Our rare book conservators at ECS are highly skilled and professionally trained. They are capable of performing a wide range of treatments on bound materials including medieval manuscripts on vellum, period decorative volumes, contemporary design bindings, period Bibles, historic scrapbooks, photographic albums and pamphlets. Conservation may include re-housing in custom-designed enclosures, basic stabilization or complex conservation treatment and rebinding.

Treatment options are based on a complete examination of the artifact, its intended use and how it will be stored. Whenever possible, a book’s original materials are integrated into the treatment. For example, original boards may be reused, fragments of the original spine may be mounted onto a repaired and reinforced spine structure, or original endpapers with inscriptions and bookplates may be retained and re-applied to the repaired book structure. Books with covers too severely deteriorated for reuse are rebound in a style sympathetic to the original binding or to the period of the printed text.

Equally important to preserving the appearance of a book is the sewing and binding structure that must be sound and flexible. Our goal is to repair books so they open easily with minimal strain on the sewing, spine and board attachments. Durable, high-quality materials are used exclusively in the conservation and restoration process such as fine European leathers, durable book cloths, linen threads and cord, alkaline buffered machine-made papers, hand-made western papers and Japanese papers just to mention a few.

In accordance with international conservation standards and the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), materials and techniques used are reversible. Treatments are documented with written and photographic records. Photo-documentation is provided to the client upon request.

Treatment Options for bound artifacts may include:

  • Surface-cleaning to remove surface dirt and dust
  • Mold removal
  • Removing mending tapes and adhesive residues
  • Mending tears with either Japanese paper and starch paste adhesive, solvent-set tissue or archival heat-set tissue
  • Re-sewing loose pages
  • Deacidification / alkalization of acidic papers
  • Aqueous washing to remove ingrained dirt and to reduce acidity and stains
  • Restoration of leather, cloth, paper or vellum covers
  • Gold or blind tooling historic, period styles
  • Books with deteriorated covers rebound in a similar style and material
  • Custom-designed housing such as drop-spine boxes and four-flap enclosures

Rare Book Conservation Gallery

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