Case Binding Repair for Circulating Collections

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Some examples of endsheets that might be retained
Illustrated here are a variety of covers that maybe desirable to retain

Outlined below is a standard treatment intended for circulating collection items, and is not intended for special collections. The methodology provides an opportunity to batch like items in a production setting, where the intent is to retain most of the original components of the book. However, because in this process the pastedowns are removed, this treatment will not be appropriate in cases where the pastedowns differ from front to back or contain important content.

This treatment is performed on books when the original covering material is worn along the spine, the textblock is partially or fully detached from the cover, and evidence of the original endsheets is to be retained. During this treatment, the textblock will be released from the cover; the textblock spine will be lined; the original cloth cover will be lined; the original fly-leaves will be guarded together; new endsheets will be attached; the original fly-leaves will be sewn into the fold of the back endsheet; and the textblock will be recased into the cover.

Primary Causes of Deterioration: Normal wear and tear from use. Improper handling and/or shelving practices. Poor environmental conditions (e.g. exposure to pollutants, ultraviolet light and/or fluctuations in temperature and/or relative humidity).

Original Compilers: Carole Dyal and Werner Haun
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Preparing the Textblock


Candidate for recasing with retention of fly leaves
  • Release the text block from its cover by easing the loose fly leaf away from the text block and then slitting the super to release the textblock completely. If the book was sewn onto tapes or cords, these should be lifted from the covers, taking care not to disturb the sewing.
  • Strip the old super off the cover and remove the pastedown. Lightly sand the inside cover so the new endsheets will adhere smoothly.
  • Clean the spine of the text block. Remove old cloth and paper linings. It is not necessary to clean the spine completely, but only to remove loose or deteriorated material.

Attaching New Endsheets

  • Select new endsheets slightly larger than the text block. Using wheat starch paste, attach a 2 cm strip of Japanese paper to the fold of each endsheet to act as a hinge.
  • Lay the folds of the endsheets between strips of wastepaper leaving exposed a width of 1 cm the entire length of the fold of each endsheet.
  • Apply adhesive to the exposed areas.
  • Place half of the width of a strip of Japanese paper over each exposed area and pat in place.
  • Place endsheets between strips of blotting paper under a light weight until dry.
  • Bend the loose half of the Japanese paper strip around the endsheet fold
  • Measure and trim each endsheets to the exact height of the textblock.

Tipping on Hinged Endsheets

  • Place the hinges between strips of wastepaper and apply wheat starch paste.
  • Position the endsheet over the text block and carefully lower it so that the hinge fits into the shoulder and the folded edge lines up exactly with the first (or last) section of the book.
  • Bone the endsheet against the shoulder. The hinge should be attached to the text block and the endsheet should swing freely at the fold.
  • Immediately place wax paper between the hinge and the endsheet to prevent sticking.
  • Trim the endsheet to the exact width of the textblock using a ruler and scalpel, cutting on a scrap of board or self-healing mat.

Guarding Original Fly-leaves Together

Guardingflyleave-haun,dyal.jpg
  • If the fly-leaves are uneven, they may be trimmed to provide a clean edge.
  • The fly-leaves are guarded together with a strip of water-torn Japanese paper to form the inside of the folio and to provide greater support for the sewing.
  • If the fly-leaves create a continuous image (e.g. a map), they may be guarded on the outside of the folio.

Sewing Original Fly-leaves into the Back Endsheet

Detail of sewing
Sewn endleaves

Lining the Spine

Consolidatingspine-haun,dyal.jpg
  • Cut Japanese paper the width of the spine and approximately 3 mm shorter than the height of the textblock.
    Cross Section of Spine Lining with Alternative Materials
  • Apply wheat starch paste to the spine of the textblock, and attach the Japanese paper by gently tamping with a brush or carefully rubbing with a bone folder to assure proper adhesion. Be sure the Japanese paper lining completely covers the sewing.
  • Cut super for the spine 6 mm shorter than the text block and 5 cm wider than the spine.
  • Apply a thin layer PVA to the spine.
  • Position the super with approximately 2.5 cm on either side and evenly between the head and tail. Bone the super down securely.
  • Measure and cut a spine strip from scrap endsheet paper the width of the spine and 3 mm shorter than book height. The grain direction of the strip should run parallel with the spine. Apply adhesive to the strip, position it carefully, and rub and bone securely into place.

Cover Treatment


  • With the inside of the cover facing up, use a scalpel to slit through the turn-ins 2.5 cm on either side of the spine. The slits will allow the turn-ins to be peeled back from the cover board.
  • Peel the original inlay away from the spine of the cover.
  • Slowly peel the covering material away from the cover boards until it is even with the slits in the turn-ins. Take care not to tear the weakened cloth.
  • Pressure sensitive tape may also be used to delaminate several layers of board in order to compensate for the thickness of the reinforcing material.
  • Trim the inlay to height of the cover boards. The width of the inlay should be exactly equal to the width of the spine of the text block with its new spine linings attached.

Reinforcing Materials

A variety of reinforcing materials may be used: book cloth; Japanese paper; muslin; or airplane linen. If the original cover color is desired, the reinforcing materials may be tinted or dyed using water colors or conservation grade acrylics.

  • Cut reinforcing material to the width of the inlay plus 5 cm. The length of the material should be equal to the height of the cover boards plus 5 cm.
  • Hold the cover so that the spine and the peeled back covering materials are exposed and apply adhesive. Work quickly and use adhesive sparingly.
  • Position the reinforcing material over the adhered area and pat in place. Lower the cover and bone the lining gently against the original spine of the cover.
  • Flip the cover right side up and smooth frayed threads in place with the fingers. Wipe away any excess adhesive.
  • Apply adhesive to the cover boards where they were peeled back from the covering materials. Flip the cover right side up and bone the original cloth down.
  • Apply adhesive to the inlay, center on the inside of the spine, and bone into place.
  • If more strength is desired in the head-cap, cut a piece of 3 mm unbleached cotton tying tape the width of the inlay plus 1. 5 cm. Attach the reinforcement to the inlay at the head of the cover across the hinges and slightly up onto the cover boards.
  • Trim the new cloth spine lining even with the original turn-ins at the head and tail.
  • Apply adhesive to the turn-ins and reattach over the inlay.

Casing in the Textblock and Pressing


  • Shape the spine by rubbing it lengthwise against a dowel rod or pole until it assumes the proper curved shape.
  • Position the text block on the open cover. Check again to ensure the cover and the textblock are lying in the same direction.
  • Attach the flap of the super to the endsheet with adhesive, brushing up and down from the center. Continue brushing in a fan pattern until the entire front endsheet (including the super) is evenly covered with a thin layer of adhesive.
  • Carefully close the cover and bone in the hinge. Be sure the spine of the textblock is secured snuggly against the spine of the cover.
  • Repeat steps for the back endsheet.
  • Place wax paper between the folds of the endsheets and press the book between metal-edged boards in the book press.

The procedure outlined above is based on a treatment found in “Conservation Treatment Procedures, A Manual of Step-by-step Procedures for the Maintenance and Repair of Library Materials” 2nd ed. Carolyn Clark Morrow and Carole Dyal.

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