Recase of 5-volume set

Before treatment: spine lost, leather red-rotted on spine and corners.
During treatment: spines cleaned of original paper and textile linings.
During treatment: spines re-lined with new cambric, and boards attached before covering.
During treatment: cloth cut for each book before covering.
After treatment: new cases attached, with new spine labels.


Spine replacement on an early 19th century book

Dances of Death
  • Date: January 1, 2009
  • Conservator: Suzy Morgan
  • Call Number/Collection: Special Collections, Northwestern University Library
  • Author: Hans Holbein
  • Imprint: London, 1803
  • Title: Dances of Death
  • Dimensions (binding): 20.7 H x 16.4 W x 1.8 T (cm)
Before Treatment

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Front, spine view

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Back, spine view

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Front, fore-edge

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Back, fore-edge

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Detached front board

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Detached back board

After Treatment

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Front, spine view

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Back, spine view

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Front, fore-edge

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Back, fore-edge

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Reattached front board

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Reattached back board

Treatment Report


This is a case binding covered with a green bookcloth, with the title stamped in gold on the front board and spine. The textblock is a thick, machine-made pulpy white paper. The text has been printed with black printer’s ink and there is no type impression. There is a binder’s ticket that reads “Fogarty’s, Port Elizabeth” on the back pastedown.


Both boards are detached. The spine leather is missing except for small patch. The spine linings are split. There are 3 pieces of cellophane tape present on each board from a previous repair attempt. The board edges are abraded. The leather is skinned on the corners and in places on the boards.


(See sidebar for more images)

Before Treatment:
Before Treatment
Before Treatment

After Treatment:
Before Treatment
Before Treatment

  • Remove tape from boards.
  • Clean and re-line spine using an overhanging lining.
  • Dry-clean the textblock where necessary.
  • Rehinge on loose pages at front and back.
  • Remove leather from board edges and remake spine with a double-layer of moriki tissue.
  • Recase using overhanging spine lining.
  • Mask gap at inner hinges using a strip of thin tissue.
  1. The adhesive tape was removed from both boards using a combination of mechanical and solvent-assisted removal using ethanol.
  2. The spine was cleaned using a poultice of methyl cellulose.
  3. The loose front flyleaf and first 5 pages were reattached to the textblock with thin tissue hinges applied with wheat-starch paste.
  4. Two overhanging spine linings were adhered with wheat-starch paste.
  5. The decaying leather was removed mechanically from the spine-edge of both boards.
  6. The outermost spine lining was adhered ontop of the boards to reattach them to the textblock.
  7. A double-thickness of toned Moriki tissue was then used to replace the original spine leather. The turn-in tabs were slipped under the original paste-down.
  8. The inner tissue spine lining was then pasted onto the inside of the boards and under the edge of the original paste-downs, to hide the exposed board at the hinge. The paste-downs were then glued back down with wheat starch paste.
  9. The corners were built up with 20pt board and toned moriki tissue applied with a combination of PVA and wheat starch paste.
  10. The moriki tissue on the spine and corners was coated with a mixture of Klucel G and SC-6000 consolidant, then burnished with a bone folder.
  11. A plastic Colibri cover was placed on the book to protect the boards from further abrasion.

Parchment Book Treatment

Martini Opitti Deutscher Poematum

  • Date: July 2009
  • Conservator: Suzy Morgan
  • Call Number/Collection: SPEC 831.5 061d, Northwestern University Library, Special Collections
  • Author: Martin Opitz
  • Imprint: Breslau, 1637
  • Title: Martini Opitti Deutscher Poematum
  • Dimensions (binding): H 22.4 x W 14.7 x T 3 (cm)
  • Dimensions (text block): H 21.7 x W 13.5 x T 2.7 (cm)



This is a contemporary, full parchment binding with wooden boards laced on with 3
leather sewing supports and 2 parchment tapes. The endbands are made of blue and
white linen thread sewn over a core of binder’s waste (parchment), which is laced into the
boards. The spine has a moderate round and shallow sho ulder. There are no spine
linings except for the parchment tapes and leather sewing supports.

The textblock is comprised of handmade, laid paper that has been printed with a black
printer’s ink. There is a visible type impression. The front pastedown is adhered only
along the spine-edge of the board, where the parchment tapes extend onto the board.

There is a spine label at the head that reads “Opitz 1637” and a paper label at the tail
spine with the call number.


Both boards are split, with the front board completely split into two pieces. There is also
a loss in the front wood board, at the head along the split. There is a minor split at the
head on the back board. The parchment is scarred, torn and stained. There is a loss in the
parchment on the spine, at the head. There is a split in the parchment along the back
joint, halfway down the spine from the head. The parchment has shrunk vertically,
exposing the front board edge and the headband. The headband is loose and nearly
detached from where it was laced into the boards.

The textblock consolidation is in good condition. The edges of the textblock are sooty.
There are several tears within the textblock at the following pages:
9, 315, 347, 350, 351, 355, 395. The last page is detached (p 697) from the textblock.
The front pastedown is tattered along the edges.

The front board has detached from the textblock and the sewing supports are split at the
joint on the front board.

Before Treatment:

Before TreatmentBefore Treatment

After Treatment:

After TreatmentAfter treatment


  1. Remove and line pastedown (and reattach as flyleaf).
  2. Unwrap parchment from front fore-edge to mend split in wood.
  3. Lift tapes from front board to release case.
  4. Use Paraloid B-72 to consolidate wooden boards along split, and a mixture of sawdust and B-72 to reattach the two pieces to each other.
  5. Rebridge sewing supports and reattach case to textblock.
  6. Mend losses in the parchment along the spine.
  7. Mend tears in textblock.


  1. Removed the front paste-down mechanically and lined it with Tengujo tissue that had been pre-coated with methyl cellulose which was reactivated with damp blotters prior to lining.
  2. The headband was removed by unlacing it from the board.
  3. The lining paper beneath the parchment along the spine was repaired using thin tissue and wheat starch paste.
  4. The parchment turn-ins on the front board were humidified and opened so that half of the split front board could be removed. This was the half of the board along the fore-edge, as the other half could not be removed because it was still laced into the case and adhered to the lining paper.
  5. The loose board piece was consolidated along the edges with B-72 and then lined with MacGregor paper and gelatin. The paper extended past the split edge of the board and was cut into tabs. The loose piece was then reattached to the other half of the board using the paper tabs and gelatin. The loss in the front board at the head was then filled in with a putty of cellulose powder and gelatin, which was then toned to match using pastels.
  6. Rebridging the sewing supports was determined to be too invasive, so instead, 2 extra supports of Okasan tissue were applied to the spine with gelatin between the sewing supports at the head and tail. The case was then reattached by adhering these new supports onto the board, and reattaching the lifted parchment tapes with gelatin.
  7. The lined front paste-down and loose back page were hinged onto the textblock with gelatin.
  8. The split in the parchment along the joints and the split at the head turn-ins were repaired with colored Kozo tissue applied with gelatin.
  9. The loss in the parchment at the head was filled using two layers of colored Kozo tissue and gelatin.
  10. The headband was reattached to the parchment turn-ins using extensions of Kozo tissue and gelatin adhered to the original laces.
  11. The front paste-down was given a second lining of Kizukishi tissue applied with wheat-starch paste, as the first lining was deemed to be not durable enough when rubbing against the edge of the parchment turn-ins.
  12. The various tears throughout the textblock were mended with thin Japanese tissue applied with wheat starch paste.