Conservation rebinding on:

Insect Architecture, London, 1830.

This binding is for sale for $1000

This volume was rebound as an entry in Artistically Reversible: Where Conservation and Art Meet, a bookbinding competition organized by the online journal The Bonefolder in 2011. The competition requires the conservation of a book using non-destructive and completely reversible structures, utilizing artistically unusual aesthetics.

Insect Architecture was received in half leather binding in atrocious condition. The leather was very degraded, with the hair layer missing over almost the entire surface. The corners were severely bumped, with losses. The sewing appeared intact.


The rebinding structure of Insect Architecture is loosely based on a copy of Thomas a Kempis’ Contemptus Mundi (Madrid, 1596) in a contemporary limp vellum binding in the collection of the Boston Athenaeum. The textblock had become detached from the case at some point in the past, and was reattached to the case using blue thread sewn through the case and into the first and last sections in a pamphlet stitch. This curious homemade repair was probably done in the late 19th or early 20th century, and has stood the book in good stead. The case and textblock remain united, and the book opens easily.


The leather on the spine was removed using a poultice of wheat starch paste, revealing a second set of sewing stations for a previous sewing on three sawn-in cords. The second set of holes demonstrated that the extant binding is not the original binding, which gives a conservator greater latitude in altering the volume during treatment. One flyleaf was hinged back onto the textblock and the spine was lined from head to tail and shoulder to shoulder with kozo tissue using wheat starch paste, but the original textblock received no further treatment.


A new case was fabricated using Iowa flax paper PC4. The case has no turn-ins, and there are yapps on the fore edges.

The case was decorated across the spine and portions of the board with a Pigma Micron black pen using the pattern of the cells of a wasp’s nest as illustrated on page 83 of the text. The case and textblock were punctured in six places before sewing; the holes were placed so that the black thread would mesh with the final design on the cover to minimize the appearance of the sewing thread. The case was sewn on using a long stitch and 35/3 linen thread colored with acrylics, creating a simple binding easily reversible by cutting the sewing threads. The extant boards were retained and re-housed with the new binding.

Date of rebinding: 2011






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