The sacred art of rebacking

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The sacred art of rebacking

Postby amoxpixqui » Sat Apr 30, 2016 9:07 am

Dear all,

every now and then a "patient" with a classical damage finds its way onto my workbench: 19th or early 20th century book with Victorian binding (meaning colourful, embossed covers and spine), book block in more or less good condition, front and back cover more or less all right, but the spine has fallen off completely or the hinge was torn on one side.

If it is mass production, with rusted staples (I found that many British and German publishers of that time stapled the signatures onto the bands instead of sewing them - guess it was cheaper in mass production) and dryed-out, crumbling paste, there is no way around rebinding, and in those cases I usually manage to convince the owner I should give the book new clothing.

However, in some cases, I am being asked to restore the spine under all circumstances. I've been trying to figure out a good way to do so myself, but it is a difficult tast and bookbinding literature does not deal a lot with the question of rebacking.

Does anyone have experience, hints, or reference to share on rebacking?

Many thanks in advance

Uwe
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Re: The sacred art of rebacking

Postby Jackie Poutasse » Mon May 16, 2016 6:17 am

Hi Uwe,

Most books on bookbinding describe re backing old leather books but it is easy to do it with cloth books as well.

You want to treat it like a half binding but instead of putting leather on the spine you'll use cloth.

The first thing to do is try to save the original spine if possible. You can clean and trim it and apply it over the new cloth at the end.

Carefully remove the covers and separate the block. I like to clean all the old paper off the block spine and give it a fresh coat of glue and add new endpapers.

You'll want to trim the cover cloth close to the edge boards then carefully peel back the cloth on the front of each board about 3/4" or so. You'll have to cut a slit on the edge at top and bottom to do this. A thin little spatula helps with this.

Try to find a cotton or linen cloth with a color as similar to the color of the original cloth as possible. If using cloth from a fabric store you'll need to prepare it with paper before using. Cut a piece the width of the spine plus at least 1"

How do you do your spines on cloth books? With a tube or card? Either way will work fine here. Prepare and apply your spine as you would a half binding tucking the new cloth under the peeled up cloth on the cover boards. Tuck a piece of wax paper between the cover cloth and glued new spine cloth and put under weight to dry. (you don't want to glue down the cover cloth until after the spine has been attached and everything looks good) Also I wrap the block in wax paper to use as a form for the spine as it dries.

If everything looks good you can glue the cover cloth down then attach the end papers. If you've saved the old spine piece you can carefully glue it on as well.

My instructions assume you have knowledge of half binding.

Let me know if you have any questions. I may also be able to take a photo or two if you need them.

I hope this helps.

Jackie
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Re: The sacred art of rebacking

Postby amoxpixqui » Mon May 16, 2016 10:43 am

Dear Jackie!
Jackie wrote:Most books on bookbinding describe re backing old leather books but it is easy to do it with cloth books as well.

I already had a feedling that anglophone literature on bookbinding is much more pragmatic on questions of every-day problems than German-speaking, meaning: it deals with them, while the later doesn't. Though there are many good German titles (and many of them on my bookshelf), they give you a very good introduction into bookbinding work from the scratch, but they do not cover repair work (or I might have missed THE one).
When looking for an English-speaking title, is there any one you would recommend in particular?
Jackie wrote:You want to treat it like a half binding but instead of putting leather on the spine you'll use cloth. My instructions assume you have knowledge of half binding.

Indeed I do :P, I got the point.
Jackie wrote:The first thing to do is ... If you've saved the old spine piece you can carefully glue it on as well.

Very good description, Jackie, thanks a lot, I think I understand how you do it. The difficult part, I guess, is finding a piece of cloth that looks like the one that has been used with the original binding.
Quite often I have to deal with a full-paper covering, which I would deal with, deriving from your description, about the same way, just with paper instead of cloth - hell, even more difficult to find the right colour! :cry:
Jackie wrote:How do you do your spines on cloth books? With a tube or card?

Hm, I'm not sure if I get that right - I usually do bindings the classical German case way. What would be a "tube" then? I'm using craft paper tubes (we call it "Huelse", which means sth. like "jacket" or "sleeve") to stabilize the structure when casing in very heavy book blocks, but I usually have a piece of cardboard as a spine part of the cover, which is connected to the rear side of the block by the craft paper tube. My feeling is that you mean something different.

Again, thanks a lot for the explanation.

Uwe
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Re: The sacred art of rebacking

Postby Jackie Poutasse » Mon May 16, 2016 12:42 pm

Uwe,

As far as finding the right color. take your covers to a sewing/fabric store and match as close as possible to what they have. Usually fabric stores have lots of variation on each color. You may not get exact but you'll get close.

The spine can be done in any variation that suits you/works with the binding.

Good luck and please share photos of your finished repair.

Jackie
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Re: The sacred art of rebacking

Postby amoxpixqui » Mon May 16, 2016 3:23 pm

@Jackie: thanks a lot for your feedback!

@All: just found some nicely made videos on rebacking provided by the Syracuse University Library Conservation Department on Youtube that you might be interested in:

Full reback (spine repair)

"Glued" cloth reback (spine repair)

Taped reback (spine repair)
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