The literature on the conservation of books and other
library materials is large and constantly growing, reflecting the current
lively interest in the subject. Published material directly relevant to
the subject matter of this book is relatively scarce and scattered,
however. There are a great number of books, for example, on the basic
techniques of bookbinding, some very good, some certainly not so good,
but—good, bad, or indifferent—very few deal specifically with the
problems peculiar to the restoration of leather bindings. The literature
on the history of bookbindings is even more extensive; much of it deals
more with the changing styles of decoration and with the identification of
binders and their work than with historical developments in the basic
structures of the book and the lessons which can be learnt from them in
terms of durability. However, very important work has been done in this
field during the last two decades, or so, and some of the results have
been published in books and periodicals, some of which are listed below.
There has also been a marked increase in published material about
alternatives to restoration, and this trend, too, is reflected in the
following reading list.
1. Banks, Paul N.
Bibliography on the Conservation of Research Library Materials
Chicago, Newberry Library, 1981
hundreds of entries covering every aspect of conservation are very well
organised by subject with many subheadings. There is a good author index.
Caring for Books and
London, The British Library, 2nd ed. 1989
This booklet outlines the ideal
conditions under which books and documents should be kept, explains the
principal causes of damage and offers straightforward,
practical advice on how to avoid them.
3. Belaya, I.K.
“Methods of Strengthening the Damaged Leather of Old
1, no. 2 (1969), 93–104
Discusses methods of strengthening
and preserving the damaged leather bindings of old books in the State V.I.
Lenin Library of the USSR. Restaurator,
which began publication in Copenhagen in 1969 ‘as “the first
international periodical covering the field of restoration and preventive
care of library and archival material,” covers a wide range of
conservation activities and has been a valuable addition to the field.
4. Brockman, James
“Rebacking—an alternative approach”
The New Bookbinder,
vol.11 (1991), 36–46
5. Buck, Mitchell S.
Book Repair and
Restoration: A Manual of Practical Suggestions for Bibliophiles
Philadelphia, Nicholas L. Brown, 1918
The book has some interesting
discussions, most of which are of only historical interest, on the
techniques of general restoration, removing stains, rebacking, repairing
old bindings, and rebinding. Many of the recommendations made by the
author must now be viewed with considerable reservation. Included are some
translated selections from Essai sur
l’art de Restaurer les Estampes et les Livres, by A. Bonnardot,
6. Burdett, Eric
The Craft of
Bookbinding: A Practical Handbook
Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 1975
One of the best and the most
comprehensive of the more recent manuals and packed with information and
7. Cains, Anthony
“New Attitudes to Conservation”
In New Directions in
Bookbinding, by Philip Smith
London, Studio Vista, 1974
This spells out the basic, honest
approach to conservation with a brief evaluation of methods and materials,
and deals principally with the operations preceding binding.
8. Cains, Anthony
“Techniques of Preservation Based on Early Binding
Methods and Materials”
Conservator, vol. 1 (1976), 2–8
The author outlines the soundest
methods and most durable materials for conservation binding.
9. Cains, Anthony
“Book Conservation Workshop Manual; Part One: Preparation
of the Book for Conservation and Repair”
The New Bookbinder,
vol. 1 (1981), 11–25
This is the first part of a manual
based on the methods the author helped to develop when he was in charge of
conservation at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze and has since
amended while serving as Technical Director of the Conservation Workshop
at Trinity College, Dublin.
10. Cains, Anthony
“A Facing Method for Leather, Paper and Membrane”
Manchester 1992, (1992), 153–157
The Institute of Paper Conservation
This describes the author’s
method of temporarily reinforcing deteriorated leather spines (if
necessary after they have been consolidated with Klucel G in IMS) with a
resin-coated paper tissue, so that they can be lifted with minimal damage.
This is a significant advance on the earlier, less sophisticated, and
sometimes damaging process of pasting tissue on to powdery leather.
“The Conservation of Early Books in Codex Form”
Conservator, vol. 3 (1978), 33–50
An important, scholarly
consideration of the principles and ethics of conservation.
