Book Restoration Continued: Mending Tears

 

Title Page, ABH

Title Page, ABH

 

Our sheets have been guarded and put under weight for a few days. Now we need to repair the torn pages. There are a few large tears, especially on the page that was pulled out and used as house plans. I am following the instructions in Edith Diehl’s Bookbinding, Its Background and Technique (Vol. 2, page 53).

Starting with the front of the book, I examined each page for tears. If they were good I set them aside, if they needed mending these are the steps I am following:

Check for bevel. Most of the time when a page is torn there is a taper at the edges of the tear. I will make sure the bevel is lined back up so the fibers will re-align.

Cut tissue. I cut small pieces of Japanese tissue a little bit larger than the torn area.

Glue up. Using a very small brush I apply glue along the torn edges.

Press in tissue. With one piece of tissue under the tear and another on top I press the area with my bone folder (wax paper provides protection from rubbing and pulling.

These steps are repeated for every tear. When the tears have dried completely, in a few hours to be safe, I will pull the tissue up from the pages. This will leave a few strands of the Japanese tissue to reinforce the repair. The entire process has taken about 2 hours for this particular book, if there was just one tear the whole job would have only taken a few minutes.

The next step will be some light trimming and then arranging the signatures for sewing. Once the signatures are sewn I will add mull, glue up the spine and then do some more edge work.

That’s it for now. I think we are almost to the half way point for this project. I am not usually a very patient person so this has been a bit of a challenge to work on something so tedious. Good therapy I guess…

Thanks again for reading all this silliness, see ya!

 

Advertisements

A Recent Book Find

La Cuisiniere

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got a booth at a book fair to sell some of my books. I did alright, covered my expenses at least. I did buy a book though…it’s hard to pass something cool up I guess…

This is a French cookbook from about 1900. The title is ‘La Cuisiniere des Menages’, which translates to  ‘The Cooker Cook of the House.  It is a great little book, 536 pages including the index. I am not very good with French, but this book is the whole method (1900’s style) of French cookery. It starts with kitchen terms, then goes into tools, butchering and then cooking. I will probably have to start learning some French now!

The book does need a little repair at the front hinge, just some cloth to hold the hinge together. Not a big deal, more of a conservation item than an actual repair.

Anyhow, here is the cover of the book. I may redraw this so I can print it out larger. Let me know what you think.

 

 

Book Restoration Continued…Guarding Sheets

Elevation of Victorian home from ABH

Elevation of Victorian home from ABH

 

 

 

So our book has been sitting with baking soda for a week. I brushed off the soda, the pages don’t have the musty smell anymore! The next step will be to guard the pages and then repair tears. First I will guard all the pages and rejoin the two sheets that are split, then do repairs of the tears.

I started the process by cutting little strips of Japanese paper for the guards. They are 3/8″ wide and about the height of the text block. To speed things along I folded the paper over several times, then using my dividers I marked a strip. When I cut with my snap razor I got 6 strips at a time. I also cut some 1/2″ strips because a few sheets had much larger areas missing.

When I had the strips cut I took my time and pasted one strip to the outside of each sheet. There were a few sheets that didn’t need anything so I left those alone. There will be a fair amount of swelling anyway so if I could save some space I did it. This process took about 8 hours total for gluing and application.

Once everything was glued and dried I re-folded the signatures and have them under weight for a bit to compress the swell. Starting tomorrow I begin repairing tears. Once the tears are taken care of the sewing will begin. My goal is to have this book in boards by the end of next week.

When I Grow Up

'When I Grow Up Stories' by Nancy Lee, 1921 'Policeman

‘When I Grow Up Stories’ by Nancy Lee, 1921 ‘Policeman’

 

 

So, a long time ago I bought these children’s books. They were the ‘When I Grow Up’ series, written by Nancy Lee and published in 1921 by Stoll and Edwards. There are four books in the series: Policeman, Fireman, Banker and Farmer. The stories are about what these four professions do and how the Little Jerry wants to grow up to be just like them.

I have had the books about 20 years now. They have been pretty   much just sitting on my shelf in plastic sleeves. One day I was looking for something to do on CorelDraw so I decided to draw the covers of the books using tools in Corel. As you can see by the original scanned image, the covers are a little rough. The Fireman book even has the top part torn away.

