Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Book Binding & Book Restoration - Stripping Down

Centuries ago books were a luxury that only a person of means could afford. A man's wealth and education was determined by his library, especially by the skill of the Master Craftsman he employed.

This 18th Century rare theology book was quite restorable in it's original subscribers plain calf binding, but the customer favoured a period Cambridge panelled calf fine binding.

So the first step is to strip the book down, this is a "fastback" binding which means the book is flexibly sewn on raised cords with laced-in boards and the leather is glued directly over the sewn sections of the book.

Not only must the old leather be removed, but great care must be applied when removing the old "animal glue" as not to damage the sections as these will need to be repaired before sewing.

There are several varieties of animal glue (fish glue, rabbit glue etc) but it is mainly animal bones boiled at high temperature and strained, the residue that floats above is gellatin, a product used for many puposes including the "jelly" in a pork pie, what is left becomes a glue, which is used hot in bookbinding, cabinet making, antique restoration and many other crafts.

The hand marbled endpapers and flyleaves are made and it is important to try and match the original pattern of the marble to keep a contemporary feel to the book, in this case the pattern is in an 18th century "Old Dutch" style.

The book is then stripped into sections and re-sewn on hemp cords. Hand made head and tail bands are also sewn in at this stage.