BPG Board Reattachment

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Board reattachment involves the re-connecting of boards detached from their text block.

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American Institute for Conservation (AIC). "BPG Board Reattachment." AIC Wiki. April 21, 2024. https://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/BPG_Board_Reattachment.

Purpose[edit | edit source]

The goal of this chapter of the Book Conservation Catalog (BCC) is to share information, comments, and experiences about methods of addressing one of book conservation's most common repair tasks, the reattachment of detached cover boards to books, which often have little or no other damage. Leather bindings are emphasized since they most frequently suffer board detachment as the leather deteriorates and can no longer withstand flexing at the joint. However, other covering materials such as cloth, paper, and parchment are also discussed.

This chapter of the BCC is loosely based on the published account of the Board Reattachment Discussion (Fredericks and Hellman, 2001) that occurred on June 2, 2001, during the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) Annual Meeting, May 30 — June 2, 2001, Dallas Texas. The discussion was published in the Book and Paper Annual, volume 20, 2001. The original presenters are identified with the appropriate section below. Where possible, comments during the discussion have been attributed to the speaker.

Though the material from the discussion has been edited and arranged to suit the Catalog format, every effort has been made to accurately convey the original author/presenter's ideas and philosophy.

There are a number of Factors to Consider prior to deciding how to reattach loose boards. A book's relationship with its owners and treatment practitioners (Treatment Context) must be balanced with the manufacture and condition of the book itself (Book Characteristics), and the available resources (Materials and Equipment). Specific treatment techniques (Treatment Variations) may be altered or combined to maximize the strength, flexibility, and reversibility of a repair. (PA 2004) Readers are encouraged to perform their own evaluation and research before putting to use any of the treatment recommendations and suggestions included in this chapter.

Factors to Consider[edit | edit source]

Treatment Context[edit | edit source]

Private vs. Institutional Collection

Circulating vs. Non-circulating

Rare/Special Collection


  • Intellectual
  • Historic
  • Aesthetic
  • Associational
  • Monetary

Preserving Original Structure

Production/Speed Requirements

Commentary: Faster treatment methods are a necessity where there is a need to stabilize large, non-rare collections efficiently, as in a production-oriented collections conservation unit, or where funds are limited for the repair of a single item, as is frequently the case for conservators in private practice. (BRD, 2001)

Use and Handling

  • Frequency
  • Type of Use — Copies, etc.
Handling: Improper handling can result in broken caps, which often occurs during reshelving. Joints may be weakened even when the book does nothing but stand on the shelf if the squares are wide and the text block is heavy enough to fall forward away from the joints. Even careful handling can break weak joints and cause splits in brittle spine leather.

Skill of Practitioner

Commentary: Simpler repairs that do not require advanced leather-working or book restoration skills make it possible to handle older collection materials within the normal work flow of a general collections repair unit staffed by technicians or students, while still respecting the nature of the original artifact. (BRD, 2001)

Housing/Boxing Policy

Book Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Covering Material

  • Material
Joint damage leading to board detachment is found in all types of covering materials. It occurs chiefly at the point of flexing where the cover hinges against the shoulder. In leather, paper, cloth, and parchment bindings, joint damage may be compounded by extreme or fluctuating temperature and humidity, acidic environments, and handling. Even careful handling can do damage when the leather is already deteriorated.
In many leather bindings, damage is accelerated by inevitable deterioration of the leather. Paper and cloth bindings often suffer from abrasion in the joint area, which may protrude slightly from the plane of boards, especially in French groove or case-bound structures. Parchment/vellum bindings frequently become distorted in the joint area, as splits that form at the head or tail release tension that is inherent in the parchment or is created by the covering method. (PA 2004)
  • Leather
  • Paper
  • Cloth
  • Parchment
  • Condition
The condition of the covering material influences the method of board reattachment. Friable or delaminating leather or paper is usually consolidated prior to attaching any kind of surface repair. If the covering material is extremely weak, then consider connecting weight-bearing components of the repair under the lifted covering material (ie, direct connection between the text block spine and the boards). (PA 2004)
Commentary: On a leather binding, if a repair strip is anchored only to the surface of a poorly-attached grain layer, the repair inevitably fails when the leather splits. To create a firmer point of attachment, some people scrape away the outer layer(s) until they reach material that is more cohesive—either an inner layer of the leather or the surface of the board itself. Others lift the old leather and insert the outer repair paper underneath. This increases the time required and disrupts the existing binding to a greater degree, but it does address the problem of the repair popping off when the cover is opened. (BRD, 2001)

Weight and Size of Text block

Commentary: For large, heavy books such as lectern bibles, every possible device—inside, outside, and middle connections—needs to be used to gain enough strength over the joint area to reattach the boards. But in many situations with smaller or lighter weight books, only one or two types of connections may suffice. (BRD, 2001)

Size of Text block

Tight back vs. Hollow

Access to the text block spine is much easier in hollow-back structures than tight-backs. If it is necessary to reconnect the boards directly to the text block spine, the covering spine must be lifted. Hollow back spines are removed by slitting along the hinge of the hollow tube. Tight-backs that have partially detached from the text block spine are similarly separated, and may require facing or lining. Tight-back spines that are still attached firmly to the text block spine may be difficult to lift; the technique requires skill, practice, and well-honed tools (see Middleton…). Board reattachment methods that do not require any lifting of a tight-back spine (paper- and thread-based repairs) are generally quicker and easier than those that do (rebacking, split cloth hinge). (PA 2004)

Tight Joint vs. Groove

Tight joint structures generally have a very narrow line of flexion along the top of the text block shoulder. The creates large stresses over a small area. Tight joint structures may be more prone to splitting in the hinge than structures with a groove in the joint (French groove or case binding), which spread the stresses over a larger area. If the boards are both completely detached, the original joint structure may usually be deduced by assessing the width of the square at the foredge and the amount of covering and endleaf material hanging from the board and text block shoulder edges. In general, tight joint structures have pastedowns that are adhered with the board open, and repairs covering the inner hinge should also be adhered with the board open. Conversely, grooved joints may have pastedowns adhered by closing the cover onto the pasted out paper, and repairs to the inner hinge should mimic this method so as not to take up too much room in the joint. Books that are case-bound may often be easily repaired by re-casing (removing spine and covers, repairing them away from the book, and casing in as if they were new); however, if it is important to retain as much of the original structure as possible, some board reattachment techniques may be appropriate. (PA 2004)
Commentary: Beware when repairing split inner hinges of books that have intact joints, because the above rule is the converse: In order not to stress the existing joint, hinges of tight-joint structures should be repaired with the board at quite a bit less than 180 degrees to the text block so an excess of hinge material doesn't “blow out” the joint once the board is closed. (PA for AP 2004)

Depth of Shoulder

The depth and shape of the shoulder affect the action of the hinge. Certain repair techniques require a shoulder of substantial depth to allow attachment of the repair material (tackets, pleated paper hinge). (PA 2004)

Condition of Text block

  • Paper Condition
Repair techniques that create a stiff edge or in effect oversew the outer leaves of the text block should not be used on brittle text blocks (inside cloth hinge, tackets). (PA 2004)
  • Condition of Leaf Attachment
Before any board attachment is undertaken, it is generally recommended that the sewing structure and endleaf attachment be secured. This is particularly important with techniques that directly connect the boards with either the endleaves (inner hinge of Japanese paper) or the sewing structure (extended sewing supports, thread staple) (PA 2004)


