A new spine for Machiavelli

I recently completed a conservation treatment of Machiavelli’s The History of Florence and The Prince.. This was a lovely little book, printed in 1847 in London, and owned by a private client. When it came into the studio the book’s spine was missing, one of the boards was detached and the other was hanging on by a couple of threads.

The client wanted the book to be read and enjoyed so the treatment needed to stabilise the volume, they had also asked that the author’s name be tooled on the spine.

Image of Machiavelli Before Treatment Spine and Front Board
Spine and front board showing the recycled waste paper used as a spine lining
Image of Machiavelli Before Treatment Front Endpaper
The front board was completely detached.

I began by making the new spine piece, using a new piece of bookcloth which was not completely the right colour, so I toned it using acrylic paint to match the original cloth.

I reattached the boards using archival paper and starch paste by slotting the thin boards and inserting the paper into the slots.

Re-attaching the boards
With the book in a finishing press, I can use strips of Japanese paper to reattach the front and back boards.

Then the tooling. Although I have a selection of hand tools, for a book of this period, I wanted to use a tooling palette. I’m grateful to the Sussex Conservation Consortium for allowing me to borrow this piece of kit for the job!

Gold tooling
Tools of the trade, getting ready for some tooling!

Then I attached the new spine piece and pasted a toned strip of Japanese paper to the inner hinge.

Image of Machiavelli After Treatment Front Endpaper

To finish the job, I used a conservation wax on the cloth to give it the same finish as the original bookcloth.

Image of spine and front board after treatment
Spine and front board after treatment

Now the book is stable and ready to be used.

For more before and after pictures, check out the Conservation Project page for this treatment.

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