October: Month of Books (Part 2)
Don's Springback Demonstration
The springback binding is a trade binding that was originally patented in Great Britain in 1799 by John and Joseph Williams. The springback's ability to lie open and flat for long periods of time made it an ideal structure for accounts/ledger books. The Preservation and Conservation Department of the Hong Kong University Libraries comes across quite a few springbacks that require repair, as Hong Kong used to be a trading port and a finance center, where most records were kept using account books.
Don Etherington conducted a two day demonstration on the construction of a springback binding. He said that the last time he made one was when he was working as an apprentice in London when he was a teenager. He would be working on batches of springbacks and would be able to make one in three and a half hours (without the lacing). The springback is made to be durable, so durable that people used to put them on the floor to as steps to reach things on shelves. Most springbacks have a marbled edge decoration, this acts as a security measure, where it's difficult to add or take away pages without people noticing.
It was so great to see Don in action making springbacks. He ended up finishing two springbacks in the two day demonstration. It was great to see that you don't need a lot of tools or equipment to make a springback and it is supposed to be a binding structure that can be made in a few hours. He emphasized the fact that as bookbinders we should be training our eyes to measure things as this makes you work faster and more accurately (when you get really good at it that is...).