Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Preservation Services - A Dictionary of the English Language - Samuel Johnson -1755

We are always facing challenges when it comes to the conservation treatment of some of the University Libraries books. This one was not an exception. From our Special Collection and Archives, A Dictionary of the English Language, from Samuel Johnson, 1755, in two volumes, is one of the most important reference works for the English language.

In full maroon calf leather, the original cover showed so much stress from the years of usage, with the original spine missing and large areas of loss, including damaged corners and detached endbands. 

A few decades ago the book was rebacked in a coated leather, false raised bands and no hollow. Not having a hollow made this new leather addition very susceptible to stress due to its characteristics, becoming very brittle and breaking in several parts due to the weight of the large textblock ( 11 in. x 16 in.) and the heavy usage from our researchers.

The photos below illustrates the before, after and the several stages of the conservation and restoration treatment of this particular book.

Front cover

Back cover

 Endbands and edge loss.

 First steps on restoration using Japanese Paper Moriki.
 Spine in a double layer of Japanese Paper and linen.

An insertion, on both boards, close to the joint, achieving the original leather level.

Hollow in Japanese Paper Moriki

 Front cover restored.

Back cover restored.

New endbands embroidered, 'per original'.

New Japanese Paper internal hinges, 'per original'. 

The rebacked spine.

Some useful links:


Friday, October 10, 2014

The Conservation and Restoration of a Unique Item

Last week we finished the conservation treatment of a very special volume. Méthode Elémentaire de Violoncelle: Suivie de 92 √Čtudes: Oeuvre 60 by Friedrich August Kummer and Adolphe Le Dhuy (translater).  It is part of our Cello Music Collection of Janos Scholz, dating back to the second quarter of the XIX century. We are one of two OCLC libraries worldwide to have this particular edition in our collection.

The book arrived with the original cover in a very poor condition. It was bound in a quarter leather and decorative papers, the textblock was still holding the freshness of the first years of life. There were losses on the spine, boards splitting at the fore edge and bottom, the decorative papers were badly damaged with missing parts, as we can see in the photos below. There was no trace of the original label. The leather on the cover was very brittle and already affected by red rot. Like any organic material, leather through the years can lose it is primary component, colagen, the fibers once elastic start to break and those affected areas become very powdery. 

Front cover

Back cover

The cover was in such a bad condition that I thought twice about rebinding the book per original . At the same time, I could still see the beauty behind the damage of this volume. I knew it was going to take more work and time but the simple fact that the book is part of our Cello Music Collection makes it worth the effort.  I persevered on the conservation and restoration, working hard to save the original cover to make it functional for the use of any scholar researching in our library. The following pictures speak for themselves:

Front cover during treatment

Back cover during treatment

For the large missing area on the decorative paper at the back, we used a digital solution. A photo of the pattern was taken and printed on a Japanese Paper Moriki, which was then consolidated with Klucel G to assure permanence of the toner ink. After the restoration of the area, the printed Japanese Paper was placed with starch paste.

Below part of the book corner and the Japanese Paper Moriki with the printed pattern we photographed.


The finished book after conservation treatment.

Friday, September 12, 2014


The Cello Music Collections constitute the largest single holding of cello music-related materials in the world and is a part of Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives at UNCG. From this collection we received several books to be treated at the UNCG Preservation Services, some with minor repairs and others requiring a full conservation and restoration treatment.

The variety of types of bindings and materials from this collection is broad, but here you can have a glimpse of a three-quarter-bound leather with decorative paper on the cover. The restoration took place following all the precepts of a conservation point of view, achieving a result that meets both functionality and aesthetics. 





Wednesday, July 30, 2014


A few months ago, we received in our lab three books from a set of five, dating back to 1803, in need of care. They are to be added to our special collections through a gift we received.

The book covers were in very poor condition with very damaged boards, brittle leather and marble papers, and missing endpapers. The original leather on the spine was flaking with very little left of the original title. Almost all of the gold tooling that had been applied was gone. 

It was evident that no restoration could be performed to the original boards to save them, so it was decided that a new binding in leather (calf) and marble papers, similar to the original one, would be best to provide these volumes with a longer life.

The textblocks were in good condition but in need of cleaning. They were all dry cleaned, mechanically, to remove the surface grime. The few tears they had were mended using Japanese Paper Tengujo 5gs and rice starch paste. New endpapers were added using handmade McGregor papers.

Now the books are ready to be part of the Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, at UNCG,