Title: Alice in Wonderland – Carroll Date Completed: August 2009
Material: Cloth Time: 28 hours
Condition: Text block was originally perfect bound, but the adhesive had delaminated in spots, causing the text block to be split into several “sections.” The text block was completely detached from the front cover. Pages were yellow with acid and incredibly brittle. Almost every page was torn or creased, with pieces missing. A few pages were missing entirely. Covers were in surprisingly good condition, with the exception of a piece missing from the spine. There were a few cracks in the cloth, but the spine was still attached, joints were not too worn and corners were not bumped.
Treatment: Pages were separated from text block on by one and placed between sheets of Reemay. Once all the pages were separated, they were soaked in cold, filtered water for 20 minutes. The initial pH of the paper was 3.5, so after a water bath, the pages were soaked in Magnesium Bicarbonate [Mg(HCO3)2] for an additional 30 minutes. The pages, attached to the Reemay, were then hung to remove excess liquid, pressed between blotting paper, and dried on the drying rack. The pH after washing was 6.5. Once dried, all pages were aligned and inspected for damage. Missing pages were replaced with acid-free Dove Grey paper and repairs were made with heat-set tissue. The pages were then divided into signatures of six and guarded with Japanese tissue (via wheat starch paste). When all sections were attached (sewn one on) and aligned, they were nipped in the press to reduce swell. Using pre-punched holes, the text block was sewn with tapes. A toned, linen lined, handmade paper endsheet was sewn in to replace the missing endpapers in the front. The spine was then lined with Japanese tissue (via wheat starch paste), head and tail bands were attached, and then the spine was lined with linen (via PVA) and rounded. The endsheets were lifted on the covers, and the original spine lining was removed, and then replaced with Japanese tissue and 10 pt board. The text block was re-attached to the boards by gluing the tapes and linen down under the lifted endsheets. The missing piece on the spine was replaced with Morike and toned with acrylics. The small cracks in the cover were repaired with Japanese tear strips, and also toned.
Notes: Despite de-acidification, the pages remained terribly brittle. Some pages tore slightly during sewing, and it reached the point where continued repair with heat-set tissue was not worth the value of the book. Had this been a more prestigious book, the pages might have been individually lined with a very thin Japanese tissue for support. But this particular book was not worth such efforts.
These images show the book before treatment. Notice the breaks in the text block.
This is a pictures show the washing process, including the initial submerge in the bath (top), the amount of acid washed out with soaking (below), and a method of hanging the leaves to dry (bottom).
These are after images. I received a lot of brownie points for getting the text block back in the case without rebacking it. I was just lucky, considering I had to guard every folio for sewing.