Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott

This is a ticklish bit of repair on an antique book. The covers are detached entirely but the spine is still firmly in place. Along with the end papers, some of the first loose pages are attached to the covers instead of the text block. My goal is to repair the spine and reattach the covers and papers with as little intrusion as possible to preserve the originality of the book. The volume is made more desirable by an original fore edge painting of a coastal village scene, presumably Scottish.

The book in it’s original state:

The first four were taken by the person I bought the book from, the last six in my work room.

July 11 2014

I managed to lift the edges of the endpapers from the boards at the spine edge but there was no removing the spine from the text block. The leather was old and thin and fragile and the glue was extraordinarily strong. One of the problems, I think, is that the leather was so very thin and the spine made without hinges that simply reading the book tore the covers off.

Ok, I reworked the spine so that the leather is not directly glued to the signatures as I find this style of binding is less durable than the separated spine. For the spine I used kangaroo leather- it’s reputed to be quite strong as well as very thin. For the mull I wanted something also super strong but very thin so I used silk organza and made headbands out of two bit of the selvage.

I set up the partial case with rice paste and tucked the edges into the covers then set the signatures onto the case and carefully tucked the mull (wetted with paste) under the covers with a micro spatula. Tricky business but I did manage it at last.

Due to the smallness of the volume, I’m not going to even attempt to title the spine. If I had a real gilding set up with 10pt or even 8pt type in Times New Roman, I might attempt it but there’s no way I can make letters that small with the Hot Mark.

I’m also looking forward to reading this- it’s one of Scott’s lesser known works and I’ve never read it. Until now, this volume was much to fragile to read!


Back- there’s a visible lump where the leather is tucked under. I must not have scraped this side quite as thin.

New Spine

Fore edge painting undisturbed

1 Response to Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott

  1. Pingback: Day 1344 Evening « The Virtual Wren

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