There are some texts that get used in Special Collections all the time, and "The Historie of Fovre-Footed Beastes" is one such book. It is filled with fantastic illustrations of animals from far and wide, often drawn from written description, which results in a very literal translation of the rendering. Therefore the rhinoceros has truly a coat of armor and the fleeting unicorn is in full view.
The book needed conservation work because the board attachment had become weak and the boards were no longer attached to the text block. The condition of the boards was poor with compromised corners and overall weak inner strength, so the decision was to rebind. Because of the larger size of the book and the knowledge that it receives heavy use, I chose to rebind using a split board construction.
The frontispiece was weak from wear, the paper soft like a paper towel and solid. I surface cleaned and then sized it with a weak solution of methyl cellulose. I have done this on a few occasions and have been very satisfied with the resulting reconditioned\resized page.
Next I attached extended linen tabs, did a base sewing then sewed on a split board style endsheet. To make a split board endsheet, I tip down a cloth hinge to a folio with the pretty side of the cloth glued.
Place the hinged folio inside another folio. This is the endsheet which will be sewn through the inner folio when sewing to the text block.
I placed an inner Japanese paper hinge on the text block before sewing the endsheet, and after the endsheet is sewn on I tip it to the paper hinge. The endsheet is kept larger so that I can trim it to size after it is firmly attached to the text block. Here I have placed a strip of release paper to prohibit the hinge from sticking to itself while drying.
Weighing down the endsheet after being attached to the inner tissue hinge:
Trimming the endsheets to size:
After the endsheet is trimmed the linen tabs get glued down to the outside folio. Then the front edge of the outside folio gets glued back onto itself up to the base of the joint.
This laminate of the two layers of paper with the linen tabs in between gets trimmed back to about 2 inches, resulting in a flange that will be inserted into the split board. The exposed cloth hinge will be glued down to the inside of the board after they are attached. The area at the head and tail is cut back to accommodate the turn-ins of the spine covering material.
The split board is made of a laminate of binders board and 10point folder stock. An area of about 2 inches is left unglued to allow for the insertion of the flange. This is all glued up so that the boards are firmly attached. I allow for a French groove so that the board clears the shoulder when opening.
I’ve chosen a colored linen cloth to cover the spine. Instead of sewing on new endbands I have placed a filler cord inside of the head and tail turn-ins. The spine gets tied up so the cloth remains adhered around the cords. After drying, the sides are covered, the inner cloth hinge gets glued to the inside board and then I attach the doublures.
I have salvaged the title from the old spine and mount it to the new binding:
Now the Beasty Book is ready for many consultations.
Written by Deborah Howe