  • Material
Boards are usually either of fiber-based materials (binder's board, pasteboard, etc.) or intact wood. The material of the board may dictate the method of reattachment or the choice of tools. For example, an awl may be used with softer binder's board, but a drill should be used with harder board and wood to avoid splitting. (PA/AP 2004) (Alan, you should discuss the details of scale boards here, I think. It's appropriate in this section…you have dealt with it more than I, so I'll hand this one over to you for writing-PA).
  • Condition
If there are board losses at the spine edge, consider filling them with material of equal thickness so the board attachment is even along the height of the spine. Boards that are brittle or prone to splitting should not be reattached with methods that pierce them further; if thread-based methods are preferred, the ends of the treads may be frayed out and adhered across a wide area of the board surface. (PA 2004)
  • Thickness
The boards' thickness affects their weight; the implications are similar to Weight and Size of Text block. (PA 2004)
  • Method of Attachment
Boards may be attached by one or more of the following methods: sewing supports or endband cores adhered or laced in; spine lining flanges adhered either inside or outside; cloth/paper/leather hinges folded around the endleaf section and adhered either inside or outside the boards; pastedowns adhered inside the boards; covering material adhered to the text block spine and the outside of the boards. A repair may or may not attempt to replicate these methods of attachment. (PA 2004)

Original Sewing Supports

  • Material
Original sewing supports are usually made of twisted cord, woven cloth tape, leather, parchment or alum-tawed skin. These may be either cut off at the shoulder, adhered to the outside or inside of the boards, or laced into the boards. (PA 2004)
  • Condition

Materials and Equipment[edit | edit source]

Consolidants and Coatings[edit | edit source]

The purpose of a consolidant is to bind together internally weak microstructures such as deteriorated collagen fibers in leather or cellulose fibers in paper. The fiber structures have lost strength due to breakage of fibers (embrittlement resulting in shorter chain length) and breaking of bonds between fibers. The success of a particular consolidation treatment depends on the ability of a consolidant to penetrate the material evenly, and on the balance between a consolidant's cohesive strength and flexibility within the matrix of that particular fiber type.

Coatings have many uses, including consolidating the surface of a material, saturating and giving greater depth to the color, enhancing the grain appearance of leather, and/or evening out surface irregularities. Coatings generally do not penetrate very far into the fiber matrix, but sit up on the surface. It is important to find a coating that expands and contracts at roughly the same rate as the substrate, so distortion does not occur with changes in temperature or relative humidity. It is also important to use a coating whose adhesive strength does not exceed the cohesive strength of the substrate, or else cracking, cupping, and delamination of the original surface may occur.

  • Cellulose Ethers
Klucel G is a non-ionic cellulose ether derivative of the form hydroxypropyl cellulose. It is soluble in isopropanol and ethanol in addition to water. Its solubility in the alcohols make it a desirable alternative for leather consolidation, since the solution does not contain water (which can cause instant and irreversible darkening). It has a molecular weight of 300,000 and viscosity of 3000 mPa.s (C.V.Horie 1987, p.127). Feller's research found that it can yellow over time, but in most cases with leather, this is not a factor since the original leather color is darker than any color shift of the consolidant. See the PCC for more information on Klucel G.
Commentary: Solutions of Klucel G in ethanol used to consolidate friable leather can actually dry out the surface of the leather and cause it to flake. This can in turn exacerbate the problem of separation of the grain layer from the corium beneath. (BRD, 2001)
Commentary: On the subject of Klucel G dissolved in ethanol used as a consolidant for friable leather, it was generally agreed that despite its widespread use for this purpose, leather coated with Klucel G remains vulnerable both to mechanical damage from external sources and to continued flaking and crumbling from within. While Klucel G provides an unobtrusive, matte, and reasonably stable surface coating, most people felt that it is really not very effective at increasing cohesion between the grain layer of leather and the friable layers beneath. However, in the absence of any acceptable material that is more robust or that penetrates better, a surface application of Klucel G (brushed or sprayed) seems like a benign enough treatment that may provide some benefits, especially for the immediate containment of red-rot. (BRD, 2001)
Methyl cellulose can be used to consolidate weak paper either through surface sizing or in a bath. Typically smaller polymer lengths, such as Dow Methocel A15C, work better for consolidation purposes since they penetrate better than longer chain lengths (such as A4M).
  • Mixes and Proprietary Products
  • SC6000
Manufactured by the Leather Conservation Centre and currently (2005) distributed through several major conservation suppliers in the USA, SC6000 is an acrylic-wax emulsion in the form of a thick slightly yellow paste. The primary solvent is isopropyl alcohol, although it contains enough ammonia to raise the initial pH to 9-9.5 (from MSDS 1998). Other solvents (aromatic hydrocarbons, diacetone alcohol) in small amounts contribute to its distinctive odor; the odor dissipates upon drying. Due to its thickness, this paste does not penetrate very far into the thickness of leather, so its efficacy as a consolidant is questionable.
Commentary: The emulsion settles as it ages in the container, turning yellow and cracking; the manufacturers suggest stirring to return it to its white creamy original form, but the slightly aged form works pretty well without stirring. (PA 4/20/05)
  • CCAHA Mixture
Staff of the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia PA developed this mixture specifically for consolidation of deteriorated leather. It consists of equal parts of SC6000 (see above), 2% Klucel G in ethanol, and ethanol, which yields a slightly thick yellow liquid. The SC6000 does not completely dissolve, leaving some small, soft globules of wax that remain on the surface of the consolidate leather.
Commentary: Thinner and more penetrative applications of the CCAHA Mixture are possible than straight SC6000, which remains on the surface. (PA 4/20/05)
Commentary: A mixture of Klucel G and the Leather Conservation Centre's SC6000 acrylic and wax emulsion was offered as an effective consolidant for friable leather. (BRD, 2001)
  • Paste
Paste washes (water-thinned starch paste) have been used traditionally on healthy leathers to even out surface sheen. As a consolidant for deteriorated leather, paste washes are a poor choice due to the likelihood of irreversible staining or darkening of the leather.
  • Acrylics
Acrylic polymers are used in several ways in consolidation, solely or as ingredients in mixtures. Emulsions such as Lascaux 498HV may be dissolved in isopropanol or ethanol to a consistency appropriate for consolidation. They can also be used to seal surfaces toned with friable media such as pastel or graphite.
Commentary: Objects Conservator Toby Raphael, who has worked a lot with deteriorated leather objects, recommends experimenting with mixtures of various adhesives to get the right properties for a particular job (strength, penetration, flexibility, working time, setting time). (PA 4/20/05)
  • Waxes
Waxes have been used traditionally as components of leather dressings (surface coatings that serve a primarily aesthetic function). They include microcrystalline waxes and beeswax as well as other fatty substances such as lanolin. When applied and allowed to set, the surface can often be burnished to even out the surface characteristics, to impart a slight sheen, and/or to saturate the leather color. They can also be used as coatings on repair paper to improve the match to adjacent original leather.

Repair Materials[edit | edit source]

There are several desired qualities for materials used in leather repair. Thinner materials are generally preferred, since they contribute less build-up in joint areas. Strength is of great importance, since the material often bears the weight of the boards and needs to withstand repeated folding and unfolding as the covers are opened and closed. Ability to conform to a 3-dimensional shape is desired since a book spine is never a flat area. Stability over time is required, as these repairs are difficult to reverse and shouldn't have to be done more than once in a book's lifetime.

  • Tissue and Paper
Kozo fiber papers with little or no laid texture can be inserted under or adhered over broken leather areas. Available in a variety of thicknesses and textures, the smoother papers of medium weight are usually more effective in the leather repair context, since they can bear the strain of manipulation in the joint and blend in well with the leather.
Commentary: Surface texture compatible with older leather and cloth can be imparted to Moriki (and presumably other) papers by boning or pressing through a piece of window screen material. The screen can be shifted around to produce an overall random pattern in lieu of a grid. (BRD, 2001)
  • Textile
Woven textiles are often used as a component of, if not the primary mechanism for, leather joint repairs. As a component they may replace an old spine lining or parts of it. Finely woven cotton or linen is generally washed prior to use to remove excess sizing. Book cloth (filled or laminated) may also be used if a thicker, less flexible material is desired.
  • Leather and Parchment
Traditional leather binding repairs have often been made with leather, and this material continues to be used in many contexts. Strength, stability over time, and toning continue to be unresolved issues, due to differences in manufacturing processes.
  • Sewing Supports
Materials used to reconstruct sewing supports include linen cords and threads, alum-tawed straps, and woven tapes.

Adhesives[edit | edit source]

  • Vegetable Adhesives/Starch Pastes
See Adhesives: Starches
Various starch pastes cooked in water (wheat and rice starch being the most popular) have been used as adhesives in traditional leather repair. In repair of deteriorated leather, care must be taken to use fairly thick pastes with low amounts of water to prevent irreversible staining and darkening. Pastes may also be used in mixtures to reduce setting time, reduce the amount of moisture, or to increase adhesive strength. See the PCC section listed above for extensive description of how starch pastes are used for paper repair.
Commentary: One person reported good success with pre-sizing the underside of the old leather with a coat of paste, which is allowed to air dry completely without setting the leather down. A second coat of paste is applied for setting down; the first layer acts as a barrier and prevents too much moisture from wicking through to the surface. (BRD, 2001)
  • Proteinaceous Adhesives
See Adhesives: Collagens
While hide glue may have been used in the past for rebacking leather-bound books, use of proteinaceous adhesives for current leather repair is limited. When mixed with wheat starch paste and applied to kozo fiber papers, isinglass can make a remoistenable tissue that sticks to leather in a few instances. The mixture can also be used wet for adhering new sewing supports to the boards, as it is very sticky, strong, and somewhat reversible with moisture.
  • Synthetic Adhesives
  • PVA
See Adhesives: Poly Vinyl Acetate Dispersions.
Commentary: There was some discussion of whether it was desirable to use PVA (i.e. polyvinyl acetate dispersions such as Jade or Elvace) rather than starch paste to readhere old leather that had been lifted or had become detached. Because of their quick drying properties and relatively low water content, PVAs are often used where there is fear that contact with the moisture in starch paste will cause blackening, shrinkage, and stiffening of deteriorated vegetable-tanned leather—despite the fact that PVA bonds are not easily reversed. (BRD, 2001)
  • Acrylics
See Adhesives: Acrylic Resin Dispersions.
Acrylics may be used as adhesives in emulsion, dispersion, or solution. Once dry, acrylic films generally are not soluble in water, although fresh films may swell slightly (enough to pry apart two adhered layers. Acrylics are generally thought to be slightly more reversible with use of solvents than PVA; if penetration has occurred, however, the chances of removing a dried acrylic adhesive are low.
Commentary: Another colleague uses Lascaux 360, an acrylic that, unlike most PVAs, is reversible in a range of solvents when dry. While it is not likely that the Lascaux resin could be removed completely from the old leather using solvents, a solvent-based repair system may be safer for very deteriorated leathers than an aqueous one. (BRD, 2001)
  • Mixtures
  • Paste/methyl cellulose and PVA
This mixture has long been used in instances where PVA dries too quickly. The addition of paste or methyl cellulose slows down the working time, and it fluffs up the adhesive so it's easier to spread.
  • Isinglass and paste
See Proteinaceous Adhesives, above

Treatment Variations[edit | edit source]

Japanese Paper Hinge[edit | edit source]

Presenter BRD, 2001: Eric Alstrom.

Method: surface-adhered strips of Japanese paper, running the whole length of the outer joint and the inner hinge.

This style of repair was refined as a conservation technique by Don Etherington in the 1980's and is now a common technique used for circulating and special collections.


Candidates/Suitability: This technique is suitable for most materials.

Large volumes may require additional board attachment components to provide a sufficiently strong repair.

Decorative tooling on the board or spine may limit the width of a repair strip.

Aesthetic Issues: Paper hinge repairs may be toned, coated, or burnished to match the original covering or not, as appropriate.

Technique Compatibility: Japanese paper hinges are also commonly combined with other repair techniques. The strips add strength for larger, heavier items and can be used aesthetically to conceal other repairs.

Stability/Durability: The success of the repair depends on the strength and flexibility of the Japanese paper and on forming a solid adhesive bond between the repair strips and the original binding parts.

Risks: Repair strips that are too narrow, possibly required to avoid tooling, may not adhere to the joint when the board is opened and closed, leading to failure of the repair.

Failure of this style of repair may cause, or be caused by, delamination of the upper surface of the leather.

Reversibility: Tissue repairs over leather with water-based adhesives may pose a risk of darkening deteriorated leather when removed with moisture.

Speed: The technique may be performed in well under an hour on a suitable candidate.


Related Techniques:

Discussion of Japanese Paper Hinge Technique

A popular material for the external hinge, especially for general collections, has been Moriki paper, which is available off the shelf in a variety of deep, opaque colors. Adhesive preferences vary with the individual, but there seems to be general agreement that PVA or PVA mix forms a stronger and more reliable bond between the repair paper and the old leather than starch paste, which also carries the risk of blackening degraded leather. (BRD, 2001)

A Klucel/ethanol solution applied on top of the repair strip before burnishing down with a bone folder can create more slip between the tool and the repair, reducing friction that can cause the grain layer of the leather to split away as the repair is boned down.


AP 4/22/05 Long-term stability, light fastness, and durability of Moriki papers have been questioned. Moriki papers may be more suitable to circulating collection repairs.

Inside Cloth Hinge[edit | edit source]

Presenter BRD, 2001: Betsy Palmer Eldridge.

Method: A cloth hinge is saddle-sewn through the shoulder of the book block and adhered to the shoulder and inside board edge. It is then either inserted under the pastedown or pasted down onto it to form a new attachment between the board and the book block.

Function: Structurally, the repair is a strictly internal connection for the board (that is, there is no point of attachment on the exterior of the boards or spine) similar to an endpaper connection. The hinging point of the board is at the top of the shoulder, making it most appropriate for tight-joint books.

Candidate/Suitability: The technique is suitable for books with a tight joint or hollow-back structure, bound in either full or partial leather, typical of the late nineteenth century. The spine covering has to be removed or partially lifted to carry out this repair, making it especially attractive for books with hollow backs.

Aesthetic Issues: A layer of paper that is visually compatible with the endpapers may be pasted down over the cloth on the inside. The hinge can be made from a colored cloth that blends with the exterior of the binding. The small gap that remains at the joint on the outside of the cover afterwards may be blended in or disguised with leather dust if the book is covered in leather.

Technique Compatibility: When extra strength is needed, it may be combined with other techniques that provide a connection on the outside of the joint, such as a traditional covering-in material, or a connection in the middle of the joint, such as a sewing support or extended spine liner




Speed: The entire procedure rarely takes more than thirty minutes per board. Reattaching two boards and replacing the spine with a new paper or cloth hollow tube can usually be accomplished in less than an hour of bench time.


Related Techniques:

Discussion of Inside Cloth Hinge Technique

This repair, which Betsy described as one of the “older” techniques, was used in Carolyn Horton's workshop in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s. Betsy stated that she finds this technique particularly useful for nineteenth-century sets and considers it one of the least invasive options for these materials.

It is similar to a technique published by Middleton (Middleton, 1998) in The Restoration of Leather Bindings (pp 94-99). There it is called an “overcast cloth joint” where the cloth hinge is overcast sewn to the text and is combined with additional attachment techniques.

An inside cloth hinge that makes no attempt to disturb the thin, brittle, degraded covering-in material on the outside may prove to be a good choice. It is not a restoration, but a simple, honest, sympathetic repair.


Pleated Paper Hinge[edit | edit source]

Presenter BRD, 2001: Elaine Schlefer.

Method: An internal Japanese paper hinge is attached to the shoulder with adhesive, pleated back on itself, and inserted under the covering material on the outside of the book. The pleat is then glued closed.


Candidate/Suitability: This approach is most suitable for tight-back bindings whose spines cannot be removed easily. The leather on the boards must be lifted for this style of repair.

The technique can be used only on books that have a substantial shoulder and a firm and secure text block. The boards must be fully detached for this technique.

