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Title: Book Repair and Restoration
Author: Buck, Mitchell
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_Only a thousand copies
of this book are printed
and type distributed._




  _Including some Translated Selections_
  Essai sur l'art de Restaurer les Estampes et les Livres,
  par A. Bonnardot, Paris 1858


  Author of "Syrinx," "Ephemera," "The Songs of Phryne,"
  Translator of "Lucian's Dialogues of the Hetaerai," etc.

  Philadelphia     NICHOLAS L. BROWN     MCMXVIII


  _Printed July 1918_


_The following chapters contain suggestions partly gathered from the
experience of others and partly evolved for myself in caring for my own
books. Although many "books about books" have already been written, there
is still, I think, a place for this one. I have designed it especially for
the bibliophile who enjoys "fussing" over his books and who receives, in
seeing them in good condition and repair through his own efforts, an echo
of the pleasure he receives from reading them._

_In translating from Bonnardot, I have taken the liberty of abridging or
paraphrasing, at times, the chapters which I have included here, not only
to confine the subjects a little more closely but also to present his
essential suggestions as concisely as possible. His book, copies of which
are very scarce, was first issued in an edition of four hundred copies in
1846 and re-issued, with revisions, in 1858. It has not since been
reprinted nor, so far as I have been able to learn, has it been translated
into English, either wholly or in part._


  FOREWORD: Page 7

  _Chapter I_

  _Chapter II_

  _Chapter III_
  REBACKING: Page 39

  _Chapter IV_

  _Chapter V_
  REBINDING: Page 77

  _Chapter VI_

  _Chapter VII_
  BOOK BUYING: Page 99

  _Chapter VIII_

  INDEX: Page 123











FOLDER: Page 47

IRON: Page 48









To consider first a few simple processes of ordinary restoration, let us
assume that a rare book in its original cloth or boards, in a more or less
damaged condition but not to the point of necessitating rebinding, has
just been received.

The first operation required is to carefully clean off the binding with a
soft cloth, wipe off the end papers, which often have a coating of dust,
especially when the covers do not fit closely, and, if the top is gilt,
wipe that carefully also. An "uncut" top is freed from dust by brushing
with a soft brush.

The book is then collated to make sure that every page is in place and, if
there are plates, that no plate is missing. This operation, it is perhaps
needless to say, should by all means be done before purchasing, unless the
book comes from a reliable dealer to whom an imperfect copy could be
returned. If, in collating an old book, the amateur discovers that page
173 follows immediately after page 136, he need not necessarily be
alarmed, as mistakes in pagination and even in the numbering of signatures
are very common in books printed a century or more ago. In such cases, the
"catch words" which generally appear at the bottom of the pages, or else
the text itself, should be examined to see whether the page, without
regard for its number, is really in its proper place or not. Each page is
then examined for dirt or finger marks, which can almost always be
removed, the quality of the paper permitting, with a soft pencil-eraser or
bread crumbs.

Marginal notes, especially in contemporary hands, are much better left
alone; they are often of considerable value and, when neatly and not
excessively done, rather add to the interest of the volume without
detracting from its value to any great extent. On which subject Bonnardot
has quite a little to say, in the chapter on _Stains_ included in this

Presentation inscriptions in the autograph of the author or of some one
intimately connected with him of course greatly increase the interest and
value of the book. Names written on title-pages can often be effaced by
the process elsewhere described, but these should not be disturbed until
they have been thoroughly investigated. A name which at the moment seems
totally unfamiliar may sometimes be found of special interest inscribed in
the particular volume in which it is found. As an ordinary illustration of
this, might be mentioned a copy of Edwin Arnold's "Gulistan" bearing on
the half-title the inscription "To dear Mrs. Stone from Tama." This author
had, at one time, married a Japanese girl, and a little investigation
revealed that her name was Tama KuroKawa. Her inscription, of course,
remains undisturbed, as it adds a distinctly personal note to the volume.
But alas! the John Diddles and William Bubbles who have for centuries
scribbled their odious names over fair title-pages, with never the grace
to make themselves immortal and their autographs a find!

Writing in the year 1345, Richard de Bury remarks, "When defects are found
in books, they should be repaired at once. Nothing develops more rapidly
than a tear, and one which is neglected at the moment must later be
repaired with usury." Bearing in mind these words of wisdom while
examining each page of the book, pencil notes should be made on a slip of
paper of any pages needing repairs, also of any places between the
signatures where the back is "shaken" exposing the stitching and lining.

Checking off from this list, advisable repairs should then be made. The
edges of any tears should be neatly joined with paste. To do this, a clean
sheet of white paper should be placed under the torn part and the edges of
the tear lightly coated with ordinary white paste. These edges are then
pressed together by means of another sheet of white paper pressed above,
both the upper and under sheets being gently moved several times to
prevent them from sticking to the torn edges. Paste used in this way dries
in a few minutes and holds firmly if the edges of the tear are a bit
rough. If the page is separated by a clean cut, it may be necessary to
apply a strip of thin tissue to hold the edges together. The same general
method may be used for inlaying pieces torn from the margins, perhaps by
the careless use of a paper cutter in the hands of the original owner.
Paper of the same weight and tint as the torn page is secured, placed
under the lacuna, and the outlines of the missing part traced off with a
sharp pencil. The piece to be inlaid is then cut, following the traced
outline but leaving a little margin, and pasted in position, the outer
edge being cut even with the general edge of the leaf when the inlay is

White paper for inlaying may be tinted with water-colors to match the old
paper. The best method, however, of imitating the yellowish tone of old
paper is to stain the inlay with potassium permanganate. This is a dark
purple crystal which is used in extremely weak solution in warm water. If
a sheet of paper is to be tinted for inlaying or to replace, perhaps, a
missing fly-leaf, it is laid in the solution for a few seconds, then
removed and the excess purple tone thoroughly washed off under running
water. The paper will then be found tinted a pale, yellowish brown, the
tone of which may be varied by the strength of the solution and the length
of time the paper remains in it. Coffee, licorice or tobacco may also be
used, with good results.

The pages all in order and repair, the next operation is to repair the
"shaken" back. Perhaps there is no ill to which old books, especially
modern issues in their original bindings, are more subject. The damage
known as "broken" back usually means a book practically broken in half,
the break, in old calf bindings, usually extending through to the outside
of the back. The "shaken" back on the contrary, has merely separated
between the signatures, exposing, between the inside sheets, the lining of
the back. Cheaply bound books seldom remain solid between the signatures,
especially when they are printed on heavy, unyielding paper. The damage
arises partly from the drying out of the glue in the back and partly from
careless handling by readers. Books should always be opened gently and
never forced open to absolutely flatten out the pages unless the binding
is known to be entirely safe and firm.

The breaks between signatures are repaired and the old glue at these
points softened by means of bookbinders' paste. For this, a solid,
satisfactory and fairly elastic substitute can be made by mixing about
equal parts of good liquid glue and ordinary white library paste of the
kind which comes in tubes. With a long pin, slightly bent on the point,
this mixture is laid in the open crack between the signatures, care being
taken to distribute it evenly the whole length of the book and to
thoroughly cover the exposed inside of the back lining. An excess of paste
must be avoided, as it would spread out on the inside margins of the
leaves when the book is closed to dry. When all the broken places are
mended, the book is closed and placed under a slight pressure for a few

Where the book is bound with a "spring back," that is to say, with a back
which springs apart when the book is opened, leaving a space between the
outside back and the actual back of the signatures where they are
stitched, a further strengthening of the back may be desirable. This
strengthening can be obtained by "lining up" the inside back with a new
strip of paper.

To do this, cut a strip of medium weight Japan vellum--which is the best
paper for the purpose--a few inches more than twice the height of the book
and in width equal to the inside back. One end of this, with the corners
clipped so it will not catch, is inserted between the outside and inside
backs of the book and slipped through until it projects about an inch at
the bottom of the book. (Fig. A.) The part of the strip left exposed at
the top is then well coated on the inside face with the paste mentioned
above and pulled into the book, against the inside back or lining, by
means of the end projecting at the bottom. The surplus of the strip at top
and bottom is then cut off, two short slips of paper temporarily inserted
at top and bottom to prevent the new lining adhering to the outside back,
and a firm hand pressure applied all over the back to force the new lining
into close union with the old on the backs of the signatures. The book is
then set aside to dry, under a light pressure, after which the two slips
of paper inserted at top and bottom are pulled out.

[Illustration: Fig. A]

Any slight necessary exterior repairs should then be made--loose bits of
cloth or paper at worn corners or along the edges of the boards pasted
down, and any tears at the top of back above the head-band reenforced from
the inside with strips of cloth or paper.

The outside of a soiled cloth binding often may be cleaned by means of a
soft pencil-eraser. If this is done, the cloth should afterward be
freshened by a thin coat of sizing.

If these operations are carefully and thoroughly carried out, the book
should then be in a solid and satisfactory condition and capable of
standing any reasonable amount of wear.




[Illustration: VELLUM BINDINGS

(1674 AND 1878)]

Before discussing the means of attacking stains which may blemish a book
or a precious print, I am going to say that, in certain cases, it might be
very desirable to allow them to remain. If I possessed, for example, a
missive addressed to Charles IX during the night of Saint Bartholomew, and
stained with bloody finger-prints, I would take great care not to disturb
these marks which, supposing their authenticity established, would
increase tenfold the value of the autograph. If the custodian of the
Laurentian Library at Florence should efface, from his Longus manuscript,
Paul Louis Courier's puddle of ink, he would commit an act of vandalism,
for that ink stain is a literary celebrity.[2]

To speak of more ordinary examples: one often finds on a book or print, a
signature or inscription which may sometimes be an autograph well worth
preservation.[3] I very rarely efface signatures or the notes of early,
unknown owners; I find it pleasanter to respect these souvenirs of the
past. In the same way, some curious objects have certain defects which, I
think, add to their interest. For example, a statuette of the Virgin, in
silver or ivory, of which the features and hands are half effaced by the
frequent contact of pious lips. Restore such worn parts, and the sentiment
is stripped from a relic of past ages. It is far better to leave untouched
such scars, which attest the antique piety of the cloister. A vellum Book
of Hours of the Fifteenth Century, worn and soiled through prayer, has, to
my mind, acquired a venerable patina. Here, a spot of yellow wax; there,
the head of a saint blemished by the star-print from a tear of devotion:
are not these stains which should be respected? On the other hand, a blot
of ink or an oily smear point only to carelessness and should be removed.

About the year 1846, I was invited by M. A. Farrens, a skilful restorer of
old books, to see in his work-shop a Dance Macabre in quarto, imprinted on
paper, at Paris, toward the end of the Fifteenth Century; a rare volume
which he was restoring for M. Techner.

The portions already cleaned and restored, compared with those still
untouched, excited my admiration. The numerous worm holes, the torn
places, had disappeared through an application of paper-paste, so well
joined, so well blended in the mass, that I could hardly detect the
boundaries of the restorations. The letters and wood-cuts suffering from
lacunae had been reformed with great skill on a new foundation. The soiled
surfaces of the pages had entirely disappeared before I know not what
scraping or chemical action. In a word, M. Farrens was putting into use
every secret of restoration to give again to this volume its original

Ah well! today, I confess, that if I possessed this book in the
dilapidated state in which I saw it, I would leave it just as it stood,
and limit myself to the indispensable repair of a new and solid binding.
Its worn and soiled condition came, very probably, from the frequent and
pious turning of its pages, in that monachal perseverance of prayer of
which our century knows nothing. Its shocking and decrepit condition had,
to my eyes, a secret in harmony with all books of the kind, which, from
each page, recall to us our insignificance.

No doubt many amateurs will not agree with me in this; some, perhaps, will
declare I have arrived at a monstrous degree of cynicism for a
bibliophile. However, I will supply the means of restoring at least a part
of their original freshness to books and old prints badly treated by time
or by the indifference of their earlier possessors.

