A Tale of Two Clamshells

I have made two clamshell boxes this month.  The first was a cloth-covered clamshell box to hold an 1838 copy of The Farmer’s School Book.  The leather cover of the book is deteriorating and has been consolidated with “Red Rot Cocktail.”  To further protect the book and provide a support for it in our recent exhibit, I constructed my first clamshell box.  It was a fairly traditional treatment and I enjoyed the learning process.

Two views of a traditional clamshell box.

The second box was a bit less traditional.  At the end of September Jim, in our Marking unit, brought us an interesting challenge.  The library had purchased a fantasy role playing game for a course that teaches the students how to write gaming instructions.  The game includes a detailed instruction book, a variety of different sized cards, various tokens and something called a progress bar.  None of us were able to get all the parts back in the original box once we took them out without it bulging.  The challenge was to create a new enclosure that not only held all the different parts, but also encouraged the borrower to return all the pieces and let Circulation check that all the pieces have been returned.

Role playing game as it arrived in the lab.

With the help of an article by Andrea Krupp in the Abbey Newsletter  and Indiana University’s wonderful online treatment manual, I built a custom corrugated clamshell box to hold the game.  Corrugated clamshells are quite a bit of fun to construct on their own, but the real fun was creating the inner supports for all the game pieces.

I started by dividing the different parts into polyethylene zipper bags and a specimen box.  The bag and box were labeled with the contents and the number of items in each. I then built an inner support using corrogated cardboard and a couple of layers of Plastazote.  The layers allowed me to cut holes of different depths to accomodate the different thicknesses of the game pieces and their containers.  The game pieces are put in their appropriate spaces in the box and the instruction booklet rests on top of them.  Finally, I cut the front, back and one of the spines from the original box.  I used the front and spine pieces to create outer labels for the box and glued the back of the box inside the front cover of the clamshell to preserve the game information it contained.

Here is the new box.

New corrugated clamshell box with front side of box as label.

And this is what it looks like inside.

Two views of open clamshell box showing organization of booklet and pieces.


  1. From a layman’s point of view, both boxes look professionally done. But having had the Pandoraesque experience off and on of not being able to get lots of pieces back into a box the way they came, I was very impressed with the improved design of the box for the fantasy role playing game. Way to go!

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