Buckram is a stiff cloth, made of cotton, and still occasionally linen, which is used to cover and protect books. Buckram can also be used to stiffen clothes. Modern buckrams have been stiffened by soaking in a substance, usually now pyroxylin, to fill the gaps between the fibres.
In the Middle Ages, "bokeram" was fine cotton cloth, not stiff. The etymology of the term is uncertain; the commonly mentioned derivation from Bokhara is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, uncertain.
Millinery buckram is different from bookbinding buckram. It is impregnated with a starch, which allows it to be softened in water, pulled over a hat block, and left to dry into a hard shape. White buckram is most commonly used in hatmaking, though black is available as well. Millinery buckram comes in three weights: baby buckram (often used for children's and dolls' hats), single-ply buckram, and double buckram (also known as "theatrical crown").
American-made Buckram book cloth is a poly-cotton base cloth coated in aqueous acrylic. It was designed to withstand heavy use in libraries and offers strength, moisture resistance and mildew resistance. Buckram is available in different grades.
Both grades are suitable for reference books, hymnals, textbooks, albums, looseleaf binders, menus and other editions that require an extra level of protection.
- "Buckram". BBC h2g2. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
- Donald King in Jonathan Alexander & Paul Binski (eds.), Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England, 1200–1400, p157, Royal Academy/Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London 1987.
- Manufacturing Standards and Specifications for Textbooks as developed by NASTA (National Association of State Textbook Administrators) in consultation with the AAP (Association of American Publishers) and the BMI (Book Manufacturers' Institute)
- ANSI/NISO/LBI Z39.78-2000
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