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.
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?
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.
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?