Aesthetic Issues: The upper fold of the tissue will be visible in the joint. This tissue may be toned as required or concealed under a hinge of tissue or thin leather.

Technique Compatibility: The technique is compatible with Japanese paper hinge repairs.


Risks: Bindings with deteriorated spine leather may also be poor candidates for lifting board leather, as required by this technique.

Reversibility: The adhesive attachment of this repair is reversible. The lifted portion of the board leather, particularly if deteriorated, may be difficult to re-lift to remove the repair material.


Variants: Where tooling does not interfere, the repair could be adhered to the surface of the board rather than under the covering material.

Related Techniques:

Discussion of the Pleated Paper Hinge Technique

Elaine uses this method for very deteriorated tight back books, as the spine covering does not need to be lifted. Elaine has found this technique successful even for large and heavy books.

The technique was also used in the Horton workshop.

Since the endleaves must be firmly attached and the text block solid for this technique to be used any page repair or spine consolidation must take place prior to board attachment.

Some people prefer to add a cosmetic overlay of toned tissue or thin leather to cover the outside of the joint, although it was observed that so little of the tissue generally shows that this step is often not necessary.


Sec2-chap4 pleated paper hinge.jpg

Joint Tacketing[edit | edit source]

Presenter at BRD, 2001: Mary Baughman.

Method: Thin linen cords or threads that are anchored to the text block by looping them through holes drilled or stabbed through the shoulder. The free ends of these threads are then laced through small tunnels drilled at an angle into the spine edge of the board, emerging on the inside at a short distance from the spine edge. To anchor the tackets, the threads are either tied together or frayed out and stuck down on the inside of the board.

The number of tackets may vary, but generally corresponds to the number of broken original sewing supports.

Function: Unless accompanied by additional techniques the boards open more freely than those held by more substantial supports.

Large volume with opened hollow-back, showing tacket loops through shoulder and under lifted leather

Candidates/Suitability: The technique suits tight-back or hollow-back bindings. Hollow back bindings allow the tackets to be fully hidden within a new or repaired hollow. Tight joints are required since the threads lack sufficient stiffness to hold a board away from the shoulder.

Aesthetic Issues: The shoulder thread loops are visible on the spine unless concealed. The loops may be concealed under flaps of spine leather lifted with a scalpel. They may also be toned to match the surrounding leather or be concealed under tissue hinge repairs.

Technique Compatibility: The technique is often combined with reinforcement of the inner hinge and is compatible with Japanese Paper Hinge repairs. Hinge repairs add extra support and stability, preventing undesired movement of the board.

The technique is also compatible with Split Linen Flange repairs and Board Splitting/Split Board techniques.

Stability/Durability: This technique is considered to be stable and durable under careful use.

Risks: Weak or deteriorated shoulders may be damaged by threads pulling through the material. Care must be taken to catch sufficient shoulder thickness to provide a sound attachment. The shoulder loops should not be low enough on the spine that flex/movement in the spine will cause the threads to pull and cut into the textblock.

Soft or brittle boards may be susceptable to damage during drilling and may be damaged by the threads pulling through the material.

Reversibility: Tacket threads can be cut and if not attached adhesively may be removed. Holes punched through the shoulder and drilled through the board will remain. Though these holes can be filled or repaired they should be considered to be a permanant alteration of the object.

Speed: The time required for the “no-frills” thread tacket is about one-half hour; cosmetic integration of the repair or addition of complementary hinges increases time and cost.


Related Techniques:

Discussion of Joint Tacketing Technique

Based on her experience, Mary stressed the structural importance of the internal hinge for the long-term stability of the repair.(MB, BRD 2001)

If the spine folds are exposed at all, she sometimes lines the affected area with tissue to consolidate the attachment of the gatherings prior to stabbing the holes through the shoulder. To prevent fragments of text paper bursting out through the spine and becoming detached when the needle is pushed through, she supports the spine with a piece of Plexiglas during this operation.(MB, BRD 2001)

Follow-up discussion from the group described variations on ways to finish the tacket without tying a knot. Where it is not considered visually problematic, some people simply fray out the ends of the threads and paste them down onto the inside board face, on top of the pastedown. If the tacket must be less obtrusive on the interior, the ends of the threads can be hidden underneath the pastedowns or covered with paper patches.

Several people expressed a preference for using a needle instead of a drill for making the tacket holes through the shoulder of the book. The material that is pushed aside by the needle can be pressed back into place around the tacket thread, helping to seat it more firmly than when a tunnel is cleared out using a drill. One person suggested taking some of the twist out of the tacketing thread to make it softer and less likely to cut or pull out through the shoulder.

Other comments pointed to a consensus among those present that the shape of the shoulder does not seem to be important for the success of the repair. However, one person warned that tackets can fail when the shoulder is mobile (i.e. when the sections comprising the shoulder of the book open all the way back to the fold, rather than being fixed in place by adhesive and/or linings). There was agreement among some present that boxing after tacketing is an option, perhaps a necessity in some cases.


Sec2-chap4 tacket.jpg

Board Slotting[edit | edit source]

Presenter BRD, 2001: Frederike Zimmern. See also Bibliography on Board Slotting.

Method: a slot is milled in the spine edge of the detached board, creating a space into which a new cloth flange extending from the spine is inserted to form the new attachment.

Board slotting was developed by Christopher Clarkson at the Bodleian Library as a production repair method for nineteenth-century books with very thin covering material at the joints. The technique requires specialized equipment, such as an industrial milling machine or a dedicated board slotting machine. Several self-built designs have been described in the literature and others are available commercially.


Candidate/Suitability: The technique is most easily used on books whose spines can be easily lifted to allow attachment of the flange, e.g. those sewn on recessed or flat supports, or those with hollow tubes. The technique is particularly suited to volumes with very thin or degraded leather that would be damaged by lifting or surface repair techniques.

Aesthetic Issues: Slotting does not affect tooling or other surface decoration or interfere with original leather or pastedowns.

Technique Compatibility:

Stability/Durability: Friederike observed that the durability of the repair depends on the fold endurance of the repair cloth and on the stability of the adhesive used to stick the cloth into the slot. She tends to use cotton rather than linen, due to its greater fold endurance. PVA and gelatin are both somewhat stronger than paste for bonding the repair cloth in the slot, but she feels that starch paste forms a more than adequate bond.


Reversibility: The adhesive attachment of the repair may be reversed. Removal of the hinge from the milled slot may require splitting the board and removal of more material. The slot itself must be considered to be a permanent alteration of the binding.

Speed: Frederike Zimmern estimates approximately 15 minutes to slot a pair of boards and perform the basic attachment procedure.

Variants: Splitting boards by hand to accept a repair has been performed historically and is still in use.

Related Techniques: Split board techniques.

Discussion of Board Slotting technique

Slots created with the machine are more exact [as opposed to splitting boards by hand]

No swelling of the boards at the spine edge after repair, since material is removed to accommodate the new flange.

Doesn't disrupt evidence of old repairs

Can be used to stabilize boards that are only partially detached (works best if cords pass to the inside of the boards)

A cosmetic leather overlay can be put on top of the linen hinge if desired.

Split Linen Flange[edit | edit source]

Presenter BRD, 2001: Beth Ryan, on behalf of David Brock.

Method: The leather spine panels at head and tail, the adjacent board leather, and adjacent pastdowns are lifted. The exposed spine panels are lined with strips of airplane linen cut wider than the spine. The overhanging flanges are split horizontally. Half of each flange is inserted under the board covering, while the other is taken to the inside of the board and inserted under the pastedown.

The technique requires some lifting of the old spine, but this is limited to the head and tail panel and the adjacent board leather and pastedowns. Modifications are possible to avoid or minimize the need to lift the entire panel (Primanis 2000).


Candidate/Suitability: this technique is very suitable to volumes tight joint boards. It can be applied to tight-back and hollow-back bindings.