When a print is soiled with spots or foreign color, especially in the most
interesting places, one can hardly lay it away in a portfolio without
making some attempt to remove or reduce the strange tints which appear on
it. This is the part of my present work most difficult to discuss, while
being the most useful. My simple notions of chemistry are not always
sufficient and perhaps, some day, some chemist especially trained in
analysis and decomposition may, with advantage, rewrite this portion of my
work. I will at least record, however, a large number of satisfactory
results which I have obtained and even repeated on fragments of proofs on
unsized paper, this last being the most unfavorable of all conditions.[4]

The first difficulty comes when the nature of the spot is not easily
recognized. This yellow spot which resists both washing and bleaching, may
perhaps be formed by some greasy body or by some metallic oxide, and one
must proceed carefully on any hypothesis which may be formed. In such
cases, where experiments must be tried, it is necessary to know some
chemical substance which can be first applied, to the end that, if the
spot persists, the chemicals used in attempting its removal will not, at
least, render it impervious to further efforts. It is not possible to set
positive rules for this. I have tried indifferently the action of an acid
before that of an alkali, and vice versa. Only, I have been careful,
before renewing any experiments to soak the print for several hours in
cold water to stop the action of any chemicals already used and to annul
their traces and effects.

The first attempt to make upon a spot of unknown origin, is to soak the
print for several hours in cold water and then rub the spot gently with a
finger or a small brush. It sometimes happens, especially when the paper
has been well made and well sized, that the spot will yield to this gentle
rubbing, slide off and disappear. When the spot becomes thick and pasty,
it is at least weakened even if it does not come off. This is, in any
case, a necessary first operation. But it should be carried out with care,
in order not to injure the surface of the print. Before soaking a print in
water or chemicals, it is best to clip a few small shreds from the margin
and soak these in a small glass test-tube to note the effect.[5]

It sometimes happens that there appears on a page or print a single spot
which it is desirable to remove without going to the trouble and risk of
soaking the whole sheet. A spot on the corner offers few obstacles; the
part is simply dipped in a vessel containing the proper solution. If the
spot is in the middle of the sheet, I usually make use of a shallow
porcelain cup having sides slanted in toward the centre, such as is used
for water-colors. By means of such a cup, any part of a sheet can be
brought into contact with the solution. The chemical may also be applied
directly to the spot by means of a small brush.

M. de Fontelle advises the use of blotting paper from which a hole, a
little larger than the spot, has been cut. This is placed over the spot
and the chemical liquid dropped in. The blotter around the spot will
absorb the excess liquid without offering any obstacle to the operation.

In operations upon single spots, the action of the chemicals always
extends a little beyond the spot itself and often leaves a bleached line
which is in disagreeable contrast with the other parts of the sheet. This
may be retinted with dark licorice or some suitable color in more or less
concentrated solution, mixed sometimes with a little common ink. This is
applied with a small brush, care being taken not to overlap the solution
on the unbleached portion of the sheet beyond the bleached line.[6]


GREASE. Grease spots, especially when very recent, can sometimes be drawn
out by an absorbent powder such as impalpable clay or chalk. The spotted
leaf is enclosed between two tins or boards, both sides of the spot well
dusted with the powder, and the book closed tightly and set aside for
several hours. Some kinds of grease absorb more slowly than others. If
this operation is unsuccessful, alcohol, ether or benzine may be tried.[7]
A weak solution of pure or caustic potash operates very rapidly. If the
ink on the page or print is turned gray by this, it may be restored by a
wash of acid in very weak solution.

WHITE OF YELLOW WAX. These spots yield promptly to pure turpentine,
especially in a warm bath. When the spots thicken, they are lifted off
with a scraper, or blotting paper may be applied, pressed down with a
heated iron.

STEARINE. Wax tapers are today replaced by a kind of liquid grease,
stearine, spots of which give paper a disagreeable transparency. These
dissolve in warm alcohol or boiling water, but the spot remains stiff and
the brilliance of the ink is reduced. The greater part of the stearine
spot may be removed by the same process indicated for wax.

SEALING WAX. RESIN AND RESINOUS VARNISH. All dry resins yield to a warm
alcohol bath. The thick part is removed as above. Sealing wax colored red,
blue, etc., leaves a corresponding tint which is very tenacious.

TAR, PITCH, etc. These spots are rarely encountered. They give way to warm
turpentine or cold benzine. If a dark trace remains, it sometimes may be
removed by oxalic acid if the spot has not been burned by the hot tar.
Whenever turpentine is used on any spots, it should always be the purest

EGG YELLOW. This is always mixed with a little albumen, a matter which
thickens in boiling water and can be drawn from the paper, along with the
yellow. If the paper is smooth and well sized, all will disappear under a
sponge in a bath of hot water. There sometimes remains a yellowish trace.
To remove this, apply with a brush chlorated lime and then very weak
hydrochloric acid.

MUD. This may be removed simply with a wet sponge or in a warm water bath.
Where the paper is rough and absorbent, soap jelly should be used. If a
dark trace remains, it usually will yield to oxalic acid or cream of

INK. Ordinary writing ink is easily decomposed because its principal
constituent is a vegetable matter, oakgall, mixed with a little iron
oxide. This gives way rather promptly to an application of sorrel salt
dissolved in boiling water. The water must be boiling to secure prompt
action. Even better success may be obtained by the use of pure oxalic
acid, which is an extraction from sorrel salt of which it is the base.[8]
Chinese ink cannot be dissolved but sometimes may be washed from a smooth
page by means of a damp sponge. Marking ink may be removed with chloride
of lime.

FRUIT JUICE. Stains from fruit may be removed by chlorine or cream of
tartar. In some cases, water alone is sufficient.

BLOOD. These stains may be bleached by chloride of lime. As this must be
applied for at least twenty minutes, it is better to use it as a damp
paste. There will remain a yellow trace which will give way to a weak

FECAL MATTERS OR URINE. For such spots, try soap and water. If this is
unsuccessful try successively chlorine, alkalis, oxalic acid and
hydrochloric acid, soaking the page for an hour in water between each

TRANSFERRED IMPRESSIONS. Frequently the characters of a book, bound before
the ink is completely dry, offset, while in press, an impression in
grayish tones upon the opposite pages or upon the faces of inserted
prints. These transferred impressions may sometimes be removed by rubbing
with an eraser made of bread crumbs or by soap-jelly, which should be
left on for some time and then washed off.

I have no doubt neglected to describe more than one kind of spot which an
amateur may find. By analogous reasoning, however, he may find for himself
the proper remedies to use. If the spot seems to be of a vegetable or
animal nature, he should use chlorine and sulfuric acid; if metallic,
diluted hydrochloric acid; if oily or greasy, essence of turpentine,
ether, alkaline solutions or benzine.

BLEACHING.[9] Soaking a print in cold water for about twenty-four hours
often suffices to brighten and clear it; but if, after a long soaking, it
still remains darkened to the point of detracting from the clarity of the
engraving, one will need to use chemicals in order to obtain a suitable
bleaching. Chloride of lime may be used for this purpose. This is a fine,
dry powder which softens when allowed to absorb moisture from the
atmosphere. About fifty grammes of this are placed in a bottle about
two-thirds full of water, and thoroughly shaken. When the solution clears
by the excess of matter depositing on the bottom of the bottle, the clear
liquid is carefully poured off. Another solution, which will be weaker,
may be made by pouring more water into the bottle. The clear solution is
diluted with about twenty times its quantity of pure water, for use. It is
better to dilute too much, and add more of the solution later, if
necessary, than to dilute too little. The solution will not injure the
black ink of an impression, but if too concentrated, it will make the
paper brittle.

After using this solution, the print should be placed in a bath of weak
acid, and then left to soak for several hours in clear water.




(1684 REBACKED)]

It often happens that books are purchased in old sheep, calf, or even
morocco bindings with the hinges so broken that the boards are either
entirely off or held only by weakened cords. Such books may be properly
entrusted to a good binder for rebinding in substantial leather. It is
sometimes preferable, however, merely to reback such books, not only in
order to preserve the old leather sides, which are generally in much
better condition than the back and often possessed of a very attractive
patina, but also to save the wear and slight trimming to which the book
would necessarily be subject in rebinding.

It is inadvisable to reback with calf or any very perishable leather. A
good quality morocco should be used. In rebacking books bound in old calf
or sheep, a smooth-grain brown morocco, such as that known to the trade as
Spanish morocco, will be found satisfactory and a fair match for the old
leather, both in color and surface texture.

The first operation in rebacking is to treat the old leather with a
softening substance, such as vaseline, to prevent the old leather from
breaking while it is being worked on. The vaseline should be rubbed well
into the covers, left on for about half an hour, and the excess then wiped
off with a soft cloth.

Vaseline is also used in the same way to assist in the preservation of old
leather bindings still in good repair. It is not entirely satisfactory, as
it soon dries out. The best composition for preserving leather is one
suggested by Mr. Douglas Cockerell, made by mixing about two ounces of
castor oil with one ounce of paraffin wax. The oil is heated and the wax,
shredded, melted into it. As the mixture cools it is stirred with a
splinter of wood. If this is thoroughly done, the resulting mixture will
be a whitish jelly. A thin coat of this is applied to the leather,
especially around the hinges, and well rubbed in with the palm of the
hand. Any excess is then wiped off and the book polished with a very soft
white rag. This mixture is best used while still hot, a little being
soaked into a woolen cloth, by means of which it is rubbed on the binding.
If leather bindings could be given this treatment about once a year their
life would be greatly increased.

After the leather of the old book to be rebacked has been treated, a cut
is made down each side of the back, through the leather close to the
broken hinge. (Fig. A.) Care should be taken not to cut through the cords
which are set into the boards at this point. If the back is furnished
with a leather label in a fair state of preservation, this label should be
cut around and lifted off to be used again on the new back.

[Illustration: Fig. A]

All the leather on the back and over the hinges, up to the cut above
mentioned, should then be lifted or scraped off. As a majority of old
books are bound with the leather glued directly to the lining of the back,
a certain amount of the old glue, according to its condition, scraped
smooth, should be left on the lining.

While old calf backs are generally so dry that they must be scraped off in
pieces, it is sometimes possible, when the back is of more solid leather,
to remove the old back; with the label and gilding, in one piece. If this
can be done, the inside of the old back should be scraped and this back
pasted on again over the new leather back. This is, of course, preferable,
as by this means more of the characteristics of the old cover are

[Illustration: Fig. B]

When the back is clear of leather, a small cut about half an inch long is
made at the top and bottom of each side, at the ends of, and at right
angles to, the first cut; from the ends of the short cuts, the leather is
again cut at right angles over the top and bottom edges of the boards.
(Fig. B.) As these points, near the top and bottom of the inside hinges,
the end-papers pasted on the inside of the boards are lifted for a short
distance so that all the old leather under them can be removed.

The head-bands should then be examined to see that they are firmly in
place and any missing band replaced, the new band being simply glued to
the back lining.

[Illustration: Fig. C]

A sharp, thin knife is then run under the leather of the sides, following
the first long cut, loosening this leather from the boards for about half
an inch back from the cut, this distance equalling the short cuts at top
and bottom. (Fig. C.)

The book is now ready for the new back. This is cut from the leather to be
used, in width equal to the distance over the back and hinges plus a
trifle less than half an inch on each side, and in height to project half
an inch beyond the top and bottom of the book.

This leather is then pared thin on the inside for about half an inch all
around the edge. Paring requires careful work and a sharp knife, otherwise
the piece may not be pared thin enough to set smoothly, or may be cut
through and ruined.

[Illustration: Fig. D]

The back lining of the book itself, and the inside of the new back, are
then given a medium thin coat of paste, and the leather set evenly in
place. The side edges of the back are slipped under the leather of the
sides where this leather was loosened from the boards following the
first, long cut, and pasted directly on the boards. (Fig. D.) By this time
the paste on the top and bottom ends of the back will be dry. These are
given another coat of paste, one at a time, and turned under upon
themselves, starting in the middle, the corners being carried over the
edges of the boards and securely pasted down inside where the end papers
have been pushed back. The top, beyond the boards, is tucked in behind the
head-band. When the top and bottom of the back have been treated in this
way, they are then flattened with a folder and the edges of the hinges are
bent in to form the head-cap finish observable on almost any book bound by
hand in leather. (Fig. E.) The tops of the head-bands may require a slight
touch of paste so that the leather turned over upon them will stay in

[Illustration: Fig. E]

The inside end papers, where they were lifted at the top and bottom near
hinges, are then pasted down over the corners of the new back which are
folded in at these points, and the leather lifted from the sides is pasted
down over the side edges of the new back where these are pasted directly
on the boards. New inside hinges of paper or cloth may be added, if
required; but if these are to go in they are best set in place before the
new back is pasted on.

