Tag Archives: Conservation

TRLN Bookbinders: Paper Case Binding

Our group has been studying paper case bindings. These come in a remarkable array of styles and were popular in the 18th Century. They are very close in structure to limp vellum bindings which date back to the 14th Century. They are fast to make and depending on the paper you use for the cover they can be a cheap but very durable binding.

We found a great array of samples from our collections to study. What I am realizing as we study these historic structures is that binders of all centuries seem to make it up as they go along. There are the canonical exemplars, the forms that have survived and were popular in their day, but the details show us that every binder did things a little differently. There is no one way to make a paper case, in fact there are several. You can lace the supports in or not, you can adhere the paste downs or not, you can adhere the turn ins or make yapps. Or not.
Likely this is due to the availability of materials, the popular methods of the day and who taught you. Judging from my own work, I also suspect there are so many variants because you make mistakes and need to fix them. Along the way you discover a better or quicker way to do things then adopt those “fixes” and pass them on. I like knowing that I’m just one in a long line of binders that never do things quite the same way twice.

Boxing Day Favorites

As you loyal readers already know Boxing Day comes around every month, in fact it now comes around twice a month because we have so much coming into the collections that need enclosures. We crank out the work on Boxing Day but we also get to stop ever so briefly to take a closer look at some of the materials.

My favorite from our most recent Boxing Day were numbers 1, 4 and 7 in the Black Samurai series by Marc Olden. I have never seen these books, but I love the cover art and the story summaries on the back covers. These were written in the 1970’s, and some were translated into films.
What really struck me were the cigarette ads inserted into the middle of the books. I wasn’t reading pulp fiction in the early 1970’s as I was too young to do so. I wonder, were cigarette ads put into a lot of pulp fiction titles? or was this a targeted advertising campaign? I’d be interested to know more if you know anything about this title, publisher or 1970’s pulp fiction in general.

Saying Farewell

It’s a bittersweet week here in the lab. We are losing two of our family who are off to start careers and take on new adventures.

Rachel Ingold, one of our two Senior Conservation Technicians, completed library school last December and has accepted a position as the Curator of the History of Medicine Collection in the Duke University Medical Center Library and Archives. Rachel has been here for almost eight years and has proved to be a productive member of the team. More important than that is that she is a wonderful person to work with, funny, energetic and a kind soul. I will miss seeing her every day, luckily she will be just around the corner.

This is also the last week we get to see Henry Hebert in the lab. Henry was one of my SILS students and worked not only in our lab but in the lab at UNC Wilson Library. This summer he was awarded a competitive internship in the Preservation Department at Parks Library on the campus of Iowa State University. Henry is headed to the bookbinding program atNorth Bennett Street Schoolin Boston. Henry has been great to have in the lab, his energy and eagerness to learn has inspired all of us. We will miss him, but hope to see him again when he comes to visit and maybe teach us a few things.

We wish both Rachel and Henry all the best as they embark on their new lives. We will miss them both but know we will see them again. So it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later. Congratulations to you both, and good luck!

*Image: pathway from west campus to the medical center complex.

Our First Label

It may seem silly to be so exuberant about a label, but conservators get excited about weird things (anyone want to talk paste recipes?). We have finally procured a Kwikprint so that we can make lovely, gold foil labels for our rebinds. Erin modified one of our taborets to use as a base and has set up the machine. She printed our first label last week, and it is truly something to celebrate.

Erin’s Summer Adventures

Written by Erin Hammeke, Conservator for Special Collections

I just returned from two fantastic professional development opportunities. First, I attended the Ligatus Summer School class on the History of European Bookbinding 1500-1800, held this year at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Germany.

Drawing from the instructor Nicholas Pickwoad’s research and using examples from the library’s collection, the class examined how changes in the style and structure of book bindings produced during this period can illustrate the effects of changing pressures and developments in the book trade and in the printing and bookbinding industries at the time.

The class will allow me and my fellow conservators to better contextualize the bindings we comes across during the course of our work as conservators as well as enable us to identify, document, and preserve critical evidence during treatment.

I then went to a workshop taught by Renate Mesmer, Assistant Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The workshop Tips & Tricks for Book and Paper Conservation was held in the bookbinding studio at North Bennet Street School in Boston.

It was packed full of practical techniques and handy tricks that Ms. Mesmer has amassed during her 30+ years as a bookbinder, conservator and educator. The tips ranged from pulp-filling paper losses, performing corner and leather repairs, and to creating a new flexible leather binding.

I am really looking forward to sharing these techniques with my colleagues in Conservation and to putting them to good use in my treatments.

Burnt and Bent

Today Alex and I worked together to image some pages from this Syriac Manuscript. According to a hand-written note in the box, it is from the Gospel of Mark, dated to the 10th Century.

Clearly it’s seen better days, but it is remarkable nonetheless. It looks to be to have survived a fire, at least the middle of the text block survived. The front third or so was burned off, leaving stubs that are still attached to the binding, but the spine has curled in on itself. The remaining vellum pages range from really brittle to fairly OK, if a little warped.

What We Find In Books: Blaeu Bears and Deer

Erin came across these illustrations in one of the Blaeu atlases that she has been working on. These are filled with lovely, hand painted images.

We’ve been having a little fun trying to figure out what the bears were saying to each other, and whether this deer is from the lost herd of vampire deer from Transylvania. In all seriousness, look how it is ever so daintily standing on the frame whilst seemingly taking a nap. Very skillful (both the illustrator and the deer itself).

*Illustrations from: Willem Janszoon Blaeu, “Toonneel des aerdriicx, ofte nievwe atlas, dat is Beschryving van alle landen; nu nieulycx uytgegeven.” (E ff#91 dl.1 – 1649)