Greetings from Sussex Book Restoration, the occasional diary of a Sussex bookbinder.

 

1655-BIBLEHello and welcome to the occasional diary page for Sussex Book Restoration. I’ll be updating this diary/blog from time to time as and when I have interesting or noteworthy restoration projects come in that I’d like to share with you. I hope to include ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos and to describe some of the processes carried out on the specific projects as they happen. I do hope that you find these occasional updates interesting and that you’ll return from time to time to see what I’m currently working on.

Michael Sassen

Repairs to cloth bindings and disbound or broken text blocks

Many of the examples of repairs that I’ve featured in older posts here, are on books bound in leather. Cloth-bound books come in just as often for repair, with many exhibiting the same problems as their leather counterparts. The covering material on old cloth bindings can wear thin at the hinges of the covers and eventually start to tear. Once torn along the whole length of a hinge, it’s not long before the front or back cover detaches from the book. The spine can start to fray and tear or completely detach and eventually, pieces of the spine break off. If the binding has fallen into pieces and no longer offers protection and support to the text block, the text block itself can become the next victim of the process and start to split vertically into a number of parts or even into a pile of loose pages. It’s usually possible to repair a text block that has split into one or two parts and if a book really has become a pile of pages, then it can be re-sewn back into one block again as it would have been when the book was originally bound. Two books came in over recent months that are both good examples of the faults noted above and give a good idea of what can be achieved with the repairs:

The spine and covers had detached from this volume, with some parts of the spine having then broken off and become lost over time. As the binding no longer protected the text block, the text block itself had split into two parts:

Spine detached and the text block split.

The two halves of the text block were reunited with a sewn repair and then a new cloth spine created that rejoined the covers into one binding in turn, re-attached to the text block. The remains of the original spine were then laid down onto the new spine and the missing gold lettering on the spine title were added in gold to match the original:

The binding repaired and the old spine laid down onto the new.

Missing letters tooled-in to match the remaining original titling.

No indication that the text block was ever split into two parts.

This volume arrived with the cloth binding starting to tear at it’s hinges and fray at the head and tail of the spine. The text block itself had started to fall into pieces and required re-sewing to put it into one piece again. Unusually, this book had been bound using staples rather than having been sewn with thread and the staples having rusted over time had been the cause of the book becoming so disbound so having removed all of these, the book was resewn in a more conventional (and robust) way with waxed thread. The binding was then repaired in a similar way to the one above, with a new cloth spine created onto which the original cloth spine was attached:

The hinges had worn thin and were starting to tear.

…and the spine had become frayed at it’s head and tail.

The pages were starting to separate into their individual sections.

Once repaired, the hinges are now robust.

…the spine is no longer frayed.

…and the pages sewn back together.

…allowing the book to be opened without pages popping out.

More family Bible repairs

It’s not uncommon for a family with a long history to own an old ‘family Bible’ that has been passed down through multiple generations. Many of these contain important handwritten genealogical information about the family’s history. Sometimes, in the process of being moved from home to home or through poor storage in the past or just through continued handling, the Bible has become damaged and then starts to fall apart. In the long term, the consequence of this is that the parts of the binding become separated from the book and lost and eventually the only solution to prevent the complete loss of an important family heirloom is to have the Bible rebound from scratch which can be very expensive. Almost always, as long as the Bible still retains it’s covers and ideally it’s spine, it is possible to repair the binding before a full rebind is required. I work on quite a lot of these Bibles and sometimes have more than one ‘on the bench’ at the same time. At one point last year, I had four on the go at the same time, all different sizes and in different bindings, but all essentially the same kind of cherished family heirloom of great value to the family that each came from. Having four in progress at the same time presented a great opportunity to show what can be achieved and the following photographs show ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots of the group:

The four Bibles as they looked before I started work on them.

The four Bibles as they looked after repairs were completed.

