I wanted to write a short post about making new endbands when repairing a rare book.

Situation 1: When there is no original endband present.

Sometimes there are no endbands present. There are no remnants of endbands present. In this case, if the book is not a prized jewel of the collection, I usually make a rolled paper conservation endband.

the top portion of a spine of a damaged book, some of the leather removed, two fingers holding the remaining leather in place.
The endbamds at the head and tail of the book are missing.

In the book pictured above, I could not tell what the original endbands had looked like. There is a textile fragment adhered at the top of the spine but I am not really sure what that tells me about the endbands… Any ideas out there?

Well, let’s get back to what I do know. A rolled paper endband is quick and easy to make. Once dry, it is durable and supports the original endcap nicely, making no claims of authenticity. Its appearance clearly states: “a conservator made me, I am not original.”

Materials: Linen cord, Moriki Japanese tissue (50 gsm) and wheat starch paste.

The rolled endband can be made of a neutral color paper, which blends in with the rest of the binding without calling undue attention to itself.

Once the endband dries, it can be trimmed to fit the spine of the book.

In the book below, I “faced” the fragile original leather before lifting it. I used 9gsm machine-made tengujo Japanese tissue with a 4% solution of Klucel G in ethanol. After adhering the endband to the spine, I molded a new endcap using the same paper and paste.

1. The rolled paper endband is attached to the spine of the book at the head, using paste.
2. The endcap is molded on top of the endband. An overhanging lining is added. The lining has hinges that will tuck under the lifted pastedowns on the interior of the boards.
3. The hinges are tucked in and the original leather is ready to be re-adhered to the spine and the boards.

Once the leather was re-adhered, I removed the tengujo “facing”, using a small amount of ethanol applied with a brush. In order to make the appearance of the repaired binding more cohesive, I toned the exposed paper repairs with acrylics to mimic the color of the original leather. Since the rolled paper endbands already blended in well, I left them as they were.

The new endband and endcap after conservation treatment.

Situation 2: One of the endbands is present, the other is partially missing.

In the case below, the tail endband and endcap were intact but only half of the head endband was there. The core of the endband was brittle and completely inflexible. I have found that when a fragment of the endband can no longer bend, it will not function well if joined with a newly constructed fragment. As the book is opened repeatedly, the connection between the old and the new endband fragments will eventually break.

Half of the head endband is tenuously attached.
The red edge speckling pattern is less faded where the other half of the endband used to be.

My solution was to save the original fragment as a small artifact and to make a whole new head endband. Luckily, I had a lovely original fragment and an intact tail endband to reference.

The colors of thread on the tail endband appear more faded.

The silk thread on the interior side of the endband was barely faded, retaining vibrant colors of green and red. On the exterior side, which was exposed to light, the environment and pollutants, the colors of the thread had faded significantly. The resulting aged color combination was closer to a muted mauve and a faded blue-green. The silk ribbon bookmark had faded to a similar green.

A fragment of the original endband, removed from the book.
The original fragment compared to the new sewn endband, which is made of linen fabric and dyed silk thread.

I dyed white silk thread with diluted acrylic pigments to match the endband that was visible and intact at the tail of the book. I followed the same two-color single bead pattern, except I sewed through fabric, not through the textblock.

Comparing the original tail endband with the new sewn endband intended for the head of the book.

After I adhered the new endband to the spine with paste, I noticed how much flatter the curve of the spine was at the head. At the tail of the book, the spine was much more curved. I had no plans to alter the uneven curve, it was just an observation that made me go: “huh…”. Not something to contemplate correcting.

The new sewn endband underneath the new head endcap.

I also observed that the new endband sat higher over the head edge of the textblock than the original endband had.

This outcome was ok with me. First, because my new endband was not sewn into the textblock like the original had been. Second, because achieving the perfect match was never my goal. I wanted my endband to be similar enough to avoid standing out.

Repairs before toning.

I molded the new head endcap with Moriki tissue and paste, trying to mimic the shape of the existing tail endcap. After the original leather was re-attached, I toned the paper repairs in the exact same way I did in Situation 1 of the rolled endband.

Repairs after toning.

I stored the fragment of the original head endband in the enclosure with the book. I put the fragment into an archival polyethylene zip-locked baggie and attached it to a small piece of 20pt board, using cotton twine. I inserted the board with the baggie into the cutout on the interior of the lid. The little package can be popped out and back in order to examine the original fragment more closely.

An extra piece of corrugated board is attached to the interior of the lid. There is a cutout made in it to house the endband fragment.

The transmission of information across time is a challenge currently addressed through institutional digital preservation efforts. How might this challenge be met in other ways?

Stewardship ensures consistent transmission of information across time. Troup, T. (GIF-maker). 2020. Introduction to the 2008 film City of Ember. [GIF].

