Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Curious Rebinding

I borrowed a copy of Creative Power: The Education of Youth in the Creative Arts by Hughes Mearns from a far-flung library through my local library's "Link +" system and was distracted at first by its printing and binding. Published in 1929, it is of course printed via letterpress. 

The texture of the paper was warm in my hands.



This copy was rebound. Upon inspection, I noticed that the front cover must have fallen off. I'm guessing the sewing was still intact but loose, so the book block was reinforced: glued to an inner spine in a perfect bound manner. The back cover was possibly still attached as originally bound.



The front and back covers were still usable and needed to be connected. On the front cover, slices were made in the cloth at head and tail to accommodate the repairs. The cloth was peeled up there. A new spine piece was centered and covered with new black book cloth, wide flaps or turn ins were left on both sides to attach the spine to the covers.



The sliced front cover was also reinforced on the inside with linen binding tape.



The flaps/turn ins from the new book cloth were glued to the front cover, between the old cloth (where it was peeled up) and the old board, making it lumpy.



On the back, the new cloth sat on top of the old cloth and board, with the look of a half cloth binding. (The light blue paper is the Link + system's special lending band that tells me $1 per day late fee; Lost book charge is $115.)




The original spine title was glued back on.




Although the book is eighty-six years old, it is not valuable as a rare book, but the contents are worth the repair.



Although it is lumpy and inelegant, this rebinding preserves as much of the original book parts as possible. The only piece missing is the original spine.

 I think if this book belonged to me, I would trim out the title from the front cover and put it aside. Then I would use the boards (if they were smooth or could be sanded), or I would cut new boards and create a recess in the front board for the title. I'd also cut a new spine. I'd make a new full cloth covered case with black or dark blue book cloth, then glue the title into the front recess and glue the spine strip with the titling onto the spine. To the book block I'd add mull/super, reinforce the book block spine with mulberry paper, add new endpapers and case the book block in. 

Different people have different methods for restoring and/or repairing books. For some creative rebindings, see the work of the artists who work as "Tomorrow's Past."

1 comment:

Tom Hitt said...


Great post! Over the years I know I have held rebound books, never realizing the task at hand to keep the text in circulation. I'm intrigued by book architectures, hoping to build a few of my own soon. :-) ~Tom~

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