If the spine of your Bible or part of it has detached, as long as you still have all of the bits, it’s possible to repair the book and re-use the spine resulting in a fairly unobtrusive repair. This Bible arrived with most of the spine detached and one section still attached to the back cover, but with almost none of it actually lost. The first photograph shows the Bible as it was when it arrived and the following three show it once it was repaired:

If you are interested to see how I repair these Bibles, click this link Repair of a large Victorian family Bible – step by step to see an older post that shows the process in some detail.

Worn leather bindings can be refurbished and their worn corners repaired

Leather bindings can dry out over time and become rubbed, especially at their hinges and corners. Small splits can start to appear at the tops or bottoms of the hinges and the leather covering over the corners can become rubbed away with wear. There are always opportunities to bring worn leather bindings back to a condition in which the wear no longer shows as badly and the causes of the wear can been addressed to the point where that process has been halted.

These two ex-library volumes, grandly bound in half morocco with vellum sides arrived looking the worse for wear with the bindings rubbed, the vellum sides dust-soiled and starting to detach, the leather covering at the corners rubbed away and a small split starting at the top of one of the rear hinges. The damage was nowhere near bad enough to require a major repair, but there were a number of minor problems that once addressed, would put the bindings back into a presentable state:

The two books as they looked when they arrived.

Vellum siding starting to detach.

Spines quite rubbed.

The vellum siding pieces were pasted back down onto the covers, removing any creases in the process and were as best as possible, cleaned. Small splits to the hinges are not always possible to repair on leather bindings, it depends on the specific style of the binding and how friable the leather covering material has become, but in this instance it was possible to make a small localised repair in matching leather to the split at the top of one of the rear hinges:

The split before repair.

…and after.

The customer was quite keen that these books were refurbished as completely as possible, so the areas at the tips of the corners where the original leather covering material had been rubbed away were rebuilt to ‘square’, the remaining leather lifted and new matching leather repair pieces inserted with the old leather then pasted down again. The result was that the tips of the corners now looked aesthetically ‘correct’ again and the corners were once again protected with leather:

Worn corners before repair.

,,,and after.

The leather covering material was then paste-washed to consolidate any friable areas, re-coloured where the leather was visibly rubbed and finally, a leather dressing was applied to re-introduce oils lost over years of dry storage that will over time, help to keep the leather supple:

The bindings repaired and refurbished.

A small selection from 2016’s restoration work.

It’s over a year since I last added anything to this work diary and 2016 was a very busy year with a wide assortment of books antiquarian and modern passing through the bindery for restoration or repair. From treasured childhood story books to family Bibles and rare antiquarian volumes, I’ve had a steady stream of interesting and varied jobs ‘on the bench’.

Many of the past year’s repairs have been in much the same vein as other examples shown in previous posts in this diary and on other pages on this site, but here are a few that show aspects of my work that I haven’t previously touched on:

 

RESTORATION OF A TORN AND HEAVILY RUBBED 17th CENTURY BINDING

This rare 17th century French sheepskin-bound volume on swordsmanship was externally in poor condition, with a torn spine and heavily rubbed corners.

Art des Armes1 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restorationArt des Armes3 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restorationArt des Armes7 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

 

Though quite damaged, most of the original spine was still present, so I removed this and set it aside to re-use later. I then rebuilt the corners in new board spliced-in to the original covers and re-covered the new corners in leather to match the original.

Front cover before corner repair.

Front cover before corner repair.

Front cover after corner repair.

Front cover after corner repair.

Back cover before corner repair.

Back cover before corner repair.

Back cover after corner repair.

Back cover after corner repair.

The book was then rebacked in leather to match the original covering material and the remaining parts of the original spine were laid down onto the new one. Finally, parts of the spine where the original gold tooling had been lost (principally at the head and tail of the spine) were ‘tooled-in’ with gold in a style consistent with the original decoration.

Art des Armes1 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restorationArt des Armes2 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

Art des Armes4 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restorationArt des Armes8 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

 

REPAIRS TO THE TITLE PAGE AND FRONTISPIECE BEFORE RESTORING THE BINDING.

This beautifully-illustrated 18th century family Bible had been rebacked at some point in the late 19th/early 20th century and that repair had since failed, resulting in both covers becoming detached. At some point in it’s life, probably as a result of a combination of damp and the front cover being separated from the binding, the frontispiece and title page had become torn and creased with loss at the corners and edges of the pages. The top and bottom edges of the frontispiece had also been roughly trimmed at some point in the past.

