I had the pleasure at the end of 2020 to do some freelance conservation work on several books from Tate Britain’s Library. There was a wide variety of books from different periods and with very different issues to tackle. Working on books in a works of art on paper studio meant that some inventive approaches were needed to improvise a few book conservation tools. I think going into huge detail wouldn’t be appropriate for a blog post, but I’ll touch on some of the main points here!
Amedeo Modigliani, 1884-1920 : retrospective exhibition of paintings.
For this book it was necessary to stabilise the spine and protect the dust jacket and bookblock from the acidity of the boards.
To deal with the board acidity, a wrapper was made for each board. The wrapper was composed of two sheets of buffered archival paper cut to the same size as the board with tabs extending over the spine edge. These tabs pass around the spine edge of the board on to the opposite side of the board where they are woven in to slots in the corresponding archival paper.
The next issue was to stabilise and repair the spine and dust jacket. The brittle spine adhesive was removed mechanically and replaced with a more flexible and archival Japanese paper lining adhered with wheat starch paste. The losses in the dust jacket were reinforced and infilled using several layers of toned Japanese paper to built up the correct thickness and flexibility.
After treatment the book was stabilised and protected from further acid transfer. I had a great time working out a completely non adhesive and removable treatment to protect the cover and endpapers from the acidity of the boards.