what happens to a book when it goes to the conservator?

Each volume in the collection is made from slightly different materials, depending on its age. And, whether or not it has been read many times, or not at all, will affect its condition. Below are a few examples of books recently conserved with help from small grants and kind donors.


Autograph book from Battenhall VAD Hospital

Work carried out:

  • Clean text-block, remove self-adhesive tape repair and residual adhesive (staining caused by tape will remain).

  • Lift paste-downs, carry out minor repairs to text-block, repair endleaves and guard.

  • Re-sew text-block and line spine.

  • Prepare leather for covering and make case.

  • Attach case to text-block, paste endpapers down.


Worcester Lunatic Asylum Regulations, 1888

Work carried out:

  • The book pages were cleaned with smoke sponge and brush, the remains of original sewing were removed and the text-block was taken apart.

  • Residual animal glue was removed from spine folds of outer leaves and separated double leaves were guarded together with RK-15 Japanese paper.

  • The outer leaves were missing and narrow Japanese paper guards were attached to their counterparts forming a hook around the quire for sewing.

  • The text-block was sewn on two cotton tapes and spine was lined with RK-17 Japanese paper.

  • The spine of the case was repaired with acrylic dyed aerolinen inserted underneath the original bookcloth.

  • The case and text-block were re-assembled by adhering the sewing tape and paper linings underneath the original yellow paste-downs.


Operations Case Book, 1870

Work carried out:

  • Text-block cleaned using latex smoke sponge as necessary.

  • Broken paper joints repaired using RK-17 tissue toned using a mixture of acrylic paints and 2% methylcellulose solution. Adhered using Shofu paste.

  • Damaged leather joints repaired with RK-17 tissue toned using a mixture of acrylic paints and 2% methlcellulose solution. Adhered using EVA adhesive.

  • SC6000 acrylic polymer leather treatment applied to toned RK-17 tissue along leather joints.


Pharmacopeia, 1836


Work carried out:

  • Dry cleaned using smoke sponge as necessary.

  • Paper spine removed as possible.

  • Text-block spine lined with RK-17 tissue and Archival Rag Endleaf 120gsm -adhered with Shofu paste.

  • Replacement end-paper from Archival Rag Endleaf  80gsm.

  • Replacement cover formed from Mediaeval Dark Toned Laid paper 90gsm toned to match original cover using Acrylic paints and 2% MethylCellulose solution.

  • Replacement cover tipped-on to text-block under lower end-paper and adhered across spine – EVA.

  • Replacement cover adhered to 'waste sheet' of upper end-paper.

  • Remants of priginal spine adhered across replacement – Shofu paste.

  • SC6000 acrylic polymer leather wax applied to replacement cover and original spine.


Elementary Physics for Nurses, 1939

Work carried out:

  • Remaining spine cloth lifted.  Linings removed from cloth fragment and text-block spine using 10% Sodium Carboxy Methyl Cellulose poultice.

  • New spine lining to text-block of double layer of 120gsm Archival Rag Endleaf.

  • Replacement spine of aero linen toned using acrylic paints amd methyl cellulose to match original spine colour.

  • Replacement spine adhered under original cloth on boards using EVA adhesive.  New spine lining of Heritgae Archival pHotokraft 230gsm.  Original cloth re-adhered.

  • Replacement aero linen toned to match origonal cloth in areas of loss at corners – Shofu paste.

  • Lifting paste-downs and pages re-adhered using Shofu paste.


Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, 1834 (revision)

Work carried out:

  • Leather surface consolidated using 3% Klucel-G in IMS solution.

  • Lose upper sections re-attached using hinged RK-17 Japanese tissue and Shofu paste.

  • RK-17 tissue strip across end-papers along inner joint.

  • RK-17 tissue toned using acrylic paints and 2%  Methyl Cellulose solution to match original leather colour. 

  • Boards re-attached using toned RK-17 tissue and EVA; turned-in at head and tail.

  • Toned tissue adhered under corner leather in areas of loss; corners re-formed – EVA.

  • Damaged edges of 'The Heart' diagram repaired using RK-2 Japanese tissue and Shofu paste.  Re-attached at appropriate location using hinged strip of RK-17 tissue and Shofu paste.

  • SC6000 acrylic polymer wax applied to toned tissue along outer joints.