This article is about resewing a broken text block, leather book restoration and corner repair.
This 18th century copy of Boyer’s English-French Dictionary was once owned by a direct ancestor of it’s current owner. The book arrived with the text block split into 5 sections. The spine was pretty much worn away and both covers were heavily rubbed and detached. Normally, I’d advise that a book in this condition was beyond viable restoration and would recommend that it be rebound. However, the owner was adamant that they wanted the book restored, so I commenced work. These photos taken by the owner, show the condition that the book arrived in:
Re-sewing the text block
I first removed the remains of the original spine. Next, I prepared the sections of text block with reinforcements that would be invisible once the book was back in one piece. I then re-sewed the sections together into one text block and lined the spine.
The book restoration process
The heavily worn corners of the covers were then rebuilt to square using new board laminated to the older material. They were then re-covered in leather to match the original calf skin binding. Following that, the covers were re-attached to the text block. New headbands were sewn and the book was then rebacked, creating a new leather spine. With the addition of a new spine label, the spine was then tooled in gold in a contemporary style. The inside hinges of the endpapers were repaired with matching contemporary paper to complete the work. Finally, a preservative leather dressing was applied to the whole binding.
This was a long job, but it was very satisfying to bring this volume back from the brink. Before returning the book, I took these photos which illustrate a good example of a leather book restoration: