I recently completed a treatment on which I’d be very interested to receive some conservation feedback.
Here at TSLAC, we have a great many oversize ledger bindings used as account books in various functions of state government. These bindings often feature rather sculptural spine coverings – stiff, thick board shaped into an aggressive round with very proud false bands and an abundance of gold stamping.
The difficulty with many of these spine coverings is that they’re simply too large. As you may be able to see in the following photo, the round of the spine covering extends far beyond the round of the text block. This creates excessive stress in the joints when the book is opened, and as a result, I usually make these books’ acquaintance when the spine covering has detached.
It’s fairly straightforward to reattach the spine covering and replace lost material in the joint, but oftentimes this just gives new life to the same old problem. In this case, I tried simple reattachment, but the book would only open about 45 degrees before the board began to collide with the stiff spine covering and impede opening. I reversed this treatment before the book did so itself and went back to the drawing board.
In the past, I have tried trimming these spine coverings to a better fit. But there are drawbacks to this approach – trimming requires a lot of patient hand-cutting and a wealth of blades. Additionally, as in this case, the spine coverings are often gold-stamped out to their very edges. I needed another way to more closely align the shoulders of the spine covering with the shoulders of the text block.
Eventually, I landed upon the idea of using a spacer to set the spine covering back from the shoulders. To achieve this effect, I adhered a closed-cell Volara foam inside the spine covering and then attached this construction to a new hollow tube on the spine. I then filled the joints with toned Japanese tissue coated with SC6000.
The result is a book that can safely open without damaging itself, especially when used in a cradle, as is our reading room policy for these oversize items. The other result is a very bulky headcap. This appearance would seem gauche, except that the original construction also appeared overbuilt, and the item’s overall design never relied much on subtlety.
I’m very curious to hear thoughts on this treatment. Has anyone used Volara within a treatment rather than within a housing, as is more traditional? Any ideas about the long-term wear of a design like this?