BlomeBible1 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restorationBlomeBible2 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

I carefully removed the frontispiece and title page from the text block and then damp-pressed them to flatten out the creases as best as possible. Due to the extensive degree of loss to both page’s edges and corners and the fragility of the remaining paper, it was not practical to repair the edges alone as this would have left the pages prone to damage again if handled roughly. Instead, the pages were laminated onto sheets of antique-style modern handmade paper and pressed again. Once dry, the pages were sewn back in and then trimmed to size to match the dimensions of the text block.

Foot of the title page before restoration.

Foot of the title page before restoration.

Foot of the title page after restoration.

Foot of the title page after restoration.

Gutter before restoration.

Gutter before restoration.

Gutter after restoration.

Gutter after restoration.

Title page after restoration.

Title page after restoration.

Frontispiece after restoration.

Frontispiece after restoration.

Once the paper repairs were complete, I turned my attention to the binding itself. The covers were in a fairly poor state with the corners and edges heavily worn and the leather covering on the covers quite rubbed and friable.

BlomeBible7 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restorationBlomeBible8 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

The corners were rebuilt using new board spliced-in to the original boards and were then re-covered in new leather, preserving as much of the friable original leather covering as was possible. The remains of the old reback were carefully removed and new headbands were sewn to replace the originals which had long-since been lost:

BlomeBible12 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restorationBlomeBible13 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

The book was then rebacked in calf to match the original covering material and the spine tooled in gold in a style sympathetic to ‘standard’ family Bibles of the period.

BlomeBible10 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restorationBlomeBible9 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restorationBlomeBible11 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

 

RESTORATION OF A FINELY-BOUND 17th CENTURY BIBLE.

This finely-bound and richly-decorated 17th century Bible had extensive damage to it’s corners and small tears to the ends of the front and rear hinges at the headcaps, but was otherwise sound and in good order.

Cambridge Bible1 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

With a plainer binding, it would have been most expedient to reback the volume to remedy the splits to the hinges, laying down the original spine and consolidating the remains of the corners as best as possible. In this instance though, the rich gilt decoration was an important feature of the binding and as the removal and re-using of a book’s original spine can often result in a small amount of loss as part of the process, it seemed more appropriate to repair the splits to the hinges in situ. The repair would only look ‘complete’ if the corners were also rebuilt and re-covered.

The edges of the splits to the hinges and the upper and lower headcaps were carefully lifted away from the binding and small thinly-pared pieces of matching leather were inserted underneath to create new headcaps extending around to cover the extent of the split leather. The original leather was then pasted down over the new leather patches and the repairs ‘tooled-in’ with gold lines. The corners were rebuilt with new board and covered with thinly-pared leather before the new areas of leather were then tooled in gold in a style sympathetic to the remaining gold decoration. Finally, the rubbed areas of leather on the covers and spine were carefully re-coloured and a leather dressing applied, breathing new life into the dried out leather and giving a more uniform patina to the binding.

Cambridge Bible2 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restorationCambridge Bible3 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restorationCambridge Bible4 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restorationCambridge Bible5 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

 

LOCALISED REPAIR TO A SPLIT LEATHER HINGE.

The contemporary binding of this 17th century volume was in remarkably good condition apart from a split at it’s upper front hinge and a few small worm-holes on the front cover.

Five Decades1 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

The worm-holes would have been very time-consuming to remedy, but repairing the split in situ was a practical, if fiddly solution that would greatly improve the aesthetic look of the binding without affecting it’s structural integrity.

The edges of the split were carefully teased away from the binding and a small piece of thinly-pared leather was inserted underneath. This was then ‘turned-in’ to repair the missing area of the headcap around the split. The edges were then carefully pasted down again and the existing blind-tooled lines adjacent to the headcap were extended over the visible new leather. The binding was then paste-washed and leather-dressed to even out the colour and leave a durable surface.