“Board-Slotting—a New Technique for Re-attaching
Manchester 1992, (1992), 158–164
The Institute of Paper Conservation
“Thoughts on Sewing Frame Design for the Book
Conservator, vol. 19 (1995), 41–54
A study of the importance of sound
sewing and of the control of swell as sewing proceeds so that hammered
rounding and backing is rendered unnecessary.
14. Clements, Jeff
London, Arco Publications, 1963
An excellent book on the
fundamentals of hand bookbinding, clearly and simply written, and well
illustrated. Includes a useful chapter on the history of bookbinding.
Conservation: A Guide to Possible Hazards and Safe Use
Conservation Bureau, Scottish Development Agency, Scottish Society for
Conservation and Restoration, 1982, 2nd ed. 1990
Hundreds of chemicals are listed
with their associated hazards, if any. First aid measures are detailed
where the dangers are significant.
Bookbinding and the
Care of Books (with an Appendix by Sydney M. Cockerell)
London, Pitman, 5th ed., 1953 (rev.1978)
This is the classic work on hand
bookbinding. Part 2 discusses the injurious influences to which books are
subject, proper shelving, insect pests, how to preserve old bindings, the
paring of leather, headbanding, and the rebacking of books. The chapter on
leather quotes generously from the Report of the Committee on Leather
Bookbindings published for the Royal Society of Arts (see below). The
Appendix covers many important points not dealt with in the original text
Some Notes on
London, Oxford University Press, 1929
Discusses the deterioration of the
quality of materials used in bindings and gives interesting historical and
sociological reasons for its occurrence.
18. Cockerell, Sydney
The Repairing of
London, Sheppard Press, 1958
Librarians and collectors will
find this an interesting summary of some of the possible ways in which
books can be repaired. To quote the author: “It contains some ‘first
aid’ operations that can be carried out by careful labour, but it is not
a technical work on binding procedure, nor is it intended to give the
impression that anyone can repair a valuable book without practical
instruction and experience; and it is hoped that this experience will not
be obtained at the expense of fine books.” Readers will find the chapter
entitled “Repairing Leather Bindings and Re-Binding” especially
19. Cunha, George
Martin and Cunha, Dorothy Grant
Conservation of Library Materials: A Manual and Bibliography on the
Care, Repair and Restoration of Library Materials
Metuchen, N.J., Scarecrow Press, 2nd ed., 1971–72, 2
The authors discuss the nature,
general care, repair, and restoration of library materials, and provide an
20. Cunha, George
Martin and Cunha, Dorothy Grant, assisted by Suzanne
Library and Archives
Conservation: 1980s and Beyond
Metuchen, N.J., Scarecrow Press, 1983, 2 vols.
This book is designed to be useful
in conjunction with the preceding item and provides a survey of
developments during the past fifteen years in addition to general guidance
in techniques and discussion on training and education. The bibliography,
which contains more than 5,800 new citations, supplements the one in the
authors’ earlier book, and together they constitute the most
comprehensive bibliography covering conservation literature in English.
21. Diehl, Edith
Background and Technique
New York, Rinehart and Co., 1946, 2 vols. Reprinted by
Hacker Art Books, New York, 1979
The first volume of this work is
on the history of the production, binding, and distribution of books; the
second volume is on bookbinding, methods and materials. Although the work
is questionable in part, it contains useful information.
Stuttgart, Max Hettler, 1963
A comprehensive, multilingual
bibliography of the literature on the treatment and repair of books.
23. Foot, Mirjam
“The Binding Historian and the Book Conservator”
Conservator, vol. 8 (1984), 77–83
24. Forde, Helen
London, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1986
An excellent, detailed, and well
illustrated account of, perhaps, the most important bookbinding project of
this century: the rebinding of the 11th century Domesday Book at the
Public Record Office, in London.
25. Gardner, Anthony
“The Ethics of Book Repair”
The Library, vol.