The new back being in place, it might be given a certain amount of finish.
If the book is sewn on outside cords, these will show as raised bands on
the back, and the new leather is, of course, moulded over these when it is
first set in place. In such a case, a satisfactory, plain finish can be
obtained by moulding these bands distinctly. This is done by running the
edge of the folder in the angle at each side of each band with a see-saw
motion. Experiment will show how this may give a smooth, polished line on
each side of the bands if it is thoroughly done with fair pressure while
the leather is still moist from the paste on the inside. Before attempting
any such operations, however, the outside of the new back must be washed
entirely free from any spots of paste.

An additional "blind" line may be made at top and bottom across the back,
by bending over the back a straight piece of vellum to serve as a guide to
the folder. A smooth back without bands may be finished with a series of
double or single lines put on in this manner, care being taken that the
line of the vellum guide is at right angles to the side edges of the back.

The back of the old label, if this is to be used again, is then scraped
and the label pasted on in its proper place between bands; or a new label,
properly lettered in gilt, may be ordered from a binder.

The entire work, when almost dry, should be pressed over with a hot
flat-iron to press down any irregularities, the edges of the cut leather
on the sides, and the top and bottom finish over head-bands. The iron must
be well warmed rather than hot. If too hot, it will lift the surface of
the leather. The book should then be placed under pressure to dry.

For the operation of rebacking one needs only a sharp, thin knife, a ruler
or straight edge, a bone folder and a small flat-iron in the way of tools.
A small press is desirable, but not necessary. The folder, which may be
purchased from a dealer in bookbinders' supplies, will be furnished with
square ends; one of these ends should be sawed off on an angle and
smoothed with a file to give a pointed end, which will be found very
useful. (Fig. F.) The flat-iron should be wedge-shaped, about four inches
long, with straight, rounded edges. [Fig. G.] Irons of this kind may be
found in toy shops, and will be found extremely useful and easy to handle
in all small repair operations.

[Illustration: Fig. F]

[Illustration: Fig. G]

To the above tools may be added, if desired, one or two small tooling
irons of simple design for blind tooling. Such irons are used just hot
enough to hiss very slightly when touched with a wet cloth, and are
pressed firmly and evenly on the leather for two or three seconds to leave
a good impression.

Books bound in boards, with cloth or paper backs, may be rebacked with
cloth, parchment, or even with heavy paper in facsimile of the original
back. In the latter case, it is advisable to line the back with a strip of
Japan vellum, which should extend over upon the boards under the new paper
back. Parchment is often satisfactory and requires no paring, but must be
handled carefully when damp from paste, or it will stretch out of shape.





Not having the secret of that special, certain skill which produces
flexible and artistic bindings, I am obliged to advise amateurs who wish
to see their books reclad in princely mantles, to apply to our able
Parisian binders. But I can give, from my own experience, some good
suggestions to amateurs on the manner of cleaning, repairing and
freshening ordinary morocco bindings, and also, under certain conditions,
those sumptuous moroccos of the Levant, the mere perfume of which
fascinates all true-born bibliophiles.

CLEANING THE COVER. It is possible, without being obliged to touch the
boards of a book, to clean and repair the covering, either entirely or in
spots. To accomplish this, I know some methods which are simple and
practical, although, of course, too imperfect to restore to an ancient
binding all the brightness and vigor of its youth. A rather mature
prima-donna may, perhaps, within certain limits, soften the ravages of
time; but, when observed closely, the lines on her face cannot be
concealed. And this is also the case with the coquettish old bindings of
which I speak.

Morocco or calf which has become soiled by constant handling may be
cleaned with a fine sponge dipped in a jelly of white soap. If there are
spots of oil or grease, this soap will not suffice; it will be necessary
to use black soap, or perhaps a weak solution of some alkali, such as
potash or ammonia. In using such alkalis, it is best to first try them on
some odd pieces of leather of the same color or upon some part of the
bindings not likely to be noticed, because certain colors in leather are
apt to decompose or change their tint under the action of an alkali. It
has been observed that alkalis tend to darken the leather, more or less;
therefore, after employing them, a little acidified water must be applied
to neutralize their effect. Also that morocco should be moistened only
very slightly, as, otherwise, the surface grain may be smoothed away.

One might begin by trying benzine; this liquid will not attack any color
or, at least, only a color formed principally of fatty or resinous
substances. Benzine does not act like an alkali; it does not saponify the
greasy body, but it dissolves it as water dissolves a salt, a gum or
gelatine. It must be used quickly, as it evaporates much more rapidly than
ammonia, which itself is considered volatile. The latter will mix with
water, but benzine combines only with alcohol.

Thus benzine, like all other essential oils, operates only as a dissolvent
and, after having been applied, either pure or mixed with alcohol, upon
the book cover, it must be wiped off with a soft cloth before it
evaporates, so that the particles of grease which it has dissolved, but
not decomposed, will not sink again into the leather and later reappear on
its surface.

The best method, after having poured some drops of the liquid upon one
side of the book, is to turn this side toward the ground. In this position
the benzine, charged with part of the greasy substance, will run down and
accumulate upon the lowest edge of the cover, from which it can quickly be
wiped off with the substances it holds in solution. Perhaps an even better
method of operation may be discovered.

This manner of employing benzine, alcohol or turpentine as dissolvents for
the greasy body is equally applicable for removing oily spots from prints,
and I recommend it to the reader for experiment. When grease is removed
with alkaline water, it is useless to proceed in this manner; the soapy
substance which forms on the leather after rubbing should be removed with
a damp sponge, after which the book should be dried in the air and then
placed under pressure.

Fresh spots of oil or grease may sometimes be removed by impalpable
powders of some clay-like nature, absorbent and slightly alkaline.

A spot of ordinary black ink upon morocco, sheepskin, calf or smooth
parchment, loses its color when touched with a few drops of sorrel salt or
oxalic acid; but I will repeat here the advice already given that these
substances may alter certain colors and that it is best to first try them
on extra pieces of leather. If the tint lightens or changes only slightly,
the spot can be retoned and brightened simply with properly mixed
water-colors, after having neutralized, with an alkali, the traces of the

The yellowish spot which remains after the black ink has disappeared is
not very noticeable upon brown or yellowish skins, but on vellum or
parchment it is more or less apparent. How can this be removed? For if one
is obliged to prolong the action of the oxalic acid on the iron oxide
which causes it, this portion of the skin not only loses its gloss, but
also becomes subject to a more or less rapid process of dissolution.[10]

When the spots are of Chinese ink, old or recent, and have sunk into the
texture, as sometimes happens, they resist all known agents.

Most of the old bindings which have been long exposed for sale on the
parapets of our quays, have been at one moment roasted by an ardent sun
and at the next distended by a damp atmosphere; they have, therefore,
contracted "skin troubles" more or less curable according to the duration
of their ordeal. The gentler regimen of the bookshelves, placed in a room
where the temperature is more nearly uniform, sometimes suffices to
restore their warped covers; but when the surface of the leather has
fallen off in scales, carrying away the gold tooling, it is better, if
they are worthy of it, to deliver them to the binder for new covers; that
is, of course, when the paper, the essential organ of their existence, is
not musty beyond recovery. If the paper is in bad shape, the book is lost
or, at least, is beyond giving pleasure to a bibliophile; it resembles a
very old man attacked by an incurable disease; it is useful only for

Some books, placed in less rude conditions, have only the skin stripped
here and there by contact with rougher neighbors trimmed with nails or
clasps, with hard boards or with wicker-work, but movement against these
objects might ruin an entire library in a single day. The library of the
Louvre, it might be mentioned, was being moved last spring to a new
location, by means of these wicker baskets so formidable despite the
straw or oakum with which they were lined. Some of my own books have
passed several times through this fatal ordeal and have suffered greatly
from it. Now when I change my residence I use, with rather tardy
precaution, well-planed boxes.

Books slightly roughened, their bloom destroyed simply by friction, may be
freshened and restored to an aspect of health to conceal, up to a certain
point, the wear of their old coverings. With an old glove one may spread
over their surface a little flour paste or fairly thick starch to which a
little alum might be added. This is smeared quickly over the back, sides
and edges of the boards, and the surplus wiped off with a soft cloth. This
carries away any dust which may have been deposited and also soilings
which soften in the moisture.[11]

After this operation, there will remain on the volume a thin coating of
gelatine or of gluten (the viscous part of the starch). Before this has
entirely dried, it should be thoroughly wiped over with the palm of the
hand. Any scraped portions of the leather will have a dull appearance and
will sometimes show darker than other parts of the cover. The edges of
stripped or broken spots may be refastened to the cover by means of the
starch sizing. The corners which, nearly always, will be found worn or
bent, may be straightened and strengthened. In a word, if the cover cannot
be restored to pass as new, it may at least be rendered more presentable
and made to contrast more favorably with other books it may meet upon the

After a washing with starch, as after cleaning with alkalis, it often
happens that the covers of a book are dulled. Their polish, where the
bloom has not been worn away, can be restored by rubbing with a piece of
flannel moistened with a few drops of very siccative varnish (purchased
from art dealers or dealers in bookbinders' materials).

Most amateurs and binders know this inexpensive way of restoring a certain
lustre to faded and erupted, if one may use that expression, bindings. If
I have spoken rather in detail, it is for the sake of amateurs still
inexperienced or living in a small, provincial town. As these latter
probably would not know where to procure varnish, I offer the recipe of M.
F. Mairet, which indicates the proportions for a large quantity but which
may be divided by ten. In the thirty-ninth part of his "Essay Upon
Binding" he says: Dissolve eight ounces of sandarach (resin), two ounces
of mastic in drops, eight ounces of gum-lac in tablets and two ounces of
Venetian turpentine, in three litres (quarts) of spirits of wine at a
temperature of thirty-six to forty degrees.[12] Crush the gums and, to
completely dissolve them, place the bottle which contains them in the
wine, in hot water, shaking it from time to time. This varnish can be
preserved in the bottle in which it is made, keeping the bottle tightly
corked. When one wishes to use the varnish, the bottle should not be
shaken because of the deposit which forms.

I will here make a recommendation analogous to that of M. Le Normand; it
is desirable to place the glass bottle in a basin containing warm water
before placing it in the very hot water, as otherwise it may break. Also,
instead of shaking the bottle, the contents may be stirred with a glass

This is how M. Mairet describes the use of his varnish; with a very soft
brush, the varnish is spread over the covers of the book without putting
it on the gilding. When it is nearly dry, it is polished with a piece of
white cloth slightly moistened with olive oil. It should first be rubbed
gently, then with more force as the varnish dries. For complete success it
is essential that the covers be perfectly dry[13] and without the
slightest dampness.

Instead of using this varnish, one may give a fair polish which, however,
is not so enduring, by coating with the liquid known as "glaire." This is
made from the white of an egg beaten up with a little water and
alcohol.[14] One might also try a glaze made with hide glue or

The lustre of white vellum or of calf, when they have not been badly
rubbed by use, may be restored by rubbing with an agate burnisher, a
polished bone or a curved iron slightly warmed. Sometimes, before
polishing, according to M. Le Normand, the covers should be rubbed with
flannel holding a little tallow or walnut oil.[15] Great care should be
taken in polishing morocco, whether genuine or imitation, in order that
the grain which contributes so much to its beauty may not be rubbed away.
The surface of sheep also, which is a very delicate leather, is easily
stripped. To polish leathers such as these, binders' varnish or, at least,
the glaire mentioned above, should be used.

REPAIRING HOLES AND BROKEN SURFACES. We will now consider any serious
wounds which go deeper than the surface of the leather. One often sees
covers of calf, sheep or morocco deeply stripped or even pierced like the
coats of Diogenes and Ruy-Blas; the back, the sides and corners,
especially the lower ones, broken away even to the point of exposing the
boards. This is a state of cynicism which calls for some remedy; the
simple smearing on of starch is powerless to heal such damages.

It is often possible to restore missing fragments by means of new pieces
of the same kind and tint of leather. I will assume that the amateur
possesses a collection of odd scraps of morocco, brown calf, old vellum,
etc., removed with more or less right from books whose pages have been
unfortunately ruined, to be devoted to more humiliating uses. These should
be searched for a suitable piece; sometimes this is found. The essential
point is to match the grain of the leather. When the tint is too light, it
can easily be darkened with water-colors; when it is too dark, one must
search further. One may, however, lighten a little piece of calf which is
too dark by means of very weak acid.

