Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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binder's board

The wood, pasted paper, single- or multiple-ply sheets, or other base stock, for the covers of any bound or cased book, i.e., any book in hard covers. Boards, in one form or another, have been used to cover and thereby protect the leaves of codices since the earliest times of bookbinding.

Although PASTEBOARD (1) was used very early in the Near East, in Europe, until about 1500, boards were nearly always made of wood (usually oak), hence the name. These wooden boards varied greatly in thickness, even up to one inch, although it is entirely possible that very thick boards were designed to contain relics, as well as to cover the book. The use of wooden boards began to decline in favor of pasteboards during the first quarter of the 16th century, and in time paper "boards" virtually replaced wood entirely, except in certain novelty or specialty uses.

Boards made of tarred rope, sailcloth, netting, and the like, came into use in England for more expensive bindings sometime around the beginning of the 18th century, and continued to be employed extensively until World War Il, or for sometime thereafter, when they became very expensive and difficult to procure. These so-called tar, semi-tar, and rope boards, which are generally referred to as MILLBOARD (1) , are very hard and stiff.

The binder's boards of today are usually made of paper and are available in many weights and thicknesses. Machine-made boards are generally available in four qualities: 1) machine boards, including a wide range of boards made from paper on a cylinder or Fourdrinier machine. These are usually single-ply, solid boards made to full thickness in one operation. They generally range in thickness from 0.030 to 0.300 inch; 2). STRAWBOARD , which originally was the yellowish board from Holland (and was sometimes called Holland board), but which now represents a generic board made from straw or similar material; 3) CHIPBOARD , made from waste paper, wood chips, and other inexpensive materials; and 4)RAG BOARD , made from rag stock.

In terms of permanence, the various types of boards used today are probably of equal quality. Even old strawboard, which would appear to be the least permanent of all, shows little deterioration with age, even after a hundred years. Its characteristic brittleness is a physical property of this type of board and has little to do with deterioration. That boards in general deteriorate very little may be due largely to the fact that the boards of a book are generally, though not always, completely covered over and are thus largely protected from atmosphere, light, and other potentially damaging effects. It is perhaps interesting to note that, in terms of permanence (as the term is generally understood), strawboard and pasteboard, possibly due to the absence of metallic impurities, are probably more "permanent" than the hard and tough millboard.

The weight (thickness) of the boards used in bookbinding should be appropriate to the size and weight of the volume being bound, and will generally range in thickness between 0.060 inch and, in the case of very large volumes, 0.205 inch in thickness. See also: LAMINATED BOARD . (143 , 162 , 180 , 198 , 230 , 236 )

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