Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Aged Headband Cloth

I've found the last bit of a great cloth for making 19th century headbands. (Discontinued by the factory.) It features blue stripes and a stained/aged beige that makes the cloth look 100 years old; a perfect match for many books including family Bibles. It can be more deeply aged if needed, but looks great for many uses as is. It's 100% cotton, thin enough to form neatly over round or square cores (light shirt weight, not bed ticking). A 3" by 45" strip is $7 postpaid; enough for a lot of books. The top picture shows a similar cloth headband still attached with new material behind. The 2nd photo gives a sense of the stained/aged appearance. What's not easily apparent from the photo is that the "white" portions are not just beige, but have soiling and stains as part of the design. It's an unusual cloth; sort of like the ratty jeans so popular among today's callow and unkempt youth. If you'd like a much larger piece to make a pre-soiled filthy new shirt, just let me know. : )

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bookbinding and Bytes

Visitors to our shop say it looks like something out of a movie or a Dickens novel: browns and blacks, old books and cast-iron machinery, the smell of leather and book dust. Most of our work is done the old-fashioned way using tools and techniques that Charles Dickens could have described. Not because we're distrustful of the new and shiny; there's simply no other way to do the careful sorts of work required by restoration and fine binding. Occasionally, a new tool comes along that becomes an important addition to our shop. In this case, it even uses electricity. Welcome the computer!

This important early edition of a Madame Curie work arrived in its original paper wraps with portions of the spine and covers missing. We scanned the covers, used digital magic to fill in the missing portions, and output on a similar paper. Finally, a perfect color match was achieved with the airbrush (another modern tool). Preserving Yesterday's Treasures with Today's Technology... sounds like an ad agency blurb, but in this case it's true!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rebinding a Family Bible

Our usual goal when restoring a family Bible is to reuse the original spine and boards. Repairs are hidden underneath the original materials and the book retains the look and feel of a period piece. When the covers are missing or unsalvageable, the best approach is not always clear. Because the sculpted boards and the blocked gold tooling are an irreplaceable part of the book's history, there's no easy way to recreate the look and feel of an antique Bible from the mid to late 1800's. While sculpting boards and having metal dies made for tooling is possible, it's fairly expensive.

These covers suffered heavy water damage, shrinking the leather and exposing large areas of the boards beneath. We were able to salvage the center portion of the leather, sculpt new boards to receive it, and suggest the correct period by a combination of blind and gold tooling.

It's far more common for the spine to be missing, and we face the same difficulties in matching intricate tooling without scanning the original and making new dies. Here's a recent effort that suggests the ornate original and blends well with the original boards.