Close up of Leather Bible - 1862

Book Conservation

We offer a conservation service to both members of the public and institutions.

The term ‘Conservation’ means the preservation, protection, care and repair of our cultural heritage.  Conservators use their knowledge of modern science combined with their understanding of the properties of materials and construction techniques to decide the best means of conservation.  The aim is to reverse deterioration where possible and ensure that the future deterioration of an item is reduced to a minimum.  

Book and Archive Conservators also have to have extensive knowledge of the history and evolution of the book and its structure.  There are many different variations of binding structures that have developed over the centuries and conservators need a good working knowledge of how these structures work in order to be able to conserve them effectively.
We offer a full professional conservation service and understand the importance of maintaining the original integrity and character of old books and their bindings. We use only the highest quality materials and adhesives in our repairs and conservation treatments and always keep as much of the original structure and binding material as possible. Where original materials have to be replaced we will ensure that minimal intervention is used to achieve a high quality repair.

Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland – 1902

Both boards were completely detached from the textblock and the spine leather was missing.

The leather was worn on the boards and corners and small areas of leather had worn away revealing the inner cover boards which had softened and bent at the corners. 

The front board had a strip of residual adhesive along the spine edge from a previously applied self-adhesive tape.

The spine linings and glue had deteriorated and become loose and detached from the textblock.

The sewing had become loose within the front half of the textblock and the sections were loose and damaged along the spine edges.

There were a number of detached pages throughout the volume and several were creased and torn along the foredge.

The rear half of the textblock was in a better physical condition and the sewing appeared to be sound.

The front flyleaf and frontispiece were detached and damaged and the flyleaf had some residual adhesive along the joint from a previously applied self-adhesive tape.

There was no evidence of any endbands being present at either the head or tail of the spine.

The loose spine linings and spine glue were removed from the textblock.

The damaged flyleaf and text pages throughout the volume were repaired using archival acid free tissue, Japanese paper and paste.

The repaired sections from the front half of the text block were re-sewn using a linen thread sewn through the existing sewing holes.

The spine was re-glued with animal glue.

The softened board corners were consolidated with paste and the missing pieces of leather were repaired with dyed Japanese paper.

The detached boards were split along the spine edges and strips of aerolinen were inserted.

The spine was then lined with a paper hollow-back lining.

A new leather spine was prepared from brown goatskin and attached over the new spine lining and under the board leather using starch paste.

The inside endpaper joints were repaired with Japanese tissue and the flyleaves re-attached.

The new leather spine was titled using gold leaf and 7 single blind lines tooled across the spine.

An archival phase box was constructed from 1.7mm acid free corrugated board, lined with Plastazote foam.

Leather Bible – 1862

The boards and spine leather were detached from the textblock.

There were two pages at the front of the volume with some small tears.

The spine linings and spine glue had deteriorated and cracked and the endbands were lifting away from the sections.

The boards and spine leather (although detached) were in a good physical condition with only minor surface damage at the board edges and corners.

Several pieces of adhesive tape had been applied over the spine leather onto the boards and these had left a layer of adhesive residue on the leather surface.

The textblock paper was discoloured and stained but was otherwise in a good condition.

The endbands were damaged and split.

The sewing structure was sound and intact.


The old spine linings, endbands and glue were carefully removed from the textblock sections.

The tape adhesive residue was removed from the leather surface (the area has retained some discolouration).

The damaged areas of the pages were repaired using archival tissue and repair paper.

The textblock was re-glued with new animal glue and the strengthened endbands were re-attached to the head and tail of the textblock.

The board leather and the endpapers were lifted along the spine edges of the boards and the boards were then carefully split along the spine edges.

Aerocotton strips were inserted into the boards and glued over the spine to re-attach the boards to the textblock.

The spine was then lined with a new paper hollow-back lining.

A new leather spine was prepared from calfskin (dyed to match the original leather) and attached over the new spine lining and under the board leather.

The original leather spine was consolidated and re-mounted over the new spine leather.

The inside endpaper joints were repaired with Japanese tissue and Methylcellulose paste.

Water damaged Diaries, 1933

The cover and textblock had been seriously affected by water and mould.

The cloth spine piece was split and loose and the spine linings were loose, deteriorated and partially missing.

Both boards were warped, discoloured, loose and damaged at the edges and corners. 

The rear board had cracked and split into several pieces. The board core had lost its strength and pieces of the board were missing from the edges and corners.

The front board was also cracked and areas near the spine edge had disintegrated into small flakes and clumps of fibres.  There was also a hole through the cloth, board and endpaper towards the top left-hand corner of the board.  The materials immediately adjacent to this hole were very badly damaged, fragile and mould stained.

The board cloth was faded, mould stained and badly deteriorated.  The fibres of the cloth were very fragile.

The sewing and the sections were loose.

The staples in the spine folds of the textblock had rusted causing stains and discolouration in the paper.

The moisture had penetrated through the boards and endpapers causing serious damage to both sets of endpapers, flyleaves and the pages in the first and last sections of the volume.  These areas were affected by patches of thick black mould growth and mould staining which had caused areas of the pages to stick together and some areas of the paper had completely disintegrated.  There were also areas of mould growth and mould staining throughout the textblock particularly at the spine edges and foredges of the sections.  These mould-damaged areas of the textblock had become weak and damaged.

Many of the pages from the textblock were cockled.

Some areas of the written inks have smudged and bled slightly where the water damage was most concentrated.

The volume was carefully digitally photographed and the positions of the loose and inserted material were recorded. Any loose items inserted into the textblock were then removed and placed into individual acid free envelopes (their original position within the volume was recorded).

Due to the extensive damage to the binding structure, textblock and covering materials the volume was completely dis-bound.

The spine linings, spine glue and rusted staples were removed and the pages cleaned, consolidated and repaired.

The repaired sections were then collated and sewn onto two linen tapes using linen thread using the existing staple holes were possible.

The textblock spine was then glued with animal glue and a new cover constructed from acid free boards and aerolinen.

The original cover cloth was consolidated and re-attached over the new aerolinen (exposed areas of aerolinen were coloured with water colours to blend in). The cloth surface was then treated with microcrystalline wax and buffed.

An archival storage box was constructed from acid free board and lined with Plastazote foam.

Thackeray Leather Box

The lid and the front flap were both completely detached from the box base and both of the leather hinges had completely split.

The leather covering the lid was missing (leaving the padding completely exposed) apart from a small area that was detached from the main structure.

The leather was generally deteriorated and the surface was very dry and powdery.

The box base and the front flap were intact (minus the hinge) structurally but the leather had become weak and was stained and discoloured.

The top corners of the box base were starting to gape where the wooden strips had warped slightly.

The internal paper linings were intact and structurally sound.

All areas of the covering leather were consolidated.

The gaping box base corner was re-pinned with brass nails and re-glued with animal glue where the wooden strips have warped.

The leather was lifted along the edges of the front base wall and the rear base wall to accommodate the new leather hinge.

A strip of Japanese paper was inserted under the leather of the flap and under the leather of the box wall to re-attach the flap and create a new hinge.

A new piece of calfskin leather was prepared to cover the top of the box and replace the missing leather.

The leather was dyed to match the existing patina and placed over the top of the padding and under the leather on the edges and the lining on the inside of the box.

Another strip of Japanese paper was placed under the back edge of the lid and under the lifted leather of the rear base wall to re-attach the lid and create a new hinge.

All leather was treated with a leather dressing wax and polished.


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