A Brief History of Bindery Equipment

Before books there were scrolls, before scrolls there were tablets. Circa 100 BCE, Early books were bound in India by threading leather cord or twine through holes in multiple layers of palm leaves or bark. But how did we make the leap from scratching scriptures onto palm leaves to the ornate books and bindery techniques we see today?

palmleaf2_mc78E_6648Book covers evolved from goat leather to pigskin, vellum and calf leather. Pasteboard covers did not catch on until the 1500s. Cloth book covers came about in the 1800s when British publishers began wrapping pasteboard in fabric to be stamped. This is the first instance of automation in book bindery.

Although the perfect binding technique was developed in the late 1800s, it did not rise to popularity until the 1930s when the first paperback books were developed. This cold-glue method quickly caught on and spread from Germany to England to the United States. The hot glue method was developed by the Dupont company in the 1940s, resulting in a more durable and long  lasting book.

The 1950s gave rise to plastic comb binding in offices across the United States. Companies began binding their own documents and reports using spiral binding. In the late 1960s, David McConnell Smyth invented a sewing machine specifically for book bindery. The “Smyth sewing” technique involved sewing through the fold of smaller booklets, then binding them together to form a thicker spine. This method is still widely used today.


img_9879.525c3c0be7788Perfect bind technology continued to evolve through the 1980s and beyond. Polyurethane Reactive glue was developed in the 1989 and quickly proved superiority over EVA, which tended to crumble over time.

Many would tell you that book bindery is falling away as e-books rise to popularity. Recent data would suggest otherwise. According to CNN, e-book sales dropped 17% in the UK while physical book sales climbed by 7% this same period.

Whether you are looking for a coil binder or a perfect binder, you can find it on WireBids. We hold multiple auctions a month to provide you with the quality used equipment you need to run your business.

What to Look for When Purchasing Pre-Owned Equipment

As we know, buying equipment online can be an arduous process. What if the equipment hasn’t been taken care of properly? What if the press is not as described?

WireBids carefully curates each auction to ensure your time is well spent, bidding on quality equipment at competitive prices. But how can you be sure a press or a paper cutter is up to your standards?

Many of our sellers offer inspection times when you can come inspect equipment for yourself. We recommend contacting the seller if you need more information on a piece of equipment.

The seller will be the expert when it comes to impression counts, maintenance records and parts that have been replaced. You’ll never know unless you ask! Well informed consumers make better decisions. You can find the seller’s contact information on the Auction’s main page.

For many of these presses, it is important to note that the mileage and use of a machine is more telling than the age of the equipment. Dependable brands like Heidelberg and Challenge stand the test of time as long as they are cared for properly. When in doubt, ask the seller.

Quality equipment pays for itself over and over. Buying equipment on WireBids is hardly a gamble. We cut down on the clutter by offering only the finest products for your print shop. To check out our latest auctions and offerings, click here.

WireBids Tip #2: Using a Watchlist

WireBids is a great place to buy and sell used printing and bindery equipment. Our website features a user friendly platform that allows buyers to connect instantly with equipment sellers online. Our blog will break down how to use our website to maximize your chances of winning a bid. Click here to view our previous blog entry on setting your Max Bid.

In most of our auctions, lots close in two minute intervals, 2:00 p.m., 2:02 p.m., 2:04 p.m. and so on. When you have your eye on several pieces of equipment, it can be quite hectic to keep track of each as lots close and extend. That is why WireBids has a “Watchlist” feature: To save you from opening up multiple tabs and potentially losing out on equipment you need for your business when you are focused on another lot.

Adding Lots to Your Watchlist

First, make sure you are logged into WireBids. Your name will display in the top right corner. This is also where you will find your Watchlist.


Find a lot you would like to add to your Watchlist to begin. Click on the lot from the lot catalog. You will find a link on the lot page to “Add to Watchlist.” You can add as many lots to your Watchlist as you’d like. Remove them by clicking “Remove from Watchlist” on the lot page.


You will receive email notifications about an hour before a Watchlist item closes. You can access this page by clicking “Watchlist” in the top right corner of the website. This is a good place to watch the auction close because filters out the lots you aren’t interested in. You can place bids from this page and even track the lots once they have closed.


The ability to bookmark lots like this is just one of the features that makes WireBids a prime place to buy and sell used printing equipment.Check out our Help page for more information.