Conservation rebinding of 18th century pamphlets

This project achieved the rebinding of over seventy 18th century pamphlets. UI Special Collections is abundantly supplied with this era of material in the problematic formats of library bindings or damaging pamphlet bindings.

Paper Case Pamphlets

The seemingly simple task of rebinding 18th century pamphlets included at least two consequential challenges. One was presented by the need to disassembe gangs of 18th century pamphlets which had been later bound into 20th century library bindings with their attendant damaging sewing, trimming and covering or their disassembly from acidic and damaged pamphlet bindings. Another challenge was development of a conservation treatment that would (1) reformat the pamphlets as separate imprints and (2) mend, re-sew and cover them in a functional, graceful and sympathetic manner that which would facilitate their scanning and exhibition.

The treatment involved many of the steps typical of conservation rebinding. These steps included a collation check, surface cleaning, disassembly of gatherings, optional water washing, mending, endpaper production and text re-sewing based on the use of stitch chains.

The endpaper production was somewhat distinctive as applied to conservation rebinding. The endpaper selected was the un-sewn type typically used in collection maintenance repairs (University of Iowa Preservation department CMR). This distinctive endpaper is made with two folios of a machine made paper (Mohawk vellum beige) which are tipped together on either side of a kozo fiber paper guard. The paper guard is then adhered to the text back of the item.

The cover for the pamphlets was especially distinctive. The cover type was a one piece construction following the well know paper or vellum cover prototype associated with popular press imprints from southern Europe from the 16th to the 19th centuries. This historical type has been modified from a “laced case” attachment to a simple cased construction attachment for application to conservation rebinding. This particular adaptation, now assimilated into general practice, was developed by the University of Iowa Libraries Conservator, Gary Frost.

The case construction action of this cover features a set back attachment to permit free flexing of the text out of the cover during opening thereby achieving a flat, non-damaging opening for scanning and exhibition. Additionally, the visual effect of this cover type echoes the appearance of the plain paper wrapper typical of 18th century pamphlet covering.

Another especially distinctive feature of the cover is its use of the excellent hand made cover paper stock produced here at the University of Iowa. This distinctive paper was especially created to simulate the stocks used for historical paper case work as it provides the type of excellent handling, toughness and color qualities which are so complimentary to such 18th century text papers.

The 2006 William Anthony Endowment Project for conservation rebinding of 18th century pamphlets was successful on a number of levels. It has established and refined a productive, standardized method that will serve us well as we treat the continuing work flow of this collection format. It addresses the special needs of an abused genre of artifacts which figures so prominently in political, social and media history.

Project costs: $ 4,320