The Principles and Practice of Medicine

The Principles and Practice of Medicine
by William Osler, M.D., F.R.C.P
c.1897
Full case binding, hollow-back, blue buckram cloth with gold-foiled title on spine
Young J. Pentland, Edinburgh and London

This is one of the first modern general medical textbooks by a man named Osler. My client, himself a Doctor, asked me to repair it as it is a family heirloom, originally belonging to his great Uncle, who was also a prolific doctor of his time.

CONDITION

BINDING The volume had sustained substantial damage to the spine covering, which was adhered to the boards by pressure sensitive tape. The spine itself was misshapen and weakened due to inserted material. Both boards were detached and had ware to each of their corners

TEXTBLOCK Several pages throughout the book had been damaged through general use and the endpapers were loose. The back endpaper had written ephemera on its adjacent fly-leaf, which had been damaged along the foredge due to the page being loose.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION There was a substantial amount of inserted material, mostly newspaper articles associated with the relevant chapters within the book. These were causing the sewing along the spine to split. At the beginning of the volume were a selection of needles inserted into the contents page causing rust to the page.

TREATMENT

  • Tape was removed from the spine piece and boards using heat and a crepe eraser and the boards and spine piece were cleaned in preparation for repair.
  • The spine lining was removed and the weak sewing was reinforced using linen thread.
  • A new spine lining was attached and a false hollow created for the new spine.
  • The boards were reattached using a transverse lining in linen.
  • A new toned spine piece was created and attached to the boards.
  • The old spine with title was adhered onto the new spine.
  • The inserted material was removed with the locations recorded, and rehoused into a manila folder with a contents page showing the corresponding pages of the book.
  • The needles that were inserted into the volume were left in their original location to prevent substantial change to the personal input to the volume by the original owner, and they were consolidated to prevent further rusting onto the pages.

As an interesting extra, the original owner had kept several needles, skewering them onto one of the first pages, with dates – unfortunately neither myself nor my client were able to ascertain what they were from – personally I would assume the worst and imagine they were weapons of death, but that may be wayward imagination. My client informed me that these days all medical needles are curved, whereas these were straight.

Mrs E. Neville Jackson’s Scrapbook

Mrs E. Neville Jackson's Scrapbook

Mrs E. Neville Jackson’s Scrapbook
Preparatory scrapbook for Book of Toys
c.1902-1909
Fully bound in black cloth
165x203x33 (WHD)

CONDITION

BINDING had structural stress due to large amounts of inserted material. The front board was damaged and detached from spine and sewing supports. The remaining spine was split from the front board and worn at head and tail. The first section was loose.

TEXTBLOCK paper had some tears and edge damage on first pages. Four pages had been torn out leaving stubbs remaining. The pastedown was detached along with the board, leaving an outside hook at the back of first section.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Large amounts of inserted newspaper cuttings were protruding from the textblock causing discolouration and edge damage.

 

TREATMENT

  • Cleaned throughout with chemical sponge and loose material was removed and documented.
  • Spine was lifted allowing reattachment of the loose first section by sewing to the spine.
  • The texblock and inserted material were humidified where necessary and repaired using toned tissue.
  • Areas of loss were infilled with a sympathetic western paper and supported with a Japanese tissue.
  • An article was removed and re-adhered using a hinge, as to remain in its original state would have meant later damage to the article and book.
  • Loose endpapers were given an outside hook and attached by pulling through the sewing supports and adhering to the spine.
  • Spine lined with Usumino tissue.
  • Front board was attached with Usumino tissue and lined up against the foredge to provide protection to the textblock.
  • Exposed spine area was covered in tissue toned with acrylic paints.
  • Hinge repair to inside of boards to support attachments.

HOUSING

  • Four-flap folder created to support loose inserted material
  • Bespoke clam shell box made to house both book and four-flap folder together, supporting the protruding material within the book by using different levels of plastizote.

Boarding The Book of Puddings

The conservation of this book is going well and picking up speed now, especially as all the paper repairs are done and dusted! The boards are now on, which worked well. I attached them with Japanese tissue that covered the spine and was stuck onto the inside of the boards. Normally I would try and split the boards, but they are so thin that to split them would almost definitely damage them further.

The boards are on the book!

I have also managed to pair my leather and tone it to a good match of the boards, which I did with selaset dyes. This leather will then cover the spine and go under the leather on the boards to bring the book back into a book format – very exciting! The new leather is very thin in order to match the leather on the boards, so to give it a bit more strength, I’ve lined it with a fraynot fabric.