9, no.3 (1954), 194–98
In this article the author
discusses such matters as the difference between attempting to achieve an
aesthetically satisfactory restoration and “conscious faking,” and
whether the ultimate structural soundness of the restored book should be
sacrificed in the interest of preserving the original binding materials
26. Gast, Monika
“A History of Endbands”
The New Bookbinder,
vol. 3 (1983), 42–58
Based on a study by Karl Jäckel,
this is a broadly-based article with many photographs and very clear
27. Greenfield, Jane
ABC of Bookbinding
New Castle, DE, Oak Knoll Press, 1998
A collector’s glossary with over
700 line illustrations. A unique look into the parts of the physical book
over the ages.
28. Greenfield, Jane
The Care of Fine
New York, Nick Lyons Books, 1988
Covers the subject comprehensively
and soundly, but without going into great detail. Illustrated with
numerous sketches by the author.
29. Greenfield, Jane
& Hille, Jenny
Headbands: How to
New Castle, DE, Oak Knoll Press, 2nd, revised
The sole book on the subject, and
invaluable for those working on antiquarian books of various
nationalities. Clearly illustrated throughout with drawings by Jane
Nicholas & Swift, Katherine
Preservation in Small Libraries
The Parker Library Conservation Project, Corpus Christi
College, Cambridge, Parker Library Publications, 1994
Essential reading for all who wish
to be informed about the most recent advances in conservation practices
and repair techniques, and perhaps even more essential for those who do
31. Hickin, Norman
Bookworms; the Insect
Pests of Books
London, Sheppard Press, 1985; Richard Joseph, Revised Ed.,
Information on this subject is not
readily available to the lay person, so this book should be a welcome
addition to the reference libraries of custodians, conservators and
restorers. Clear drawings and photographs facilitate identification. A
chapter is devoted to the control and elimination of insect pests in
books, and there is a useful bibliography.
32. Horton, Carolyn
Preserving Bindings and Related Materials
Library Materials, Pamphlet 1, Chicago, Library Technology Program,
American Library Association, 2nd rev. ed., 1969
discusses the cleaning and minor repair of books and other library
materials, and the care and preservation of leather bindings. The work
contains a list of supplies and equipment, sources of supply, and a
33. Innes, R. F.
“The Preservation of Vegetable-tanned Leather against
Chapter 18 in Progress
in Leather Science, London, British Leather Manufacturers’ Research
A pioneering work in the
explanation of the causes of the decay of leather and its prevention. The
author discusses preferred tannages—considering pyrogallol-tanned better
than catechol-tanned hides—and confirms that salts added to leather
increase its durability. He also concludes that potassium citrate or
lactate as well as neutralized syntans protect the leather, and that alum
retannage and an impermeable finish improve durability.
34. Johnson, Arthur
The Thames and Hudson
Manual of Bookbinding
London, Thames and Hudson, 1978
A very sound manual written by a
teacher and binder of long experience. Well illustrated by the author.
35. Johnson, Arthur
The Practical Guide
to Book Repair and Conservation
London, Thames and Hudson, 1988
A useful, wide-ranging, and
generally reliable guide with numerous excellent drawings by the author.
36. Kuhn, Hilde
Handbuchbinderei und Einbandrestaurierung
Hannover, Schlütersche. 2nd ed., 1979
1,033 terms in German, English,
French, and Italian. These cover “bookbinding and restoration of papyri,
manuscripts, engravings, autographs, documents, bindings, and globes.”
37. Langwell, W. H.
The Conservation of
Books and Documents
London, Pitman, 1957; Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press,
Advances have been rapid, so the
text of this book, written by a pioneer, is somewhat dated. However, it
contains much useful information on sewing materials, adhesives, and other
bookbinding materials, as well as on binding techniques.
“On the Rebinding of Old Books”
In Bookbinding in
America: Three Essays, (H. Lehmann-Haupt, ed.) New York, R. R. Bowker
Co., rev. ed., 1967
A sound, thoughtful, and very
useful discussion of the ethics and esthetics of the repairing or
rebinding of books of value.
39. Maggs Bros Ltd.
Bookbinding in Great
Britain; Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century
Catalogue No. 966, 1975
Bookbinding in the
British Isles; Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century
Catalogue No. 1075, 1987. Parts I and II
Ditto, Catalogue No. 1212, 1996. Parts I and II
Lavishly illustrated catalogues
with extensive, reliable notes about the bindings and binders by Bryan D.