Think about digital communication for a second. Think about the incredible network required to package electrical pulses as information objects and to send this package from one place to another. While it is possible to send, receive, and even authenticate a perfect copy of a message across space, we do not yet have consistent, automated methods of sending, receiving, or authenticating a perfect copy across time.

While early developers of digital communication acknowledged that noise distorted the transmission of a message, their linear model did not represent information lost. Lost data graphic based on Claude Shannon’s transmissive model of communication.

A number of factors contribute to the challenge of long-term transmission. The initial transfer of data might be incomplete, data corrupts, retention policies are unstated or ambiguous, inactive communities might cease support, elements might deprecate, and entire systems might use obsolete features with little to no documentation. Instead of a fully automated system of active management, managing digital objects for transmission across time currently requires organizational commitment, resources, and supporting technology. This system of active management and the action taken to mitigate data loss contributes to a type of preservation activity known as digital preservation. Consider the image of the digitized map below. Collection strategies, administrative procedures, and archival handling methods supported the library staff’s efforts to carry forward both the form and content of the physical 1868 map in an almost perfect transmission process. Digital objects, however, are much more complex than physical objects, and staff members collect more information in an effort to carry forward information. Procedures adapted for digital objects within an active digital preservation system will allow the digitized images (master TIFF files and derivative JPEG files) to be securely managed, restored if the file becomes corrupt, or migrated if the format becomes obsolete. Additionally, retention and review policies will ensure that digital files are not mishandled. Digital preservation starts at the point of transfer (or creation) and it is an active system; it is not an end.

Unknown. Map of the Agricultural College Farm. 1868. Digitized map. Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives. Ames, IA. https://n2t.net/ark:/87292/w9zs2kc71

Digital preservation in its current manifestation draws on various methodological approaches developed over the past forty years. Librarians and archivists began applying their deep experience with research, authentication, copyright, and information management in the 1980s, and they developed standards for managing digital objects in the mid-1990s. Hacking communities cultivated knowledge networks around interrogating systems, forensics experts interrogated digital files, and data curators refined data management practices. In 2003, the Management Council of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) developed a reference model – the Open Archival Information System – which became an ISO standard (ISO 14721:2003). This standard provided preservation communities with a much-needed lexicon. Scholars with the Data Curation Center graphically represented the concepts with a lifecycle model, which is useful for planning preservation actions.

Higgins, S.; Harvey, R.; and Whyte, A. The DCC Curation Lifecycle Model. 2008. Graphic. Digital Curation Center https://www.dcc.ac.uk/guidance/curation-lifecycle-model

Locally, the Iowa State University Library began digital preservation actions ca. 2007, and they managed these activities in tandem with digitization, digital collections management, and archival processing activities. These activities provided staff members with the opportunity to develop a range of skillsets, although library administrators recognized the need for a consistent library-wide approach. To support this consistency, the library worked with AVP an information management and digital preservation consulting company. AVP conducted a review of ISUL’s infrastructure and activities, and their experts designed a roadmap with clear action items to support the development of a systematic approach to digital preservation. As the ISU Library applies this roadmap and organizes digital preservation activities, we strive to build a digital preservation approach responsive to the environmental and social factors that contribute to the continuity of the digital resources of Iowa State University. Watch this space for updates about the policy and procedures that we’re developing in support of digital preservation or contact us at preserve@iastate.edu.

I posted pictures of this lovely contraption on the isupreservation Instagram feed a couple of months ago. This post goes into more details about the construction of it.

There must be many different ways to support an accordion book for an exhibit. Here is one idea, as envisioned and executed by Conservation Technician Jim Wilcox. This mount is made from 4-ply museum-quality mat board, adhered together with 3M 415 double-sided tape.

Conservation Assistant Jim Wilcox cutting out a paper template for the mount.

This accordion binding is a miniature artist book. The small size of the book means that it is very light, which makes it easier to manage stress on the joints and folds.

Mount without the book.
Mount with the miniature book.

The mount enables the accordion binding to be displayed open. The covers of the book sit lower than the pages, since the covers are slightly bigger than the pages on all sides.

The mount as viewed from the front and from the back.

The open pages are supported by the top-most layer of mat board, cut in a zig-zag shape. In order to create this custom shape, the profile of the pages has to be traced onto a piece of paper, with the accordion open.

These are the layers of board that went into making the mount. Hopefully my sketch and notations are not making this more confusing.

As seen in the sketch above, this particular mount was made from 4 layers of mat board. The number of layers can be adjusted depending on the book. Level 2 can be added twice if the cover has tall board squares or if the cover boards need extra support.

