The Principles and Practice of Medicine
by William Osler, M.D., F.R.C.P
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The next time I make one, I will take more constructive pictures!
Well I’m getting there – I’m not convinced I will finish this book before Christmas given that I’m off next week, but we will see how I do on Thursday and Friday. I’ll need to tone and pair my spine piece and then attach it – bit nerve wracking…
Anyhow – last week was fairly successful – I did in fact manage to attach my boards, using a method of board slotting, as previously planned. First of all, I had to slice through the edge of the board to create a space for the aerocottong to slot into. This was primarily done with a sharp scalpel and then retraced with a cobblers knife to get the width.
Once the board was slotted, the aerocotton on the spine was pasted out and pushed into the hole. Both this and the board slotting create a thicker board edge than would have previously been present, hence it is important to put the book in the press to set well and to the correct thickness. It is primarily nipped for about five minutes, checked for movement, and then left for much longer. I was able to leave mine in the press overnight as I completed it at the end of the day.
The following day gave me two well attached boards, which was a happy moment! Next I moved onto lifting the edge of the boards in preparations of the leather reback. This was done by first lining the leather with Tengujo 5gsm and Cellugel, to adhere it and prevent the leather darkening. This tissue prevents any loss of friable leather pieces that may have been dislodged during the lifting.
Part of our series of lectures on board attachment included learning and practising joint tacketing. This particular method of reattaching the boards, is not necessarily a popular one as it is quite interventive and requires piercing the spine of the book. Conservators in Oxford have honed their technique and have it down to a fine art, but this is perhaps because they use the method quite regularly.
Another reason for not using this method of attachment that regularly is because it requires a high shoulder to the book, which are often not present. Indeed most of us has to make sample books to work on as our work books from The Courtauld and Lambeth Palace did not have such high shoulders.
The technique is to pierce the spine from the inside of the shoulder, either using an awl or a needle screwdriver (which break quite easily), once the hole is made, a hoop of linen thread is inserted into the hole, and looped over itself to be secured in place. Next hole must be put in corresponding areas of the boards to be reattached. At each sewing station, one hole is made on the edge of the board, coming out into two hold on the underside of the board. This way, the two pieces of thread, are passed through the two holes and tied in a knot on the inside of the board, or spread out as in the picture below.
It is a very secure method of board attachment, though interventive as mentioned earlier. A way to avoid lifting the hole spine of the book being worked on, it is possible to cut a small ‘L’ along the edge and lift a small piece of the spine to attach the threads.
Having pasted down the cords in vol 2 of this book, I was now ready to line the spine and move onto the next step. Lining the spine was done with a layer of japanese tissue, which was quite a thick Kozo Shu 23gsm. Once dried aerocotton went on top, this was slighting wider than the spine either side, as the excess will be used for the board slotting and attaching. Both the tissue and the aerocotton had to avoid the cords, as can be seen in the photo, as they do not mould well over the cords and would cause problems when rebacking.
Whilst this was drying, I was able to move on to the endbands. Having found some old remnants of what had once been, I was able to determine that the end bands had been a dusty red and dirty white at one point, so went about dyeing some thread to what I thought would be an appropriate colour. This was done with a thin thread, the endband core I made up from a thin piece of cord wrapped in japanese tissue for strength and evenness, these cores can be seen in the pictures below. Once the therad was dyed I went about sewing on the end bands. Given the instability of the text block due to the two initially loose cords, I only tied down four times on the text block, this prevented too much disturbance of the text block and was still strong enough to keep the end bands stable. I also pasted a piece of japanese tissue over the back of the end bands and onto the spine for added strength.
All in all they came out pretty well and I’m quite chuffed. Endbands are not necessarily always re-sewn as there is an argument it is more restoration rather than conservation, and they are not necessary for the stabilitiy of the book. If not sewn, they can be made from toned tissue on cord. Though I think mine look quite nice, and it is nice to do them in the same way they once might have been.