Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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hollow back ( hollow back binding )

A binding having a space between the spine of the text block and the spine of the cover. resulting from the covering material being attached at the joints (or a one-piece cover in the style of a case binding) and not glued to the spine of the text block. Sometimes a Hollow is glued to the text block and covering material; in library binding, however, generally only an INLAY (1) is glued to the covering material, while in edition binding there is usually no support of any kind.

The hollow hack binding is believed to have originated in France in about 1770, but it was little used in England before about 1800. It was still comparatively rare in craft binding until about 1820. when the semi-elliptical spine with its pronounced shoulders began to be replaced by the structurally inferior flat spine, which had almost no shoulders and therefore provided little support. The combination of this weaker spine and the use of the hollow hack on books which then did not normally need them has resulted in many of the bindings of that time falling apart, while those bound with tight backs years earlier are still in good condition, except for broken joints.

The advantages of the hollow back, which is used almost universally in library and edition binding, are: 1) the tooling or lettering on the spine will not flex and crack; 2) in hand binding. covering is less exacting; 3) in edition and library binding, the cover (case) can be made separately; 4) in hand binding, sewing is faster because it is on tapes rather than cords; and 5) overall. it is a much more economical method than tight-back binding. See also: OXFORD HOLLOW . (156 , 236 , 343 )

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