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Topic: My first attempt at restoring a book from the late 1800s  (Read 4806 times)
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BananaAmbush
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« on: June 03, 2013 03:40:08 PM »

I love books from the late 1800s and early 1900s, so I decided to teach myself how to repair and restore them! I definitely have a lot to learn, but I'm fairly satisfied with my first attempt.

Here's the book in the condition in which it arrived. As you can see, it needs a lot of TLC.



Here are the detached covers:



The original endbands attempt to escape the horror that is the text block. The block itself was in great condition, though; score!



All four corners were busted like this:



The bottom of the spine was super raggedy, and the spine itself was almost detached from the covers in many places.



Very cool inscriptions on the first page. The oldest one is from 1900; the newest one is from 1909.



So after hours of work, here is the finished product:



I ended up repainting everything because the cover illustrations were so faded:





A quarter for size comparison. I tried to remain as faithful as possible to the original illustration, which was hard when the printed marks were so tiny!



Sometimes it was impossible to stick to the original. The bottom of the spine was so faded that I had to make a lot of this up.



The new inside, bound nice and tight!



Don't worry; I kept the inscriptions:



The new headbands are black and blue instead of white and blue. This is the only area where you can see my new spine showing through. I'll have to cover it up better next time.



All finished; tight binding and lovely text/illustrations!



I didn't take any in-progress shots (I'll have to do it next time!) but if you'd like to do something similar to a book of your own, I'd highly highly recommend http://www.indiana.edu/~libpres/manual/mantoc.html and http://www.youtube.com/user/DIYbookrepair.

Now, I have some questions for the good people of craftster: I used regular acrylic paint to repaint this; is there a better choice? And is there some sort of sealant or lacquer that I could use to seal the covers so the paint doesn't chip or get damaged? Thanks so much!
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2013 04:12:38 PM »

That is shockingly good!  I had no idea a book so badly damaged could be repaired like that.  Great work!
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2013 04:23:18 PM »

wow! that is awesomely impressive! really great work!
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2013 04:30:09 PM »

A fabulous job!
There are a couple of good articles at the Golden site (acrylic paints I like very much) about varnish. They have one that is good with uv and also flexible, so might be good for all the handling books get.
It's also removable, so if your book gets grimy, you can remove the old grungy varnish and apply a new coat.
here is the link;

http://www.goldenpaints.com/technicaldata/msavar.php
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2013 04:52:31 PM »

Beautiful job!   Smiley

(just a general note to mention that restoration like this may affect the value of the book as an antique)
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2013 05:10:14 PM »

Looks great! You did an amazing job.
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2013 05:28:30 PM »

I was lucky enough to watch much of this work in progress. The book looks wonderful!

So, BananaAmbush, how many hours do you estimate it took you from start to finish? 
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2013 05:38:28 PM »

Thanks, guys!

A fabulous job!
There are a couple of good articles at the Golden site (acrylic paints I like very much) about varnish. They have one that is good with uv and also flexible, so might be good for all the handling books get.
It's also removable, so if your book gets grimy, you can remove the old grungy varnish and apply a new coat.
here is the link;

http://www.goldenpaints.com/technicaldata/msavar.php

Oooh, I'll have to check that out! I wonder if it's at my local craft store. Luckily, I have some crappy thrift store books I can test it out on first  Cheesy Thanks for the suggestion!

I was lucky enough to watch much of this work in progress. The book looks wonderful!

So, BananaAmbush, how many hours do you estimate it took you from start to finish?  

Aww, thankya. I have no idea how long it took, but I've probably been working on it for 4-5 hours a day for the last week. Yowza!
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2013 08:01:03 PM »

This is such a special project. I love the new life you gave this book. You can tell that you honored the design and craftsmanship that the original bookmaker intended. Beautiful job!
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2013 01:01:40 AM »

This is absolutely wonderful - I love how you restored the old cover, it is so pretty! And makes me want to try to restore all my old books that are falling apart.  Grin
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« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2013 08:30:07 AM »

This is a great result. The binding alone is worth the effort of doing for such a great book.
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« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2013 11:29:18 AM »

That is absolutely amazing.
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« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2013 10:04:37 AM »

Did you do this for love or for money? LOL! Cheesy Either way it would have to have been for an awful lot of whichever it was! Goodness, you've done such a tremendous job rekindling the life in that old book. Wonderful work, I'd love to see more!
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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2013 05:58:05 AM »

This is truly a work of love.  NIce  job.
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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2013 07:23:45 AM »

This is beautifully done. Congratulations.
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« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2013 11:48:01 AM »

Wow! The mistreated books of the world need more people like you. Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2013 04:44:56 PM »

Wow! The mistreated books of the world need more people like you. Smiley
Ditto that! I think the world needs more folks with your talent. You did a beautiful job! Cheesy
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« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2013 11:03:17 AM »

This seems to be a good article on restoration. I hope this helps in your future ventures.
 http://www.alibris.com/article/122809/book-restoration/antiquarian-book-restoration?cm_sp=oop-_-article-snippet-_-readmorebook-restoration