Maggs. Very useful to restorers as guides to period styles.
40. McCann, Michael
New York, Watson-Guptill Publications, 1979
In addition to specifying the
hazards associated with hundreds of chemicals, the author has provided
wide-ranging chapters covering every aspect of safety in the workshop,
including ventilation, storage of chemicals, personal protective
equipment, first aid.
41. Mejer, Wolfgang
Leipzig, Karl W. Hiersemann, 1925
Thought much dated, and far from
complete at the time it was published, this bibliography, together with
its supplement, Bibliographie der
Buchbinderei-literature, 1924–1932, by Herman Herbst, contains many
valuable references to books and articles in several languages on the
history and techniques of bookbinding, the care of books, and bookbinding
A History of English
Craft Bookbinding Technique
London and New
York, Hafner Publishing Co., 1963; Holland Press, 2nd ed. (Supplemented),
1978; 3rd ed. (new Introduction), 1988; New Castle, Delaware, Oak Knoll
Press, and London, British Library, 4th ed. (with revised Supplement),
In this classic, Mr. Middleton
discusses in great detail the history of the techniques of bookbinding;
tracing the various methods that have been used for sewing books,
attaching boards, headbanding, forming endpapers, and so forth. An
indispensable companion to the present volume for anyone interested in
43. Nixon, Howard
Five Centuries of
London, Scolar Press, 1978
One hundred reproductions of
bindings covering the period c. 1483 to c. l928, with a short article
accompanying each. Very useful as a guide to period styles. The extensive
bibliography, which embraces both books and articles on the history of
English bookbinding, is divided into subjects and periods.
44. Nixon, Howard M.,
and Foot, Mirjam M.
The History of
Decorated Bookbinding in England
Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1992
An authoritative, well illustrated
45. Petherbridge, Guy
and Harrington, Malcolm J. (eds.)
“Safety and Health in the Paper Conservation
Conservator, vols. 5 & 6 (1980–81)
This provides exhaustive coverage
of the subject in the combined volumes, which amounts to 184 pages.
46. Plenderleith, H.
J. and Werner, A. E. A.
The Conservation of
Antiquities and Works of Art: Treatment, Repair, and Restoration
London, Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 1971
This is the second edition of a
basic reference work which has been widely used by conservators in the
museum as well as the library field. There are useful chapters on the
tanning, causes of decay, and treatment of animal skins, as well as on
papyrus parchment and paper, but, of course, recent developments are not
47. Pollard, Graham
“Changes in the Style of Bookbinding, 1550–1830”
The Library, vol.
2, no. 2 (1956), 71–94
This important paper deals with
the introduction of many techniques and materials and should be helpful to
those who wish to restore bindings in a manner appropriate to their
48. Pollard, Graham
“Some Anglo-Saxon Bookbindings”
The Book Collector,
Spring, 1975, 130–59
This is a pioneering paper on the
techniques of Anglo-Saxon bindings.
49. Pollard, Graham
“On the Repair of Mediaeval Bindings”
Conservator, vol. 1(1976), 35–36
The guidance provided here is
intended for librarians who have early books in their care, but it is also
useful for conservators and others concerned with books of later periods.
The paper discusses what should and should not be done, the importance of
photographing books before and during repair, the recording of work
carried out, and so on.
50. Powell, Roger
“Case History of repair and rebinding of an
eighth-century vellum manuscript”
Chapter 22 in New
Directions in Bookbinding, by Philip Smith London, Studio Vista; New
York, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1974
binder’s account of how he approached the rebinding of the Lichfield Gospels of St. Chad, a national treasure, and the manner in which he
recorded the volume’s makeup. The techniques and qualities of materials
are specified in detail. Essential reading for everyone concerned with
early, vellum-leaved books.
51. Reed, R.
Parchments and Leathers
London and New York, Seminar Press, 1972
A very detailed and scientifically
based account of early methods of manufacturing parchment and leather.
