|

Volume 36 - Autumn 2013


 
 

The Cambridge Panel

A step-by-step tutorial by Nick Cowlishaw
 

cambridge

This article first appeared in the 2010 edition of the 'Society of Bookbinders' journal, Bookbinder.

The Cambridge Panel, also referred to as Cambridge Calf or Cambridge Style, is a cover design which began to emerge around 1690, becoming established as the predominant style for plain leather bindings during the first thirty years of the 18th century.

David Pearson in his book English Bookbinding Styles states that Cambridge Panel Style is an inappropriate term as it was extensively used in all English bookbinding centres, not just in Cambridge, and there is no evidence to suggest that it originated there. Graham Pollard in his article Changes in the style of Bookbinding 1550 till 1830 which appeared in the 1956 edition of the Library, traced the terminology as far back as 1849.

There is speculation that the style was highly favoured by Cambridge binders in the early years of the eighteenth century and it became recognised as their speciality.

The defining features are three panels created with three rectangular frames and the use of a dye sprinkled on the leather to create varying degrees of density. The characteristic blind tooling consists of a double blind line, a decorative roll around the central rectangle and corner tools. The spine had a red leather label and double blind lines at head and tail and on each side of the raised bands.

 

A one millimetre grey board template is cut to the
same size as the cover board.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
The width of the board is divided into eleven equal parts.
Four vertical pencil lines, two elevenths in width,
are drawn parallel with the long edge of the template
leaving three elevenths in the centre.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
Two horizontal pencil lines, two elevenths in width,
are drawn parallel with the short edge of the template
at the top and bottom.
The inner rectangle is cut out and left in position.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
A cut is made around the outer frame.
Diagonal pencil lines are drawn across  the corners
of the three rectangles to ensure that the template
fits back together correctly after being separated.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
The three parts of the template.

The book is placed on waste paper and a large sheet
placed inside the board to protect the book edges,
the template is then correctly positioned
on the board to be sprinkled.

cambridge panel
cambridge panel
Four flat weights are placed on the central part of the template
and the outer frame removed.
Black spirit dye and an old toothbrush are used for sprinkling.
The dye just covers the bottom of a shallow dish and the
tips of the toothbrush bristles touch the surface of the dye.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
A knife is drawn from the end of the toothbrush towards
the handle to release a fine spray of dye towards the cover of the book.
It is advisable to practice this technique on waste paper
before sprinkling the book.
The spine and exposed outer rectangle are
sprinkled in a light even pattern.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
The outer frame is replaced.
The weights are repositioned to hold both outer frames
and the inner rectangle carefully removed
with the tip of the knife.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
The central panel is sprinkled with a darker, denser pattern.
The weights and template are removed.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
The sprinkled side.
Both sides of the book sprinkled.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
Blind lines around the three rectangles can be produced
with either a two line fillet or adjustable  leather creaser.
A strip of millboard and dividers are used to establish the position
of the double line around the edge of the board.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
The warm creaser is run around the edge of the cover board
using the millboard strip as a guide.
The millboard strip is positioned on the edge  of the
lighter sprinkled pattern and the creaser run around the perimeter.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
The double blind lines on both edges of the lighter sprinkled pattern.
The board is sighted on the edge of the darker sprinkled pattern
and the creaser run around the perimeter.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
Accurate corner mitres can be achieved with the creaser.
A double blind line links the corner of the centre panel
with the inner corner of the outer frame.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
A slightly hotter tool is used in the first impressions to darken
the lines and make them more prominent.
A warm dotted roll is sighted by eye and run around
both edges of the centre frame.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
A strip of vellum held in position provides a stop for the roll.
A decorative roll is used around the inside perimeter
of the darker centre panel and the corners mitred
using a strip of vellum with the end cut at forty five degrees.
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
An appropriate centre tool is impressed into the leather at each
outer corner of the centre frame.
A warm two line pallet is impressed on each side of the raised
bands to give a double blind line
cambridge panel
cambridge panel
The pallet is impressed at the head and tail of the spine using
the strip of vellum as a guide.

Nick Cowlishaw served a six-year apprenticeship in hand bookbinding in the early 1960s before working as a journeyman for several bookbinding firms in the UK and overseas. In 1978 he turned his skills to teaching and joined the staff of the London College of Printing. He became a Senior Lecturer in bookbinding and remained at the college until 1996, when he left to start his own bookbinding business in Reigate, Surrey, with his wife, Charlotte. In 2007 they moved to Kent and their bindery and business soon followed. Nick taught the intermediate and advanced classes for one day a week at Morley College in London up until 2011.

In 2012 Nick and his wife produced three DVDs on Traditional Bookbinding Technique - www.cowlishawbookbinding.co.uk

 

Skin Deep - Volume 36 - Autumn 2013

Download Skin Deep - Volume 36 in PDF Format