Suppose the desired patch found. The hole or broken place in the cover is
cleaned and the edge cut sharp to prevent further tearing, and in this is
set a piece from the patch, cut exactly to fit. If the amateur has not
time to do this careful mosaic patching, he may, with a small, thin blade,
raise the edges of the leather about the hole and, applying paste or glue
directly to the board, slip in a patch piece which has been roughly cut a
little larger than the hole and pared thin around the edges. The edges of
the hole should then be moistened with paste and firmly pressed down into
place over the patch. A patch made in this way is less agreeable to the
eye than when made by the first process, for by this latter method there
always remains a sort of raised pad which accents the form of the hole.

Let us consider now the repair of bruises, more or less deep, caused by
rough contact with some hard, sharp or rough body.

When the stripped parts are still hanging to the cover, they should be
straightened out and pressed back into place after being given a light
coat of thick starch paste. But if the stripped parts corresponding to the
bruise are missing, how shall the furrow, which reveals a spongy
appearance, be brought up level with the surface of the cover? With a
corresponding patch inserted in the fissure? This is an operation, I
think, very difficult to carry out, and it is simpler to cut the furrow
into a definite hole if one wishes to proceed in this way. Let us try and
imagine some kind of putty for such repairs.

I do not wish to write hastily of any method of procedure for the
fabrication of bruised leather, but it seems to me that a paste or putty
formed of powdered or shredded leather, boiled with a little flour paste,
would answer our purpose. With this one could fill up the furrow and then,
when the paste has dried, scrape off the excess surface and burnish the
dried inlay. This method should answer very well, but there is still
another which I have tried, although it is not so delicate. I employed
flour paste mixed simply with Spanish white.[16] With this, I puttied up
my book like a picture in process of being retouched. I even succeeded,
with this paste, in imitating the grain of the morocco. I tinted the
patches by applying color mixed with gum. But this sort of repair is only
applicable to parts of the cover away from the edges; in the neighborhood
of the hinges, this unelastic paste will break loose or, at least, render
the book difficult to open.

I experimented also with gutta-percha. This brownish substance has the
property, at a certain temperature (towards seventy degrees)[17] of
melting and adhering to the leather and, on cooling, recovers its natural,
semi-elastic state. But after having been melted at a fire or, if the
season is right, by sunlight through a lens, it turns brown and will not
harmonize in tint except with very dark calf, and I have found no method
of lightening it.

We will now speak of repairing and patching the cover in those parts which
serve as hinges. This is an operation practicable only when a substance
very thin and supple can be found. I have succeeded in restoring this part
of a book by using a strip of gold-beaters skin, slipped between the back
and the side and fastened, on one part, to the edge of the side and, on
the other, to the boards lining the back. I then gave to this skin a tint
corresponding to that of the cover. The break remained visible; I only
reconnected the parts so that the book could be opened and closed.[18]

Would one succeed better by using a thin piece of rubber? I have never
tried this, but this substance, I believe, could not be obtained in very
thin sheets except by being considerably stretched, a process which would
soon destroy the elasticity which is its essential quality. Perhaps the
broken hinges of a dark calf book could be joined without great difficulty
by means of the liquefied gutta-percha mentioned above.

I have sometimes repaired the corners of a volume with more or less
success. In cases where the damage was slight, after having loosened the
paper on the inside of the cover at the corner, either with, or without,
moistening it, I pushed back the damaged skin for a short distance, then
glued upon the board over the corner a fragment of leather of the same
kind and tint, pared thin, then pressed down the rough edges and fashioned
the new corner by moistening the leather. Then, having replaced the broken
edges of the original leather, I recolored the patch to an exact

When the leather at the corner is entirely dilapidated an entirely new
corner of triangular form should be supplied, pasted down level with the
leather on the cover, which has been cut away smoothly where the new
corner is joined on. If the corner of the board is itself tattered, it can
be stiffened by the use of paste or glue, thoroughly soaked in and left to
dry. A little Spanish white might be added to the paste to give it more

But when the angle of the corner is entirely rounded, weakened and
demolished by use, it should be renewed by incorporating an entirely new
corner on the board. To fasten this securely, the edge of the board should
be cut across at an angle of forty-five degrees, then split, and the upper
half cut away for a short distance back. The new triangular piece for the
corner is also notched underneath to correspond so that the two patches
will superimpose and exactly fit. Here one makes use of strong paste or
glue. This operation is not difficult but it requires time and patience,
for a considerable amount of leather must be raised from the board and
then replaced. If one is not endowed with patience, it is better to turn
this work over to a binder, otherwise one will work to no purpose and will
damage his book instead of restoring it.

REPAIRING EDGES. To remove a spot of ink or color from the edges of a
book, the substance described for similar operations on pages or prints
may be used. However, there is this distinction; here one is not concerned
with the surface of a single sheet but with a great many page-edges one
after another. If the edges to be cleaned are not placed under pressure,
the liquids, penetrating between them, will stain the pages themselves.
If, however, the ink itself has thus spread into the pages, it might be
desirable to send the dissolving liquid over the same route. In this case,
it will be necessary to efface from each page the moisture following the
application of the remedy, and this requires careful work.

If, on the contrary, the spot soils merely the surface of the edges, the
volume should be placed under pressure in such a position that the edges
to be cleaned stand vertical; then, with a small brush, the necessary
liquid may be applied. The spot removed (supposing that it is of a nature
which may be decomposed) it is necessary, in some cases, to restore the
general tint of the edges; this is not a very difficult matter, at least
when they are not marbled. When the edges are gilt, the gold is not
usually attacked and naturally resists the action of the chemical agents;
the ink or other spot can thus be removed without necessitating the
restoration of the gold afterward. A spot may sometimes be removed with a
dampened sponge.[20] Even Chinese ink, a black which will not decompose,
is often susceptible to this gentle procedure by means of which it may be
wiped away.

Let us now suppose that the edges are free from spots but that they are
faded, and partly discolored. It is easy enough to brighten the colors if
they are not too complicated; I will add; and provided the pages are not
unequal, with some advanced and some drawn back, destroying the general
level, for, in this case, it is necessary to begin by repairing the back
without separating the volume; an almost impossible operation.[21] The
color brightened, it may be repolished with an agate burnisher while the
edges are held closely pressed together. If edges, not colored, but gilt,
have been damaged here and there by use, perfect restoration is
impracticable. A new patch of gold applied over the worn spot contrasts in
freshness and polish with the rest of the surface and, at the points
where it necessarily overlaps the perfect parts, the excess gold remains
noticeable. Undoubtedly, the best procedure is to have the whole surface
regilded by a professional gilder.

If one has gone to the trouble of brightening the edges, one may desire to
complete the restoration by renewing the head-bands. I have never had
patience enough to make a head-band, a kind of needle-work which belongs
particularly to the bookbinders' trade. The amateur should have recourse
to a binder for this or, if he wishes to attempt the work himself, consult
any of the books published on binding.

RESTORING THE GILDING.[22] It is sometimes necessary to brighten, patch
and partially replace the gilt ornaments of a precious book. In cleaning a
book, as I have described above, with soap-jelly or starch paste, the gold
is not affected if the operation is carried out according to directions;
on the contrary, one lifts from the gold the deposit of dirt which deadens
its brilliancy. But if it has been, at some points, destroyed by the
breaks in the leather, it is necessary, in order to restore the gold, to
refinish the leather at the broken point. Here a considerable difficulty
presents itself, and it is necessary to find a filler which will serve as
a base. Gutta-percha will not answer at such points, except for cold
gilding, as the application of a warm gilding iron would liquefy it. The
only satisfactory solution is to inlay with leather.

I have sometimes succeeded in restoring missing spots of gilding by the
simple employment of gilt paint, laid with a fine brush upon the properly
prepared patch, imitating carefully each missing part of the
ornamentation. This kind of joining, however, lacks brilliance and
solidity; wiping with a damp sponge is sufficient to effect it; but it may
be given a little more permanency by a coat of binders' varnish.

I can suggest a less imperfect method of procedure. Where there are thin
lines or figures such as circles to join, the amateur can do this with
home-made tools. Such tools may be made of small brass wire, some straight
edges and others curved like gouges.[23] He should also have small dots of
various sizes, circular or oval in profile. With these simple elements,
most line designs may be patched. The ground properly prepared, the warm
iron tool to be used is applied upon fragments of gold-leaf. The iron
should be a little hotter than boiling water; otherwise it will not fix
the gold in place. If too hot, it will burn the leather. Gilders test the
heat of an iron by touching it with a wet finger, and are able to tell, by
the sizzle and amount of vapor given off, whether the degree of heat is
right. A more simple method, for the amateur, is to try the iron on a
fragment of leather.[24] The excess of gold not pressed in by the iron may
be wiped off with a fragment of woolen cloth.

If it is necessary to restore a complicated ornament upon an ancient and
very precious binding, special irons must be cut, using the tooling still
in place as a guide. With patience and skill, one may fashion these for
himself. The required ornamentation is traced from another spot where it
is still intact on the binding, with a brush holding resin varnish or wax.
This tracing, which naturally leaves an imprint in reverse, is applied to
a piece of copper, and the design retouched on the copper with the same
varnish or wax.[25] The other faces of the cube or cylinder of copper used
are coated, and the copper placed in a bath of azotic acid. The acid will
eat the metal not protected as above, leaving the ornament standing out in
relief, something after the manner of a stereotype plate. Or, the
electro-chemical procedure of stereotyping may be used to the same end.

By the aid of a form obtained in some such manner as the above, it is
possible to restore the effaced ornaments, provided that the leather is
prepared to receive and hold the gold. Let me note in passing that it is
difficult for inexperienced amateurs to set gold smoothly; only long
practice will make this possible. Necessarily, the very thin gold leaf
always covers and reaches beyond the spot to be tooled. It is essential
that the iron be pressed exactly upon the spot intended to receive it,
which is very difficult to accomplish. Moreover, the gold must be kept
smooth and fresh over the entire impression. Perhaps one might substitute
for the gold leaf a coat of gold powder spread over the design, which
should be coated with albuminous paste (glaire) to hold the powder.

One sometimes wishes, also, to rectify a defective title or erroneous date
on the binding. The simplest method is to stamp the desired lettering or
date on an odd bit of leather, which is then applied to the book. The
amateur may do this himself if he has the necessary letter, a form to
hold them, and a certain amount of skill.

Suppose a case where, in a title anciently gilt and which one wishes to
preserve, there is a single letter or a single character to change. It is
first necessary to efface the letter or character to be replaced. To do
this, it is touched with a drop of alcohol; on wiping it, the varnish
which may have covered the gold is removed. If the gold resists thorough
rubbing, chemical compositions may be tried. I would not advise, however,
the use of aqua-regia, the infallible dissolvent of gold, because it would
disorganize the leather. I think that a drop of mercury, applied hot upon
a letter by means of an iron or sunrays through a lens, would absorb and
amalgamate the metallic particles. In any case, there would still remain a
moulded impression which might be removed, I think, by swelling the
leather at that spot by means of a jet of steam applied through a very
narrow glass tube.[26]

The impression effaced, or at least reduced, one may proceed to replace
the corrected letter. For this, a letter or figure matching the others in
size and character must be secured. Sometimes it is necessary for the
amateur to make this himself. This can be done by securing a fragment of
rolled copper and, with the aid of small pincers, fashioning the profile
of the desired letter on its edge. The thickness of the metal would form
the thickness of the letter's face; strokes required slender may be pared
with a knife. With a little care and skill, the desired character may be
produced. The bit of metal is then set in a handle of plaster or clay,
which is allowed to dry and harden.

TRANSFERRING ANCIENT COVERS. Is it possible to transfer the covers of
works richly bound, but valueless inside, to the boards of other books
more precious in their text and more deserving of the transferred binding?
Some of our binders have replied in the affirmative.

Many a volume has retained virginal the splendour of its original binding
simply because the text has been tiresome and insipid. In this class
appear certain volumes of indigestible theology, "Sacred works and not to
be touched," as Voltaire remarked, and those odes of court-flattery,
insipidly rhymed in doggerel, in aristocratic liveries, addressed to high
personages who paid for them but who never read them. From books of such
sorts, one may, without remorse, lift the precious coverings. However, to
make use of them, it is necessary that all their dimensions correspond
with the new volumes on which it is proposed to place them. The old books
in good condition are easily despoiled when there is no need to be
careful of the cording, the fly leaves or the boards. The process
requiring the most time is that of scraping away the dry paste which
adheres here and there to the inside of the leather after its removal. I
have re-covered more than one quarto in covers of gold tooled vellum
lifted from books of the same format. When the back was too narrow or too
wide, I replaced this part, but then the cover was formed of three pieces.
When the back was of the right width, I effaced the old title, generally
lettered in ink, by means of sorrel-salt, and inscribed the new title in
the same place but with Chinese ink. Where the old title happened to be
gilt, I covered it with a new piece of skin, finding it too laborious to
efface all the letters by the process mentioned above.

