Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2014 Issue

Book Repair for Booksellers

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Book Repair For Booksellers.

Veteran Massachusetts bookseller Joyce Godsey has written a short and useful guide to basic book repairs. Her advice is:If the book is worth more than $250, send it to a professional or sell it AS IS.”

 

But, she observes, most dealers encounter many books of lesser value, not worthy of professional conservation and restoration. In that situation skillfully correcting minor imperfections can often make them salable and significantly raise their value.

 

To that end she offers “Book Repair for Booksellers - A handy guide for booksellers and book collectors offering practical advice on how to improve the quality and look of your books and ephemera.” This is useful, well organized information presented in a clear and simple format.

 

The title published under her own SicPress.com imprint first appeared in 2009. Since then it has steadily gained an underground following. Even if you’ve been in the trade for a long time and already know how to do most of these standard fixes, at $1.99 for an 86 page pdf you can’t go wrong. The volume is also available as a trade paperback for $16.

 

“In my life as a bookseller,” Godsey writes in her preface, “I have seen books repaired with book tape, duct tape, electrical tape, and masking tape. I have seen rubber cement, white glue, airplane glue, superglue, and hot glue. I have seen them priced with stickers, ink, crayon, marker, and lipstick.

 

“And I have been asked to remove every bit of it. Some of these mutilations were done by people I know and respect in the field. I have even done a few myself (I did library-type repairs on books in high school and have been paying penance ever since).

 

“I know a bookbinder who sells bottles of furniture polish and neatsfoot oil and calls it ‘book crème.’ I know another who buys saddle polish and re-labels it as a ‘leather book treatment.’ And I know a bookstore that uses electrical tape to re-back reading copies.”

 

As she is quick to point out, “There are better and less dangerous methods of repair.”

 

It’s amazing just how much of that basic information she provides including tools and supplies, dealing with dirt, wrinkles, bubbles, stickers, library marks, book plates, tears, missing and damaged endpapers, loose and broken hinges, bumped corners, attaching pages, cocked spines, warping, mold, de-acidification, the list goes on and on.

What’s good about her advice is she gives multiple ways to approach each situation and she knows when to stop. As in STOP.

 

• If you don’t know the book’s true value, STOP.

 

• If you think you may harm it, STOP.

 

• If you aren’t sure what it’s going to look like later, STOP.

 

• If you can’t afford to throw it away after you have ruined it, STOP.

 

“When in doubt: DO NOTHING,” is her all purpose basic guidance. “Give it a once over for 10 minutes then sell it AS IS. Doing nothing is the safest course of action.” But she adds, “Doing repairs that keep small injuries from becoming big ones is even better.”

 

Here, for example, is a portion of her advice on replacing endpapers:

 

“The endpaper is the final piece the binder applies to cover up all the unattractive parts of the fine work he or she has just done. It also tightens the bond between the text block and the binding and prevents the boards from warping.

 

“Replacing an endpaper or even all the endpapers is not a crime. Endpapers have always been replaceable.

 

“Saving endpapers from damaged and discarded books is a helpful trick of many booksellers. Blank and nearly blank pages from textbooks and other reference books can be used. Even if a page has two or three lines on it, the page can be cut down to fit a smaller book (you can experiment with bleaching the ink off a page, but you will never be happy with the result. By the time you remove the ink you will also be removing any patina and foxing the paper has in it and it will never really match.)

 

“Keep loose endpapers in a file drawer sorted into folders by height; you can put colored, patterned and clay pages in other folders by hue. Use a light source such as a window to match the paper’s age, watermarks and fiber content to a page from the book itself.”

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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