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out in the gay cloths and gilt moroccos committee of its own, and an elaborate of the miscellaneous bookshelf would report of the work done was turned in by give the precedent following lawyer a the committee in 1901. The Worshipful severe jolt.

Company of Leathersellers contributed A modified jolt has been given, indeed, generously towards the expense of the by the discovery in late years that the tra- republication of the report in an extended ditional sheepskin is not bearing out its form and with illustrations, reputation for wearing qualities. Books The committee was organized under bound a hundred years ago may still be the chairmanship of Lord Cobham, and found in good condition, but books bound consisted of five practical bookbinders, twenty, ten, or five years ago are prob- including such well-known names as ably in need of rebinding to-day. In- those of Cobden-Sanderson, Zaehnsdorf, dividual dissatisfaction here and there and Miss Prideaux; two professors of grew louder and more insistent, and in leather industries; three experienced liEngland it led finally to a thorough and brarians, including Richard Garnett, C. scientific investigation of the situation. B., L. L. D., late Keeper of the DepartAn article in the Publisher's Circular ment of Printed Books, British Museum; (London) shows the feeling that led to and six others especially interested and this study of the matter.

qualified, including Dr. J. Gordon Par“For long past,” says the writer, “there ker, Director of the London Leather Inhas been an outcry among the manufac- dustries Research Laboratories, who turers and users of books as to the qual- wrote the formal report of the commitity of so much of the leather used in tee. The report gives a detailed account bindings. When publishers and others of their inyestigations and experiments, have complained to the binders, the reply and in a summary, contained in a paper has been to blame the leather merchant read before the Society of Arts in 1903, and the tanner. We are told that it is

Dr. Parker says: to modern scientific progress in the man- “For many years past there has exufacture of leather that is due the gen- isted a growing dissatisfaction among eral characteristic of most of the leather librarians and owners of libraries with made nowadays, namely, the rapidity the quality of the leather used in books. with which it rots. Not only book leath- This committee, in its work, visited nine er, but boot leather, and leather for of the most valuable and most important straps, portmanteaus, etc., has lost most libraries in England, and found generally of its ancient fame for durability." that most modern leather of all kinds

It was in 1899 that an informal meet- showed signs of decay and in many cases ing of persons specially interested in the that bindings of not more than ten years question was held at the Central School already showed marked signs of deterioof Arts and Crafts in Regent Street, un

ration and decay. * * * In many casder the chairmanship of Mr. Cobden- es the books could not be handled withSanderson, the famous binder of beauti- out the leather coming off. in the form of ful books. The meeting resolved itself dust. In one case the removal of the into a committee for investigation and book from the shelf caused the back to experiment. After something like a come right off. Generally speaking, year's independent work, the Society of most sign of decay was found in libraries Arts interested itself in the matter, in- where gas was used for light, and it was corporated the original investigators in a also found that, approximately, the most

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marked form of decay was noticed from have made it impracticable for any leath1860 onward.”

er manufacturer to keep up the old slow In the report itself, the conditions are and costly methods and continue in busigraphically described as follows:

ness. The process has been shortened, "The new form of decay (since 1830) the cost lessened—and the leather ruined. affects nearly all leathers, and in extreme It is hardly fair to blame the tanner cases seems absolutely to destroy the indiscriminately. He may know, as a fibers. Another form of deterioration, matter of theory, that the pyrogallol tanmore noticeable in the newer books, ren- nins, such as sumach and gall nuts, give ders the grain of the leather liable to better results than the catechol group of peel off when exposed to the slightest tannins, such as the larch, the mimosa, friction. This is the most common form and the acacia; he may guess that the of decay noted in the most recent leath- strong acids and alkalies which "the presers. In nearly all samples of Russia

ent state of the art” calls for are harmleather, a very violent form of red decay ful to the fiber; but who is the average was noticed. In many cases the leather tanner that he should choose to be a rewas found to be absolutely rotten in all former and a bankrupt? The way in parts exposed to light and air, so that

which present conditions are taken for on the very slightest rubbing with a

granted in the trade is indicated in an adblunt instrument the leather fell into fine

dress delivered in 1907 before the Emdust."

ploying Binders of New York City: The frontispiece of the Report shows

“Bark tannage in sheep is used in the seven decrepit volumes which had been

book-binding trade for law sheep and newly bound in morocco or calf within

This makes it one of the fifty years, and which testify to the in

most used leathers in the binding trade. ability of the outside of the book to

It does not wear very well, however, bematch the inside in endurance. The

ing very soft, and in a few years breaks leather has flaked and fallen away in off and crumbles whenever touched. patches, throwing the burden of holding

These skins have really no oil in them.” the leaves together entirely upon the These results are then accepted as a binder's boards and twine.

