Book Repair

brockhaus 012
One of the many beautiful colographs in the encyclopaedia

We own a 17 volume edition of Brockhaus’ Konversations-lexikon from the year 1908, a very nice encyclopaedia. Last Sunday I decided it was finally time to have a thorough look at all the pages, and mend them where necessary. I already knew of course that it is not really in need of major repairs. After we received it as a gift from M.s parents I already mended the one fold out page that had a slight tear. What interested me this time were the 80 or more colographs.

brockhaus 006
On the lower right corner and middle of the page, some tissue paper sticks to the image

When I first repeaired the tear mentioned above, I already noted that some of the tissue gards stick to the page. I tried to carefully lift them, but they seemed to take some paint with them, so I rather stopped. Last week now, I saw a thread in the book arts forum which adressed this concern, and so decided to finally care for the encyclopaedia.

As far as I know (and I only know hearsay) these tissue guards are stuck into the book by the printer, and they are meant to be taken out eventually, either by the book binder or the first user. I have not found satisfactory information about what they are good for. I was told they are only meant to stay in the book until the paint has dried completely; I suppose that after 100 years I could assume the paint is dry. It is still slightly sticky, though, and I also heard that bookbinders replace them – so they must have another use, right?

apparently the tissue gard was ripped off, laid to the left, and then left in the book
apparently the tissue gard was ripped off, laid to the left, and then left in the book

It is indisputable that these specific guards have to be taken out of the book. They are in the process of destroying it, rather than protecting it.

So we (M. was a huge help) worked our way through the volumes, and to my pleasure most tissue guards were only slightly tacky, and could be removed carefully by hand with ease. Others were a little harder, but those that were whole and complete came off after applying some heat with a hair dryer.

page ripped and withtissue residues attached to color
page ripped, and tissue residues on the print

A real pain were those pages where a previous owner unsuccessfully tried to force them off the page, and ripped the tissue or even the book.

Mending the tears is the easy part. Lifting the tissue from the page turned out impossible for me in some cases. All of these “bad” pages now look at least a little better. But in many cases, I did not manage to completely remove the tissue stuck to the page. The main problem is that there is no edge where one could lift it, and scratching slightly at it was insufficient. I tried to lift it with a gentle tug, a less gentle tug, heat, water and in a desperate case I even tried petroleum – no use, it remains firmly attached.

So I ended my excursion into book repair with a sour aftertaste: The destruction won, and I gave up.

Does anyone know whether I should insert new guards, or rather leave the pages unguarded? At least for these double pages like the one in the first picture, I would like to insert something, I think. I was told that the best thing to use would be glassine but I can’t find a good source for it. Maybe non-stick baking paper would do? And how can I make sure that history doesn’t repeat, and again the guards stick to the pages?

6 replies on “Book Repair”

  1. Thanks for the link.

    I think I got most of my questions answered by now. I found a German/European source for glassine which can be translated with “Glassin” but is actually sold under the name “Pergamyn” as it seems. Which explained why I didn’t find it immediately. Here’s the link for those who are interested, here’s the link:
    Buch Kunst Papier Look for Papier (top navigation bar)-> Karton/Pappe (left navigation bar) -> Last page listst pergamyn

    Moreover, apparently it is replaced because if the binder didn’t take it out, the binding is adjusted to the bigger bulk that’s caused by the paper. Plus, if the paint is still sticky, the paper is indeed still needed.

  2. Interesting–I’d never thought about the tissue inserts needing to come out before. Makes sense, though, as they are often really acidic. Good luck with your project–looks like it will take a while to replace all those tissue pages, but worth it, as the book is beautiful! 🙂

  3. they are? I didn’t know that they are acidic. That sounds awful! Maybe acid in the guarding paper could be a reason why it keeps sticky? But thinking about it: There’s no discoloration of the page where the paper has been lying, and it doesn’t appear any more brittle than other pages. Probably it would if the guards had been acidic? Or am I being too optimistic?

    I am going to replace the tissue on all double pages. I don’t think I need to replace them all. the 80 or 90 sheets were distributed over 17 really thick volumes. They make about 0.25% (less than 2 mm in each 7cm volume) of the spine’s thickness – I don’t expect the spine to collapse because of that. So the amount of work is managable. Of course it would have been easier if I had decided this already upon taking the sheets out. Ah well, once again I was acting too fast.

    Thanks again to all who helped with advice!

  4. Ha, wie ich das kenne. Mein oller 24bändiger Meyers von 1905 hat auch ein paar klebende Zwischenleger. Das liegt nicht am Pergamin, sondern an den Chromo-Farben, mit denen diese herrlichen Tafeln gedruckt wurden. Das Pergamin wurde zwischengelegt, weil die Chromofarben ziemlich fetthaltig waren und lange brauchten um vollständig durchzutrocknen. Das bisschen Säure im Pergamin ist unbedeutend angesichts der Tatsache, dass die Druckfarbe sehr fetthaltig ist. Echtes Pergamin (Pergamyn) ist genau so säurehaltig wie jedes andere Papier, es ist eine Frage der Qualifizierung. Wenn du garantiert säurefreie (!) Zwischenleger benötigst, dann musst du z.B. hier nachfragen. Die dort angebotenen Qualitäten sind definitiv.
    Wenn du eine Papierrestauratorin brachst, dann wende dich doch mal ins Bergische Land: Jeff Peachey in NYC ist wahrscheinlich zu weit weg, nicht nur räumlich sondern auch preislich.
    Ein Tip noch: Spinnenpapier, ob mit oder ohne Prägung ist bestens geeignet und gut zu beschaffen.
    BTW: Pergamin wird hergestellt indem in der traditionelle Papierpulpe Glycerin zugesetzt wird. Wenn du sehr viel Pergamin brauchst, dann such nach ‚Blumenseide’. Das ist eh nüscht anderes, nur meistens bedruckt und billiger, weil es von der Rolle kommt.

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