Monday, November 30, 2009


Occasionally in the library, I encounter books with covers so badly damaged it is easier (and cheaper) to recase the text block than to mend the original covers. Recasing is also a treatment option for damaged books that are not especially valuable.
This is an example of a book I recased. It was originally a quarter bound leather, tight backed (fastback), with marble paper covered boards. The paper was torn and faded with dirt and age. The spine had completely delaminated and split off the front board (Top). Delamination at the spine also caused the text block to split (Bottom).

I started by removing the cover. I pressed the sections of the text block together between boards, and cleaned the spine with methyl cellulose to removed the old liner and adhesive. The sewing was cut in several places, so I had to pull the text block apart. I washed and deacidified the sections in filtered water and magnesium bicarbonate [Mg2(CO3)2]. After the pages dried, I repaired damaged areas with heat set tissue, and guarded each section using wheat starch paste and Japanese tissue. I realigned the signatures, resewed the text block, adding dove gray endpapers and lined the spine with Japanese tissue. The addition of materials from guarding caused swell in the spine, so I rounded it to reduce this swell.

I decided to mimic the original case design with a quarter binding in PC4 paper. I cut the boards to fit, attached the PC4 spine and trimmed the PC4 to be even and straight on both covers. Next, I covered the remainder of the boards with book cloth. Then I trimmed the turn-ins, infilled the boards, and attached the text block. After pressing the book with jointing boards, I attached the labels, which were pre-coated with Klucel G to prevent the ink from smearing (Summer 2009).

The above image on the left shows the finished product and the right depicts the stability of the text block after treatment. The below images are additional before and after examples of recased books. These book were bound entirely in book cloth (2008).

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