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AND FINALLY…

If the original spine of a leather-bound book is lost or beyond practical repair, it is almost always possible to replace the spine (rebacking) and decorate the new spine in a style sympathetic to the original, as was the case with these 3 volumes:

FrancklinsTour1 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration FrancklinsTour2 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration FrancklinsTour3 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

Anson1 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration Anson2 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration Anson3 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

RaysTravels1 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration RaysTravels2 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration RaysTravels3 sussex brighton Hove Lewes Eastbourne Worthing Seaford bookbinder bookbinding bible book repair restorer restoration

Thanks for getting this far. You can see lots of other examples of my work in older posts in this blog.

Repair of a large Victorian family Bible – step by step.

One of the most common repairs that I am asked to undertake is when the covers and/or the spine have become detached from a large Victorian family Bible. These hefty Bibles, all produced between around 1850 and 1900, were bound to look very striking in full black goatskin with lots of blocked gold decoration on the spine and covers and sometimes, brass fittings to the edges of the covers or the corners. But their heavy covers were almost always poorly attached for their size and after 150 years of use, rough handling and being passed down generations, the leather on the hinges can start to split and eventually either the spine detaches or one or both of the covers fall off.

Earlier this year I repaired a Bible that was a good example of the sort of condition that these large volumes can end up in. It arrived looking like this, with both covers and the frontispiece detached and with parts of the spine missing:

Family Bible before repair.

Family Bible before repair.

Family Bible before repair.

Family Bible before repair.

Family Bible before repair.

Family Bible before repair.

Family Bible endpaper before repair.

Family Bible endpaper before repair.

Family Bible frontispiece before repair.

Family Bible frontispiece before repair.

The loose frontispiece and detached covers were re-attached and the book was rebacked with a new leather spine with the remains of the old spine pasted down onto it. Missing areas of gold tooling were re-tooled to match the original and the inside cloth hinges neatly rebuilt. Finally, rubbed areas of leather on the original spine and covers were re-coloured to the original tone before the Bible was returned to it’s owner looking like this:

Family Bible after repair.

Family Bible after repair.

Family Bible after repair.

Family Bible after repair.

Family Bible after repair.

Family Bible after repair.

Family Bible endpaper and inside hinge after repair.

Family Bible endpaper and inside hinge after repair.

Family Bible frontispiece after re-attachment.

Family Bible frontispiece after re-attachment.

I thought that it might be interesting for anyone reading this post to see the various stages of the work involved in bringing this Bible back to a presentable and readable state, so I photographed the processes which are described as follows:

The text block is clamped into a press prior to removing the original spine.

The text block is clamped into a press prior to removing the original spine.

The original spine is removed.

The original spine is removed.

...and set aside.

…and set aside.

The back of the text block is cleaned of all the old adhesive and then re-glued and re-lined, with new headbands applied.

The back of the text block is cleaned of all the old adhesive and then re-glued and re-lined, with new headbands applied.

This Bible having brass edging, the tiny nails holding the edging in place are prised out.

This Bible having brass edging, the tiny nails holding the edging in place are prised out.

...and the edging gently prised away from the edges of the covers.

…and the edging gently prised away from the edges of the covers.

The edges of the leather on each cover are lifted. The new leather spine will be inserted under these edges.

The edges of the leather on each cover are lifted. The new leather spine will be inserted under these edges.

A piece of leather is cut to size and then prepared for use.

A piece of leather is cut to size and then prepared for use.

...before being dyed to the correct colour.

…before being dyed to the correct colour.

The new piece of leather is inserted under the lifted leather on each cover and drawn tightly over the raised bands on the spine.

The new piece of leather is inserted under the lifted leather on each cover and drawn tightly over the raised bands on the spine.

...and the lifted edges on each cover are then pasted down.

…and the lifted edges on each cover are then pasted down.

Once the first part of the repair has dried, the new leather at the head and tail of the spine will be 'turned in'.

Once the first part of the repair has dried, the new leather at the head and tail of the spine will be ‘turned in’.

The leather is 'turned in'.

The leather is ‘turned in’.

