The set was published by the Government Printing Office, so they are the likely source of this piece of paper, which reprints a passage from a publication titled, Modern Bookbinding. No other bibliographical detail is included for that title, but I have found a magazine from that era, Modern Bookbinding and Their Designers. No clue, though, as to the author of this particular piece.
You might wonder (I did) why there would be a need for instructions to open a book. And if you put those instructions inside the book, doesn't that defeat the purpose somewhat?
Opening a book is not as easy as you might think. At least if you read these instructions and try to follow them. Here's the gist of it in the opening run-on sentence:
Hold the book with its back on a smooth or covered table; let the front board down, then the other, holding the leaves in one hand while you open a few leaves at the back, then a few at the front, and so on, alternately opening back and front, gently pressing open the sections till you reach the center of the volume.There's more, but let's stop here and reflect on that passage. The rest has little to do with procedure anyway.
I think this has to do with new books with fine (delicate?) bindings where you need to exercise the binding a bit and work out the stiffness. I believe the author means for you to place the book's spine on a clean, smooth surface, let the front cover down and then the back cover. Alternate the front and back pages in the same way till you reach the middle of the book.
Has anyone ever done that? I haven't. Maybe I should have been doing this with new books. Reasons for doing so are also given on the notice, as follows:
Do this two or three times and you will obtain the best results. Open the volume violently or carelessly in any one place and you will likely break the back and cause a start in the leaves. Never force the back of a book.I guess I've never handled such a fine binding in so "violent" a manner that I could have broken its binding. Who opens a book that way? Sounds to me like you'd have to get pretty rough with it to cause that kind of damage. Then again, I don't really know enough about the intricacies of fine bookbinding.
"A connoisseur many years ago, an excellent customer of mine, who thought he knew perfectly how to handle books, came into my office when I had an expensive binding just brought from the bindery ready to be sent home; he, before my eyes, took hold of the volume and tightly holding the leaves in each hand, instead of allowing them free play, violently opened it in the center and exclaimed: 'How beautifully your bindings open!' I almost fainted. He had broken the back of the volume and it had to be rebound."
But I thought this was an interesting piece of ephemera to write about. Its content is something I never would have thought about, in terms of a proper and somewhat laborious procedure for opening a book.
My procedure is to just pick the book up, hold in right hand, and use the left hand to open the front cover and following pages to where you want to start reading. I haven't broken a binding yet with that procedure.