Let us suppose it is necessary to replace upon a rare volume, changing
only the boards, the old contemporary binding which covered it. If the
skin is worn on the edges and corners and at the hinges, removing it
without injury from the old boards is a very delicate operation. However,
it may be done, even without moistening the leather, by using the skill
and patience which both come from practice. Our binders, in cases where
expense has not been in consideration, have executed more than one feat of
this kind. Only, nearly always, they are obliged to renew the parts
injured by use and the end papers. They apply, here and there, to the new
boards bits of leather matching the tint of the old, reset the preserved
cover, still charged with the rich ornaments which constitute its value
and, upon the portions renewed, restore the gilding after the model of
that which they have before them. More than one binder has succeeded, with
great skill, in placing upon a new foundation the splendid cover of a very
rare book without being obliged to go to the regrettable extreme of a
second sewing and trimming. It is even possible, with the exercise of
great care, to clean the sheets, one by one, and repair the torn and
missing places, without separating the book; but one can see that such
restorations are a matter of expense and not suitable except for books of
considerable value. I believe that there exist in Paris binders of
sufficient skill to replace a cover "in octavo," transposing it without
injury to the volume and without leaving the least trace of this difficult



[Illustration: SOLANDER SLIP-CASE]

In Chapter Thirteen of his _Essai_, Bonnardot remarks:

"When one sees upon the table in a public shop, a rare book roughly sewn,
ignobly deteriorated and, especially, badly cut down, either too much or
unevenly, one may believe that it has passed, at some period, through the
hands of a provincial bookbinder or of one of our Parisian binders of the
lower order, who consider it proper to wrap up a typographical monument of
the Louis XII period in a way to strike off about nineteen-twentieths of
its value.

"I know of no species of vandals worse, more primitive or more
irresponsible than these botchers. But one can see how they are sometimes
impelled, in spite of a natural taste, to commit these ravages. After
considerable discussion, a person may offer them about 75 centimes
($0.15), more or less, for a piece of work which, if done with care,
should well be worth eight or ten times that amount. The natural and
inevitable punishment caused by this penny-pinching, is the almost total
depreciation of a book placed in the care of an easy-going bibliophile
who, with a light heart condemns his old friend to a binding limited in
price to 75 centimes.

"The provincial bookbinder whose work, with its dirty, warped boards,
simpers under a covering of sheep still hairy and spotted with patches of
ink, is in much the same class as a cheap glazer and gilder to whom an
amateur iconophile might naively send for restoration a rare Albert Durer;
and both these similar to an architect who, with blind decision, would be
sent to mutilate the flanks of some majestic cathedral. This redoubtable
trio, born enemies of souvenirs engraved in stone or upon paper, botch and
destroy, although perhaps without malice, at least three-fourths of
anything on which they operate. May these tardy remarks still save
something from the ruins!

"The most irremediable of the crimes which can be committed in rebinding a
small, old book, is the trimming of margins. The simple matter of a
centime's economy in the size of the boards, may direct the trimming of
some charming gothic quarto up to the very text. One may thrice exclaim
with joy when the text itself has not been cropped. Those who partly
realize, or divine by instinct, that margins are good for something,
sometimes take pains to preserve them, but trim them with an inequality so
shocking that the victim has only escaped Charybdis in order to fall upon
Scylla. Undoubtedly, the greatest merit of a rare book is to have
untrimmed margins or, at least, margins trimmed only slightly and evenly.
But to obtain evenness, it is not proper to cut huge slices in order to
square the edges; such zeal for symmetry easily might result in cutting
into the text. The best method for squaring a book which was unevenly cut
when previously bound, is to refold and equalize each sheet before any
further trimming is done; a long and detailed operation for which one
pays, not in centimes but in francs."

Bonnardot goes on from the above, very pointed remarks, to describe
various operations of rebinding, with an idea of assisting bibliophiles
who are too far from the centres of civilization to get in touch with a
good binder. For detailed information along these lines, which hardly come
within the scope of the present volume, books written especially on the
subject of binding should be consulted.

It is very difficult to execute a satisfactory binding without going
through a long period of practice and apprenticeship. And this work not
only includes several long and dreary operations, such as sewing, which
the average bibliophile would not have the time or patience to undertake,
but also requires a number of bulky tools and presses, out of place except
in a shop or work-room. Any book in serious need of rebinding is better
placed in the hands of an experienced binder, preferably one who
specializes in individual bindings. With the book, written directions may
be sent, when distance renders personal consultation impossible.

As nine-tenths of all binders, even today, still practice many careless
methods against which bibliophiles have protested for centuries, it is
desirable, in any case, both as a precaution and as a practical help and
reminder to the binder, to furnish, with each book to be bound, complete
written instructions for the work. With the written directions, a sketch
of the book may be furnished, giving details of the design of tooling
wanted, except in cases where it is known that this matter may safely be
left to the good taste of the binder. If many books are sent to the same
binder, however, suggestions on finish and tooling may very well be made.
Sometimes these may prove of interest to the binder himself. The reason
for such suggestions is that nearly every binder has certain set personal
conventions, especially in the matter of tooling construction, causing, in
all his bindings, a certain uniformity of design. Although this may be
varied by the different selection of the actual tools used and the colors
of the leather, it becomes monotonous in its general construction and
damages the visible personality of the individual volumes.

A form of direction sheet, which will, of course, vary with varying
requirements, follows.

     TITLE. In gilt on back.


     DATE. In gilt at bottom of back. 1880

     COVER. Full, dark brown pebbled morocco, best quality Turkey. Full
     grain, not crushed.

     TOP. Gilt top. Please trim as little as possible.

     EDGES. Do not trim or cut bottom or fore edges.[27]

     TOOLING. Gilt line borders on sides near edges, with corner
     ornaments; use geometrical design ornaments if you have them, rather
     than flowers. Panels on back.

     SEWING. Sew flexible on flat bands with leather back glued direct to
     the lining of signatures. Please do not saw into backs of signatures
     for bands or cords.[28]

     END PAPERS. Plain light brown or white.[29]

     SPECIAL. Be sure and place clean sheets of paper over the etched
     illustrations whenever the book is in press. The original wrappers
     now on are considerably torn and are very brittle. Please mount these
     as well as you can, on thin, strong paper, and bind them in at the

The price for this work may be agreed on beforehand, but it is better left
to the binder, in order that he will not feel cramped, should the
necessity of a little unforeseen work develop. Whatever their other
failings may be, binders are generally honest in such matters and are not
likely to overcharge, especially on average work.

This may be a good place to remark, perhaps needlessly, that valuable
books, particularly first editions, should always be retained in their
original covers, whether cloth, boards or leather, whenever this is at all
practicable. Ancient books in their original calf or sheep, but with
broken backs or hinges, and requiring attention for their proper
preservation, should be rebacked rather than rebound.

The reasons for this are numerous. Principally, the fact that a book is
still in its original binding is a fair guarantee that it has not been
trimmed since it originally left the binder's hands. It often happens,
also, that books containing rare plates have the plates foxed or otherwise
damaged, and it is sometimes possible, in rebinding such books, to
substitute for the injured plates other perfect ones, in exact facsimile,
from some later edition of the same book. Suspicion of this, or of other
tampering, can generally be avoided when such books appear still in the
original binding.

There is, moreover, a sentimental attraction in early issues of books in
their original state, since, in most cases, they thus appear as they
formerly did to their author, perhaps even in some special color or design
of binding which he himself selected. Original bindings having a stamped
design possess a more or less individual decoration, perhaps from the hand
of some well-known artist. Aubrey Beardsley, for instance, prepared a
number of such book decorations; many of the volumes issued in 1894-95 by
John Lane of London, have cover designs by this artist and these,
especially when accompanied by a Frontispiece of Title design by the same
hand, are often equal in interest to the text of the book itself. Of
special interest from the standpoint of originality are the Japanese-like
fabrics used in binding some of the first editions of books by Lafcadio
Hearn. Whether specially decorated or not, however, the original binding
is part of the individuality of a book and cannot be removed without
destroying a certain part of its interest.

In the case of valuable books which are, for one reason or another, seldom
referred to, or unique or presentation copies, it is a good practice to
make slight essential repairs without disturbing the binding and to order,
from an experienced binder, a book-shaped slip-case in which the volume
may be preserved in its original covers without being subject to further
wear or to injury from dust.

A fairly valuable book which must be rebound, should never be bound in
calf or sheep, as these leathers, even when of the best quality, are very
perishable. Sheep bindings, sometimes three hundred years old, may still
be occasionally met with in remarkably solid condition. But the secret of
such leather tanning seems to have been lost, and the modern sheep or calf
binding cannot be counted on, even under the most favorable conditions,
for more than one-tenth that length of time. In certain climates,
parchment or vellum makes a durable binding which, with age, acquires a
beautiful, ivory-like surface tone; but these skins will warp the boards
unless the book is kept closely set in on the shelf. Turkey morocco is
durable when well tanned, as it usually is. The best leather, for
appearance and endurance, and also the most expensive, is red levant
morocco. For efficiency and richness, although this is a matter on which
tastes vary, it is best left "uncrushed" or, at least, only lightly

The best moroccos are those tanned entirely "acid-free," or as nearly so
as possible. "Niger" morocco, native tanned on the banks of the Niger
River in Africa, and imported into England, is an acid-free leather used
for expensive bindings. This leather is rather hard to secure, but its
desirability is indicated by the fact that it is the only leather on which
the severe tests described in the Report of the Committee on Leather for
Bookbindings, elsewhere mentioned, had no effect.




Open shelves undoubtedly form the ideal resting place for books, since
they are not only convenient for access, but also allow a free circulation
of air around the volumes. They are, however, often impracticable as
affording insufficient protection against dust and dirt, especially in
cities, where closed cases are very necessary. No case with movable doors
is absolutely dust-proof, but some types very closely approach this
desirable state.

Closed cases are, of course, to be preferred with glass doors to reveal a
glimpse of the treasures within. They should be set a few inches away from
the wall, to permit a free circulation of air around them, and should
never be so placed that the books are exposed to direct sunlight or a
strong glare, as this will fade or discolor the bindings, particularly
green leather, which is very apt to turn brown. The room in which cases
are placed should be free from damp, and the windows should be kept closed
at night. If the windows admit an excess of sunlight or glare, they are
best furnished with yellowish or olive-green glass, which will neutralize
any harmful effects of the light on the books. Such colored glass, if
"leaded," may be made a very attractive addition to the appearance of the
room. Red glass verging toward the orange is equally effective, but less
adaptable to the purpose.

A full description of the effects of light on various kinds and colors of
leathers will be found in the Report of the Committee on Leather for
Bookbindings, London, Bell, 1905. This report also gives the following
suggestion for a preservative finish to be used on leather bindings: "Boil
eight parts of stearic acid and one part of caustic soda in fifty parts of
water, until dissolved. Then add one hundred and fifty parts of cold water
and stir until the substance sets into a jelly. Apply this jelly thinly
with a sponge or rag and, when it has dried, polish the leather with a
soft flannel. If a white film rises to the surface of the leather this can
be wiped away with a damp cloth and the leather repolished." A fair supply
of this mixture, suitable for small library purposes, can be made by
boiling half an ounce (by weight) of the stearic acid, and one-sixteenth
of an ounce (by weight) of the caustic soda, in three liquid ounces of
water and then adding nine liquid ounces of cold water. It is best to stir
the mixture gently while cooling; the entire process of preparation will
take only a few minutes. If kept for more than a week or two, this
mixture may become mouldy. It is better to prepare it only when it can be
used on a number of books at once.

Books in closed cases should be removed and thoroughly dusted at least
once a year, the tops especially being carefully wiped clean, if gilt, or
brushed, if uncut, in either case while holding the book tightly closed.
They should be aired at the same time, particularly those not in frequent
use. For this airing and cleaning a warm, sunny day should be selected
and, whenever possible, on such days the cases should be opened; books,
like people, are healthier when well supplied with good, fresh air.

