The 1628 book printed by Robert Norton, and a plate inserted upside down
Above: the cut out section from the rear of the book found within the textblock
Below: the cut out library stamp on the title page
The book had previously suffered fire damage when the library was bombed during the Second World War, and had subsequently been rebacked with cheap leather which had led to both front and back boards becoming detached. New pastedowns and end papers had also been added.
The plates in the book were frequently poorly folded and becoming damaged, where they were catching or extending beyond the edge of the textblock. Many of the folded plates required local humidification in order to re-fold them to their original positions.
The rebacked leather and linings were removed from the spine with a scalpel and a thick wheat starch paste poultice. The non- original endpapers were removed by cutting the whipping stitch, peeling off the mull and adding a little moisture. The added pastedowns were lifted using moisture and a spatula which revealed the beneath the original pastedowns. These showed an original shelfmark from Cambridge, revealing a little more of the history of the book. The pastedowns were then lifted at both spine edges in order to insert the board attachment.
The sewing on the textblock was very weak, and what to do was discussed with all conservators, who had all worked on similar books in the collection. It was suggested that a spine lining would hold the textblock together as the adhesive will seep through the first few sections. This was worrying for me, but I was assured that it happened often with these bindings because of their age and as they have already had a lot of work done on them in the past (not necessarily very sympathetically). This proved to the right, and a lining of a medium weight tissue with wheat starch paste held the spine well.
The textblock was surface cleaned with a chemical sponge and then the tears and losses in the textblock were repaired using lens tissue 9gsm and kozo-shi 23 gsm, toned with liquid acrylics. The cut out area of the title page (where the library stamp had been) was filled with kozo shi, in keeping with the treatment of the rest of the collection. The section that had been cut from the rear of the textblock and found adhered to a loose piece of paper within the textblock was immersed in a bath of water, to separate the two, and then readhered into the cut out section with a fine Japanese tissue on the verso.
A Cambridge Shelfmark revealed beneath by lifting the later pastedowns
Alum tawed skin replacing piece of lost support
Working on the reback
It was great to do some gold and blind tooling on the spine - which I had never had the chance to do before. It went quite well! Initially glair, lighter fluid and vaseline were used to prepare the area.
Me doing some gold tooling
The tools and the final gold tooling