necessary evil, like the weather. The trouble is admittedly due to two

A. Seymour-Jones, one of the leather general causes: (1) The modern meth

manufacturers on the Committee, proods of tanning, dyeing, and preparing

tests that the trouble is "entirely due to leather; (2) the modern conditions of

the speed at which people now live. With libraries as to lighting and heating. As

the increased output of printing presses to the first, one leather merchant put the

and the steady demand for that literamatter in a nutshell when he said that

ture, leather manufacturers had to face modern conditions made it necessary to

a problem of how to supply a cheap turn a skin into leather in nine days, in

leather binding." stead of their having the old allowance

Well, they did solve their problem, at of nine months. It has been found possible, by the use of acids and other de- The second destructive agency, like the vices, to produce a leather in a hurry first, is due to the way in which we livewhich looks all right-when new. These

and which we probably will not consent inventions and discoveries, each hailed as

to change, even to save our bindings! a great advance in the industrial arts, Air and light alone are bad for modern

some roan.

any rate.

tanned leather. Air and light with gas "We do not tan to-day as they tanned fumes added are worse.

une addition in olden days; and the trouble comes of tobacco smoke makes a destroying partly from the tanning, partly from the combination which would not need the acid dyeing, and partly from the altered reinforcement of overheating to make its conditions under which books live. No effect complete; yet we do not withhold leather, however good, will stand years that final thrust. Our libraries, like the of exposure to the fumes of gas. The rooms we live in, are apt to be too hot, atmosphere of towns is generally bad for too cold, too dry, too moist, in turn; and leather-bound books, especially when the books cannot save themselves. they are left undisturbed on the book

Mr. C. Whitwell, librarian of the Cen- shelves. The fumes act chemically on tral Library, London, England, says, in the leather, and set up sulphuric acid. the West Haven Electrical Bulletin: Naturally, where there is already sul

"The sulphurous fumes from gas are phuric acid in the leather, the process said to attack all classes of leather bind

of decay is much more rapid. I know ings, especially Russia leathers and calf- of only one firm which professes to sell skins, rendering them liable in a com- leather absolutely innocent of acid. They paratively short time to 'crumble' at the

all use acid; some more, some less." slightest touch. Of course, there are The binder showed the interviewer a other agencies at work, besides the prod- number of hides of the pleasantly odoructs of gas combustion, that have a de- ous "Russia" leather, tanned in London. structive effect on the bindings of books, It was so rotten that it would tear like such as the pollution of the atmosphere paper, and the surface would break beby the burning of coal, dampness, exces- neath the thumb nail. “That," said the sive heat from the rays of the sun, or bookbinder, “has not been on my premfrom a room being badly ventilated, also ises more than a year. · I suppose it has the use of sulphuric acid by the tanners not been tanned for longer than fifteen in preparing the leather for the binders. months at the outside. It costs me close Many of the books in our various public upon 2s. a square foot-and it is uselibraries were first collected and stored less." in Old Rokeby House. Gas was used all In this country there has been no such over this house. When the time came to formal investigation of the situation as move the books to their new homes, it that given by our painstaking and scienwas found that a number of volumes tific cousins across the water; but the bound in calf had suffered so much from same conditions exist here. It is, indeed, the gas fumes that the bindings were ir- characteristic of the American temper retrievably ruined. When they were that the recognition of the trouble should handled, the leather absolutely crumbled be individual and independent, and that into dust, and looked something like

the suggestion of a remedy should go Scotch snuff. Most librarians will, I hand in hand with the arraignment. Mr. think, agree with me that leather loses all Edwin Gholsox, Librarian of the Cincinits natural oil by long exposure to the ex- nati Law Library Association, las gone cessive heat that results from burning on record in the following statement : gas in any place where books are stored." “The law libraries of the country are

The London Daily News in 1905 pub- now facing a very serious problem. The lished an interview with a prominent income of most of them is limited; hence, bookbinder of London, who said:

if the larger part of their available funds is spent for rebindings, the number of in the curing of the skins. As time new books which they are able to pur- wore on, sheepskin began to be used, and chase is correspondingly decreased. these skins were tanned and cured in the

“It is no exaggeration for me to say, same manner as were calfskins, the diffor it is based upon my own experience ference in wearing quality being but lithere, that approximately one-fourth of tle in favor of the calfskin over the the income of every large law library in sheepskin. Both were used down to the country is absolutely and needlessly about 1825, not only for law books but wasted, and that this sum might be sav- for all books, so small was the book proed to them and put to a much better use duction of that time compared with the if the law book publishers would only present. adopt a good grade of cloth or buckram

“About this time, both in England and binding, instead of the 'law sheep' they America, cloth began to be used for now use. The life of the best of this law

binding of books in history, literature, sheep, exposed on open shelves to the

and general works, and cloth continues action of an atmosphere laden with the

to be used in England. * * * In the gases thrown off in the combustion of ei

United States, cloth grew in favor as a ther soft or hard coal, averages less than

binding material, and became the permafour years, while a good article of cloth

nent binding for all classes of literature, binding, subject to the same conditions,

except law, medicine, and theology. will last indefinitely. Some eight years

These three classes still clung to calf or ago, when I took charge of this library, sheep full binding. Now medicine is ofmy first innovation was to substitute a

fered in half morocco as an alternative heavy canvas instead of the law sheep binding, and theology is largely in cloth. that had been used on our rebindings.

