Restoration – Acton

Written by a British medical doctor “Prostitution, Considered in Its Moral, Social, and Sanitary Aspects, in London and Other Large Cities…” was a medial and moral analysis of that “oldest profession”. Acton wrote it in 1857 and it remains an important text for historians and social anthropologists in understanding the morays and values at that time concerning this topic.  This restoration was a commission. It came to me with a broken spine that was really present in three section but missing the head and foot and a chunk in the middle. Below I describe in detail the process of restoring this book.


Cover Material
– The covers were removed from the text block and spine fragments.
– When the spine came away it was in several pieces.
– A detrimental tear went across the word “Prostitution” in the title. I mended this but did not do anything else due to the customer’s desire  to maintain the cover “as is” and the scope of the budget for the project.
– Pieces of “Slate” colored Arrestox B cloth were matched as best as I was able for color …though against the slate the cover looks very brown. I amended this some by darkening the cloth. One cannot match the cloth exactly so I continued on rather than order yet more cloth.
– The cloth was feathered into the empty/missing spine places, this was quite delicate detailed work.
The several spine pieces were assembled on a Kozo paper backing then glued to the new cloth spine that now re-backs the book.
The Text Block
– There were several common tears (found in a vast majority of restorations) and two large tears across the text on about to pages.
– All tears were mended with Kozo paper and rice starch paste. The paste is reversible in water so if those pages get wet the kozo will release. This is standard conservation practice.
– The text was re-sewn following, for the most part, the method originally used.
– The book was glued-up and backed with stretchable mull which is a very strong material for backing. I then used super thin paper over that to create a “hollow” – the space you can see when you open a book and look from the head down the spine of the book- so as to make sure the spine did not become too fat and cease to resemble its original configuration.
-The end papers and paste downs are archival quality paper and I added a double layer on the paste downs to balance the hinge mull material (which was a little on the thicker side.) Basically this book should never lose hinge integrity again.
-PVA acid free bookbinder’s glue was used for the cover, spine, and all other areas..
– The cover board was quite thin. The cloth turn-ins (on the inside of the covers) were lifted and a sheet of black aid free paper was added to the covers on the inside to ensure they were solid. With this paper, the double paste down paper, and cloth hinge material the covers are quite solid. In conservation I try to not only fix the original problem but ensure it will not happen again.
– The original binders label, which had been lifted, was re-applied and the signatures in the front, as er the client’s request, were neither touched nor covered with other paper or glue.
– The page edges were cleaned up a tad.
– The book was cased-in to the now assembled new/old cloth binding and pressed. After taking it out of the press I made sure it opens easily and lays flat,…that it stands up straight, and that the function of the book is not only correct but will last for a century or more. I am satisfied it will.