Aesthetic Issues:

Technique Compatibility: The split linen hinge approach may be combined with Japanese Paper Hinge Repairs, Pleated Paper Hinges, Tackets, etc.


Risks: Lifting deteriorated leather poses risk of damage or loss to original materials.

Reversibility: The adhesive attachment can be reversed.



Related Techniques:

Discussion of Split Linen Flange Technique

I've successfully used this method of board reattachment on large (quarto) and small books, with a few variations depending upon the weight and size of the book. While this technique doesn't entirely replace leather rebacking in my conservation work, I'm finding that I use it more often.


AP 4/27/05 Aero-cotton may be substituted as a material with greater fold endurance. This technique works well to control warping/cupping of the boards at head and tail.

Sec2-chap4 split linen flange.jpg

Extending Sewing Supports: Added Supports[edit | edit source]

Method: There are many variations of this technique. The most common approach is to place new supports across the spine beside or on top of existing supports, leaving a sufficient length of new material to re-lace or adhere to the boards. The new supports may be attached adhesively, with thread wrapped around the old and new supports, or with a combination of adhesive and thread.

The most common material used for extending sewing supports is frayed linen cord. Sewing tapes may also be wrapped over raised cords and attached in the same manner as frayed cord.


Large volume with added sewing supports: woven cloth tapes have been adhered over the original raised cords and reinforced with added sewing.

Candidate/Suitability: This technique requires access to the text spine. It is well suited to hollow back book and tight back volumes with easily lifted leather.

Aesthetic Issues: On tight-back volumes, the added materials could add a lumpy texture to the spine, or could cause raised bands to become thicker.

Technique Compatibility: Extending broken sewing supports is generally used as one component of a more extensive treatment, though it may be used on its own.

The technique may be used for any type of original sewing support or may be added to previously un-supported sewing.

Stability/Durability: Especially when reinforced with sewing, added supports can be highly durable. This method can be useful when the original supports are degraded and fragile.

Risks: Added supports can change the shape and mobility of the spine.

Reversibility: The level of reversibility depends on the adhesives used. Sewing is easier to reverse.

Speed: This method is typically a slow and involved technique, especially if sewing reinforcement is required.

Variants: Added sewing supports can be simply adhered on top of or next to original supports. They can also be reinforced with sewing.

Related Techniques: Joint Tacketing

Extending Sewing Supports: Sewn Extensions[edit | edit source]

Illustration of the steps in creating sewn support extensions. The separate pieces of thread are depicted as different colors.

Method: In this technique, thread is added to the book's sewing structure in a cumulative manner, resulting in cord extensions where the threads act as the new cord plies. The new thread is added to the outer gatherings; the number of additions depends on the required strength and thickness of the extensions. Thread enters a gathering on the outer side of a cord, then exits on the opposite side of the next cord. This process is repeated on every pair of cords on multiple gatherings. The loose ends of the threads are then passed through the original sewing along the cord towards the shoulder. The loose ends are gathered at the point where the original cords were broken. They can be frayed and consolidated with adhesive to form the slips. (See illustrations.)

Photograph showing the slips created by sewn cord extensions.

Function: Sewn support extensions can function much like the original sewing supports.

Candidate/Suitability: This method works best on volumes in which the paper and original sewing are in good condition.

Aesthetic Issues: Since thread is added to the outer gatherings, this can affect the shape of the shoulders.

Technique Compatibility: This technique works well with tight-back volumes as it avoids adding material to the spine.

Stability/Durability: The strength of the sewn extensions depends on the number of plies added. It also relies on the strength of the book's shoulders and outer sections.

Risks: There are inevitable risks in adding sewing to a book's structure. This method relies on the strength of the outer sections, though the strain is spread evenly from section to section. If the original sewing on the spine is brittle, it may be difficult or impossible to pass the new thread underneath. In these cases, the new thread can simply be adhered to the spine.

Reversibility: This is a highly reversible technique.

Speed: This is a very slow and involved technique.

Related Techniques: Joint Tacketing

Sec2-chap4 new slips.jpg

Variation: Extending Supports When the Spine is Not Exposed[edit | edit source]

This technique is described in Fraser 2013.

Method: This is a two stage technique to reattach loose or detached boards on tightback binding where the spine and sewing are still intact. The technique introduces a linen thread from inside the middle of a gathering through the leather spine and then back under spine and cord to the board edge.

Image by Emma Fraser

Like the "sewn extensions" method, the thread is secured around the original support but this is done without the need to lift the leather. The thread is only used in one gathering. The new thread is then laced through the board in a similar way so there is no need to lift the endpapers.

Function: The new supports sewn through the gatherings and behind spine leather follow the original supports and provide a subtle means of reattaching the boards.

Candidate/Suitability: The method was designed for tightback leather bindings where spine is still attached and intact and sewing is secure, preferably with raised bands, but possible on flat spines.

Image by Emma Fraser

Aesthetic Issues: It is necessary to create a small needle size hole in the spine and holes in the endpaper.

Stability/Durability: This technique has proven to be very stable and durable, especially when spine is firmly attached. Original spine and linings provide resistance from thread in gathering pulling through back fold.

Risks: There is the possibility of splitting original sewing when inserting the new one behind the original. That is why important to create the holes/tunnels gradually and blunt needle would be beneficial.

Reversibility. Thread can be easily removed but new holes/ channel will remain open, but as gradually opened with awls no loss of original material.

Rebacking[edit | edit source]

See also: Case Binding § Reback

Method: The term rebacking refers to a combination of techniques where the key component is new covering material applied across the spine of a book to reattach separated boards. The original covering material is lifted off the spine or a hollow spine is separated. The original covering material is generally lifted from the boards at the shoulder and the turn-ins lifted at the head and tail to allow the new covering material to be adhered underneath.

Rebacking is the oldest approach to repairing a book with detached boards. The technique is most commonly associated with leather bound books with raised bands but may be applied to any covering material and any sewing style.

Rebacking generally requires full access to the text spine. Limited rebacks in the form of new head and tail caps may be an option where the head and tail panels can be lifted and the remainder of the spine cannot. Rebacking often includes extension of broken sewing supports (See Extending Sewing Supports). New covering material is applied to the spine, across the joints, and onto the boards. The covering material lifted on the boards, and the original spine if its condition allows, are adhered to the new covering material.

New covering material has traditionally been leather pared thin at the head and tail and along the edges to be inserted at the boards. The loss of strength from paring away too much of the stronger corium layer of the leather is a potential problem of leather rebacks. When rebacking with leather care should be taken to pare the leather as minimally as is possible. Combining a leather reback with other attachment techniques, such as hinges, tackets, linings, and extended sewing supports, reduce the chance of failure. Selection of quality leather is also critical to the durability of the treatment.

A common alternative to leather rebacks is toned cloth or cloth lined with toned Japanese tissue. These leather alternatives are well suited to cases where the original spine will conceal most of the new material.

Bias cut textile, rather than cutting with the warp or weft, significantly increases the number of threads that cross the joint and should increase the fold endurance of the material. Bias cut textile also stretches and molds more easily over raised cords and other binding features.

Potential loss and damage to original tooling and decoration must be considered in selecting this treatment option.

Function: A leather reback maintains the feel and opening characteristics of a leather bound book.

Candidate/Suitability: the technique is most suitable to volumes with tight joint boards and can be applied to tight-back and hollow-back bindings.

Aesthetic Issues: A properly executed leather reback retains the look of leather on the volume.

Technique Compatibility:

Stability/Durability: The stability of some modern leathers may be questioned. Archival leathers and high-quality vegetable tanned leathers are most suitable for repair of special collection materials.

Risks: Lifting deteriorated leather poses risk of damage or loss to original materials.

Reversibility: The adhesive attachment is typically difficult or impossible to reverse with moisture due to the deteriorated nature of many historic leathers. Removing a reback generally requires re-lifting the original spine and shoulder leather off of the reback.

Speed: The time required for a leather reback varies greatly depending on the skill of the practitioner, their familiarity with the techniques involved, and the condition of the book.


