The Dibner Library received a newly transferred collection of Deutsche Farber-Zeitung, a 19th century periodical on textile dying that includes color samples on wool, cotton, and silk. A summer intern discovered insect carcasses within the gutters of some while organizing, so they were sent to the Libraries’ Book Conservation lab for freezing.
A few were in poor shape, missing their boards and leather spine coverings. After freezing, a decision was necessary regarding their return to the Dibner for reshelving. Creating boxes was my first thought, however, the leaves are so brittle that I was afraid of damage to them if handled without further protection (above).
An initial step was creating new boards, attaching them to the textblock using toned aero linen placed over a hollow-back spine. I chose to take it a step further by creating a kind of papier-mâché spine covering for these books in order to be visibly consistent with the remaining collection. I decided to use a variation on the molded japanese paper spine developed by conservator Andrew Honey.
Since the former spine coverings used false raised bands, I re-created these with sewing cords fitted in a template for each book. The toned aero-linen linen and cords were covered with plastic wrap to protect from moisture and adhesive during the process (above).
Over the plastic film, several layers of mid-weight japanese paper covered the panels, alternated by those covering the cords using a mixture of wheat starch paste and methyl cellulose thinned in deionized water (above).
—Vanessa Haight Smith (and photos)