Last month, I mentioned that I had been asked to repair a set of old books, and then I left everyone hanging, wondering what had become of them! Well, I finished them before the holidays, and now I'll finally tell you more about it.
It was a thirteen-volume set of Shakespeare's work, called the Handy Volume Shakespeare. The books were very small, thin paper, etc. As can be gleaned from a little online research, it seems there must have been many, many of these sets produced over a period of a few years around the turn of the century (although this edition was undated so I don't know exactly when it was printed). This particular set must have been very well used since the spines were badly cracked or missing, some band-aid repairs had been done in the past, and the covers were just disintegrating in my hands when I tried to work with them.
The main objective of this project was to make new covers for the books, and make the set functional once again.
As I said, there had been some attempts at repair and I found some of the covers stuck on with cellophane tape (gasp!), and there were a few loose pages that were taped as well.
I even found one page taped, and reinforced, with reinforcements!
It was an interesting adventure to poke through each little book. There were some random surprises, like little notes, a bit of ribbon, some other little inclusions, a bit of marginalia, etc.
After the covers were removed, I cleaned the gunk and old cover material off the spines. I used wheat paste to soften the old glue and cleaned them as well as I could.
As it turns out, the bindings were very much intact and I didn't have to resew any of them (thank goodness). This is how they looked after that messy spine cleaning part was finished.
Before I started working on the new covers, there were a few loose sheets that I had to tip in. A couple of those pages needed to have holes filled, like this one, where I added paper to the corner area before tipping it in.
So, surprisingly (or maybe not), making and attaching the new covers turned out to be the easiest part of this project. We decided to go with brown leather and paper spine labels, in an attempt at keeping their appearance in line with their age - and this is how they looked when I was done:
Additional photos that were taken for this project can be seen in an album on my Facebook page if you're interested: www.facebook.com