New_Logo.jpg (114453 bytes) Bible & Book Repair Examples

My philosophy as a bookbinder is to change as little as possible the appearance of an old book as I attend to the repair of it .  Unlike other bookbinders or commercial binderies where it is regular practice to just remove the old casing (covers, book covering material and spine), trim the uneven textblock pages in a guillotine cutter (which may also remove handwritten notes on the margins, especially in Bibles), and simply recase the textblock in a new modern book cloth, I treat each book differently in view of the repairs needed.  An old treasured book should look like an old treasured book.

Therefore, the book’s edges will not be trimmed, nor will the original boards be replace unless they are damaged beyond repair. If new cover material is needed, effort will be made to reglue the spine title/design on the new material. Special requests will be honored.

I received an unsolicted thank you note from Judy (below).

As you can see in the picture at the right, the glue has
cracked and separated from the spine.

I trimmed the text box spine edge in a guillotine cutter and
re-glued the spine with PUR (Polyurethane Reactive) glue.  PUR is the same glue used for telephone books and has outstanding adhesive qualities. July decided to "upgrade" her Bible with a beautiful full-grained goatskin leather cover and added three new ribbons.

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"Thank you again for your wonderful work done on the binding of my Bible.  I thought I might have to send it away
in the mail and in the process, gets loss, or just have lots of problems, or it would sit in pieces and I would fumble along with it.
"But no - I came across Steve's Bookbinding. Not only is my Bible better than it ever was - it all happened so fast!  This has meant so much to me.
"Thanks. God bless you and I hope to send a few more
things your way.  I certainly would recommend your
beautiful work."
                                                                  Judy C.

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Swedish Bible 1729

This Bible was printed in Stockholm in 1729 and has been passed on eight generations in one family. The spine and signatures were tight and in fine condition with the front endpapers missing and the front cover separated. Two prior attempts were made to reattach the cover: A waxed thread sewing through the spine leather and the cover leather, then a black cloth tape glued to spine and cover. You can see the tape separating from the spine in the photo below.

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With antiquarian Bibles such as this one, it is best not to change the appearances when restoring the binding.
The lose tape on the spine was removed; however, no attempt was made to remove the tape on the cover as it was firmly attached to the leather. The leather on the cover and spine was carefully separated from the boards about a half inch from the edges, then a piece of complimentary colored book cloth (Iris Chocolate #838) was inserted between the boards and leather on both spine and cover and PVA glue was carefully injected with a hypodermic needle on both sides of the book cloth. The book was clamped together for the glue to try. Unbleached Mulberry paper was used for new endpapers as it is non-acidic; the endpaper was glued in quarter inch along the hinge so the original cover endpaper with notations of family lineage can be read.



Novel, 1912

This popular novel published in 1912 has special sentimental value to the customer. Both front and back covers were loose, the spine glue was brittle and mostly missing and the spine book material was threadbare and almost detached.

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Photograph Album, cir. 1890's

This old "cardboard" photograph album from the 1890's was disjointed at the front and back hinges; some of the thin board strips were separating from the brown cotton tape, while other strips were missing.

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Bible with extended overlay leather, 1945

This family Bible exemplifies a popular binding used on Bibles from the 1940's to the 1970's in which the thin skiver leather covering extended about a half inch beyond the textblock. While very attractive, the leather tends to wear out quickly from handling and if it was stood in an upright position on a bookshelf, the bottom also wears out quickly (this type of binding is best preserved if the Bible lies flat on the shelf or table).  In the example below, you can see the disintegration of the leather on the fore-edge and on the bottom.

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Collected Letters of John S. Pillsbury, 1914

This beautifully hand-bound book was brought in for repairs by Mr. George S. Pillsbury.  The front cover and front  endpapers were separated from the text block; the gold leaf lettering on the title page was "bleeding" through the preceding page.  The front cover was reattached to the text block with cambric fabric and PVA glue; a sheet of acid free Mulberry paper was inserted before the title page to absorb the acidity of the gold leaf.

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For a detailed photo process of a typical book repair, click here.
(Please allow about 4 minutes to download if you are
on a modem - a number of photos are included!


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Steve has been doing hand bookbinding since 1964.
Contact Steve

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