The Holy Bible – Project

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The Holy Bible
c. 1952
Full case binding, hollow-back, plain burgundy book cloth with blind-tooled border
University Press, Cambridge (Brooke Crutchley, University Printer)
140x198x39 (WHD)

I completed this volume some months back for an lady who was keen to preserve the book before it fell apart completely. As with so many books owned by individuals, the monetary value of this book was minimal, but the sentimental value was priceless. It is a classic Holy Bible, given to the owner as a child by her Grandmother, and has been loved and treasured ever since. As is often the case with books of such high sentimental value, the volume had deteriorated from such regular use. I greatly enjoy working on these types of books, despite their lack of social status in the book world, as there is little thanks in the conservation world that will match that given by someone whose treasured book has been carefully conserved and given new life for years to come.

CONDITION

BINDING Both boards were attached to the case and the spine was in tact. The shoulders at head and tail were worn, as was the tail at the spine edge. All the corners had minor ware, more so at the head. The case was detached from the textblock at front and at back after the end papers and map. The mull was exposed, worn down and deteriorating, though the tapes were still in tact.

TEXTBLOCK Page 543 was loose. Front end papers, first plate and title page were loose and attached by tape. The front endpaper was heavily damage both by detachment and from tape damage, corner is missing and replaced by tape. The following page also had a missing corner replaced with tape that was discoloured and stained. The title page was detached and stuck together with tape, which discoloured and stained the page. The first page of text was stained by offset tape residue from the title page. The final map and adjacent pages had tape residue damage, both discolouration and staining. They were also slightly detached from textblock, though remained attached to the boards. The tape damage, in all cases, was covering tears to the paper.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION A green paper cover had been adhered together using tape, which was discoloured and stained. The head and tail spine edges of this cover were also worn and damaged.

TREATMENT

  • Boards were removed, whilst keeping sewing tapes intact.
  • Front and back paste-downs were removed.
  • Paper repairs were made to loose pages, including infills to those with missing areas and reattachment where necessary by tipping.
  • Self adhesive tapes were removed and staining was reduced using a calcium hypochlorite bath, followed by washing to reduce the acidity.
  • The spine was re-lined and reinforced using an aero-cotton transverse lining.
  • The volume was then rebound using the original cover and the paste-downs were replaced using a sympathetic paper.
  • Hinges were inserted into the inside covers where necessary and the cover, spine and corners were consolidated.
  • Finally the paper cover was repaired and rehoused in melinex.

Map of France – Project

I am currently repairing this giant great map of France. Interestingly it has the same picture on both sides, the recto with text, the verso without.

As you can see there is a stonking great hole at the bottom to be filled in (I have the bit) and a substantial amount of staining to try and shift… All this would be a lot more fun if the blasted thing didn’t take up the whole hut.

Introducing The Book Hut

As a book and paper conservator, I have worked at The National Archives and the National Conservation Service in London for many years, as well as taking on private commissions. Then, when an opportunity arose last Summer to open a permanent studio as part of Worthing’s East Beach Studios, I grabbed it with both hands and The Book Hut came to life. Situated on Worthing’s seafront next to artists’ studios, The Book Hut is just a short stroll along from the pier.

At The Book Hut I am able to offer a range of services in the conservation and restoration of books, as well as bespoke bookbinding, for individuals, private collections and businesses. I also hold a range of workshops and tutorials for both adults and children, including the basics in bookbinding and paper marbling for children.

Having taken on the hut in August last year, it has been a busy few months in the run up to Christmas, with conservation and binding projects coming in, two new workshops in place and several open days along the Worthing Seafront.

If you have any projects you would like to discuss, please just stop by the hut, or send me an email. If you are interested in attending any workshops, please just sign up to the blog in the right-hand panel, and I will send out any details as they come up, or check the website for more information at www.thebookhut.co.uk. The Book Hut is open from Saturday to Tuesday 10:00-17:00, so please do drop and say hello!

Maudie Casserly
Maudie Casserly, Book and Paper Conservator

Thank you very much to Lorraine Heaysman Photography and Luke Casserly Photography for the fantastic images.

Bartie’s Boutique Fair in Sunny Worthing

St Pauls Worthing

This weekend saw me attending another Bartie’s Boutique craft fair at the St Pauls venue in central Worthing. It was a good day with a lot of talent on show meaning I had the chance to meet some great people and hope that I can portray a few of them here.

These beautiful prints are by We Are Mountain. Sophie has huge amounts of talent with her printing and has been popular in the Worthing Artist Open Houses (more on that next week) – I love the lobster one!

Claire from handmadebyhippo is a mosaic expert based in Brighton, she will create a custom-made mosaic for you – possibly a door number or something for the garden – she is also able to recreate a favourite photo in mosaic, which blew my mind just a little bit!!

Samantha, from Hung On You, is the creator of these wonderful handmade and vintage jewellery pieces (and the amazing stand – might be taking some inspiration from that!), and also the instigator of the Brighton Craft Alliance, which I have set for my future plans – small world, we all meet at these things!

Another slightly different jewellery maker at the fair was Pippa from OoNaNa – who made laser cut jewellery in amazing designs – including, wait for it, chemical formulae!! – Yes, peeps, we can now get our favourite chemical structures on a necklace – Monosaccharide Glucose here I come!!!

Finally from Bartie’s Boutique was Hope from Hope & Ted – a sewing guru offering beautiful handmade goods and sewing classes for kids and adults. This was Hope’s first fair, and she is clearly a natural as her stand looked fantastic! I think I will have to book myself onto one of these classes.

As a final show – my stall. The table at Bartie’s  might have been my best yet, with a full range of books and the tool roll kits finally on display – and YES, I did sell one!