After scanning I brought the original into Corel then started tracing. I have used CorelDraw for a long time but I am still FAR away from being an expert, I would rated myself as and ‘Advanced Novice’. When I re-draw something I try to break it down into elements. For these pieces there is a black background and then colors laid over the top. I traced the outlines then worked with the node tool to line everything up. The tracing and adjusting took the longest, about 2 hours or so per image. It is funny how you get dialed in to working on something like this and you forget time.

When the tracing was done I started coloring in the images. Then using the diffuser I would give a fade to the edges of shading. The Fireman is still a work in progress, I need to add some more detail and finish off the image. I am pretty happy with the Policeman, he has a lot of the details and looks kind of stylized a bit. I think I will print this on a t-shirt or poster or something…

Anyhow, I will post all four covers once I get the project completed. I just started working on the Farmer and still need to wrap up the Fireman cover. Thanks again for reading, I hope this inspires you to go out and try tracing and painting your own vintage piece.

Have fun, and please feel free to comment or ask questions. Cheers!!

Book Restoration: It All Goes to Pieces

Title Page, ABH

Title Page, ABH

So I took the first step in the restoration of The Album of Beautiful Homes. I was a little bit nervous but once I jumped in everything seemed to go alright. I laid out my tools (Fig, 1) and got to work.

The first step was to remove the text block from the case. I did this by running a razor inside the cover to peel back the mull (Fig. 2 & 3). This was done to both the front and back cover.  Basically just a slice on the inside cover and then using the micro spatula to lift. Mull is just sort of a stiff cheese-cloth-like material that is attached to books and then used to attach boards by pasting end sheets over them.

Once the text block was free I worked to remove the mull from the pages. This was the most delicate job because there seemed to be extra glue from some older repairs so there were extra strong bonds in places. Going too fast might tear pages and either make for a LOT of extra work or destroy the book completely. Again, the micro spatula was enlisted to gently pull the mull away (Fig. 4 & 5). There were two places along the spine with big globs of some amber colored glue. It was really brittle so it may have been horse glue. Those areas took about 10 minutes each to get the mull off. I worked another several minutes on each area to get most of the glue off. There will be more to do but I need to decide how the final glue removal is to be completed.

After the mull was away and most of the glue residue was removed I took a few minutes to clean my table and then started the process of separating the signatures (sections). I used the spatula, razor, scissors and tweezers. I gently pulled each signature, one at a time, by moving the spatula from inside the text block outwards to the spine. I would locate the separation between the sections and lift. This required a lot of patience because there was extra glue in some areas. Once the glue/chemical bond was broken I cut the cords going to the next section down and lifted. When the section was free I opened it flat on the table and removed cord pieces and sewing thread. This process was repeated for each signature (Fig. 6, 7 & 8).

After separating all the sections I went on to removing the tape that was holding one of the pages (leaves) in place. The ‘repair’ was done with masking tape. Again, using the micro spatula, I gently worked the edges of the tape, putting more pressure on the tape than the paper of the book. I worked the spatula in a small area until that started to lift then I went a little further and eventually the tape came away (Fig. 9). There was a total of 3 pieces of tape, each piece took about 10 minutes to remove.

Now that everything was separated I was able to take a close look at the damage to the book itself. There are tears in some sheets at the head and tail, some of the pages are completely torn free and the edges of one page are damaged so badly that it will have to be re-formed with new paper laid over the damage to get it back to the correct dimensions. (Fig. 10 & 11).

The last step for this part of the project was to number the sections and then lay them flat to relax the sheets for further work. Using a pencil I numbered each section inside the gutter (fold) so they could be reassembled later (Fig. 12). After this I laid each sheet out flat, sprinkled on some baking soda to absorb some of the musty smell and stacked the sheets up. After the sheets were stacked I put my cutting mat on top with a couple of books to hold the sheets in place and slowly press the folds out (Fig. 13). I will leave the pages like this for 3 or 4 days before continuing on.

One of my original thoughts was to de-acidify the paper. Books printed in the late 1800’s used wood pulp and the acid content can cause pages to become brittle and fall apart. After researching the process I decided that this was too risky for this project. There is a potential of printing being damaged, pages might curl up and if the paper isn’t pressed and sized properly there could be irreparable damage to the pages. My goal with this project is to make the book serviceable and able to be enjoyed. At some later date if somebody wants to have the pages treated they can do it at their own peril.

