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Wednesday, May 31 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
015. (Book and Paper) An Unconventional Approach to Cover-Binding Reattachment

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Materials and techniques for sewing and forwarding, such as the choice of sewing support material, lacing in methods, and corner mitring styles, can provide information reflecting period bindery practices or reveal new information on provenance. Often, these components of the binding structure are hidden underneath the covering material and can be difficult for researchers to see. This poster will describe the considerations behind a cover reattachment method used during treatment of MS. 74 (1658-1659), an English manuscript belonging to the Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin. MS. 74 was bound in full tanned sheepskin over pasteboards, and the covering leather was almost completely loose from the binding. During treatment of the manuscript, the covering leather had to be fully detached. In a typical conservation treatment, the leather covering material is re-adhered overall to the paperboards and back of the book. In this case, the cover leather was secured in a manner whereby the structure could remain visible. The cover leather was secured to the binding mechanically so that it could be detached and taken off the binding. A method was devised to strap the covering leather onto the book with interlocking tabs. Strategic placement of the tabs was crucial so that the reattached cover would move with the book properly during use. Especially important, the hinge of the covering leather had to be secured to the book to prevent improper creasing and breakage to the leather. Experiments with a combination of materials including Japanese tissue paper, parchment, and Tyvek® were tested on models.

A criteria for the ideal tab material was drawn up:
1. The material had to be weaker than the leather to prevent strain and damage.
2. The material had to be flexible enough to wrap around the boards.
3. The material had to be strong enough for the tabs to withstand being opened and closed periodically.
4. The material had to be relatively rigid at the interlocking component to withstand tension and lock properly.
5. The material had to be thin enough not to indent the textblock paper, which was very soft.

Treatment of MS. 74 was a collaborative effort. Graham Patten carried out mends to the textblock and leather cover, resewing of the textblock, and board infills during his internship at the Ransom Center. Book lab staff, interns, and volunteers worked on consolidation of the iron gall ink throughout the textblock. As several other books awaiting treatment at the Ransom Center also have detached covering material, treatment of MS. 74 became an opportunity to examine methods for a safe way to reattach a cover to the binding while allowing access to the interior binding structure.

avatar for Kimberly Kwan

Kimberly Kwan

Bollinger Conservation Fellow, Harry Ransom Center
Kimberly Kwan is the Bollinger Conservation Fellow, Book Lab at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin. She received her MA in Conservation at Camberwell College of Arts, London, UK with a specialization in books and archival materials. Prior to working at the Ransom... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 3:30pm - 4:00pm CDT
Riverside West Exhibit Hall Exhibit Level, East Tower
  9. Poster, Book and Paper