out every second word- that’s how much sense my books would make if you took out the images. If you choose to ignore them you’re only getting half the story.”

Though admittedly, beautiful illustrations alone do not make a book unusual.

The real star of this book is the construction. Since the plot involves the two main characters writing letters to each other, the book includes real envelopes with real letters inside. To read the story, one must open up the envelopes and unfold the letter just like reading someone’s real mail.



I’ve never encountered such an interactive adult book. It is reminiscent of a children’s pop up book. The envelopes inside the pages are hand-stuffed, it is clear that such an unusual book has been carefully put together with care.

If you would like to learn more about this author and his works, his website is

A Slight Bending of The Rules

On Marshall University’s campus there are two libraries.

There is the John Deaver Drinko Library, which is the newer library built in 1998 that most every student is familiar with. And then there is the James E. Morrow Library. This library is home to the Morrow stacks, a big Government Document collection, and the Special Collections. The Morrow Library opened in 1930 and is a library that most students never step foot into. A big part of this could be due to the pervasive rumors that the stacks are haunted, but it is more likely that students just don’t believe that they could find anything interesting or useful in such an old building filled with such old books.

Even though I am a big book and library lover, I too had never ventured into Morrow during my nearly four years here as a student. I was intimidated and thought that I needed an academic reason to go wandering around in such a library. Thankfully now by being in this class, I have found my reason. Even though I’ve learned that the librarians in Morrow Library would have been happy to just let me explore!

This past week we were turned loose in the stacks and I had a great time wandering around and trying not to get lost in the maze of books. There were many books I found to be fascinated by, but my eye was particularly drawn to this Royal Edition set of works by Anthony Trollope.

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When I was younger, my mom enrolled me in a book subscription which sent me three of The Babysitter’s Club books (by Ann M. Martin) each month. I had a rather impressive (well, impressive to an eleven year old) collection of these books lined up on my shelf. When I spotted this set of books they reminded me of that type of subscription service. I was intrigued.

I have zero idea who Anthony Trollope was. Not a clue. Apparently, it’s this guy.

anthony trollope

Nice beard.

When I Googled him, I was surprised to find that he was actually a very prolific Victorian era author. According to the webpage of The Trollope Society, a society founded to “promote and publish” his works, Trollope actually wrote three times more novels than Charles Dickens did. He was most famous for a series of novels knows as the Barsetshire novels, which were set in the fictional English county of Barset.

This particular set of books were copyrighted and published by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1900, and seem to have been published and released over a couple of years. To give some perspective, one of the books in the set, “The Last Chronicle of Barset”, was originally published in 1867. While this set is not a first edition, I believe it is still worth of study. Dodd, Mead and Company was one of the early American publishing houses which began in 1839 and continued to publish until 1989 (University of Delaware).

While it may technically be a bending of the rules, I am going to submit this Royal Edition set of Trollope’s works as my book(s) of study.  They all seem to be printed and bound in the same manner, but certain titles in the set have special extras (such as a book plate inside the cover of one, but that will be another post in itself!) that I know I will want to look into more. It was far too hard to choose only one book out of this set, probably as hard as it would be for a mother to pick out a favorite child.