We recently had the pleasure of rebinding this fantastic copy of a Geneva Bible, 1570. The text block was the cleanest copy we've seen of a 446 year old book. Even though the text block was in good condition, a book this old still needs to be handled with care. As you can see from the photo above, the binding was falling apart, so our client wanted a historical rebind rather than saving the old binding (which was not an original binding).
We carefully disbound the book, consolidated the text block, rounded and backed the text block, hand embroidered chevron end bands, covered the book in hand dyed (by us) calf leather, hand tooled the leather in a 16th Century design, saved the book plate from within the old binding and placed it in the new binding, hand cut and engraved brass clasps, and finished the binding by cosmetically aging it. We also made a leather enclosure to match the binding.
This book had been previously rebound by Francis Fry (1803-1886), a bibliographer, editor, and book collector. It's been said that he had nearly 1,300 bibles and testaments; mostly in the English language, as well as special editions of the Tyndale, Coverdale, and Cranmer (The Great Bible). Fry produced the first complete Tyndale New Testament facsimile by tracing each page and then making copies through the process of lithography.
Preserving bindings as a preservation practice is very 20th Century; rebinding in the 1800's was a common preservation practice, which is why so many books we now work on and/or rebind - though over 400 years old - have bindings that are actually quite modern. Unfortunately, because the quality of leather and other materials in the in 1800s was so inferior, those modern rebindings aren't lasting the test of time. I love adding my work to the history of these relics.
Take a look at the binding process: Binding project took 38 hours, with 1,075 individual tool impressions.