Flat Back Hard Case Binding

This is part three in a series of four blog posts about types of bindings found in the Rare Book Room at Gleeson Library. John Hawk, Head of Special Collections, was nice enough to pull some examples for these blog posts. This week I will discuss flat back hard case binding.

To me, flat back hard case binding is the most common format of modern bindings, especially those I encountered in my work in the Reference Department, because it is an economical approach. The text block is rarely rounded intentionally, and is only connected to the case by the end sheets, which are glued down. The text block is not sewn/laced into the boards. In this scenario, it is possible to construct the case (whether it is covered in cloth, leather, or glossy card-stock) and sew the text block separately. Once the two components have been completed, the text block is cased in in a fairly simple process of applying paste or adhesive to each end sheet and slowly closing the cover of the case to make contact and set the adhesive.

Looking for peace : poems. by R.L. Barth; published by Abattoir Editions

This is a high quality example of a contemporary flat back hard case binding, in its fine rag paper with deckled edges, letter press text in black and gold, dignified sage cloth cover, and dainty ivory endbands.

Title page of Looking for Peace, featuring black and gold type and an epigraph from the Old Testament Book Jeremiah. Poems by R. L. Barth, Published by Abattoir Editions, The University of Nebraska at Omaha, 1985.

Clear view of the headband and flat back of the spine. The text block is not rounded. This method of binding suits thinner editions best, because the weight of the text block does not sag from the hinges.

Clear view of the headband and flat back of the spine. The text block is not rounded. This method of binding suits thinner editions best, because the weight of the text block does not sag from the hinges.

Another angle of the flat back, tail, and tailband.

Another angle of the flat back, tail, and tailband.

Double spread of a poem featured in Looking for Peace. Notice the deckled edges of the paper.

Double spread of a poem featured in Looking for Peace. Notice the deckled edges of the paper.

Happy little people : rhymes and stories about and for them. by Mary D. Brine; color plates and text illustrations by Paul King.

Front cover of the children's book Happy Little People, published in 1989.

Front cover of the children’s book Happy Little People, published in 1898.

The hinge inside the front cover demonstrates the single sheet of paper that extends from the text block to cover, onto which it is pasted down. The flat spine is also evidence.

The hinge inside the front cover demonstrates the single sheet of paper that extends from the text block to case, onto which it is pasted down. The flat spine is also evidence.

Another example of the interior hinge. Also notice the natural degradation of the cloth and paper cover that were pasted over the boards during the case construction.

Another example of the interior hinge. Also notice the natural degradation of the cloth and paper cover that were pasted over the boards during the case construction.

Full page color plate illiustration and frontispiece of Happy Little People.

Full page color plate illiustration and frontispiece of Happy Little People.

Full page color plate and text illustration from Happy Little People.

Full page color plate and text illustration from Happy Little People.

See you next time for the final installment of this series, in where we’ll look at classic rounded back bindings with the boards laced in!

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