Penrhyn Archive Jamaican Estate Slave Accounts

Penrhyn Archive Jamaican Estate Slave Accounts

Penrhyn Archive Jamaican Estate Slave Accounts, Bangor University Archives
c.18th Century
Single section pamphlets of handmade paper, stab-sewn through a plain or marble-paper cover
Project for National Conservation Service
Report written by Mary Garner

DECONTAMINATION, CONSERVATION & DIGITISATION

The items treated in this project come from the Penrhyn Estate archive, deposited at the Bangor University Archives in North Wales. The project included a series of 32 paper account pamphlets from Jamaican estates. The accounts include names, roles and other details of slaves working on the estates and as such are of considerable significance historically and for their descendants researching their family histories. They are striking and disturbing documents, with slaves ‘accounted’ for as resources; for example death is referred to as a ‘decrease in slaves’ and birth as an ‘increase in slaves’.

The items have suffered from extensive water damage and damp, causing excessive mould growth, fading, weakness and discolouration. The project aim was to decontaminate and stabilise the collection and to digitise the account papers. The programme of digitisation was carried out after cleaning but prior to conservation treatments. This enabled capture of the documents in their found state and so that any repairs did not interfere with legibility of the text. Digitisation would also minimise unnecessary handling of items in the future, which while strengthened would remain vulnerable.

The main issues within this project were the presence of fugitive iron gall inks and mould damage. Iron gall ink is prone to fading and deterioration due to instability inherent in the ink composition and the varying recipes it has been historically made with. Since 2004 Mould has been classed as a Category 1 risk to health as assessed under the Health and Safety Hazards Rating System (HHSRS) – the same class as asbestos for example. The HHSRS risk assessment has been legislation in England & Wales since 2006, under the Health & Safety Act. The material in this collection had considerable mould infection and presented a definable risk to staff and users. For this reason it was vitally important to remove mould growth and endeavour to denature the spores remaining in the paper. Mould damage and bacteria cause heavy darkening and discolouration which renders documents illegible over time, in some cases causing a problem with digitisation.

The items comprised single section pamphlets of handmade paper, stab-sewn through a plain or marble-paper cover. The paper had become very fibrous and fragile and easily prone to further damage from handling. Many had large areas of loss and some pages had become stuck together. The sewing structures had disintegrated and in some cases no longer held folios into signatures.

Cleaning was carried out with soft brushes and a museum vacuum where applicable, on a Bassaire extraction unit with an ultra fine ULPA filter. Due to the weakened state of so many of the paper documents and their covers, strengthening and stabilisation was achieved by consolidation of fibres and support and repair to areas of loss and damage. Consolidation using 1% hydroxpropycellulose (‘Klucel G’) in isopropanol had the added advantage of safely denaturing the mould spores in the fibres in the treated areas. Klucel G 3% in isopropanol was also used as an adhesive for lens and Japanese tissue repairs to tears and areas of loss.

The old paper covers were in severely degraded condition and while some could be repaired, nonetheless they would continue to be weak and not provide suitable protection. On this occasion it was decided to commission new hand-made marble papers for new covers. The marble-papers were lined with an archival quality paper to make them slightly stiffer and the cleaned, digitised and repaired pamphlets were re-sewn into them. Archival sleeves were also made for each account to be housed in.

Peasant Poet John Clare’s Bible

This is a volume that I have recently completed as part of my work with the National Conservation Service. The John Clare Bible was initially acquired by the poet in 1813; he has signed the inside front cover and dated it. The bible itself is much older than this, dating back to 1639 when it was published by Robert Baker. It has since been presented to The Peterborough Museum by Mr J. Lee, Mr J. W. T. Meehan and Mr. J. C. Sturton and is currently in the care of the Peterborough City Archive, a member of NCS.

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Much of the damage this book had suffered was believed to have been caused by its owner. The bible was subjected to extensive wear and tear from constant use and a partly itinerant lifestyle. He is understood to have made several attempts to repair the book and reattach the loose boards. Taking this into account, the aim of the project was to take a minimal approach to maintain what are thought to be his own repairs,  while making it possible to be handled from time to time.

 

 

Before
Before

After
After

Description and condition of the book prior to treatment
Before treatment, the front board had become detached from the volume, except for a small amount of sewing threads keeping it loosely attached. The back board was mostly detached, with two of the four cords broken. Both boards had loose leather that was curling where no longer attached to the board. The first four sections of the volume had suffered substantial damage due to the lack of protection from the front board. Many of the folios were split at the spine, making re-sewing largely impossible without substantial changes. These sections had become detached from the volume. The final section was also damaged, though not to such a great extent.

The cords on the spine were considerably shortened at the front of the book, making re-sewing the loose sections and reattaching the front board impossible in its current state. Both endbands were broken into two, though the sewing on both appeared to be stable and not frayed.

Before
Before

After
After

Conservation treatments
Repairs to the damaged and loose pages were undertaken using sympathetically toned paper as minimally as possible. Heavily creased folios were humidified, misaligned folios were reshaped and reinforced and heavily damaged folio spines reconstructed. The original cords were extended using a similar weight cord to both front and back board and attaching them by sewing onto the existing cord remains to ensure a strong bond. This allowed the loose sections to be re-sewn onto the volume.

To ensure strong reattachment, the boards were split at the spine edge and the cords inserted into the boards and pressed together with adhesive. To repair the endbands a small dowel was inserted to join the two broken parts at each end. These were then re-adhered to the spine using a ‘spider’ tissue. Finally the loose parts of the leather on the spine and boards were re-adhered to the book.

Before
Before

Humidification of sections
Humidification of sections

After
After

The outcome was a stronger and less vulnerable volume with its old repair threads still in place and still showing the book as clearly a worn and used thereby retaining its original character.