Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Innovative Storage Solutions: A Clever Clamshell Box for a Fragile Binding

Recently, the Preservation Services staff had the opportunity to treat a copy of Henry Noel Humphreys’ A Record of The Black Prince, published by Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans in 1849. This volume is held in the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections of UNCG’s Walter Clinton Jackson Library. It is beautifully illustrated and has original molded papier-mâché covers, likely meant to mimic carved ebony. 

Before treatment - both covers are perforated to reveal red endsheets.
The book is full of colorful illustrations. For more detail about the binding, click here.

The item was in good condition but with weakened hinges due to the heavy weight of the covers and a broken and partially detached spine. The textblock is double-fan adhesive bound, meaning there are single sheets of paper adhered together at the spine as opposed to folded sheets sewn together at the spine. The original adhesive was quite brittle and had begun to fail, resulting in the textblock being in two pieces. 

Before treatment - the hinges were cracked and part of the spine was broken and worn.
Before treatment - the adhesive at the spine was so brittle the textblock was split in the gutter.

The original spine and linings were removed prior to consolidating and relining the spine. The original spine was remounted and restored using Japanese paper and wheat starch paste followed by a coat of SC6000/Klucel-G mix to consolidate and further protect the leather and Japanese paper as well as to match the sheen of the Japanese paper to the original leather.

After treatment - the spine was reattached and restored.

Due to the heavy covers, this binding is somewhat weak at the hinges by design. In order to allow patrons to view and enjoy this lovely volume, it was deemed necessary to construct a protective enclosure with an integral book cradle that allows both hands of the viewer to be free for turning pages. The book can now rest open in its cradle and is restricted from being opened too far so as to avoid putting too much stress on the spine or hinges. This clamshell box with integral book cradle was built according to a design by Jeff Peachy.

The clamshell box created for protective storage.

After treatment - the mended book resting open in its cradle.

Book conservation is often about finding creative solutions to unique problems. In the case of Henry Noel Humphreys’ A Record of The Black Prince, we were able to restore some of the original beauty of the book while also constructing a protective enclosure for storage that includes a clever support to more easily share this distinctive volume with library patrons.

After treatment - a clever clamshell box for a fragile binding.