The new spine toned to match the boards, it is a bit wet here, so actually a better match when dry
Fraynot on the spine piece

I have also lined the spine with some western paper, and will be sanding it down a bit to reduce the swell of the sewing supports, it wasn’t dry enough on Friday to do this.

Lining the spine with western paper

Prior to rebacking a book, the edges of the boards always need to be compensated for the leather coming over from the spine. This is always a fiddly bit as the compensation pieces are invariably thin and spindly. I have done mine on this book with some of the freshly paired leather, as it is a good match.

The edge before compensation was done
The edge after compensation was done

The next step will to actually put the leather onto the spine, redo the corners a bit, and sort out the end papers and the book will be pretty much done – then for the enclosure for the newsprint! I have done a sample for this which I will post as instructions themselves, as it’s a great little enclosure!

Scrapbook from the Museum of Childhood

Some time back in a post earlier in the year, I mentioned that I would potentially be working on a scrapbook from the Museum of Childhood. Well I was lucky enough to be allowed that project to work on as part of my MA final project, along with a recipe scrapbook that I am working on at college.

So I thought I would write an update of the work I have been doing on this second scrapbook, whilst at the V&A. This past week, I have been working on substantial paper repairs for the material that is sticking out of the scrapbook. These are items that, due to their oversize, have been bashed and damaged – so I am repairing them.

Marking up for a new infill to fill in the gaps of the paper
Lining up the infill, freshly cut using a needle from toned tissue
The new infill stuck down with wheat starch paste
Trimmed and done!
Local humidification of a particularly bent bit
Freshly flattened after humidification

It’s quite short and picture heavy, this one, but I will try and post some more soon!

Islamic bindings – instructions part 2

Some months back, we started a fantastic workshop with Kristine Rose from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and last week, we were lucky enough to have Kristine back again to finish the workshop with us, so these are the follow-up instructions. Unfortunately I completely forgot to take any photos during the workshop, so I only have completed ones.

In class, we covered the boards separately, doing the front board with one piece of leather and the back and foredges with the second piece of leather. It is possible to do it as a case binding, with the appropriate measurements for the spine as well. I hadn’t done this method before, so was trying something new.

Covering the front board

  • Mark out where the board will go on the leather with a biro – on the flesh side.
  • Wet the leather on the hair side
  • Paste out on the flesh side, scrape away the excess and paste again to ensure it really gets into the leather.
  • Place the board onto the pasted leather and turn in the edges leaving the spine open.
  • If decorating the front board, wet the leather again on the hair-side, place the decorative plate in place and nip for about five minutes
  • Finally allow to dry fully under boards.
Islamic Binding Completed
Islamic Binding, the completed book

Covering the back board, foredge envelope and foredge flap

  • Trim a flap piece – this should be the same height as the boards and the width should be of the text block minus about 5mm, so it will come out very thin.
  • Mark the leather as above – the back board, envelope and flap should be aligned in a straight line and the gap between back board and envelope should be about 6mm either side of the flap
  • Paste out leather as above
  • Place boards onto leather and turn in the edges, leaving the spine edge free, ensuring the three pieces of board are kept in line.
  • Finally allow to fully dry under boards.

Foredge flap

  • Once dry, paste a strip of leather on the inside of the back board, where the turn-in meets the foredge piece and back board.
  • Once this is dry, it is worth checking whether the cover fits the textblock – if it does not, place spacers either side of the flap and press it for a while, therefore stretching the gaps.
Islamic Binding foredge flap
The foredge flap on the Islamic Binding

DeBleurs

  • Leaving a few millimeters for squares around the boards, measure the deBleurs for the front and back board as well as the turn-in piece.
  • Cutting out the deBleurs – add about and inch to the spine edge of the front and back board pieces, this is to stick down onto the text block to hide the spine joint.
  • Past the three pieces onto the boards and allow to dry.
  • Once dry, fold back the extra bits on the front and back board to keep them out of the way whilst attaching the boards to the spine.
Islamic Binding De Bleurs
The DeBleurs on the inside flap

Attaching the boards to the spine
These books would not have been opened more than about 90 degrees, and would have been read using a rull, so at no point would the have been laid flat.

  • Pair the edges of each of the spine pieces so they are very thin, there should not be any swell on either of them when laid on top of each other.
  • Lay the board against the book and trim the spine leather of each board so that each covers the spine of the textblock
  • Paste the spine of the textblock.
  • Line the front board up against the textblock and push the leather spine piece onto the spine, ensuring the leather is also pushed into the joints. Then do the same with the back board.
  • Allow them both to dry.