Related Techniques:


Rebacking was not included in the (BRD, 2001) discussion; rather, less invasive, less time-consuming repair methods were stressed in response to perceived interests and trends in the field.

AP 4/22/05 Special collections may not be well served by non-traditional repairs, particularly those done solely to reduced time and cost and sacrifice the original feel, function, and aesthetic of the volume.

Alternatives to rebacking may be just as invasive and damaging to the original the structure.

Re-housing alone may be the best approach to special collection material when time and/or skill is limited.

Variation: Leather Reback at Head and Tail[edit | edit source]

In a 2006 AIC Annual meeting, Chela Metzger presented a case study of a leather reback which extended only across the head and the tail panels of the treated volume (Metzger 2006).

Tyvek Spine Lining with Extended Flanges[edit | edit source]

Submitted to the Wiki by Emilie Duncan, September 2019.

Method: This method consists of a head to tail spine lining of Tyvek (high density polyethylene, Dupont, soft grade 10G) with extended flanges. Boards are attached via flanges inserted under the board covering material. If only one board requires reattaching, the lining can be truncated at the shoulder corresponding to the intact board.

Function: The Tyvek creates a joint material that is very thin, flexible, and strong.

Candidates/Suitability: This technique is suitable for materials which permit the lifting of the spine covering material and partial lifting of the board covering material. The resulting repair relies on adhesive only. Very large volumes with heavy boards may require a mechanical connection.

Aesthetic Issues: Tyvek itself is bright white and difficult to tone evenly due to the “waffle” texture, but toned tissue or fabric can be adhered to the Tyvek using PVAc. White edges may be toned by direct application of acrylic emulsion paints.

Technique Compatibility: The Tyvek necessitates the use of synthetic adhesive which may preclude the further use of other water-based adhesives such as wheat starch paste in the affected areas.

Stability/Durability: Tyvek is considered chemically inert and stable. It is tear-resistant, even upon ageing. It is mold- and pest-resistant. The durability of the repair depends on the stability and strength of the adhesive used and the ability to achieve a secure adhesive join to the spine and the board surface.

Risks: The covering material on the spine and spine edges of the boards must be lifted, which is a relatively invasive procedure.

Reversibility: reversibility of the repair depends on the reversibility characteristics of the adhesive used. For PVAc, the join is reversible only through mechanical means or by the application of solvents.

Speed: The most time consuming part of the repair will be the lifting of the original covering material, if it is well-adhered.

Variants: If no spine lining is needed, a narrow strip of Tyvek can be adhered to span the joint under the lifted covering material.

Related Techniques: This technique is similar to the split linen flange technique in that it relies on the extended flanges of a full or partial spine lining for reattachment of boards.


Polyvinyl acetate. 2016. CAMEO (Conservation and Art Materials Encyclopedia Online). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Accessed June 30, 2017.
Tyvek. 2016. CAMEO (Conservation and Art Materials Encyclopedia Online). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Accessed June 30, 2017.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

General Bibliography, Theory, and Structure[edit | edit source]

Baird, Brian J. and Mick LeTourneaux. 1994. "Treatment 305: A Collections Conservation Approach to Rebinding." The Book and Paper Group Annual 13: 1-4. Accessed February 11, 2020. (conservation structure / design)

BookLab, Inc. "Collection Maintenance Repair for Publisher's Cased Books." BookLab BookNote 3. (collection repair)

BookLab, Inc. "A Sewn Boards Binding for Library and Limited Edition Work." BookLab Booknote 8. (design / structure)

BookLab, Inc. "Historical Prototypes for Conservation Binding." BookLab Booknote 9. (conservation structure / design)

Cains, Anthony. 1994. "In Situ Treatment of Manuscripts and Printed Books in Trinity College, Dublin." Conservation and Preservation in Small Libraries. Cambridge : Parker Library Publications. 127-131. (technique / joint tacket)

Cains, Anthony. 1983. "Repair Treatments for Vellum Manuscripts." Paper Conservator 7: 15-23. (brief reference of binding/ board reattachment)

Cains, Anthony. 1981. "Book Conservation Workshop Manual, Part One: Preparation of the Book for Conservation and Repair." New Bookbinder 1: 11-25. (general theory and technique)

Cains, Anthony. 1985. "Book Conservation Workshop Manual, Part Five: Continuation of Specification and Observation." New Bookbinder 5: 27-55. (general theory, technique and repair)

Cains, Anthony, and Katherine Swift, eds. 1988. Preserving our Printed Heritage: the Long Room Project at Trinity College Dublin. Dublin : Trinity College Library. (general theory, technique and repair)

Clarkson, Christopher. 1982. Limp Vellum Binding and its Potential as a Conservation Type Structure for the Rebinding of Early Printed Books: a Break with 19th and 20th Century Rebinding Attitudes and Practices. Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England : The Red Gull Press. (conservation structure)

Cockerell, Douglas. 1910. Bookbinding, and the Care of Books. New York : D. Appleton and Company. Accessed February 11, 2020. (general theory, structure, design, and repair techniques)

Cockerell, Sydney. 1958. The Repairing of Books. London : Sheppard Press. (general theory, structure and repair)

Conroy, Tom. 1987. "The Movement of the Book Spine. (The Movement of the Book Spine .)" The Book and Paper Group Annual 6: 1-30. Accessed February 11, 2020.

Cunha, George Daniel Martin, and Dorothy G. Cunha. 1972. A Manual and Bibliography of the Care, Repair and Restoration of Library Materials. 2nd Edition. Metuchen, New Jersey : Scarecrow Press. (general theory, repair technique and bibliography)

Espinosa, Robert. 1983. "Specifications for a Hard-board Laced-in Conservation Binding." "The Book and Paper Group Annual" 2: 25-49. Accessed February 11, 2020. (conservation design / structure)

Espinosa, Robert. 1993. "The Limp Vellum Binding: A Modification." New Bookbinder 13: 27-38. (conservation design / structure)

Foot, Mirjam M. 1993. Studies in the History of Bookbinding. England : Scolar Press. (general theory / structure, design and history)

Frost, Gary. 1982. "Historical Paper Case Binding and Conservation Rebinding." New Bookbinder 2: 64-67. (conservation design / structure)

Greenfield, Jane. 1983. Books: Their Care and Repair. New York : The H.W. Wilson Co. (general repair)

Greenfield, Jane. 1989. "The Care of Fine Books. Cowley, Oxfordshire : Conservation Resources (UK) Ltd. (general theory)

Hadgraft, Nicholas. and Katherine. Swift, eds. 1994. Conservation and Preservation in Small Libraries. Cambridge : Parker Library Publications. (general theory and repair techniques)

Johnson, Arthur. W. 1989. The Practical Guide to Book Repair and Conservation. London : Thames and Hudson Ltd. (general theory, binding and repair techniques; editions in both English and Spanish)

Jones, Maralyn. 1992. Collection Conservation Treatment: A Resource Manual for Program Development and Conservation Technician Training. Berkeley, CA : Association of Research Libraries. (general collection repair techniques, compiled from over twenty U.S. preservation departments)

Lavender, Kenneth, and Scott. Stockton. 1992. Book Repair: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. New York : Neal-Schuman. (general repair and collection care)

Lindsey, Jennifer. 1991. "A Limp Vellum Binding Sewn on Alum-Tawed Thongs." New Bookbinder 11: 3-19. (conservation design / structure)

Middleton, Bernard. C. 1996. "A History of English Craft Bookbinding Technique, 4th revised edition. New Castle, Delaware : Oak Knoll Press. (general theory, structure and design)

Middleton, Bernard. C. 1972. The Restoration of Leather Bindings. Chicago and London : American Library Association and Adamantine Press, Ltd. (general theory and techniques)

Middleton, Bernard C. 1998. The Restoration of Leather bindings, third edition. New Castle, DE, and London : Oak Knoll Press and The British Library. (general theory and techniques; revised and expanded)