Board squares are the spaces at the edges of the book boards that are not covered by the pastedowns. These spaces are the difference between the size of the cover and the size of the textblock (all the pages).

For a bigger, heavier book, additional support would have to be provided for the boards in order to keep them upright. A piece of mat board the size of the cover could be inserted and secured in the slot behind the cover to prop it up.

The red arrow points to one of the cutout slots, where the book boards fit.
The space shaded in green is the extra deep recess, where each book board can be positioned

The area of green color seen in the picture above is created by one of the cutout slots, which is mentioned in the hand-drawn diagram. The book boards sink down to Level 1, the lowest level. The cutouts are made in Level 2.

Often, students and the broader community may not be aware of the role preservation and special collections staff play at a university research library. Short workshops afford both parties the opportunity to learn about a new topic or gain a new skill, while collaborating with different library departments.

Such was the case in a recent two-part workshop proposed by graduate student Sang Lee from the Graphic Design department at the College of Design. Sang wanted to give her students, who primarily design on a computer, the chance to do a hands-on project. The objective of the workshop was to familiarize the students with book and box design using historical examples as well as modern objects followed by a second session learning how to make their own box.

This class was a joint effort between graduate student Sang Lee from the College of Design, Special Collection’s archivist Amy Bishop, and preservation staff, including Sonya Barron, Jim Wilcox, Mindy Moeller, and myself.

A montage of two photos. Each shows the class surrounded a table with books laid out on the table. In the first conservator Sonya Barron is holding a book and describing it. In the second archivist Amy Bishop is picking up a book she is discussing.
Conservator Sonya Barron and archivist Amy Bishop showing students and instructor Sang Lee bindings, book models, and artists books.

Sonya and Amy described various bindings including a German wooden board binding, a Cambridge panel binding of the volume Citie of God, St. Augustine, Pilgrims Progress translated to Cantonese and bound in an Asian style binding, a parchment in-boards volume titled Philosophia Botanica,  artist books in a box made using organic materials like stone and sand called Nature’s Details, a tunnel book called Falling Leaves, and many others.

The classes were a nice way, too, for staff to review some of our prized collections and share what is important or interesting about each item. The present and history repeat itself, recycling designs and creating new ones from the old. Students had a worksheet with a list of questions and tasks meant to guide them through the experience identifying the use of materials and interpreting artists’ intent.

I’ve included several of my favorite items below out of the myriad examples we laid out for the class.

Block-printed Casebindings

Below is a highly decorative block printed cloth casebinding published in 1871.

A photo of the front cover of a casebinding that has been block stamped with gold, red, and yellow. The design includes sun and moon graphics as well as leaves, wavy lines that possibly depict a river, and Tennyson's portrait.
The poetic works of Alfred Tennyson published by Harper & Brothers in a highly stylized casebinding.

Sir Humphry Repton’s Landscape Designs

The library has a facsimile of Humphry Repton’s Red Books. Humphry was an artist and self-trained 18th century landscape designer. He gained success by creating red covered bindings of his landscape designs with overlays that could be lifted to show the space before and after his work. Check out the Morgan Library’s videos on the history of the red books for more information.

A montage of two photos. The first shows a river with an irregular bank. The second photo shows the same landscape with a paper flap that was atached to the image lifted to reveal a more regular riverbank and animals wading in the river.
The transformation of a riverbed by Humphry Repton.

Pop-out Books

A class on book structure can’t be without at least one pop-up book. Here is one titled Ruckus Rodeo by Red Grooms and Barbara Haskell.

Photo of a pop-out book open to show 3D nature of book. Features a rodeo with a bull and cowboy on horse in an arena.
Ruckus Rodeo book opened out.

Wooden Board Bindings

Highly stylized historic wooden board binding as compared to a simpler modern wooden cover.

A montage of two photos. One photo is of a historic German bindings with wooden boards and a tooled cover. The other is of a modern wooden cover binding with decoration on the cover.
Left: A German style wooden boards bindings with clasps and a tooled cover. Right: a modern wooden boards binding.

Eastern Style Bindings

Special collections has several stab-bindings and accordion bindings. Here is a modern stab-binding including a traditional style wrap cover with peg closures.

A photo of a stab-bound book laying on top of a wrapper constructed in an eastern style with bone clasps attached to ribbon to hold it closed.
Talk to a Stone: Nothingness by Tetsuzan Shinagawa.

Recipe Boxes

Some items in our collection include recipe boxes with cards and dividers. The box is necessary to complete the object. Without it, the cards would not be received in the same way to the viewer.

A photo of a box with recipe cards and dividers listing food categories such as beverages, cakes, meat, and poultry.
Food Preparation Recipes by Alice M. Child. Home Economics was historically a notable department at ISU and collections include recipes, artifacts, and manuscripts on the subject.

