Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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caoutchouc binding

A particular (and probably first) form ofADHESIVE BINDING , invented by William Hancock, and patented in 1836, in which the single sheets were secured with a rubber solution obtained from the latex of certain tropical plants, especially of the genera Hevea and Ficus. According to Hancock's specifications, the edges of the assembled leaves were roughened and then coated with the caoutchouc, which, when dry, was followed by one to five coatings of a stronger rubber solution. When the last coating was applied a strip of cloth coated with the caoutchouc was applied in a warm, sticky condition and rubbed down firmly.

Great numbers of these bindings were produced both in England and the United States from about 1840, and the process was used for many of the illustrated "table books" of the 1860s, as well as for many large folios printed on very thick paper. The process afforded both openability and durability, or so for the latter it was believed at the time. Both characteristics depended to a large extent on the purity of the rubber solution, and the degree to which it remained flexible. That it did not remain very flexible has been demonstrated by the fact most caoutchouc bindings have fallen apart. Also called "guttapercha binding," although incorrectly because gutta percha, which is also obtained from tropical trees was tried and found to be unsuitable. (89 , 236 )

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