Lettering ‘The Doves Bindery’

Following on from the last post, the title is to be placed in the panel across the top of the front cover. So, how best to do that with the resources available.

First, choice of method: I have a heated blocking press so I could set up type in the press, position the book accurately on the platen and do the job in one pull of the handle. But the word ‘accurately’ is the problem. The book is 50mm (two inches) thick and the upper cover is difficult to place and hold in a fixed position so that the type strikes in exactly the right place. Using a cast metal block of the selected lettering is easier. You put the book, face up, on the platen of the blocking press, place the block exactly where you want the impression to be on the cover, put a scrap of bonding tape on the back of the block, bring the heated chase down on to the block for a few seconds and then lift the chase back up. The block is now attached to the chase and will heat up to the correct temperature. DO NOT MOVE THE BOOK!! Place a strip of foil where the lettering will be and bring the chase back down . Because the book has not been moved the stamped title letters will be exactly where you placed the cold block in the first place.

But getting the block made takes a little time and would cost, in this case, at least £20. And the block-maker needs artwork which you will have to prepare from your own type, assuming you have a suitable face and size in stock. More time and trouble.

In any event, since the book is really a companion volume to the earlier ‘Bookbindings of T J Cobden-Sanderson’, a title in the same lettering would be best. So, I will use the same set of handled letters as on that book.

The letters are quite large and I have devised a method of tooling them through foil that has worked well in the past. The problem with lettering through foil is ‘sighting’ the tool so the impression is in the right place. As with gold leaf tooling, you make blind impressions first, initially with a light touch through the design on thin paper:

The light impressions are then sharpened up with very warm tools (but not hot).

When the whole line of letters is complete I tape a strip of foil all the way across, but covering only the lower half of the letters.

Because you can see the top of each letter clearly you can position each heated letter tool in exactly the right place.

You can more accurately place letters with a vertical left stroke if you turn the book 90 degrees. So sighting the ‘H’ against the ‘T’ and the ‘E’ against the ‘H’ is much easier.

Now, place the strip of foil to cover the upper half of the letters and tool again, sighting by using the gold impressions already made.

You just have to be careful that you hold each letter upside down!

Here is the result.

Not bad – the ‘O’ is too close to the ‘D’ and a little cleaning up of the outlines of the letters needed.

I will post a picture of the finished cover when I have completed the ‘dotting’ in all four corners.

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