Tag Archives: ledgers

Ledger Finds: Long Stitch Bindings

Written By Erin Hammeke, Special Collections Conservator

This will be one of a series of blog posts on some of the neat bindings we’ve discovered in the bound manuscripts. Our Conservation team has been going through the collection of over 6,000 ledgers, item by item, in an effort to prepare them for move to the Library Service Center as a part of the Enabling Project. As we wrap them up, we felt it would be nice to share some of the gems that we come across along the way.

The bound manuscripts derive from a number of different collections. Many of them have personal content, such as scrapbooks, daybooks and diaries. Most of them appear to be business records, account books, and ledgers. Even though this collection as a whole is in poor condition, it has been interesting to see how many bindings have been carefully preserved and repaired by their previous owners during their working life. A number of bindings with deteriorated leather covers have been covered in canvas wrappers, oftentimes with hand-stitching at the turn-ins.

Shown here are two bindings from a batch of about 30 items from the William Clark Grasty Papers(1788-1906). This collection of records documents “three generations of general merchants of Pittsylvania Co., Va. Business interests included a general store, a tavern, a blacksmith shop, a simplified type of banking, and the keeping of a post office.”

These early 19th century bindings are notable because of their simple and beautiful handmade canvas covers. The text pages were sewn in by hand through the covers with a long-stitch sewing style. These items were likely considered essential to this business’s daily workings 200 years ago. Sadly, it is difficult to imagine a business keeping their records in a binding such as this today.


Enabling Project: Swirl Books

We are finding many challenges in preparing our materials for the upcoming move. Erin Hammeke, Special Collections Conservator, shares the following find from her work as the project coordinator for the ledger project.

Stock ledger on the shelf.

As part of the enabling project we are working in our ledger collection to prepare these materials for the move. The Mooresville Mill manufactured cotton, wool, and synthetic fabrics in Mooresville, North Carolina, from the late 19th century to the mid-20th. When the company’s stocks were sold back, they were cancelled and glued onto the stubs bound into a ledger book. The stock certificates were also glued in, leaving the book with a fore edge 2-3 times the thickness of the spine. We started calling these ‘swirl books’ because of their exceptional shape. These items really seem more akin to sculpture than book bindings.

We consulted with the head of collection development in the Rubenstein Library and we agreed that treatment would be too time-consuming of an option before the move. We decided to house the swirl books as they were. Needless to say, these items posed unique shelving and housing challenges to us.

Our technician, Tedd Anderson, bravely met the challenge. For each ledger, Tedd created a wedge to accommodate the shape of the original so that they would fit  inside a custom phase box. They can now be shelved safely and are protected from further damage. These will go in our conservation treatment request database for future treatment.

phase box insert
A wedge compensates for the shape of the ledger.
finished boxes
Finished boxes on the shelf.