Morrow, Carolyn Clark and Carole Dyal. 1986. Conservation Treatment Procedures: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Maintenance and Repair of Library Materials, 2nd edition. Littleton, Colorado : Libraries Unlimited, Inc. (general repair and collection care, excellent glossary and reference list for library application)

Pickwoad, Nicholas. 2015. Distinguishing Between Good and Bad Repairs of Books. Preserving our Heritage: perspectives from antiquity to the digital age. 362-373. London : Facet. (general theory and structure)

Pickwoad, Nicholas. 1994. "Onward and Downward: How Binders Coped with the Printing Press Before 1800." A Millennium of the Book: Production, Design and Illustration in Manuscript and Print 900-1900. 61-106. Winchester, Delaware : Oak Knoll Press. (general structure and condition)

Pollard, Graham. 1954. "Changes in the Style of Bookbinding, 1550-1830." The Library." s5-XI (2): 71-94. (bookbinding design / structure)

Rhodes, Barbara. 1995. "18th and 19th Century European and American Paper Binding Structures: A Case Study of Paper Bindings in the American Museum of Natural History Library ." The Book and Paper Group Annual 14: 51-62. (conservation design / structure)

Roberts, Matt T, and Don. Etherington. 1982. Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology. Washington D.C. : Library of Congress. (Accessible in text or as a searchable online dictionary.) Accessed February 11, 2020.

Silverman, Randy. 1987. "Small, Not Insignificant: a Specification for a Conservation Pamphlet Binding Structure." The Book and Paper Group Annual 6: 11-139. (general/conservation structure, extensive references)

Smith, Phillip. 1974. New Directions in Bookbinding. Great Britain : Van Nostrand Reinhold. (general structure, design bookbinding)

St. John , Kristin. 2000. “Survey of Current Methods and Materials Used for the Conservation of Leather Bookbindings.” Book and Paper Group Annual 19. Accessed February 11, 2020. (survey of select organizations)

Report of a survey on leather conservation practice, focusing on special collections library treatments. Discusses frequency of use of types of repair materials, techniques, adhesives, toning, and surface treatments. The author concludes that the conservators surveyed employed a wide variety of techniques, increasingly choose minor mends over rebacks and rebindings, and have adopted newer materials like Japanese tissue, Klucel G, and waxes.

Szirmai, Johttps://cool.conservation-us.org/byorg/abbey/an/an15/an15-6/an15-609.htmlhn A. 1998. "The Archeology of Bookbinding and Book Restoration." New Bookbinder 18: 67-79. (conservation design/structure)

Szirmai, John A. 1999. "Conservation Bindings, Part 1: A Wooden-Board Binding." Restauro 105(1): 44-51. (conservation design/structure)

Szirmai, John A. 1991. "The Quarter-Joint Case and Its Potential as a Conservation Binding." Abbey Newsletter 15(6). Accessed February 11, 2020. (conservation design/structure)

Szirmai, John A. 1999. The Archeology of Medieval Bookbinding. Aldershot, England, and Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing. (general theory, structure and materials / extensive bibliography)

Articles Discussing Multiple Techniques[edit | edit source]

Aurand, Gudrun. 1996. "Combining Two Minimum Intervention Techniques in Conservation and Achieving a Functional and Aesthetically Pleasing Result ." Guild of Bookworkers Newsletter. 104. Accessed February 13, 2020.

Cains, Anthony. 1976. "Techniques of Preservation Based on Early Binding Methods and Materials." The Paper Conservator 1(1): 2-8. (technique - multiple)

Conn, Donia. 1996. "Board Reattachment for Circulating Collections: A Feasibility Study." The Book and Paper Group Annual 15: 29-40. Accessed February 13, 2020. (study comparing the strength of board reattachment techniques)

Fredericks, Maria. 1992. "Recent Trends in Book Conservation and Library Collections Care." Journal of the American Institute for Conservation. 31(1): 95-101. (technique - multiple; brief descriptions)

Fredericks, Maria and Ethel E. Hellman, moderators. 2001. "Board Reattachment Discussion." The Book and Paper Group Annual 20.

This discussion group session was the initial basis for the content of this wiki page.

Grandinette, Maria, and Randy Silverman. 1995. "Book Repair in Research Libraries." The Abbey Newsletter. 19(2): 29-33. Accessed February 13, 2020. (technique - multiple)

Kellar, Scott, and Bruce R. Levy. 1996. "Exploring Medieval Board Attachment and Joint Reinforcement: Two Methods that Provide Superior Strength, Flexibility and Permanence." 'International Conference on Conservation and Restoration of Archive and Library Materials. Rome : Istituto Centrale per la Patologia del Libro. 427-435. (technique)

Primanis, Olivia. 1997. "Minimal Repair in Special Collections: Details of Some Procedures." Unpublished, presented at Library Collections Conservation Discussion Group, AIC Annual Conference. (technique - multiple)

Primanis, Olivia. 2000. "Binding Repairs for Special Collections at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center." The Book and Paper Group Annual. 19: 115-121. Accessed February 13, 2020. (technique - multiple)

Silverman, Randy, Anthony Cains, Glen Ruzicka, Paula Zyats, Sarah Reidell, and Olivia Primanis, Alan Puglia, Priscilla Anderson, Don Etherington, Bill Minter, David Brock, Friederike Zimmern. 2006. “Conservation of leather bookbindings: a mosaic of contemporary techniques.” In Conservation of leather and related materials, edited by Marion Kite and Roy Thomson, 225-243. Oxford : Burlington, MA : Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

Discusses damage assessment, consolidation (Klucel G, "red rot cocktail", and Lascaux 498HV), facing adhesives, board reattachment techniques (joint tacketing, tissue or cloth hinge and joint mends, solvent-set repair tissue, split hinge board attachment, and board slotting), and adhesives for old and new leather.

Teper, Jennifer Hain and Melissa Straw. 2011. "A Survey of Current Leather Conservation Practices." The Book and Paper Group Annual 30: 131-151.

Report of a survey on leather conservation practice that builds on Kristin St. John's 2000 survey. Discusses frequency of use of:
  • repair materials (new leather, Japanese paper, western papers, book cloth, and other cloth)
  • techniques (tissue hinges, linen hinges, board tacketing, board slotting, and sewing support extensions)
  • adhesives used (paste, methylcellulose, PVA, Lascaux 498 and 360HV, gelatin, and hide glue)
  • toning (aniline dye, acrylic, watercolors, etc.)
  • surface treatments (SC6000, Renaissance Wax, Klucel G, red rot cocktail, leather dressing)

Paper and/or Cloth Hinge/Flange Techniques[edit | edit source]

Brockman, James. 1995. "Rethinking the Rigid Spine." New Bookbinder 15: 12-17. (binding design—concave spine attached with flange)

Brockman, James. 1996. "The Rigid Concave Spine: Time to Throw Away Your Backing Hammer." Skin Deep. 2. Accessed February 13, 2020.

Brock, David. 2001. "Board Reattachment." Abbey Newsletter 24: 97. Accessed February 13, 2020. (technique - fabric flange)

Brockman, James. 2000. "Rigid Flexibility: The Concave Spine." Bookbinder 14: 65-72. (binding design - concave spine attached with flange)

Buckley, Terry. 2000. "The K118 Binding: A Presentation of a Medieval Binding Structure that has a Place in Modern Bookbinding.." Presentation at the 2000 Guild of Bookworkers Standards of Excellence Conference. Accessed February 13, 2020.

Clements, Jeff and Katinka Keus. 1997. "A Board Reattachment, Circa 1560." New Bookbinder 17: 17-18. (case study - vellum flange)

Etherington, Don. 1995. "Japanese Paper Hinge Repair For Loose Boards on Leather Books." Abbey Newsletter 19(3): 48-49. Accessed February 13, 2020. (technique - Japanese tissue)

Levy, Bruce R. 1991. "The Restoration Rebinding of Speculum Naturale by Vincent of Beauvais, and the Subsequent Development of Several Options for Conservation Rebinding Structures Based on Details Found During the Restoration." The Book and Paper Group Annual 6: 79 - 84. Accessed February 13, 2020. (technique - flange)

Mahon, Gene. 1998. "Strength in the Joints, Flexibility and Flow: the Binding Structure Known as K-118." Bookbinder 12: 11-15. (technique - flange)

Mitchell, John. 1991. "Restoration of Leather Bindings." Bookbinder 5: 52-56. (technique - whipstitch endsheet in joint with flange)

Schlefer, Elaine Reidy. 1996. "Just What the Doctor Ordered: Rx for Sick Books from the New York Academy of Medicine ." Guild of Book Workers Journal 34(1): 44-45. Accessed February 13, 2020. (technique - pleated Japanese tissue hinge)

Sheehy, Robert. 1995. "The Reattachment of Covers on Tight Back Bindings." Bookbinder 9: 29-32. (technique - Japanese tissue flange)

Simpson, Edward. 1995. "Strengthening a Weak and Worn Board Reattachment: a Case History." Paper Conservation News 76 (December):14. (case study - Japanese tissue and flange)

Joint Tacketing[edit | edit source]

Biondi, R. 1989. "An Alternative Method for Reattachment to a Bookblock." Bookbinder 3: 37-38. (technique - joint tacket)

Espinosa, Robert, and Pamela Barrios. 1991. "Joint Tacketing: A Method of Board Reattachment." The Book and Paper Group Annual 10: 78-83. Accessed February 13, 2020. (technique - joint tacket)

Board Slotting[edit | edit source]

Andres, Angela M. 2008. "A New Variation on Board Slotting: Case Binding Meets In-Boards Binding. The Bonefolder 4(2): 24-26. Accessed February 13, 2020. (technique - board slotting)

Clarkson, Christopher. 1992. "Board slotting - a New Technique for Re-Attaching Bookboards." In The Institute of Paper Conservation Conference Papers. Manchester, ed. S. Fairbrass. London: Institute for Paper Conservation. 158 - 164. (technique - board slotting)

Conn, Donia. 1996. "Board Reattachment for Circulating Collections: A Feasibility Study ." The Book and Paper Group Annual 15: 29-40. (technique - board slotting)

Minter, Bill. 2006. "A Variation on the Board Slotting Machine." In Conservation of Leather and Related Materials. M. Kite & R. Thomson (Ed.) 241-242. Oxford, UK : Butterworth-Heinemann. (technique - board slotting)

Peachey, Jeffrey S. 2006. "New Possibilities for Board Slotting." The Bonefolder 2(2): 28-32. (technique - board slotting)

Simpson, Edward. 1994. "Setting Up a Board-Slotting Programme." Paper Conservator 18(1): 77-89. (technique - board slotting) (technique - board slotting)

Zimmern, F. 2000. "Board Slotting: A Machine-Supported Book Conservation Method." The Book and Paper Group Annual 19: 91-96. Accessed February 13, 2020. (technique - board slotting)

Rebacking[edit | edit source]

Brockman, James. 1990. "Rebacking of Leather Bindings Incorporating a Concealed Linen Joint Which Doesn't Alter the Handling Characteristics of the Binding." The Guild of Book Workers Seminar in Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding. Washington, DC.

Levy, Bruce R. 1987. Rebacking Leather Bound Books. Guild of Book Workers. Videocassette. (technique - reback)

Middleton, Bernard. 1992. "Rebacking a Leather Tight Back" (video). New York: Guild of Book Workers, 1992.

Middleton, Bernard. 1993. “Rebacking an Antiquarian Book” (video). Binder Vision.

Reid-Cunningham, James. 2020. "Leather Rebacking." Updated from the original 2013 version. The Guild of Bookworkers Seminar in Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding. Washington, DC.

Extending Sewing Supports[edit | edit source]

Biondi, R. 1987. "A Different Method of Putting Boards Back on a Book Block." Restaurator 17: 9-10. (technique - sewing support extension)

Care and Conservation 18. 2021. Alessandro Scola – Conserving and Preserving a 15th-Century Italian Antiphonary.

Fraser, Emma. 2023. "An Elegant Method of Book Board Reattachment." Journal of the Institute of Conservation.

Langwell, W. H. 1976. "Hard-Wearing Hand-Bound Books." Designer Bookbinders Review 8: 5 - 7. (technique - nylon cords)

Split Boards[edit | edit source]

Brockman, James. 1991. "Rebacking - An Alternative Approach." New Bookbinder 11: 36-46. (case study - reback with split boards)

Bull, William. 1988. "A Photograph Album." Bookbinder 2: 51-62. (case study - split boards)

Case Studies[edit | edit source]

Kellar, Scott. 1988. "Case History: The Conserving of a Chained Binding." Book and Paper Group Annual 7: 23-27. Accessed February 13, 2020. (case study)

Maver, Ian. 1990. "Conserving the Records of the First Astronomer Royal." Paper Conservator 14: 31-45. (case study, collection)

Metzger, Chela. 2006. "Slide deck from -- Board Attachment and the Context of Use in Book Conservation : a Decision Making Case Study." AIC Annual Meeting. Available on Academia.edu.

Quandt, Abigail B. 1991. "The Documentation and Treatment of a Late 13th Century Copy of Isidore of Seville's Etymologies." The Book and Paper Group Annual 10: 164-195. Accessed February 13, 2020. (case study)

Quandt, Abigail B. 1986. "The Conservation of a 12th Century Illuminated Manuscript on Vellum." Preprints of Papers Presented at the Fourteenth Annual AIC Meeting, Chicago, Illinois. 97-113. (case study)

Simpson, Edward. 1996. "Board Rehitching: a Case History." Paper Conservation News 74: 14-15. (case study)

Szirmai, John A. 1992. "Repair and Rebinding of Carolingian Manuscripts in St Gall Abbey Library in the Fifteenth Century." In Conference Papers Manchester, ed. S. Fairbrass. London : Institute for Paper Conservation. 165-170. (case study)

Additional Discussion Topic[edit | edit source]

Some final remarks as the scheduled discussion time was ending included a plea for the documentation and recording of original spine linings that are exposed during treatment. Conservators are often the only people ever to see these interesting historic binding features, and we should take the responsibility of documenting them before they are either removed or concealed again under new repair materials. A fascinating photo archive of manuscript fragments, printer's waste, and decorative papers used for spine linings could eventually be compiled from various conservator's records. Where appropriate, boxing could be considered as a substitute for repair, in order to preserve access to interesting or significant spine linings. (BRD 2001)

History of This Page[edit | edit source]

Prior to the creation of the AIC Conservation Wiki, this page was created as "Section 5 - Chapter 4 - Board Reattachment" of the Book Conservation Catalog by Priscilla Anderson, Alan Puglia, and Sarah Reidell. That chapter was loosely based on the published account of the Board Reattachment Discussion (Fredericks and Hellman, 2001) that occurred on June 2, 2001, during the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) Annual Meeting, May 30 - June 2, 2001, Dallas Texas. The discussion was published in the Book and Paper Annual, volume 20, 2001. For more see: History of the BPG Wiki.

Book and Paper Group Wiki
Wiki Editor Resources

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Materials and Tips

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Examination, Documentation, and Analysis

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Book Conservation Topics
Structural Elements of the Book

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Covering Materials

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Treatment Techniques

Washing of Books · Alkalinization of Books · Leaf Attachment and Sewing Repair · Board Reattachment · Use of Leather in Book Conservation

Bookbinding Traditions

Bookbinding Traditions by Region or Culture · East Asian Book Formats · Ethiopian Bindings · Greek-Style Bindings · Western African Books and Manuscripts

Specialized Formats

Scrapbooks · Atlases, Foldouts, and Guarded Structures

Circulating Collections

Circulating Collections · Case Binding