Artist Books

My favorite artist book was this project called The Nearness of Distance, published by Eastern Air Lines in 1967. It is quite deceptive at first glance. It begins as a box masquerading as a book which, when opened, contains several folders. Each folder has attached graphics, objects, and texts to tell a story. The texts come in single sheets and pamphlets.

A montage of four photos showing the book-box closed, opened to reveal folders inside, and a folder closed and then opened.
The book-box Nearness of Distance opened to reveal folders. The first volume , Ionosphere, opened showing a letter stamped with wax.
Photo of first folder opened.
The first folder called Ionosphere opened to show a map, a letter, and a perpetual calendar.

Conservation technician Jim Wilcox modified the traditional blue-board clamshell box so the students would fold over the triangular tabs at the box corners instead of plying them apart. Previous to the class, conservation technician Mindy Moeller made double-fan adhesive books with marbled paper covers for each student.

The students constructed their boxes over the course of an hour and a half. The result was a functional clamshell box they could use as a model or inspiration for their box project.

A photo of the students working on box making at 3 sets of tables configured in circles. Instructor Sang Lee and archivist Amy Bishop look on.
Session two of the workshop. Students making boxes under the guidance of instructors.

A finished box!

A photo showing a completed box with metal clips sitting on a cutting mat with the pre-made book near it.
A well-made box constructed by one of the graphic design students below the pre-made book. The metal clips are holding the glued parts together while it dries.

As many in conservation know, objects come to a library or archive in myriad ways and conditions. Boxes, trash bags, coffee stained, mold affected, falling apart, pristine. They must be quarantined, assessed, and then brought into conservation for treatment and housing. They may even have previous repairs, as in the case of this set of badly damaged lithographs that came to us wrapped in wax paper sleeves. They are part of the John Scott Beals Civil War Papers collection.

Photo of civil war lithographs.
Image side of damaged lithographs.
Photo of paper backed civil war lithographs.
The Japanese paper backing on the verso of the prints. You can see the discolored adhesive through the paper.

As you can see, they had been lined on the back with Japanese paper adhered with some kind of discolored paste. A backing removal was necessary to remove the brittle mystery adhesive. As the backing was removed, pieces of the lithograph began to fall away in some areas. Their location was captured with my phone camera as I progressed through the removal.

The chromolithograph under magnification using a SMZ-1000 Nikon Stereomicroscope.

Using magnification I examined the print to determine that it was a chalk lithograph, as identified by the chalky, grainy black lines. An examination of the color led me at first to believe it was a standard chromolithogaph, where the color was applied by several, separate stones. However, further examination of the pinkish straight lines in the sky and the cross-hatching on the ground leads me to believe the color may have been applied by several woodblocks. Alternately, the image below supports the chromolithography technique. Could there be both? My examination of the text ink revealed an different method of application as well. The text letters had sharp, defined borders, which signified relief printing. The nature of the mass production of these prints supports the need to be able to apply custom text to a standard image.

Mysteries still remained: What did the lithograph originally look like? What was its purpose? I knew this would guide my treatment of the object after the backings were removed, so I began my research. Eventually, a search on civil war lithographs led me to a blog post by archivist Nancy Sullivan from the Historical Society of Montgomery, PA. Here were similar looking works on a much larger scale. I lined up the detached parts of the lithograph and compared it to an example in the blog. Where the pieces met, the image became congruous. The course of treatment was now clear.

Civil War Registers Lithographs, Chromolithographs, art on paper conservation.
Left: Civil War lithograph in the Historical Society of Montogmery PA collection. https://hsmcpa.org/index.php/component/k2/item/145-civil-war-lithographs Right: Our lithograph lined up before repair.

Nancy Sullivan went on to posit that the ovals on the lithograph may have sometimes been left blank for the family who purchased the item to attach a photograph. On our register, some of the ovals had printed portraits, and some had albumen photographs attached. Perhaps when the item was printed, the people filling each role were not yet assigned their role, or a portrait could not yet be drawn of them before the lithograph was made.

After the paper backing was removed mechanically with a scalpel, the separated pieces with lined up with the image side facing up. Tabs of solvent-reactivated Klucel-G coated tissue were used to hold the pieces together while the verso of the lithograph was repaired. Tears were mended with both untoned and toned Japanese tissue. Toned tissue repairs were made when the tears had minor losses. Fills were used for large losses.

Photo of the back of the lithograph showing repairs.

The verso of the lithograph with Japanese repair paper and tissue repairs.Now that the structure was repaired as a whole, it could once again be viewed as an authentic, complete work of art and history.

Photo of civil war lithograph after conservation treatment.
The civil war lithograph after conservation treatment.