The spine edges were always decorated to hide the joining of the leather, this was done with both tooling and gold paint.

Working in the pastedowns

  • Paste out the extra paper from the deBleurs, and work each into the spine joint and onto the textblock.
  • Ensure the book is held at a 90 degree angle when pasting onto the textblock and thoroughly work the paper into the joint.
Islamic Binding Working the Pastedowns
Working the past downs

End caps
These books did not have worked end caps like the european bindings, the excess leather was just trimmed at the end of each of the spines.

Painting the cover
Islamic books were often painted with gold, where any patterns had been impressed onto the cover. For instructions on how to make gold paint, please see my previous post.

  • Prior to painting in gold, the cover must first be painted with gum arabic and then allowed to dry and burnished.
Islamic Binding Showing the Endpapers
Showing the Endpapers
Islamic Binding The Final Book
The Final Book

 

The next time I make one, I will take more constructive pictures!


Two weeks at the National Library of Scotland

As promised in my last post, this is a little more detail on my placement at the National Library of Scotland. I was hugely grateful to be accepted on this placement, as two weeks is never very long to get into a project and placements always require people to take out time to show you around the building and instruct you in various matters, so I am extremely grateful for the whole conservation team at the library for taking time out of their days to help and advise me.

The National Library of Scotland

Initially I was taken around the building itself and shown how the library works on a daily basis, as I mentioned before, it is a massive building – a bit like a tardis and much bigger on the inside than can be seen on the outside. The studio itself was on the 4th floor, with three additional disaster rooms throughout the library for use in emergencies. The Library’s disaster plan was far more organized than any other I have come across, even down to having work clothes and boots sized correctly for the disaster team members – I was quickly informed that the Library has suffered not one but three major floods, so their disaster plan is not only well planned, but has been accurately carried out as well, which is a great success.

The Studio

The studio was a great space and sensibly laid out with desks for each conservator as well as larger communal work areas and a sectioned area for tooling and finishing and for board cutting.

Sit Hill box machines
The box die cutter at Site Hill
The dies for the die cutter

I also spent a day at the second site for the library which is located at Site Hill on the outskirts of Edinburgh, where half the conservation team are based and carry out work using some of the more heavyweight and visibly dangerous looking equipment!! Like many of the bigger institutions, the NLS found that some years back they were spending huge amounts of funding on storage boxes, and decided to invest in a box cutter, becoming the first institution to have an onsite box cutter – this has made a massive difference to their work load and reduced the amount of work hours per box, therefore increasing the number of boxes it is possible to make per year – so much so that they now make boxes for some of the local institutions that don’t have the same equipment, similarly to the Metropolitan Archives, therefore making the whole process much more economically efficient.

Whilst in the studio I was given the opportunity to work on two projects, the first was the conservation of some maps from the St Bartholomew’s collection and the second was a box for a sculpture.

The Bartholomew collection is a donation to the library of the archives of an early 19th Century Map cartography company who produced and printed maps. The collection itself includes records held in bound volumes many maps. It was some of these maps that I was working on alongside the Bartholomew conservator.

One of the maps prior to repair
Map after repair - spot the difference!!

The second project was the sculpture and was one of a series of anonymous sculptures left at various book associated institutions around Scotland. They are fascinating sculptures and often associated with the Scottish author Ian Rankin. They essentially adapt a book into some of the most intricate paper sculptures – really fascinating work in amazing detail. My job was to make this very fragile sculpture a box in which it could be safely stored. And I am quietly confident that none of the other sculptures will have such a lovingly and bespoke made box! – I will go into more detail on instructions in another post. It was made with board, plastizote and buckram book cloth.

The anonymous sculpture
The complete beautiful box
What's inside the box!

In addition to the maps and this box, which did take me a while, I was also lucky enough to have a go at tooling and finishing. Unfortunately this is not something we cover at Camberwell, which I hope is something that will change in the future as I (and the NLS) feel that it is a necessary skill to cover. Having not done any before, I was understandably not let loose on an actual book, but I did have some instructions from three skilled finishers, who set me on the straight and narrow path to start and practice. As many will know, these skills have to be practiced to great extents as it is not something that can be perfected overnight. I will also go into more detail on this in a later post.

So all in all, a fabulous two weeks that I was thrilled to be able to do. A very big thank you to the National Library of Scotland and the conservation team there.