52. Robert, Matt T.
and Etherington, Don
Bookbinding and the
Conservation of Books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology
Washing D.C., Library of Congress, 1982
An extensive compilation which
contains much historical and technical information about materials, in
addition to binding and conservation techniques, definitions of scientific
terms and biographies of well-known binders.
53. Rogers, J. S. and
Beebe, C. W.
How to Preserve Them
Leaflet no. 398. United States Department of Agriculture,
Washington, D.C., May 1956
The standard United States
government bulletin about the preservation of leather bindings. Eight
formulas for leather dressings are given.
54. Royal Society of
Report of the
Committee on Leather for Bookbinding
Edited for the Royal Society of
Arts and the Company of Leathersellers by the Rt. Hon. Viscount Cobham and
Sir Henry Trueman Wood. London, published for the Society of Arts by
George Bell & Sons, 1905
the 1901 report which is quoted in Cockerell’s Bookbinding
and the Care of Books. Although this report is now badly dated, it was
highly influential in its time, and still makes interesting and useful
55. Sharpe, John L.
Roger Powell The
Turnhout, BREPOULS, 1996
This festschrift has little to do
with restoration or minimal intervention techniques, but it is included
here because Powell was a major influence in the craft during a crucial
period, and because the pieces about him and many other topics, are of
great interest and may shape readers’ opinions.
56. Simpson, Edward
“Setting up a Board-Slotting Programme”
Conservator, vol. 18 (1994), 77–89
Geschichte der Einbandkunst von den Anfdngen bis 1985
Wiesbaden, Dr. Ludwig Reichert, 1987
This is a very extensive
bibliography of international bookbinding literature.
58. Smith, Philip
New Directions in
London, Studio Vista; New York, Van Nostrand Reinhold
An important book by a highly
creative binder. Although much concerned with the philosophy of design in
fine binding and recent developments in design and technique, the book
has, in addition to the Cains and Powell chapters listed above, much
information about materials, chemicals, and techniques that is useful to
the conservator and to the less creative binder.
59. Storm, Colton
“Care, Maintenance and Restoration”
Book Collections (H. Richard Archer, ed.), Chicago, ACRL Monograph no.
27, American Library Association, 1965
A statement of principles of the
conservation of rare materials.
60. Tribolet, Harold
“Trends in Preservation”
vol. 13, no. 2 (1964), 208–14
Mr. Tribolet, former manager of
the Graphic Conservation Department of R. R. Donnelley & Sons Co. in
Chicago, discusses developments in the treatment of rare books and
61. The USSR State
Library IM. V.I. Lenin
Department for Book Preservation and Restoration
Materials on the Preservation of Library Resources
Israel Program for Scientific Translations, 1964 No. 2, L. Petrova, ed.;
No. 3, L. Belyakova and O. V. Kozulina, eds.
included chapters on inspecting books, collections, dusting and cleaning
books, and softening leather bindings.
62. Waterer, John W.
A Guide to the
Conservation and Restoration of Objects Made Wholly or in
Part of Leather
London, G. Bell & Sons, 2nd ed., 1973
Although this book does not deal
with the structural restoration of bindings and only briefly with the
application of potassium lactate and leather dressings, it will be found
useful for its information about the nature and properties of various
kinds of leather. Also valuable are the appendices which include details
of some of the products used in conservation and the addresses of the
63. Yusupova, M. V.
“Conservation and Softening of Leather in Book
3. no. 3 (1979), 91–100
To quote the summary: “The
author gives short information on structure, tanning and greasing of
leather, analyses the causes of leather ageing in book bindings, as well
as features of materials used for their conservation. The author proposes
new preservation lubricants made on the basis of mineral substances; shows
its advantage in comparison with earlier known materials. He gives the
methods of softening old dry leather using water, inert abrasive, and hard
Bernard C. Middleton
“Rebacking an Antiquarian Book”
“A Binder’s Exhibition”
“A Visit to Cockerell Marbled
Binder Vision No. 2
“Ageing New Work”
“Sewing on Tape and Cords”
“The ‘Master Pulp’ Leaf
“Conservation for Romania”
Binder Vision No. 3
Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BQ