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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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