The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Padded Case Bible Restoration, Part 1

A customer was recently referred to me who needed restoration done on a family Bible. I told him I would take a look, but I don't have the equipment to do a complete rebind so I might have to refer him further.

The Bible in question is a padded case, faux-leather job from the 50s-early 60s. The cover was completely separated with two large secondary chips. The endpapers are made of vinyl and printed with biblical scenes. They can't be separated from the boards without destroying both. I told him I would attempt to reattach the cover and if it didn't take he would be in pretty much the some situation with the Bible requiring a full rebind.

I lived with the book for a few days not sure how to start. It weighs 7-8 pounds and just reattaching the free endpaper to the text block and closing up the split wouldn't make for a strong enough repair.

I finally had a 4am "Eureka!" moment.

I cut 3 thin strips of Tyvek (the tearproof fibrous material used for priority mail envelopes) and, using binders adhesive, I made small pockets on the ends where I could insert my microspatula. Then I coated bottom couple of inches with more adhesive and pushed the tyvek down into narrow slits that I had made in the hollow tube behind the spine.

Now I had three tails that I could use to anchor the cover. So I applied more adhesive, carefully aligned the sections, and inserted the free tabs between the split layers of the cover, adherring them to the board.

This makes for a very strong repair. I'm not sure of the archival properties of tyvek, but--to be honest--not much about this particular Bible was built to last, so I couldn't do any harm.

The next step is to carefully "knit" the split back together, disguising it as much as possible. Here's the start:

Once it's closed there will still be some unsightly missing chips/flakes, so I ordered an assortment of leathers dyes to color the exposed seam.

But that's for Part 2.


jgodsey said...

congratulations, i would have sent it back. I loathe yapped bibles, they have the most impractical bindings EVER invented. they aren't really designed to be used, they look good for a little while after you buy them. the worst part is when the overlap ALSO cracks and falls off. it makes you want to bang your head on the workbench.

Anonymous said...

Great job! That was a very creative solution to a tricky problem. And don't worry about the archival quality of the tyvek. Since that stuff is made out of polyester, it tends to be chemically neutral and shouldn't cause a problem. We usually use it to make pockets to house old, cracker-brittle materials because it's water proof, neutral, and relatively frictionless. What kind of adhesive did you use?

William Smith said...

Thanks! I was pretty happy with it. I used PVA.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by the last step in which you "knitted" the cover? I have a book with a similar predicament and I am hoping to do something similar.

William Smith said...

Just that I matched up the edges of the tear as closely as possible before pasting them back together. "Knitted" isn't a great descriptive term I guess