Monday, January 6, 2014

Paper Repair

We've repaired a lot of repair work, ranging from removing layers of duct tape to pulling nails pounded through inner margins. Most intriguing, though, are really old repairs on really old books. Here are just a few.

The Wretched State of Man by the Fall, &c., 1732. This little pocket-sized volume has thin wooden boards under the cracked leather and was held together by sewing on leather straps top and bottom. Especially interesting, though, are the sewing repairs to the first page!

Currently on our bench is a 1650 edition of Thomas Fuller's "A Pisgah-sight of Palestine and the confines thereof" which is filled with beautiful maps. Earlier repairs looked to be patchwork with whatever scraps of paper were lying about, and the map pictured has been patched with four different pieces!
Backside of the repair, including a portion of a letter from 1850.

The "good" side.
How, you might wonder, will we repair these? "The Wretched State of Man" is now more interesting as an early American imprint and historical object than as a working text, and was left as is but housed in a protective box. Although we'll often remove old repairs, resize the paper, and do more "sympathetic" joinery, repairs to "A Pisgah Sight" were also left intact. Though sloppy, they're holding, and might be considered to add "charm". These decisions are made after consultation with the client; historical interest, budget, and mechanical concerns are all factors in choosing treatment.