Books on the shelves should set in firmly among their neighbors, as a
certain amount of pressure on the sides is essential to keep the boards
from warping. Care must be taken, however, not to wedge them in too
tightly; such a cure is worse in its effects than the disease. The usual
method of removing a book from the shelf is to hook a finger into the top
of the back, or head-cap, and pull. Paper or cloth backs are often torn at
the top in this way. It is far preferable to reach in with the hand and
push the book out from the fore-edge or, at least, to tilt it outward by a
slight pressure of several fingers on the top beyond the head-band. If the
shelves are lined with velvet, as elsewhere suggested, it will be
necessary to lift the heavier books into place when returning them to the
shelves; if they are shoved in on the lower edges of the boards the velvet
will follow them in.

Books in delicate bindings or fragile covers may often, with advantage, be
fitted with slip-covers of silk, cloth, Japan vellum, or even soft, heavy
paper. These covers are simple and easy to make, but they can be used only
when the condition of the book will permit both boards to bend backward
without injury, while slipping the cover on or off. (Fig. A.) Covers of
this kind, made of leather and provided with a label on the back, are
especially adaptable to paper-covered books which, for any reason, one may
wish to preserve in their original wrappers without rebinding.

[Illustration: Fig. A]

Book-worms are practically unknown in America, but should active traces of
these be found in a book the volume should be isolated at once and placed
in a tight box with cotton well moistened with ether. Several treatments
of this kind, at intervals of two or three days, will kill any worms or
eggs. Snuff or tobacco, to be renewed at intervals, placed along the back
of the shelves, is said to discourage worms or other insects. Worm holes
in old books may sometimes be filled in, if one has time for the
operation, with a paste obtained by boiling down shreds of paper in
sizing. The writer has an edition of Homer printed at Basel in 1535, in
which a worm hole varying in size from one-eighth inch in diameter
downwards, and extending through nearly one hundred sheets, has been
filled in so carefully on each sheet, in this way, that the repair is
noticeable only on the closest inspection.

Moths should never be allowed to breed in the cases. Were it not for
increasing this danger the shelf lining mentioned above could be made of
felt instead of velvet, the former being, otherwise, a more satisfactory
material for the purpose.

While it is only in extremely large collections, where books are left
undisturbed for years, that worms, moths, dust, and other enemies of books
obtain enough of a foothold to do any serious damage, the careful
supervision of even a small collection may sometimes prove of unexpected
preventive value and, in any case, the slight extra trouble involved is in
no sense a wasted effort.

The collector will also find it convenient to catalogue the books in his
cases, preferably by means of a card-index system. Cards three by five
inches usually will be found large enough to hold a fair description. Each
card should be headed with the author's name, for convenience in indexing,
followed by the book title, an exact transcript of the title-page or
colophon, a description of the illustrations, if any, the size and the
binding, and any bibliographical notes of interest. The price paid for the
book, written in cipher, and the date purchased, should also be added.

The matter of correctly noting the size of books for such a catalogue or
index is one to which the amateur will be obliged to give a certain amount
of study, and he will find, among bookmen, wide differences of opinion as
to the proper methods to follow. For all ordinary purposes, the
descriptions of folio, where the sheets are folded into two; quarto (4to),
where the sheets are folded into four; eight sizes of octavo (8vo), from
fcap. to imperial, where the sheets are folded into eight; duodecimo
(12mo); and sextodecimo (16mo) will be found sufficient. Speaking
generally, a 4to will have a page signature at the foot of every fourth
page, an 8vo at the foot of every eighth page, a 12mo at the foot of every
fourth or twelfth page, etc. The old standard for octave sizes (measured
on the edge of the pages, not the boards), which may safely be followed,
is given in the table below. The sizes will be found to vary somewhat,
where the book has been trimmed or where the paper used has been of an odd

Table of Octavo sheets, folded:

  4-1/4" x  7"         fcap 8vo
  5"     x  7-1/2"     crown 8vo
  5-1/2" x  7-1/2"     post 8vo
  5-1/2" x  8"         demy 8vo
  6"     x  9-1/2"     8vo
  6-1/2" x 10"         roy 8vo
  8-1/4" x 11-1/2"     imp 8vo




As by far the greater portion of rare and desirable books to be had in
America from time to time are sent over from England and the Continent by
dealers' agents, it follows that the amateur collector in this country
must depend largely on dealers for his supply of books. Except at
auctions, there are comparatively few opportunities of buying at
first-hand, although rare items of American printed books are sometimes
unearthed and, in the old book stores of the larger cities, bargains are
not uncommon. These latter, however, are usually limited, at best, to
picking up some good first edition of a modern author, worth, perhaps,
five dollars, and carelessly marked, with numbers of other books, at about
twenty-five cents. Better fortune sometimes attends. For example, one may
sometimes find a really rare and valuable book which, in dim but
inadequate realization of its value, has been marked higher than its
neighbors--perhaps up to about one-tenth of its real value. Such an
incident, however, is among the exceptions. In any case, the stories of
wonderful finds in years past, along the quays of Paris or in the stalls
of London are, for the American at least, almost like romances which could
never come true.

In buying from dealers, especially those who specialize in rare books, it
is often, unfortunately, necessary that the bibliophile of moderate means,
to whom these pages are particularly addressed, is obliged to pause before
the price of some much desired volume. His buying problems are much more
complex than those of his wealthy fellow-collector, to whom price is
little object, since he must not only hunt out the volumes he wants, but
also copies priced reasonably to be within his reach. Blessed, indeed, is
the willing self-denial which produces the ransom of a good book, at the
expense of the ephemeral luxuries of life! But under such conditions it is
essential that the amateur have a fairly complete knowledge of the value
of books, particularly along his own special lines, in order that he may
not be driven to unnecessary hardships through paying unjustly high prices
for his treasures.

While the prices of books vary greatly, according to condition and
binding, they also vary to an astonishing extent with various dealers. The
prices marked by some dealers are often high for certain kinds of books
and low for others. Bargains often may be secured from the dealer who
marks his books, not according to their present market value, but
according to the price he himself paid for them, since it follows,
naturally, that a bargain for him is a bargain for his customer.
Information of this kind, in respect to particular dealers, is very
valuable to the amateur who visits their shops, but he often gains it only
after considerable experience.

Cautious buying, so often sneered at, is, nevertheless, essential, and the
amateur bibliophile owes to himself not only complete information as to
the "right" editions of books, but also a thoroughly developed knowledge
and judgment which will enable him to value books with fair accuracy. He
must realize that in many cases the dealer is wily and seductive;
moreover, his wares plead for themselves to trouble the heart of the
hesitating purchaser. He also must develop a certain amount of guile, and
must be able to harden his heart, if necessary, against all appeal. This
is one of the most difficult of all things to do, and is the triumph of
knowledge over ingenuousness and of reason over bibliomania.

To the collector of moderate means, even though his library be small, his
books represent a certain form of investment, fairly secured. It has been
pointed out by Mr. J. H. Slater, editor of the English "Book Prices
Current," that books bought as an investment are not really so, because to
be a good investment they would have constantly to increase in value to
equal the income from the purchase price, had it been invested in another
way. This increase in value, however, often actually takes place, and in
a fair sized collection of books, judiciously gathered, the abnormal
increase in the value of some volumes will help to balance the
sluggishness or depreciation of others. The bibliophile, however, may well
rest content, and consider himself well repaid for his efforts to buy
carefully, if the value of his collection as a whole remains equal to the
sum total of his expenditures, and he may accept the pleasures of
possessing and reading the volumes in lieu of interest on the investment.

To get a general idea of the run of prices, the collector should obtain as
many priced dealers' catalogues as possible and study these carefully, in
making comparisons noticing any description of condition or binding which
might account for a difference in price between two copies of the same
work catalogued by different dealers. He should also study the volumes of
"Book Prices Current," both the English and American editions, which are
issued each year to subscribers and may be found at almost any large
public library. These books, for each year, give the prices realized at
auction during the year before, for all books which brought over three
dollars. These prices, however, must be considered with caution, as they
do not always represent true values, particularly in reference to sales in
Great Britain, where the operation of dealer's "knockout" cliques,
conspiring to keep prices low, except on items where collectors bid
direct, has been the cause of much scandal.

Advance catalogues of books to be sold at auction will be mailed by the
auction houses, on request. At auctions free from suspicion of unfairness,
the amateur will often find it to his advantage to buy, since he generally
has a certain amount of advantage over the dealer, not being obliged to
buy books so low that he may sell again at a good profit. He need
anticipate little difficulty in competition over books of moderate value,
provided he has taken the trouble thoroughly to inform himself as to the
correctness of the edition he proposes to buy and is able intelligently to
collate, either before the sale or immediately afterward. With items of
considerable importance, it is sometimes a better plan for several
reasons, under present auction conditions, to place the bid in the hands
of a well-known, reliable dealer who will bid in the book for a small
commission on the price paid, and who will assume responsibility for the
book being correct and perfect as represented in the catalogue.

Books handsomely and elaborately bound, especially when bearing the
imprint of some famous binder, generally command prices at auction and
from dealers, rather in excess of their true value. There is always a
ready market for such books among wealthy collectors. A desired book with
the pages in good condition, but in a shabby binding, can generally be
bought, and then equally well bound by a competent binder, at a saving
under the price of another copy already resplendent in crushed levant. On
the other hand, a book in an elaborately jeweled binding of excessive
value often sells at auction for less than the original cost of the
binding. A book bound by such a celebrated binder as Roger Payne will hold
its value while the binding remains solid, with little dependence on the
contents of the book itself.

These remarks, however, as all remarks about auction prices must be, are
only general, for the varying state of supply and demand is often met with
in extremes in the auction room.

As the market value of books changes constantly, and depends not only on
varying rarity, but also on demand, it is necessary that the collector
have some idea as to what constitutes rarity, and the conditions governing
demand. For this a considerable amount of study is necessary. It has been
pointed out that rarity itself does not make for value, if there is no
demand. An unique copy of a book is necessarily rare, but if no one wants
it, it will not bring a price in proportion to its scarcity. This is a
hard rule which one must apply, and a rule often unjust to the books
themselves. Yet, while there are many books of great merit slowly
disappearing from the world because of neglect, it is also true that the
books most in demand and commanding the highest prices in first or early
editions are, in the main, books of great intrinsic merit, well known and,
for one reason or another, justly famous.

The bibliophile must judge for himself as best he may, what books indicate
by their nature and celebrity a permanent value and what books command
excessive prices for the moment simply because of inflated interest and
demand. Conditions governing market value change in large, general
movements, often affecting whole classes of books. As an example, one may
note the comparatively high prices paid a century or more ago for early
editions of the Greek and Latin classics, while treasures of early English
literature sold for a few shillings; while at the present time these
conditions are almost entirely reversed and some almost unique classic
volume in extraordinary condition is required to create much of a
sensation. It may be remarked here, however, that the early classics, the
foundation of our present language, should have a permanent value, if such
an attribute can be rightly assigned to any books at all, and it may be
assumed that almost certainly the day will come when these early and
important works will again be in great demand and will bring prices all
the higher because of the scarcity which has accrued to them in the
meantime through the loss, in one way or another, of many of the extant

The greatest care is necessary in purchasing modern editions, especially
of modern authors, as the number of modern books and editions, whether the
books be good, bad or indifferent--the latter two adjectives usually
applying, unfortunately--present an extremely complex field from which
only great foresight will select books of merit which will be sought after
several generations hence.

The amateur should also observe with a certain amount of suspicion books
printed in very "limited" editions, with a view of establishing immediate
rarity, permitting himself an interest only in those of obvious merit,
where the limited edition is not necessitated by limited demand, and
avoiding those books so printed of which previous editions much in demand
have been issued. Privately printed books in limited editions, such as the
books issued by the Villon Society, which include John Payne's important
translations from the French and Italian, and the various issues of the
Kama Shastra Society[30], in which Sir Richard Burton, the gifted
orientalist, was actively interested, being not only first editions and of
marked literary merit, but also books fairly certain to be in demand, and
rare, may generally be considered of sound value and interest. Books from
famous private presses, examples of the highest state of typography of
their time, such as the Kelmscott Press books printed by William Morris,
or books printed by some famous printer, such as John Baskerville, of
Birmingham, are almost certain to increase substantially in value in the
long run over their present-day prices and are, moreover, delightful books
to have.

