This article is about corner repair on leather bound books and the refurbishment of leather bindings.
Leather bindings can dry out over time and become rubbed, especially at their hinges and corners. Small splits can start to appear at the tops or bottoms of the hinges. Also, the leather covering over the corners can become rubbed away with wear. Worn leather bindings can be brought back to a condition in which the wear no longer shows so badly. The causes of the wear can been addressed to the point where that process is halted.
Examples of rubbed leather bindings
These two ex-library volumes, grandly bound in half morocco with vellum sides arrived looking the worse for wear. The bindings were rubbed and the vellum sides dust-soiled and starting to detach. The leather covering at the tips of the corners was rubbed away. A small split starting at the top of one of the rear hinges. The damage was nowhere near bad enough to require a major repair. However, there were a number of minor problems that once addressed, would put the bindings back into a presentable state:
The vellum siding pieces were pasted back down onto the covers, removing any creases in the process. Small splits to the hinges are not always possible to repair on leather bindings. It depends on the specifics of the style of the binding. However, in this instance it was possible to repair the split at the top of one of the hinges. This was done by neatly inserting a small piece of matching leather to close the split.:
Leather corner repair
The customer was quite keen that these books were refurbished as completely as possible. At the tips of the corners, the original leather covering material had been rubbed away. The rubbed corners were rebuilt to ‘square’ by splicing in new sections of board. The remaining leather was lifted and new matching leather repair pieces were inserted to cover the rebuilt tips. The old leather was then pasted down again. The result was that the tips of the corners now looked aesthetically ‘correct’ again. The leather corner repair insured that the corners were once again fully covered with leather:
The leather covering material was treated to consolidate the rubbed areas. The leather was then re-coloured and finally, a preservative leather dressing was applied to the binding: