User:Msmith/Board Reattachment

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Book and Paper Group Wiki > Book Conservation Wiki > Board Reattachment

This page addresses one of book conservation's most common repair tasks: the reattachment of detached cover boards to books. 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. Historical techniques and vernacular repair methods are also included for reference purposes.

Wiki Contributors: Priscilla Anderson, Emilie Duncan, Jennifer Evers, Jeff Peachey, Alan Puglia, James Reid-Cunningham, Sarah Reidell, Michelle C. Smith, Roger S. Williams, please add your name here

Copyright 2024. The AIC Wiki is a publication of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC). It is published as a convenience for the members of AIC. Publication does not endorse nor recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described herein. Information on researching with and citing the wiki can be found on the Reference and Bibliography Protocols page.

Cite this page:

American Institute for Conservation (AIC). "User:Msmith/Board Reattachment." AIC Wiki. July 18, 2024. https://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/User:Msmith/Board_Reattachment.

Factors to consider[edit | edit source]

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 must be balanced with the manufacture and condition of the book itself as well as the resources to the conservator.

Treatment context[edit | edit source]

  • Private vs. institutional collection
  • Circulating vs. non-circulating
  • General vs. special collection/rare
  • Value
    • Intellectual
    • Historic
    • Aesthetic
    • Associational
    • Monetary
  • Social context and cultural significance
  • Use and handling
    • Frequency
    • Type of use - copies, etc.
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
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.
  • Production/speed requirements
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.
  • Housing/boxing policy

Book characteristics[edit | edit source]

Tight back vs. hollow[edit | edit source]

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).

Tight joint vs. groove[edit | edit source]

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.

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.

Covering material[edit | edit source]

  • 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.
  • 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).
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.

Boards[edit | edit source]

  • Material
Book 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.
  • 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.
  • Thickness
The boards' thickness affects their weight; the implications are similar to those mentions for large or heavy text blocks.
  • Method of attachment
Board attachment methods may include 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.

Sewing supports[edit | edit source]

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.

Textblock[edit | edit source]

  • Weight and size
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.
  • 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).
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).
  • 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).
  • Spine linings
Consider documenting original spine linings that are exposed during treatment. Conservators are often the only people ever to see these interesting historic binding features, and we have an opportunity to document them before they are either removed or concealed again under new repair materials. A photo archive of manuscript fragments, printer's waste, and decorative papers used for spine linings could eventually be compiled from various conservators' records. Where appropriate, boxing could be considered as a substitute for repair in order to preserve access to interesting or significant spine linings.

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]

The treatment techniques below are listed roughly in order of least to most invasive. These techniques are largely for leather-covered tight joint bound books. Specific treatment techniques may be altered or combined to maximize the strength, flexibility, and reversibility of a repair. Readers are encouraged to perform their own evaluation and research before treatment.

This section also includes historical techniques that may be uncommon, not recommended, and/or no longer practiced, which conservators may encounter on previously repaired books. These techniques are included for reference purposes only, as indicated.

Sewing extensions[edit | edit source]

Sewing support extensions[edit | edit source]

Thread sewn through the center of sections and around the support[edit | edit source]
Thread sewn through the center of sections and under supports[edit | edit source]
Thread sewn through the center of sections and through the supports[edit | edit source]
Supports extended with added material[edit | edit source]
Thread laced through entire support[edit | edit source]
Thread or fibers adhered into support[edit | edit source]

Endband sewing extensions[edit | edit source]

Lacing or adhering cores of a new endband to the board[edit | edit source]
Adhering flanges of a stuck-on, or sewn stuck-on, endband[edit | edit source]
End-of-spine band[edit | edit source]

Joint tacketing[edit | edit source]

Not at a support[edit | edit source]

At a support, thread through original lacing pattern on board[edit | edit source]

Two holes, parallel tackets on sides of support[edit | edit source]

V-shaped, one hole on the shoulder, two on the spine[edit | edit source]

X-shaped, two holes on the shoulder, four on the spine[edit | edit source]

Other sewing techniques[edit | edit source]

Sewing boards to the spine[edit | edit source]

This technique is included for reference purposes only.

Replacing a deteriorated cord or tape without resewing[edit | edit source]

Replacing or adding material under or into an existing one[edit | edit source]

Adhering or sewing new material on top of a support[edit | edit source]

Adding new sawn-in stations with glued supports[edit | edit source]

This technique is included for reference purposes only.

Inner hinge repair[edit | edit source]

New endsheets[edit | edit source]

Glue board into shoulder[edit | edit source]

This technique is included for reference purposes only.

Paper, fabric, or laminate hinges[edit | edit source]

Pleated paper hinge[edit | edit source]

Interior board repair[edit | edit source]

Splitting[edit | edit source]

Fully split including turn-ins[edit | edit source]
Split only under the pastedown[edit | edit source]
Locally split[edit | edit source]
Inserted into already delaminating boards[edit | edit source]

Slotting[edit | edit source]

Basic slotting[edit | edit source]
Lifted pastedown on the board edge[edit | edit source]
Molded spine, two layers of fabric[edit | edit source]
Biscuit slotting[edit | edit source]
Combination slot/reback[edit | edit source]

Outer joint repair[edit | edit source]

Tissue, pre-colored, or colored with acrylics[edit | edit source]

Inserted into cuts in the leather, or lifting leather[edit | edit source]

Infilled losses covered with tissue[edit | edit source]

Leather onlay[edit | edit source]

Heat or solvent-set tissue[edit | edit source]

Cast acrylic onlay[edit | edit source]

Pressure-sensitive tape[edit | edit source]

This technique is included for reference purposes only.

Glue[edit | edit source]

This technique is included for reference purposes only.

Rebacking[edit | edit source]

Brockman[edit | edit source]

Cockerell[edit | edit source]

Middleton[edit | edit source]

Reid-Cunningham[edit | edit source]

Paper, fabric, or laminates[edit | edit source]

Overbacking[edit | edit source]

This technique is included for reference purposes only.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

General information, 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)

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)

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)

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. The material from the discussion was edited and arranged to suit the wiki format.

In 2023, the "Treatment variations" section of the page was significantly updated and rearranged based on Jeff Peachey's outline from his presentation "Fifty Ways to Reattach Your Boards", given at the 2023 Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence Seminar in San Francisco, California, September 28-30, 2023.

Book and Paper Group Wiki
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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

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Specialized Formats

Scrapbooks · Atlases, Foldouts, and Guarded Structures· Artists' Books

Circulating Collections

Circulating Collections · Case Binding