To be properly considered with the general subject of buying, are the
special copies of volumes known as "association books." These are unique
copies, connected in some direct way with the author or with some
prominent personage. Because of the sentimental interest attached, these
usually command high prices. Included under this heading are presentation
copies with inscriptions by the author, the author's own copy of his book,
generally with autograph corrections, and books with autograph annotations
by some contemporary or later, but equally famous, person or author. There
is no standard by which to judge the proper value of such special copies
as they are unique, and such copies may change hands several times at
close intervals with a considerably varying but generally increasing
price. Copies of this kind are generally held at high ransom by dealers,
especially in the "high rent districts" of our large cities, and the
amateur bibliophile is wiser to hope merely that, as sometimes happens,
chance may throw such copies, until that time unrecognized as such, into
his hands without extra premium. Dealers, and even collectors, often
attempt to establish an association value in a book by inserting autograph
letters or signatures of the author; but such volumes, although thus made
of considerable interest, obviously cannot properly be considered under
this heading.




The collections of first and early editions of the Greek and Latin
classics in the original which, a century or two ago, formed the backbone
of nearly all collections of note, have since, as mentioned elsewhere,
lost much of their interest for the bibliophile. A rare, uncut editio
princeps of Homer may still produce from its sale, as in Dibdin's day, "a
little annuity," and perhaps an annuity which would have made Dibdin gasp;
but this volume may possibly be considered an exception.

The present practical neglect of the Greek and Latin languages, except as
college exercises, may in a certain measure be responsible for the modern
lack of interest in the original classics, since the bibliophile may be
pardoned, in a sense, for not buying books in which his interest is
limited to possession and which he is unable to read with any degree of

The past three hundred years of English literature, however, have produced
a great number of translations from these classics, the best, no doubt,
being made by men of independent income with the ability and leisure to
turn their hands toward such work. A careful sifting of these
translations, therefore, might very well furnish the bibliophile who is
inclined toward such reading with a library of classics easily readable in
good, accurate translation. The cost of such a collection would be
comparatively moderate, and if care were taken in the selection to obtain
first or early editions of the translations recognized as having the best
literary qualities, there is little reason to doubt that the collection
would have a very positive value. The subject is, perhaps, interesting
enough to justify a few details.

The principal stumbling block, and that which renders the ordinary
published "classic" libraries of doubtful value, is the delicate question
of expurgation and that of abridgment. Any translation is, at best, a
substitute; but an incomplete one is worse than none at all. There are,
however, a few volumes in which the collector will be interested, which
will be obtained, in all their original naïvete, only with difficulty.

Suppose a nucleus for such a collection were to be assembled. One would,
of course, begin with Homer. The best translation in prose is by Andrew
Lang and others; the Iliad, 1883; the Odyssey, 1879. The most readable
verse translation is that by William Cullen Bryant, in four volumes,
Boston, 1870-1871. This version, unfortunately, gives the Roman form of
the names of the Greek gods--a concession to unnecessary corruption--but
is otherwise very faithful.

After Homer, perhaps Plato's Dialogues, of which the best translation is
that by B. Jowett, in five volumes, Oxford, 1875, third edition, revised,
1892. And of Plutarch's Lives, which follows naturally, the translation
called Dryden's, revised by Clough, five volumes, Boston and London, 1859.
Virgil, from the Latins, would accompany these, and of this, a good
translation is Dryden's also, revised this time by John Carey, in three
volumes, London, 1803. A much rarer edition is the "Aeneidos" of Thomas
Phaer, London, 1584, with several reprints, in small black letter.

As a souvenir of lovely Sicily, we would require, of course, the pastorals
of Theocritus, of which the best translation is that in prose by Andrew
Lang, London, 1880. In this rendering two passages of about two lines each
are left untranslated, but the omission is too slight to be serious. The
same volume also contains the poems of Bion and Moschus. A good verse
translation is that by C. S. Calverley, Cambridge (England), 1869. With
Theocritus we must read Sappho, "the poetess," the ancients called her, as
they called Homer "the poet." Meleager, in the poem of his "Garland" of
verse, says that he includes "of Sappho's only a few but all roses." And
so, indeed, are the few precious fragments which have come down to us.
All the known fragments of this poetess, even mere references or
quotations of a word or a phrase from ancient writers, which have
survived, have been gathered by H. T. Wharton, who gives in his little
volume called Sappho, the Greek text and a literal translation of each
fragment, together with various verse translations of interest. The first
edition of this book appeared in 1885, the third and definite edition in
1895. Both were published in London; the former by David Stott, the latter
by John Lane.

Of Anacreon's lyrics, only a few fragments remain. The Anacreontea were
translated by Thomas Stanley, London, 1651; reprinted by Lawrence and
Bullen, London, 1893. The reprint may be had on Japan vellum and on

Of the Greek Anthology, the famous collection of Greek epigrams composed
between about B. C. 450 and A. D. 550, there are many volumes of
translated "selections." The best and most poetic, although the rendering
is in prose, is that by J. W. Mackail, London, 1890, revised 1906 and
1911. The greater part of the Anthology, which contains over three
thousand five hundred epigrams, was translated into readable verse by
Major Robert McGregor, London, 1864, but the spirit of this rendering is
indifferent. A complete translation into prose of the entire Anthology,
omitting only the ultra-erotic and paederastic epigrams, is now in process
of publication in five volumes by Heinemann, London. This would be, when
complete, the most desirable all-around translation were it not for the
bald and unpoetic literalness of the rendering; of which, as an instance,
one could note the passage in the two hundred and twenty-fifth Amatory
epigram, which might be translated, "I have a wound of love which never
heals * * *"; but which is rendered, "My love is a running sore * * *"

With the poets, Catullus must be included; the best and only complete
translation is that by Richard F. Burton and Leonard Smithers, London,
privately printed, 1894. This volume gives the Latin text, a complete
prose rendering by Smithers, and a characteristic verse rendering by
Burton. In the latter, some erotic passages are missing, due, according to
Lady Burton's statement, to an incomplete manuscript.

Among the dramatists there are Aeschylus, whose tragedies were translated
in verse by R. Potter, London, 1777, and Sophocles, whose tragedies were
translated by the same hand, London, 1788. Edward FitzGerald's rendering
of the Agamemnon of Aeschylus, London, 1876, which does not, however,
pretend to be a close translation, may well be included for the unusual
beauty of its verse. The comedies of Terence have had several translators.
The best close rendering is that in prose, privately printed by the "Roman
Society," in two volumes, 1900-1901. Copies of this translation are
scarce, as the edition was limited to two hundred and sixty copies.

Aristophanes is, of course, essential, but of the eleven comedies of his
which are extant, there is only one complete translation, that privately
printed under the imprint of the "Athenian Society," in two volumes,
London, 1912, and limited to six hundred and twenty-five copies. These
comedies have, perhaps, no equal in all literature, except in Rabelais,
and the translation mentioned not only does them full justice, although in
prose, but also furnishes exhaustive and illuminating notes necessary for
the full understanding of all the humor. Four of the comedies were
translated into admirable verse by J. H. Frere, Malta, 1839, and are well
worth having, although, of course, Aristophanes' frequent and
characteristic "obsceneties" are omitted.

Among the satirists we have the Latins, Martial and Juvenal, and the Greek
Lucian. The best Martial in English is the "Ex Otio Negotium" of R.
Fletcher, London, 1656, reprinted in an edition of one hundred and five
copies in 1893. Only selected epigrams are given, those selected being
rendered rather freely, but there is no semblance of emasculation and the
essential genius of translation is present. A good Juvenal is the verse
translation by Robert Stapylton, London, 1647. A fair prose rendering,
with the Latin text, is found in an anonymous translation issued, with
Sheridan's translation of Persius, in 1777. Of Lucian's many works, there
are almost innumerable translations, nearly all of which are expurgated. A
good rendering of Selected Dialogues is that by Howard Williams, London,
Bell. The "True History," which contains, as might be expected, the
wildest flights of imagination, was translated by Francis Hickes, London,
1634; privately reprinted in a limited edition, with the Greek text, in

The immortal "Golden Ass" of Lucius Apuleius is attractive in the quaint
Elizabethan version of William Adlington, of which five editions in small
black letter were printed between 1566 and 1639. A modern reprint was
issued by David Nutt, London, in 1893. The translation is not always
accurate, but it is sufficiently so and it is particularly treasured as a
fine specimen of the prose of that period. Apuleius exists in complete
translation in the rendering by F. D. Byrne, printed in Paris in 1904, in
a limited and private edition. The edition has numerous indifferent
plates, and was reprinted, in incomplete translation, with several plates
omitted, under a London imprint, of the same date. The translation reads
rather more easily than the rendering by Thomas Taylor, London, 1822, and
includes the erotic passages which, like all similar passages in the
classics, are incorporated with ingenuous shamelessness and are, as might
be expected, quite harmless. For Taylor's translation, these "passages
suppressed" were supplied on separate sheets.

Among the "impudiques et charmants," as Pierre Louys calls them, must be
mentioned the famous Satyricon of Petronius, of which Charles Carrington
has printed the only complete translation, with his own imprint, Paris
1902, in an edition of five hundred and fifteen copies, since reprinted.
The first edition bears a slip attributing the translation to Oscar Wilde,
but the work has not the slightest internal evidence to support this. Also
the "Priapeia" a collection of Latin epigrams of the best period, all
bearing on the god Priapus. Two hundred and fifty copies of a translation
of this small anthology were issued by the Erotika Biblion Society,
"Athens" 1888. Notes on various subjects occupy more than half the volume.

Of the early romances, the most desirable is doubtless the "Daphnis and
Chloe" of Longus who wrote early in the Christian era. This work has been
said to belong more to French than to Greek literature, so
enthusiastically was it adopted in France; and, in fact, the first printed
edition of the work, translated by Bishop Amyot in 1559, preceded the
editio princeps of the Greek text by forty years. A great many French
editions have been printed, some with charming illustrations. The edition
with notes by A. Pons and vignettes by Scott, Paris, Quantin 1878, gives a
full French translation of the Greek text and an exhaustive bibliography
in an attractive format. The only complete translation in English is that
issued to subscribers by the Athenian Society in 1896.

This Athenian Society issued to two hundred and fifty legitimate
subscribers, between the years 1895 and 1898, seven volumes of complete
translations from the Greek, of which several volumes, like the Longus,
were the first complete translations into English. On account of the very
limited issue, the volumes are very scarce, especially in sets. The
complete issue was as follows: Lucian: The Ass. Dialogues of Courtesans.
Amores.--Procopius: Anecdota.--Alciphron: Letters.--Longus: Daphnis and
Chloe.--Heliodorus: Three books of the Æthiopica.--Achilles Tatius: Four
Books of The Loves of Cleitophon and Leucippe.--Aristophanes: The
Acharnians. The Knights. The Clouds. The volumes also included the Greek

The general subject of classic translations is an interesting one and
capable of almost infinite expansion. One might form a very imposing
collection of books by merely gathering editions of Daphnis and Chloe, for
instance. But the bibliophile, whether he collects Greek and Latin
translations, or books on angling, can perhaps best follow his own taste
and judgment, when once he has secured a nucleus from which to start, and
fairly understands the possibilities--and limitations--of his subject.

These books--thin boards and sheets of fragile paper--have lived while
countless men have died; through the rise and fall of princes; through
wars and ruin and tempests.

Other hands, long since forgotten, have cared for them and kept them
safely. Now they are here in trust with me; and I, in my turn, linger over
them, hoping that other Owners, yet unborn, may treat them gently as I,
and those before, have done.


