Angela Sutton was
asked to make a large portfolio to contain some ancient maps. It
was not to be stored flat but to stand upright in a library. The
largest map measured 1050mm by 750mm (3’5” x 2’6”) and this
needed the largest board available. The spine cover and flaps
were covered with library buckram and the rest of the boards with
a hand-marbled paper by Jemma Lewis. The client had requested
gussets at the side along with the normal side flaps, and these
were held in place with tasselled ties. As the portfolio
was to stand upright on its spine this was strengthened with a
strip of board and the foredge closed with a matching board.
This was a seventeenth-century book
that had lost its back. The boards were loose, with damaged
corners, and the front pages were dirty and torn at the edges.
Treatment was as follows: the edges of the pages were brushed
(out of doors) to remove loose dust and dirt. The front
four pages were cleaned of loose dirt, washed in cold water,
resized with gelatine size and repaired with a Japanese tissue.
The stitching was so weak that the book had to be resewn. The
sections consisted of two folds only so the sewing was ‘three-on’
(three sections together). The endpapers were replaced
with a handmade paper from Griffen Mill which matched the texture
and colour of the original paper as closely as possible. The
board corners were built up using leather parings mixed with
paste and re-covered with leather. The back was replaced
with a new piece of leather and the boards reattached. The
spine was then tooled with the title and decoration in keeping
with the period.
The floods of 2007 caused damage
to all kinds of property, and not only buildings. Angela
Sutton was asked to repair and rebind some valuable books that
had become wet and then been left in a box, which meant that
mould had flourished. This had destroyed some of the covers
which had to be replaced entirely but parts were retained where
This was a Folio
Society edition of the Canterbury
Tales and so had been nicely produced. The
spine was a leatherette material and the siding a tough bookcloth
known as ‘crash’ canvas.
The text block inside was relatively
undamaged, apart from a few pages which had been
turned pink by mould. Angela Sutton cut
the spine away from the cover as it would be usable.
inside of the book responded well to several days’ worth of pressing,
except for the water-damaged area. The spine was replaced with a similar-coloured
bookcloth and the sides with new crash canvas. The spine
strip with lettering was cut out and re-glued to the spine, thus
making a link to the original binding.
WITH THE WIND
This book was severely damaged by floodwater followed
by mould and as it was not particularly valuable, advice normally
would have been to replace it with a new copy. However,
it had been given to the owner’s mother by a friend, and there
was an inscription the owner wished to keep so its sentimental
value was considerable.
The cover was unsalvageable, so
the book was rebound in a cloth case-binding of the same colour
as the original. Although the area with the title was so
fragile and friable that it did not look very tidy when glued
on, the owner wished to keep it as a link to the past.
The boards of this book
were warped and flood-damaged but the owner wished to retain the
outer cover. The outer cover paper was carefully detached,
supported by a layer of the original board. The original spine
strip had been blue so a new case was made in this colour and the
outer cover paper re-glued in place.
One difficulty was that the cat’s eyes were pieces of glass which
stood out from the cover. So, before pressing, a board had to be
cut out to fit round the eyes to protect them. The inner
pages were pressed to flatten them as much as was practicable without
damaging the items glued on to them. Some of these had floated
off; these were rescued and re-glued in place. The pages
were guarded and resewn.
This book is something
of a collector’s item and is fairly valuable. The mould was
at such an advanced stage that the cover and the endpapers were
taken off at once and disposed of. There was some mould damage
to the inner pages, so the mould was brushed off each page and
the book stood up open to dry off completely.
After the book
had been pressed for a few days it was ready for rebinding. The
endpapers were of a type that matched the original and new boards
were attached to the book. The headbands were resewn and
the leather and bookcloth chosen to be as near the original as
Although it was impossible to copy the spine tooling
exactly, the patterns of the raised bands, the lines across the
spine, the lettering and the large central tool design followed
the original style.
AND BEAUTIFUL MUSIC
The owner is an accomplished
pianist and was worried that it was not possible to salvage these
four volumes, as some of the music is now unavailable.
covers were beyond rescue, but the inner pages were usable, despite
some discolouring due to mould. The pages were brushed
and the books stood up to dry thoroughly before pressing. The
covers were remade in a suitable colour and the titles retooled.
books are now back in use.
Not all repair work
is as dramatic as the flood-damaged books described above. Very
often a book has broken in half, or the spine has come off. Usually
it is possible to retain most of the original binding with perhaps
new hinges in material that blends in well.
This book had split
down the spine and was in two pieces. The spine leather
was so thin that the sewing threads were showing through it and
it was disintegrating. It was removed carefully so as not
to damage the sewing, which, apart from the break, was sound.
tapes were put across the back and the spine sewn back together. The
owner wished the repair to be as economical as possible so a
black buckram was used for the spine and inserted under the leather
of the original cover boards. A new tooled label was applied
and the scuffed areas of the old cover touched in and polished.
The covers were very
battered and the owner wanted a new binding which would not be
an exact reproduction of the period but would reflect the contemporary
style of the late eighteenth century. The leather was brown
and the marbled paper of a type that echoed that style. The endpapers
were made from a handmade paper which matched the inner pages.
The owner of these two
volumes wanted to have them rebound because the covers were worn
and he felt they were worth more than a simple case-binding. He
intended to keep them and read them, and he wanted to be able
to open and use a real leather binding when he did so. He
took a strong interest in the progress of the books and watched
the various stages keenly.
The covers were removed and
the books sewn on raised cords with new endpapers. New
boards were laced on, new headbands stitched, and the books covered
in full dark red leather.
This volume is missing
several pages and is thus not of any great value but it is an
interesting book. The green of the spine leather and the
siding paper is for the green plants of the herbal and the red
lines represent blood, thus combining the idea of plants and
the human body.
The condition of this
book was very poor and it was given to Angela
Sutton as a challenge. The
pages were all dry-cleaned, washed and resized to strengthen
the paper and then repaired where necessary with Japanese tissue
paper. After pressing the book was resewn and bound with
a leather spine and crash canvas side material.
This set of eight books
was in loose paper covers and had never been bound. There
is no date on it but it is probably late eighteenth century. It
was bound in two colours of leather, as Angela
Sutton felt it
was more interesting than just one, and followed the style called
the ‘millimetre binding’.
This is a style that uses a minimum
of leather; the spine leather only overlaps on to the board by
a millimetre (or very slightly more) and the corners are as small
as is practicable. The marbled red paper was made by the
late Ann Muir, who when sent
a piece of the green leather made up the green marbled paper
to match the pattern of the red. The
box holds the set together.
This book had been particularly
badly damaged by water, with staining and lifting of the covers.
Several pages were loose and torn. The page edges were repaired
with tissue and the sections sewn back together. The cover was
replaced and the original title retained.