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« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2013 02:46:09 PM »

Fantastic! Now I want to restore my old books as well but I love them too much to ruin them (which is what I would do if I tried this Sad )
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« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2013 11:14:45 PM »

Wow - amazingly professional outcome for a first attempt. Great work!
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« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2013 10:04:21 AM »

Beautifully done!
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« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2013 12:19:15 PM »

Congratulations! This has been chosen as a Featured Project!
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« Reply #22 on: June 21, 2013 03:17:27 PM »

Beautiful job!   Smiley

(just a general note to mention that restoration like this may affect the value of the book as an antique)

I agree, it is a beautiful job!  I'm sure this book wouldn't have had much value as an antique because it was so damaged, but I would definitely hesitate if I was thinking about restoring one that was in better shape.
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« Reply #23 on: June 21, 2013 05:25:28 PM »

Wow, that is amazing. And inspiring. I wonder if there is a way to fix mildew stains? I have some stuff from the 1800's that are beautiful like this, but sadly they are damp-damaged. They don't smell bad, but there's no removing the stains is there?

Have you had anyone give you an estimate of the worth of the book now that it's restored? I know collectors like unrestored items, but that poor book couldn't get much worse, could it? It's nice that you so lovingly restored it. I will never have a kindle, I tell ya!
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« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2013 12:25:35 PM »

Wow, thanks so much, everybody! I can't believe this was a featured project!  Cheesy

Wow, that is amazing. And inspiring. I wonder if there is a way to fix mildew stains? I have some stuff from the 1800's that are beautiful like this, but sadly they are damp-damaged. They don't smell bad, but there's no removing the stains is there?

Have you had anyone give you an estimate of the worth of the book now that it's restored? I know collectors like unrestored items, but that poor book couldn't get much worse, could it? It's nice that you so lovingly restored it. I will never have a kindle, I tell ya!

Regarding mildew stains, it is entirely possible, but sadly, a ridiculously exact science. This article might give you some idea of the finickiness of foxing and mildew. You're best off taking your books to a professional restorer or conservator.

I haven't had anyone give me an estimate of its worth, but I imagine it isn't worth much of anything. I got it on ebay for around 20 bucks, and I'm guessing that now that it's been altered like this (as opposed to conserving its original parts, etc.) any value it may have had as an antique is gone. That's fine by me, though, as I'm just trying to build up a nice turn-of-the-19th-century library, and don't intend to get rid of it. Paper books are amazing; in fact, I'd say they are one of my favorite things in the world; but I gotta say, nothing travels like a kindle!  Cheesy
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« Reply #25 on: June 27, 2013 10:38:44 AM »

I so love that you gave that poor tattered book a new life as a book instead of altering out of its natural form.  You did such beautiful work!  It almost made me cry, which I think might just be the pregnancy hormones kicking it.  But that's how lovely I thought it was.  And let me tell you, I don't cry at everything!  ^_^
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« Reply #26 on: June 27, 2013 01:42:40 PM »

I just have to jump in, as a book lover -- what you've done is wonderful!  Not just making something pretty, but respecting something that was obviously a prized possession from the past.

I tip my hat to you!
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« Reply #27 on: June 28, 2013 05:51:21 PM »

Lovely work.  And so much better than discarding the cover or covering half of it with repair tape!

I do hope you took the time to write your own inscription, explaining when / how / why / by whom the book was refreshed.  Somebody 100 years from now might revel in that glimpse at its history.   Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: July 03, 2013 04:31:13 PM »

Wow!  What a transformation!  I have restored a few science fiction pulp books, but certainly nothing as big as a Woods Illustrated Natural History!  (I don't think I would have the courage to work on that one).  I have a version somewhat similar to yours, but mine is in a bit better condition.  I had mine appraised, and found out that my copy was worth between $60-$120, but if it was in better condition it would be worth closer to $400, so based on the condition of yours (assuming it is close enough to mine) I doubt it would be worth all that much (and I think the worth of having such a beautiful book that you can actually flip through and read is worth far more, especially these books!).  Does your copy have a date inside?  Mine doesn't, but dates between 1890-1895 (so I'm told).   
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« Reply #29 on: July 04, 2013 10:44:09 AM »

Beautiful work!!
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« Reply #30 on: July 08, 2013 11:43:13 PM »

This is such an inspiring post.  Thank you for showing what can be done - and also to all the others who have posted useful links on book restoring.  I have a volume of bound copies of The Boy's Own Magazine from the 1860s which is in a very bad state.  The worst part is that some previous owner decided to use the first few pages as a scrap book and pasted in household hints from  a magazine (I guess in the 1970s).  I have no idea how to get those off   Sad  but your example inspires me to have a look at what advice is out there and see if I can do something.
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« Reply #31 on: July 17, 2013 02:31:10 AM »

what a beautiful volume. definitely worthy of restoration.
and this is a craft that i don't often think about, so thanks for sharing.
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