Services‎ > ‎Conservation‎ > ‎


The aim of conservation work is to retain the uniqueness of each book that comes into the bindery

Book conservation work requires an initial assessment of each book to decide the best method of treatment and repair. The work is agreed with the client before the work commences. All stages of conservation are documented and conservation standard materials and techniques are used. We seek to return the book to a stable condition with minimal compromise to the original structure and materials used to construct the book. Examples of recent conservation works can be seen below.

Conservation of a 19thC Stationery Binding

Conservation work: The intention of the conservation work was to return the book to a usable condition while retaining the original binding structure, stabilise the printed ephemera and MS ink contents and retain some of the well-used appearance of the original covering leather.


Before: Spine and boards detached, losses to covering leather


Before: Spring-back hollow split and detached

Before: Original 'clothing' linings degraded, sewing exposed to further damage



During: Resewn sections using
original sewing style

During: Attaching replacement 'clothing'
spine linings of alum tawed skin

During: Reattaching boards using
original split-board style flange


During: Loss to leather corner on
front cover


During: Infilling loss with a reversible
handmade paper layer

During: Final infilling of loss with
archival quality calf leather

The condition of the book was recorded using written and photographic documentation. The covering leather, paper and inks were examined to determine manufacture and deterioration. The covering leather was carefully cleaned with a soft brush to reduce surface dirt deposits. Exposed areas of leather grain were treated with consolidant to reduce surface porosity that causes age hardening. The printed ephemera and MS pages were cleaned with chemical sponge and plastic eraser to reduce surface dirt. The broken sewing was recorded and removed and replaced. The damaged calf leather clothings were replaced with more stable alum tawed skin clothings. A new hollow was made of archival quality paper and paste and attached to the book with aerolinen. The linings were incorporated into the new flange style board attachment. New leather pieces for the spine and corner losses were prepared using Hewits archival quality book calf and leather dyes. The original spine leather was treated, repaired and reattached to the binding.



After: New archival quality hollow and
archival calf leather attached to the spine


After: Original spine piece treated and
returned to the book

After completion of the conservation work that binding was measured for protective housing during storage. An agreement was reached with the client to house the book is a bookshoe to ensure basic protection of the binding while still being able to view the spine details on the shelf.

top of page

Conservation of a large format 17thC Map book

Conservation work: The intention of the conservation work was to stabilise the existing binding structure, improve the appearance and strength of the text leaves and plates and retain as much of the original covering leather as possible.


Before: Stage 4 acid decay to covering leather


Before: Frontispiece animal-glued
to the title page


Before: map 6 heavily soiled and torn



During: treating degraded leather and gold on front cover


During: releasing frontispiece from
title page and foredge repairs


During: Paper repairs to maps

The covering leather was carefully cleaned with a soft brush under extraction to remove the degraded grain layer of the leather caused by advanced acid decay. The leather was then treated with Cellugel and SC6000. The text leaves and maps were all cleaned with inert smoke sponge and eraser to reduce the heavy soiling and allow further repair work. The frontispiece had been glued to the title page with a thick layer of animal glue and this was released using local humidifcation. All maps were then repaired with suitable weight and tone Japanese repair papers and Griffen Mill handmade papers.


After: treated leather binding in drop-back box


After: released frontispiece

After: map 6 cleaned and repaired
with plastazote supports

Once the work was completed the book was housed in a cloth-covered, drop back box constructed of conservation standard adhesives and materials. Plastazote supports to be placed under any map during consultation are included in the box.

top of page

Conservation of a small 18thC Book of Common Prayer

Conservation work: The intention of the conservation work was to stabilise the existing binding structure, text leaves and covering leather, while retaining as much of the evidence of use of the book as possible.



Before: damage to covering leather

Before: damage to title page


Before: detach back cover



During: leather cover repair

During: text block resewing

During: returning text to cover

To begin with the covering leather and text leaves were cleaned to remove surface dirt and allow further conservation work. The cover was detached to allow for the repair of the text pages and resewing. At the same time the covering leather was treated and repaired to prevent further losses.



After: Conserved cover

After: Title page conserved

After: Reattached back cover

 The cover was then reattached and the book was returned to the owner in its bespoke box to ensure protection during storage and handling.