  Association Books, 107

  Auctions, 102

  Autographs in books, 16, 25, 107

  Autograph Letters in books, 108

  Back, Lining up, 20, 48

  Back, Shaken or broken, 19

  Binding, Cheap, 78
    Elaborate, 103
    Original, 73, 83, 92

  Bleaching, 33, 35

  Book-worms, 93

  Books as an investment, 101

  Book sizes, 94

  Catalogues, 102

  Cataloguing, 94

  Collating, 15

  Corners, Repairing, 22, 63

  Covers (leather), Cleaning, 51
    Patching, 55
    Polishing, 56, 90
    Restoring, 55
    Transferring, 72

  Dealers, 99

  Dusting, 15, 91

  Edges, Cleaning, 65
    Gilt or Uncut, 81

  Finishing new back, 46

  Gilt, Removing, 71
    Restoring, 67

  Glaire, 59

  Hinges, Repairing, 62

  Ink, Brightening autographs in, 26
    Removing, 33, 54, 66

  Inlaying covers, 60

  Inlaying pages, 18

  Inlays, Tinting, 18

  Kama Shastra Society, 106

  Leather for bindings, 39, 84

  Leather Paste for inlays, 61

  Light, Effect on books of, 90

  Limited Editions, 106

  Lining up backs, 20

  Marginal MS Notes, 16

  Margins, Trimming, 78

  Modern Editions, 105

  Niger Morocco, 85

  Old Paper imitated, 18

  Pages, Repairing torn, 17

  Paste for repairs, 20

  Presentation copies, 16, 84, 107

  Preservative for leather, 40

  Preservative Polish, 90

  Privately Printed books, 106

  Rarity of books, 104

  Rebacking, Tools for, 47

  Rebinding, Best leather for, 84
    Directions for, 80
    For Amateurs, 79
    Price of, 77, 82
    When advisable, 55

  Report of the Committee on Leather for Bookbinding, 85, 90

  Re-tinting, 31

  Sewing, 82

  Shelves, Lining for, 64, 91

  Sizing, 22, 30

  Slip-cases, 84

  Slip-covers, 92

  Spots, Small, 30, 54

  Stains, 31

  Stains of Blood, 34
    Egg Yellow, 33
    Fecal Matters or Urine, 34
    Fruit Juice, 34
    Grease, 31, 54
    Ink, 33, 54, 66
    Mud, 33
    Sealing-wax or Resin, 32
    Stearine, 32
    Tar and Pitch, 32
    Unknown Origin, 30
    White or Yellow Wax, 32

  Tools, Making, 68

  Tooling, 46, 67

  Tooling, Restoring old, 67

  Transferred Impressions, 34

  Varnish for bindings, 57

  Vellum Bindings, Cleaning, 59

  Velvet for shelves, 64, 91

  Washing, 33, 35


[1] M. R. Yve-Plessis in his "Petit Essai de Biblio-Therapeutique"
suggests an excellent way of preparing a paper patch for an inlay. Which
is, to lay the paper from which the patch is to be taken under the torn
page and trace the outlines of the tear on the new paper with a clean pen
filled with water. By tracing over several times, the water will saturate
the new paper on the line made by the pen, so that the paper may be pulled
apart, providing a patch having more exact outlines than could be secured
by cutting with scissors.

[2] In 1809 Paul Louis Courier discovered at Florence a complete
manuscript of Daphnis and Chloe, containing a long passage in Part I which
was missing in all texts known until that time, and the existence of
which, as a connecting passage, had long been a subject of speculation
among scholars. Unfortunately, he had hardly more than completed a
transcript of his discovery when he accidentally upset a bottle of ink
over the original manuscript, partly obliterating the passage. The
incident caused a bitter controversy among scholars. Courier was violently
attacked and, although he had fifty copies of his text printed for special
distribution, was even accused of purposely spilling the ink in order to
render his transcript unique.    M. S. B.

[3] M. R. Yve-Plessis, elsewhere quoted, suggests that it may sometimes be
desirable to strengthen the ink of some valuable and desirable signature,
instead of removing it, and for this purpose recommends a mixture of:
Tannin, six grammes; alcohol, thirty-five grammes; distilled water, one
hundred grammes; applied with a small brush and the part afterwards
brushed over several times with clear water. This operation, however,
should certainly not be undertaken except in extreme cases where the
signature appeared ready to entirely fade out.    M. S. B.

[4] In a note on this subject, Bonnardot warns the amateur against
careless or unskilful use of the various chemicals mentioned, as many of
them, improperly handled, not only irreparably damage the page or print,
but also inflict serious injury on the operator himself.    M. S. B.

[5] After sheets have been cleaned by soaking or washing, they should be
re-sized. Sizing is made by dissolving half an ounce of isinglass in a
pint of water. The mixture is used at a temperature of about one hundred
and twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit and in a shallow pan. Sheets are left
in for a few seconds only and then dried between sheets of blotting paper.
Sizing will often restore old paper which has become soft.    M. S. B.

[6] Potassium permanganate, described in the chapter on _General
Restoration_, is applicable for this operation. In operating on a spot on
the page of a bound book, care should be taken always to place two or
three sheets of clean blotting paper under the page to prevent any liquid
from soaking through to the next page.    M. S. B.

[7] Applied with a brush, first around the outside of the spot, then in
narrowing circles until the centre is reached. Blotting paper is then
placed on both sides of the sheet, over the spot, and a hot flat-iron
applied. The absorbent powder ("French Chalk" answers very well) will
operate better if the powdered sheet is enclosed simply between two
pieces of paper, and a hot flat-iron applied. Plenty of powder should be
used.    M. S. B.

[8] Before and after using oxalic acid on ink stains, it is best to wash
the spot or page with hydrochloric acid mixed with about seven times its
volume of water. In bleaching ink from a page, a white mark almost always
remains, especially noticeable if the paper is tinted with age. It is far
better to soak the whole page, to secure uniform bleaching, and then, if
necessary, retint the page to its former color, than to attempt to operate
on part of a page only. Sometimes, when a book is loosely bound, the page
can be carefully cut out, close to the sewing, and pasted in again when it
has been washed and dried as desired. This is, however, a questionable
practice, and may seriously injure the value of the book, and on a
valuable book it is better to cut the sewing and remove the entire
signature, then have the book rebound, or resewn and returned to the old
covers, as may be most advisable.    M. S. B.

[9] Bonnardot mentions several processes for bleaching a print, equally
applicable to the same operation on the pages of a book. I translate the
process which seems to be the simplest and most effective. It will be
noted that he does not mention the size of the bottle in which the amount
of chemical he advises is to be dissolved. I would suggest a full quart
bottle, and also that the amateur operator thoroughly try the effect of
his solution on some old pieces of paper to make sure it is too weak to
injure the body of the paper.    M. S. B.

[10] Bonnardot, at this point, discusses in considerable detail various
opinions as to the removal of these iron oxide stains, but without coming
to any definite conclusion except that they are "of all stains, the most
tenacious." Experiments in chemistry, especially upon any binding of
value, should not be lightly undertaken. The use of water-colors for
retinting the spot of yellowish bleach might be tried with more safety and
a greater possibility of success.    M. S. B.

[11] Certain bindings of the sixteenth century have on their covers
designs in tint formed simply of water colors. In such cases, the flour
paste should not be used, or else the designs should first be accurately
traced so that they can be restored, if necessary, after the operation.

[12] Centigrade, i. e. ninety-seven to one hundred and four degrees
Fahrenheit.    M. S. B.

[13] At the beginning.    M. S. B.

[14] The best modern practice in making glaire is to beat up the white of
an egg with about half its quantity of vinegar, allowing the mixture to
stand over night. This mixture, covered, will keep for several days, or
until it gets thick and cloudy.    M. S. B.

[15] Unbroken surfaces of white vellum can easily be cleaned with a soft
pencil-eraser. A vellum binding which is "tacky" may be rubbed over with
powdered soapstone after cleaning.    M. S. B.

[16] Whiting (chalk) used as a pigment.    M. S. B.

[17] One hundred and fifty-eight degrees Fahrenheit.    M. S. B.

[18] This operation does not seem entirely clear, but the idea is
evidently to fold a thin strip of the skin into a "V" shape, inserting the
strip, folded edge up or down, as the condition of the hinge may require,
into the broken hinge all along its length, gluing the arms of the "V,"
one to the back and one to the cover to form a new, folded hinge. The
operator will probably find, however, that when the hinges of a book are
broken through a better and more lasting procedure is to reback the book.
Gold-beaters skin is the outside membrane of the large intestine of the
ox, properly prepared. Where the hinges of a book are broken, it is better
to provide new leather hinges, using strips about half an inch wide
slipped in under the broken edges and carried over the edge of the boards
at top and bottom. Raise the broken edges, for the proper distance, from
back and boards, and paste down again over the new hinge.    M. S. B.

[19] To prevent wear on the lower corners and edges of books in the
library, strips of velvet may be laid along the shelves under the books.
If this is done, the little extra care required in removing and replacing
the books without wrinkling up the velvet will be more than offset by the
protection which the velvet gives.    M. S. B.

[20] Gilding, especially if modern, is apt to soften and come off if
rubbed with water.    M. S. B.

[21] See my remarks on lining up with Japan vellum in the chapter on
_General Restoration_.    M. S. B.

[22] In this place, Bonnardot gives a few simple suggestions for repairing
broken fragments of the gold tooling. The amateur is cautioned not to
attempt the application of hot gilding tools and gold leaf to any binding
for which he has any regard unless he has carefully prepared himself by
thoroughly studying the detailed directions for this work which may be
found in text-books on binding, and by extensive practice on odd pieces of
various leathers.    M. S. B.

[23] All set, of course, in wooden or pottery handles. Wooden handles for
such tools, or the tools themselves, may be procured at moderate prices
from dealers in bookbinders' materials.    M. S. B.

[24] The impression should first be made on the leather by the hot tool,
without gold, and painted with glaire. When the glaire is nearly dry, a
fragment of gold-leaf is picked up on a pad of cotton wool slightly
touched with cocoanut oil and pressed down on the blind impression of the
tool. The tool is then pressed into its former impression, setting the
gold. The process is very delicate; the tool must be perfectly clean and
the gold-leaf, which is very difficult to handle, worked from a padded
cloth dusted with brick-dust, or a similar substance, to prevent the leaf
from adhering there while it is being cut to the proper size.    M. S. B.

[25] Wax would, of course, be used hot.    M. S. B.

[26] As mentioned in a note above, gold may often be loosened by merely
removing the varnish and thoroughly moistening with water, after which the
metal may be coaxed out with a thin, smooth, wooden splinter, preferably
wound on the end with a bit of cotton wool.    M. S. B.

[27] Or: Gilt edges. (This requires, in many cases, considerable trimming
all around.) Or: Bottom and fore edges gilt on uncut edges. (This is a
more expensive process and a rather delicate one. It is not in general

[28] It is often difficult to persuade a binder to sew on flat bands or
outside cords. The usual, and easiest method is to saw into the backs of
the signatures and lay the cords in the "V" shaped cut thus made. This
method of sewing should be protested against unless the book has already
been so treated in a former binding and no additional cutting is required.
Most of the raised bands found on modern bindings are "false," being in no
way an essential part of the binding and serving no practical purpose.
Even their use as guides for decoration is doubtful, as they tend to
unnecessary convention.

[29] On a valuable book in an expensive binding, the end papers should be
sewn in. This means extra trouble for the binder and calls for a little
extra charge. End papers are very seldom sewn in on modern bindings,
although often so secured in bindings of a century or two ago.

[30] This Society has been credited--or otherwise--with so many volumes,
chiefly of an erotic nature, which it never issued, that a list of the
genuine volumes, issued with the authority and consent of Sir Richard
Burton, may be of interest. These are: Kama Sutra, of Vatsyayana, 1883;
Amanga Ranga, of Kalyana Mall, 1885; The Beharistan, of Jami, 1887; The
Gulistan, of Sa'di, 1888; Alf Laylah wa Laylah (The Book of the Thousand
Nights and a Night), ten volumes, 1885; Supplemental Nights to The Book of
the Thousand Nights and a Night, six volumes, 1886-1888. These volumes are
all listed in a four page folder, which accompanied Vol. 5, of the
Supplemental Nights. The folder mentions two other volumes in preparation;
The Nigaristan of Jawini, and The Scented Garden, of the Shaykh
al-Nafzawi. The former translation was never issued; the latter
translation, made by Sir Richard himself, was burned in MS by his wife,
shortly after his death. The only translation of al-Nafzawi bearing the
Kama Shastra Society imprint, was issued in 1886, in white vellum, uniform
with the other single volumes listed above with the title of The Perfumed
Garden. This translation, which was made through a French version, is
described, and practically acknowledged as a book of the Society, in a
foot-note on page 133, Vol. 10, of the Nights.

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "is" corrected to "it" (page 29)
  "or" corrected to "of" (page 33)
  "prefessional" corrected to "professional" (page 67)
  "effact" corrected to "effect" (page 68)
  "tranlsated" corrected to "translated" (page 114)

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