Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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Smyth, David McConnell ( 1833-1907 )

An Irish-American, who was for the most part self taught. and who become a prolific inventor and one of the foremost pioneers in the design of bookbinding equipment. One of his first machines was an "all along" sewing machine which he patented in 1868. This machine used straight needles, the number depending on the long dimension of the book (but always one more than the number of tapes used). The notched (sawn) sections, open and flat, were fed by hand above the needles and positioned so that the needles protruded through the saw cuts. A spring-loaded. hand-operated rod passed thread to the hooked needles and retracted. The operator had to refold the section. closing it over the stitch before feeding another.

Smyth also patented a multiple-stitch, off-and-on book sewing machine in 1879. the same year the Smyth Manufacturing Company was organized. Since that time, the Smyth Company has developed more than fifteen versions of the Smyth sewing machine, including a machine that will simultaneously sew "two-up," i.e., two separate, but not yet cut apart, books (imposed for printing "two-up.") This model can take sections from 3 to 10 1/2 inches in width, up to 7 1/2 to 19 inches in height at a speed up to 85 sections a minute. The company has also designed and produced a number of other bookbinding machines, including case-making, gluing and pasting, book trimming, casing-in machines, etc.

David Smyth's contribution to book sewing was such that his name is virtually synonymous in the United States with machine book sewing. See a1so: MACHINE SEWING . (89 )

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