Through all these years law has clung Out of the ten thousand volumes bound

to leather, more so in this country than in in this material now on the shelves, only

England, for the English publishers have one single volume has gone back to the

been sending out their law books in cloth bindery, and this upon a book which was

cases for the last twenty years. subjected to the most constant and severe

A cloth binding will stand on the shelf use. Of the new books which have come

under the influence of gas, light, and in during the same period, and which were bound in law sheep, fully one-fifth

superheated air for years in good condihave already had new bindings, and hun

tion. A leather binding, particularly calf dreds of others are in a condition requir

or sheep, will rot out in a few years uning it."

der the same conditions. Morocco will Dr. G. E. Wire, Deputy Librarian of

endure longer than sheepskin, for the the Worcester County Law Library,

modern sheepskin is, without doubt, the Massachusetts, has given the subject worst covering put on books at this time. careful study. In his Report of 1902 he

All woolly skins are weaker than hairy gives an interesting review of the de- skins, to begin with, and the process of velopment of the present situation: tanning is a cheaper one with sheepskin

"The older English reports, abridg- than with calfskin or goatskin. Furtherments, and text-books were bound in full more, the skin of an immature animal is English calfskin, tanned by hand, done weaker than that of a mature animal. on honor, largely using vegetable ma

Calfskin is that of an immature animal, terials, and consuming weeks and months and is not so strong as goatskin, which

is from a mature animal. Mineral acids, "The Committee on Binding of the used in tanning sheepskins, are not suf- American Association of Law Libraries, ficiently cleared or neutralized,* and the in its report submitted at the third anremaining acid, especially when assisted nual meeting at Minnetonka, especially by strong daylight, gas, and superheated recommends cloth for law bindings. The air, soon reduces the skin to powder. two most commonly used in this country The mineral acids are used to some ex- are buckram and duck. The United tent in tanning the poorer grades of mo- States government has lately decided on rocco, especially the dark colors, and a buckram as the binding for its deposiwith much the same effect. The better tory set of documents. Any cloth will grades of morocco are tanned with vege- last and wear better than sheep, and in table agents, and expensive dressings us- the opinion of this committee it is only ed in finishing them. Furthermore, all a question of time when all of our state of these skins, calf, sheep, and morocco, reports will be bound in cloth. Our textare split in process of tanning and cur- books are now coming in cloth, and this ing, and are 'thus deprived of much of committee has been in correspondence their strength.

The larger with the publishers of state reports, askpublishers, as a general thing, use better ing for cloth binding on such state rematerials and do better work than do the

ports. We have now a list of 44 such smaller publishers. The state printers, as reports which are promised in cloth. a rule, under the contract system, use the Several states expressed their preference poorest materials and do the worst for cloth, but could not change the bindwork."

ing on account of the law or their conThe Superintendent of Documents at tracts. They, however, hoped to change Washington says, in a published report: these contracts or laws at the next ses"In libraries where bituminous coal is sion of their Legislatures. The leading used,t sheep binding is soon reduced to

law-publishing firms in this country a powder by the action of heat and gas." have, with one exception, promised to The recently formed American Associa- give us cloth on their reports. tion of Law Libraries took this subject

"G. E. Wire, up for consideration at its meeting in "Chairman Binding Committee, Ameri1907, and adopted a resolution request- can Association of Law Libraries." ing publishers of reports, digests, etc., The English Committee's report closto bind a sufficient number in buckram

ed with numerous recommendations to to supply the libraries preferring that binders and suggestions to librarians, kind of binding. This resolution was re- which, if followed, would result in the stated in 1908, as shown by the report of abandonment of all injurious methods of the Binding Committee:

tanning; but the American Committee *The investigations of the Society of Arts

evidently agreed with the cynical investiCommittee showed that sulphuric or other gator, who said that durable leather was similar acids so unite with the fibers of the skin that it is not possible by any known

produced in the days when tanners knew process to wholly clear or neutralize them, less about chemistry than they do now. and that they must ultimately have a de

Hopeless of persuading the tanners to structive effect on the leather. The Committee also found that "sulphuric acid is in al- forget this impious knowledge, they are most universal use, either as a brightening

willing to abandon the theory that the agent or to liberate the dye in the dye-bath." Also in the natural gas regions.

law book, like the judge, must wear a

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