The book of common prayer, along with the loose first section were removed from the textblock, after it was decided that the front board should also be removed. This provided a small amount of access to the spine of the text-block, and meant that the damaged joint edge of the front board could also be treated. The leather along the crude stitching was already so broken, that it only need a small amount of persuading before it came free. The joint edge of the board was then humidified with a damp blotter/Sympatex sandwich, and flattened.
The thick layer of adhesive along the front joint proved problematic, as we were unsure what it was. It did not soften in water or various solvents (acetone, isopropanol or methanol), but it did have to be removed – as it was severely restricting the flexibility of the front joint. We decided that the mechanical method was the most effective, and the residue was chipped and scraped off. After some consultation with the Leather Conservation Centre, bitumen was ruled out as an adhesive, since it wasn’t slightly tacky. A sample of the adhesive was sent to the Conservation department at Camberwell College of Art for FTIR testing, which concluded that it was protein based – suggesting that once upon a time it may have been an animal glue. We still don’t have a definitive answer. We would welcome any suggestions though!
Before any repairs could take place, the loose leaves and first section had a poultice of WSP applied to remove the thick layer of animal glue along the spine edge. This freed up the pages, enabling them to be humidified in a cedar wood cabinet. Some pages were washed, to give them added strength. None of the pages were lined, although in hindsight, this may have been a better option, as a large percentage of the pages needed to be covered anyway for the repairs.
After the animal glue was removed, two stitched pamplets were discovered. Unfortunately they had been incorrectly collated, and after discussion with the owner, it was decided that they should be repaired back into the correct order. This meant that the prayer book was now in the correct order, and was only missing 2-3 pages.
Paper reapirs were carried out using a toned (with acrylic inks) 6gsm Japanese paper on the verso, adhered with Cellugel. Using Cellugel was prefered as it did not add any moisture that could cockle the very thin paper or affect any iron all ink present (the pages with iron gall in weren’t washed or humidified), it also dries very quickly; greatly reducing treatment time, and could be applied through the tissue without damaging it. Infills were completed using a toned (with acrylic inks) 16gsm Japanese paper adhered with a 5% gelatine adhesive.
The damaged map (pictured below), was slightly trickier to repair as it didn’t have a corresponding section to wrap around and therefore couldn’t be spaced accuratly. Instead, I used the adjoining section as a gauge and kept the two sides of the map in place using paper clips. There were fragments of the map stuck in the gutter, and the jigsaw approach was employed and then spaces were filled with toned 16gsm japanese paper.
Next step is to sew back in the loose sections. Check back soon!