...and a flattened 'headcap' shaped (repeated at head and tail of the spine).

…and a flattened ‘headcap’ shaped (repeated at head and tail of the spine).

Once this stage of the repair is completed, the new spine looks like this.

Once this stage of the repair is completed, the new spine looks like this.

The remains of the original spine are then pasted down onto the new one.

The remains of the original spine are then pasted down onto the new one.

The covers are re-attached using a reinforced linen joint to create a bond between the text block and covers that is stronger than the original cords that held the covers on.

The covers are re-attached using a reinforced linen joint to create a bond between the text block and covers that is stronger than the original cords that held the covers on.

Before a further strip of coloured cloth to match the original inside cloth hinge is added for further strength and to make a neat repair.

Before a further strip of coloured cloth to match the original inside cloth hinge is added for further strength and to make a neat repair.

...which looks like this when completed.

…which looks like this when completed.

Areas where the gold tooling is missing and needs to be replaced are marked out and then prepared with a special adhesive.

Areas where the gold tooling is missing and needs to be replaced are marked out and then prepared with a special adhesive.

...before new gold tooling is applied. Unfortunately, it is not viable to replicate the large decorative device in the middle of the spine panel as a set of tools would have to be cut specifically to match this design, but all missing gold lines and more standard tooled areas are re-tooled as required.

…before new gold tooling is applied. Unfortunately, it is not viable to replicate the large decorative device in the middle of the spine panel as a set of tools would have to be cut specifically to match this design, but all missing gold lines and more standard tooled areas are re-tooled as required.

The new tooling is then toned to blend in with the original gold work.

The new tooling is then toned to blend in with the original gold work.

...and finally, the small nails holding the brass work are replaced with the brass edging attached back into position.

…and finally, the small nails holding the brass work are replaced with the brass edging attached back into position.

Taking us from this....

Taking us from this….

To this.

To this.

Complete restoration of a copy of Boyer’s Dictionary

It’s been a few months since I last posted here as it’s been a busy year. A lot of my work has been in a similar vein to projects posted earlier in this blog, so there seemed little point posting more examples of the same sort of repairs.

But three of the projects that I undertook this year were particularly satisfying as they all had personal significance to their owners and had become so damaged that they couldn’t be handled.

The first was an 18th century copy of Boyer’s English-French Dictionary once owned by a direct ancestor of it’s current owner. The book arrived with the text block split into 5 sections, the spine pretty much worn away and both covers heavily rubbed and detached. Normally, I’d advise that a book in this condition was beyond viable restoration and would need to be rebound, but the owner was adamant that they wanted the book restored, so I commenced work. These photos taken by the owner, show the condition that the book arrived in:

Boyer's Dictionary spine before restoration.

Boyer’s Dictionary spine before restoration.

Boyer's Dictionary front cover before restoration.

Boyer’s Dictionary front cover before restoration.

Boyer's Dictionary back cover before restoration.

Boyer’s Dictionary back cover before restoration.

Having removed the remains of the original spine and prepared the sections of text block with reinforcements that would be invisible once the book was back in one piece, I re-sewed the sections together into one text block and lined the spine.

The heavily worn corners of the covers were then rebuilt and re-covered in leather to match the original calfskin binding and the covers re-attached to the text block. New headbands were sewn and the book was then rebacked, creating a new leather spine. With the addition of a new spine label, the spine was then tooled in gold in an appropriate contemporary style, the inside hinges of the endpapers repaired with matching contemporary paper and the edges and sides of the covers refurbished.

A long job, but very satisfying to bring this volume back from the brink, allowing the owner to pass it on to future generations of their family in usable condition. Prior to returning the book, I took these photos:

Boyer's Dictionary front cover after restoration.

Boyer’s Dictionary front cover after restoration.

Boyer's Dictionary front cover after restoration.

Boyer’s Dictionary front cover after restoration.

Boyer's Dictionary new spine.

Boyer’s Dictionary new spine.

Boyer's Dictionary back cover after restoration.

Boyer’s Dictionary back cover after restoration.

Boyer's Dictionary back cover after restoration.

