King James Bible. 1630. Introduction.

This fantastic project came to PZ from a private client via Graham Bignell in London. It is an early edition of the King James bible, with an additional book of common prayer and biblical family trees.


At some point in its life its had lots of previous repairs; patches – sewn and pasted, new brass plates, an over back, and a very crude board reattachment. The front joint repair was particularly interesting: presumably, after the insertion of the prayer book and accompanying pages, the front joint has failed, but rather than just the leather splitting, the board has broken as well. The board was then reattached with large stitches and the application of a thick layer of insoluble adhesive.


The spine is also severely distorted, and a large amount of animal glue has been squeezed down into the void between the text-block and the spine leather to keep it all together, restricting the flexibility of the text block, and creating more problems along the front joint.


The first few sections of the text-block are suffering from various types of paper damage, including losses, tears, creases as well as being stuck together with large amount of animal glue.


After speaking to Fred Bearman, a bindings historian about the provenance of the binding, and discussing treatment options, a detailed condition report was assembled, as well as various treatment options. It is a family bible, and the blank pages have been used to record an extensive family tree, so these were the areas that would need to be accessed, requiring the binding to be opened and used.

Therefore the front joint needed to be addressed, as well as the state of the paper throughout the binding. There was nothing to be done about the shape of the spine, since the binding would have to have been pulled to access the spine, and this was considered far too interventive.


The main issues to tackle through treatment were:

  • Weak and damaged pages at beginning and end of textblock.
  • Poor opening characteristics, especially the front board.
  • Severe damage to front joint.
  • Split and broken front board.
  • Textblock break.
  • Damage to oversize tipped in page.
  • If possible – reduce the thick layer of adhesive in the spine hollow.


Treatment has just begun, so check back for progress updates and photos.



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