The Deterioration of a Book

Deterioration of a Book

Sea Fishing on the English Coast
by Frederick G. Aflalo
Hardback with laminate cover, no dust jacket, perfect bound without sewn sections.

The Deterioration of a Book

As a book conservator, I repair books on a daily basis, all in varying states of destruction and disrepair. As a resident of Worthing and the South Coast, I am witness to the destruction and disrepair caused by the sea and coastal weather to buildings and all kinds of objects.

However I have yet to see any evidence of a book being destroyed by the sea and weather. This is what I hope to observe over the course of the year ahead, and record here as part of an ongoing installation with ‘Art on the Pier‘.

The book itself is installed at Coast Cafe, near The Book Hut, and new and updated images will be put onto my website on a monthly basis.

A record of the deterioration

 

This week at The Book Hut

This is just a snippet of goodness to share what is going on at The Book Hut in Worthing this week.

Well I would be remiss if I did not mention the biggest news this week – that being the East Beach Studios winning Sunny Worthing Awards for Best Arts and Crafts Business! It was a great night, held at St Pauls in Worthing, with many of us hutters in attendance in our glad rags. Here is our official photo, taken by the fantastic Ed Watts:

Sunny Worthing Award for Best Arts & Crafts Business Worthing
Sunny Worthing Award for Best Arts & Crafts Business Worthing

I also managed to finish two rebacks this week, along with some shoulder repair on a little Victorian quarter binding, and a spine repair on a little cloth binding. All very satisfying to get to work on and quite pleasing to see finished – here’s to hoping their owners are also pleased!

Drift Lines, who make the ever popular foxtails and ears, have brought me along another stash of foxtails, as well as some bunny bums! Ears to follow before Easter, and then it will be bunnies & foxes rather than cops & robbers – a bit more gruesome when you think about it!

Drift Lines Bunny Bums!
Drift Lines Bunny Bums!

Finally the pamphlet bindings are done and are now on Etsy for your perusal and purchase!

Pamphlet bindings looking lovely
Pamphlet bindings looking lovely

The Holy Bible

IMG_1066 feature

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.

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.

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.