Boyer’s Dictionary back cover after restoration.

Sometimes it’s just the sentimental value…

Not all of the books that I work on are rare or of high monetary value. Many of the books I restore are relatively common volumes, but have a sentimental connection for their owners that makes them worth bringing back into good order. This was the second of my three most satisfying projects this year.

The owner of this treasured 1940’s edition of the score of Handel’s Messiah had knocked it from a high shelf by accident and because of the book’s flimsy style of binding and worn leather covering, the spine had torn and both covers detached from the text block….they were almost as distressed as the book when they brought it to me! These are the photos that they sent me before they brought the book over:

Handel's Messiah before repair.

Handel’s Messiah before repair.

Handel's Messiah before repair.

Handel’s Messiah before repair.

Handel's Messiah before repair.

Handel’s Messiah before repair.

Luckily, with all of the parts still present and the tears being quite ‘clean’ it was relatively straightforward to repair the book with new leather and in the process reinforce the binding internally in such a way that should the owner inadvertently drop the book from a great height again, the covers were unlikely to fall off so easily! Back in one piece, the book was returned looking a little happier than when it arrived:

Handel's Messiah after repair.

Handel’s Messiah after repair.

Handel's Messiah after repair.

Handel’s Messiah after repair.

Restoration of a 19th-century family photograph album.

The 3rd of my ‘most satisfying jobs of 2015’ was the restoration of this late 19th century family photograph album compiled by it’s elderly owner’s grandfather. The album had certainly suffered the ravages of time, with pages having come loose and the covers and spine having become detached over the years. The owner was keen to have the album restored to pass on to future generations of their family in a condition where they could actually look at the photographs without fear of causing further damage. These photos give a good impression of how the album looked when it arrived:

Family photograph album before repair.

Family photograph album before repair.

Family photograph album before repair.

Family photograph album before repair.

Family photograph album before repair.

Family photograph album before repair.

Family photograph album before repair.

Family photograph album before repair.

A number of the leaves of the album had become detached and the first task was to add new linen reinforcements at their spine edges and re-sew them into the block of album pages.

Following this, the corners of the the covers were rebuilt and re-covered in matching leather before the covers were re-attached and the volume rebacked in leather, creating a new leather spine onto which the remains of the original spine were re-attached.

Missing portions of the gold decoration were re-tooled to match the original and the rubbed areas of original leather were re-coloured to their original tone. Preserved for generations to come, the album pages can now be turned without fear of damage to the binding or contents. Here’s how the album looked before it was returned to the owner:

Family photograph album after repair.

Family photograph album after repair.

Family photograph album after repair.

Family photograph album after repair.

Family photograph album after repair.

Family photograph album after repair.

Another Morocco binding restoration.

I’ve just completed this restoration of a half-morocco bound copy of an illustrated natural history work: Rhind’s Vegetable Kingdom.

This once attractively-bound volume arrived with the back cover detached, the spine very rubbed and the binding somewhat held together by old sellotape.

Vegetable Kingdom before repair.

Vegetable Kingdom before repair.

Vegetable Kingdom before repair.

Vegetable Kingdom before repair.

Vegetable Kingdom before repair.

Vegetable Kingdom before repair.

The first job was to carefully remove the sellotape, present on the insides of the covers as well as the outsides, without causing further damage to the leather covering around the spine.

Once done, the spine was carefully removed and set aside for re-use. The book was rebacked in morocco to match the original, with raised bands placed in the same positions as those on the original spine.

The original spine was then pasted down onto the new leather and small areas of lost gold tooling were re-tooled to match. As a by-product of the pasting down process, much of the apparently lost colour of the original spine leather is brought out again and following that process, areas that still appeared discoloured, were re-stained to match the rest of the leather covering. The inside hinges were repaired with marble paper to match the original and the book leather-dressed before returning it to the customer.

Vegetable Kingdom after repair.

Vegetable Kingdom after repair.

Vegetable Kingdom after repair.

Vegetable Kingdom after repair.

Vegetable Kingdom after repair.

Vegetable Kingdom after repair.