Next time I will be guarding the pages and repairing damaged sheets prior to sewing up. Thanks for reading, as always feel free to comment or ask questions.

The Book Restoration Project Begins

Title Page, ABH

Title Page, ABH

So, I have taken a good look at The Album of Beautiful Homes’ it isn’t so beautiful…

Rather than just jump in, I decided to do an in-depth triage of the book. It is clear that this book was used by the original owner to build a house. There is a page that was removed, folded several times and then (thankfully) taped back in. There are pages with lots of edge wear, they are dirty, corners folded, gutters ripped, sewing loose.

When you first think about taking on a challenge like this, there is a bit of bravado. There is the belief that you will be able to handle the work, no worries. Well, after REALLY looking at this book, there are a lot of worries. But I am going to press on and get this book restored. It just might take more than a week…

Here is a list of things that will need to happen:

  1. Disassemble entire book
  2. Separate text block into individual pages
  3. Clean paper and de-acidify (books printed in the late 1800’s to today have a high acid content in paper)
  4. Repair tears and worn edges
  5. Guard gutter areas to strengthen sewing structure
  6. Re-assemble sections and sew
  7. Make a new set of boards and cover in appropriate cloth
  8. Replace end papers
  9. Mount restored text block in new case
  10. Build a slip case or clamshell box to protect book

I think those are all the steps, if I find more issues or other challenges I will update this. For reference I am using Edith Diehl’s Bookbinding, It’s Background and Technique, Cockerell’s Bookbinding and the Care of Books, Johnson’s Book Repair and Conservation and Greenfield’s The Care of Fine Books. I think all these titles are available on Amazon and AbeBooks.

Here are some photos of typical damage to the book:

The Rarest Books Found in the Strangest Places

One of my weaknesses is auctions. I love the hunt, the competition and the thrill of finding something rare and special. When I was living in Indiana there were lots of estate auctions every weekend. I would check the website AuctionZip to see what was coming up and see if there was anything that piqued my interest. I went to an auction that had several children’s books listed, the description said first editions. Upon inspection they weren’t firsts, but I stuck around to see what deals I might get._MG_0347

About one hour into the action, the auctioneer held up a large blue book that looked pretty beat up. He said it was an old book of home plans. I started bidding at $5.00, and kept going until it got to $25.00. It just didn’t seem like that great an item. I shook my head no, but the auctioneer opened the book for me and showed me some pages. I don’t know why but the book suddenly appealed to me. I got up to $40.00 and everyone else bowed out, then one of the regulars who like to steal items at the last minute jumped in. He kept bidding, to ‘run me up’ as they say, but, again, I my Spidey Sense was going so I hung in there. I got the book for $90.oo. I put the book in a box with the rest of my junk and went home. The book is the National Builder’s Album of Beautiful Homes by George Garnsey, published in 1891. I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for it, the book had been in a chicken coop, and it was pretty much covered in bird poo…pages were loose, there was dirt at the edges and the poor thing was just about ready to go in the trash heap, but the illustrations are cool and so I pressed on in my research.

My first stop was locating George Garnsey. That was easy. He was an architect from Chicago who lived from 1840 to 1923. He designed a lot of Queen Anne

style homes and helped rebuild Chicago after the fire in 1871. He also wrote a book on architectural terminology. That was great, this guy was real, he had credentials and had written other things. It will be easy to get more information on my book!

A year went by, and not so much as a peek at the title online. Was this just a junky title that had no interest or value to collectors? Then one day I typed the title into a search on AbeBooks and there it was, The Album of Beautiful Homes, 1891. It turns out this title is extremely rare, only 25 copies known to exist. The seller had his copy listed at $1800.00, obviously in much better shape than mine. So now I know that the book is worth preserving and protecting.

So here we are, with a barn find book that is worth quite a bit of money, and more importantly it is a great pieces or American architectural history. So here is where the new adventure begins. I am going to restore this book to a readable condition, so that it is safe for the coming generations. I will be updating as progress is made with photos and stories about the challenges I meet. Follow along and feel free to yell at me if you think I am doing something wrong. It’s not just an adventure, it’s a job!