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.

Friday, March 10, 2017

University Libraries hidden secret collection

It is widely known a book can offer the pleasure of a good reading together with the enjoyment of exploring its author’s deepest thoughts. But let me tell you, there is a hidden, a secret delight, not visible to the beholder, that can give pure artistic fruition. They are called fore-edge paintings. They are concealed on the edge, or edges, of books and have been available for our enjoyment the last couple of centuries. They are only visible when pages are fanned and the fortunate perceiver can discover a variety of themes, including historical landscapes, heraldry, portraits, religious scenes, private life, with the list not being limited to these subjects.

The Jackson Library holds in its special collection some of these unique books. Below we share some of their hidden charms for your own appreciation. 


Want to learn more and read about fore-edge painting?

- Fore-edge painting; a historical survey of a curious art in book decoration.

- Hidden treasures: the history and technique of fore-edge painting

Watch a video!

Fore-edge Painting 1947 - Unusual Occupations Series

Visit an English fore-edge artist!


Are you ready for painting your own fore-edge?

Books with painted fore-edge 
Hodges Special Collection and University Archives  
UNC Greensboro

      The lighted valley; or, The closing scenes of the life of Abby Bolton

-         The dramatic and poetical works of Joanna Baillie.

-          The poems of Winthrop Mackworth Praed

-          The border antiquities of England and Scotland : comprising specimens of architecture and sculpture, and other vestiges of former ages, accompanied by descriptions

-          The works of James Thomson : with his last corrections and improvements : to which is prefixed the life of the author

Last, but not the least, a Wikipedia resource on fore-edge painting and its history

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Conservation Storage Boxes

Libraries and archives make use of protective enclosures to safeguard their collections. We are not different from any other library or archive. Through the years the Preservation Services has custom created several different types of storage boxes for a large array of items in our collections.

Going from a simple phase box:

To an artistic designed clamshell box, integrating conservation principles, design and the item format. 

Size and format is not a barrier to our creativity:

These archival storage are supposed to work as a barrier against acidic materials and to add extra support against further damage. Before buying your archival storage, carefully do research on their components. Make sure they meet conservation standards for the specific materials you will store. This will reinforce the durability and protection of your collection.

For more information on how to do your own conservation boxes, check our tutorials, in three different languages - English, Spanish and Portuguese, at: